Fantasy Baseball Closer Chart (last updated July 30)
The chart below breaks down all 30 major-league teams' bullpens in terms of relievers' proximity to the closer role, not their overall fantasy value. Teams are broken down by division.
"CLOSER" is either that team's officially designated closer, or the pitcher most likely to get the team's next save chance. "NEXT IN LINE" is the pitcher next-most likely to take over if something happens to the closer, or the one who might get any save chances on the closer's nights off. "NOTES" beneath each division's chart provide detail on teams' closer situations that might have an unusual wrinkle, like an injury to the typical closer requiring a short term fill-in, or a committee situation.
NOTES: The Orioles continue to mix and match in the eighth and ninth innings when they have a lead to protect in either frame, but Sulser, Tate and Tanner Scott seem to be their top three go-to guys in those situations, in that order of priority. (7/30) ... Chapman has successfully closed out each of the Yankees' past three victories, on July 24, 27 and 28, signaling his return to that indisputed role. Britton was shaky in handling the eighth inning in the July 27 game, but was nevertheless back out there in that frame on July 28, a clear signal that he's again the next-in-line behind Chapman. Chad Green and Jonathan Loaisiga are likely three-four in the Yankees bullpen hierarchy. (7/30) ... Injuries have depleted the Rays' closer-by-committee participants, as Pete Fairbanks (shoulder) and J.P. Feyereisen (shoulder) are both on the 10-day injured list, which is why it was odd to see the team trade Diego Castillo on July 29. Expect a closer-by-committee arrangement in the short term, if not the remainder of the year, from a group that includes Kittredge, Wisler, Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen. (7/29) ... The Blue Jays on July 29 acquired Hand, who was 21-of-26 converting saves with a 3.59 ERA while serving as the Nationals' exclusive closer. It's presumed he was acquired with the intent of assuming the same role in Toronto, with Romano dropping back to the primary setup role/eighth inning. Joakim Soria was also acquired on July 30 to give the team additional setup depth. (7/30)
NOTES: A day after the White Sox acquired Ryan Tepera from the Cubs, they went back to the Cubs well on July 30 to get Kimbrel, one of the most effective closers so far this season. It sets up a valid debate: Who closes now, Hendriks or Kimbrel? We'll see how the order shakes out in the team's next save chance, but this might well wind up a partnership, a la Cleveland, Seattle or San Francisco at times in 2021. (7/30) ... The Royals have gone with a closer-by-committee all season, though Holland and Barlow have been their most common ninth-inning choices. Kyle Zimmer, Josh Staumont or Jake Brentz could also factor in the eighth or ninth if the matchup calls for it. (7/30) ... Taylor Rogers landed on the injured list on July 27 with a finger injury and the Twins traded Hansel Robles to the Red Sox on July 30, so their closer role is currently up for grabs. Duffey, who has two wins, two saves, nine holds and a 1.57 ERA in 23 appearances since May 23, is the sleeper fill-in, though the team could also default to Colome, whom they signed to fill the role during the offseason. (7/30)
NOTES: We'll see where Graveman and Yimi Garcia fit into the Astros' relief pecking order following their July 27 and 28 acquisitions from the Mariners and Marlins, but Graveman has more Wins Above Replacement (1.5) than any Astros reliever for the season, so it's suspected that he'll take over as the team's primary setup man. (7/29) ... Just two days after the Mariners traded Kendall Graveman to the Astros, on July 29 they acquired Castillo from the Rays. Expect Castillo to take over the ninth inning for the team, keeping Sewald in the eighth inning. Drew Steckenrider is also a candidate for late-inning work. (7/29) ... With Ian Kennedy traded to Philadelphia, the Rangers have a wide-open late-inning picture. Josh Sborz might be the most logical choice to close in the short term, once he returns from the paternity list. The team could also try Patton, Brett Martin or potential future closer Evans. (7/30)
NOTES: Following Rodriguez's July 30 acquisition, will the Braves install him as their full-time closer and drop Smith back to setup relief, will they partner the two or will Rodriguez merely slide into the eighth-inning role? We shall soon see. (7/30) ... Yimi Garcia was traded to the Astros on July 28, opening up the Marlins' closer role to what manager Don Mattingly indicated might be a closer-by-committee. Floro has spent the most time recently as the primary setup man, hence his being listed first, but Bender represents more of the team's future in the role. Mattingly also named Anthony Bass and Richard Bleier as potential late-inning relievers. (7/29) ... The Phillies acquired Kennedy from the Rangers just before the July 30 deadline, presumably with the intent to have him supplant Suarez as their closer. (7/30) ... In the Nationals' first two games following the trade of closer Brad Hand on July 29, part of a doubleheader that day, the team gave Finnegan a Game 1 save chance that he converted, then watched Wander Suero and Rainey combine to blow a 7-4 ninth-inning lead. Daniel Hudson's (COVID-19 IL) July 30 trade assures that this team should go the committee route for now, but Finnegan's initial success could soon earn him the role exclusively. Rainey, Suero and Sam Clay, in that order, seem the next-best bets. (7/30)
NOTES: In the course of five days, the Cubs traded all three of their top relievers, Craig Kimbrel (to the White Sox), Ryan Tepera (also White Sox) and Andrew Chafin (Athletics), plus placed Dillon Maples on the injured list. It's now a woefully thin bullpen, and a team in rebuild that might not have many save chances to offer in the first place, so keep tabs on the team's next few games to see who gets the eighth and ninth. Heuer, who had pitched well in setup relief for the White Sox before coming back in the Kimbrel trade, might be the best bet to first get the job. Winkler, Brothers and Kyle Ryan are also strong candidates, in what could ultimately be a committee. (7/30) ... The Brewers activated Williams from the injured list on July 28, presumably slotting him directly back in as Hader's primary setup man and next-in-line in the event of a Hader injury. (7/28) ... Richard Rodriguez was traded to the Braves at the July 30 deadline, so Bednar should get the first chance to close in his stead. (7/30)
NOTES: The Diamondbacks traded Joakim Soria to the Blue Jays on July 30, meaning that Clippard, who closed their July 28 victory, might now be the team's closer. Ramirez, who had been working the eighth inning in recent weeks, might also be in consideration. (7/30) ... The Padres have a bevy of quality setup men who could fill in for Melancon if needed, including adding Daniel Hudson (COVID-19 IL) via trade on July 30, but it's a healthy Pomeranz who has handled the eighth inning with a pair of holds in his past three appearances. He seems to again be the next-in-line behind Melancon. (7/30)