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2022 Closer Situations: Team Analysis
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Arizona Diamondbacks
Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
Total Saves: 15
(5/24) Eight Arizona relievers combined for 22 saves last season as no one was able to gain traction or provide stability in the closer role. Joakim Soria and Tyler Clippard led the team with six saves apiece, but both veterans are no longer with the team, which left a huge void in the late-inning mix until the Diamondbacks signed Mark Melancon and Ian Kennedy this offseason. Melancon led the majors with 39 saves last year and is among the active leaders in career saves. A reasonable ceiling for Melancon is 25 saves, with Kennedy pitching in as an experienced alternative if Melancon is unavailable. Both veterans are struggling in 2022, so keep an eye on Joe Mantiply for ancillary saves, as he's off to a fantastic start this season.
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Atlanta Braves
Team: Atlanta Braves
Total Saves: 13
Next in Line: Will Smith , A.J. Minter
(5/24) Four Atlanta relievers combined for 40 saves last season and Will Smith logged 37 of them in 43 chances. He led all relievers with a 92.5% team save share, a stat that was somewhat surprising given the wealth of talent in Atlanta's bullpen. Equipped with a devastating slider that he threw 41% of the time to stifle opposing hitters (.124 BA, 49.1% Whiff%), Smith posted a solid 11.5 K/9. However, the southpaw struggled on occasion with walks (9.9%) and he served up 11 home runs in 68 innings (1.5 HR/9). Despite these blemishes, the Braves stuck by him in the closer role given his long history of success in high-leverage. Smith was presumed to retain the role for 2022, but Atlanta surprised everyone when they signed Kenley Jansen to a one-year, $16M contract. With 350 career saves, Jansen clearly displaced Smith as the top dog in this bullpen. After struggling with walks last season, Jansen is faring much better with his command in 2022 and his stability in the closer role remains high.
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Baltimore Orioles
Team: Baltimore Orioles
Total Saves: 8
Closer: Committee
(5/24) For all the flack that manager Brandon Hyde gets for his fluid bullpen usage, remember that he hasn't had much talent to work with, as Baltimore relievers finished with a league-worst 5.70 ERA last season. Six relievers combined for 26 saves (third fewest in the majors) with Cesar Valdez and Cole Sulser leading the pack with eight saves apiece. Sulser, in particular, had a fantastic year and was the favorite to open 2022 as the primary closer until he was traded to Miami in early April. Former Rule 5 pick Tyler Wells also had a promising rookie season with four saves, but won a starting rotation spot this spring. That doesn't completely eliminate him from the mix for saves at some point in 2022, but for now, Jorge Lopez has surprisingly emerged as the primary closer in Baltimore. Lopez leads a bullpen that currently ranks in the top half of the league by ERA, with hard-throwing Felix Bautista, Dillon Tate and Cionel Perez as the top options behind him for ancillary save support.
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Boston Red Sox
Team: Boston Red Sox
Total Saves: 8
Closer: Committee
(5/24) Matt Barnes was a dominant closer in the first half last year, but Boston turned to a committee once he began to struggle and finished the season with 10 pitchers combining for 49 saves, thus leaving the closer role a huge question mark for 2022. Barnes signed an extension with the Red Sox last summer, but pitched so poorly in the second half that he was left off the ALCS playoff roster. He experienced reduced velocity this spring due to a possible mechanical flaw and his average fastball velocity is roughly 2 mph lower than it was last season, thought it appears to be back to normal in recent outings and Barnes is trending back to a more high leverage role again. However, Hansel Robles appears to be the closer committee leader right now, with John Schreiber and Matt Strahm pitching well should he falter.
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Team Notes
  1. 10/11:Hansel Robles exited Game 3 of the ALDS on Sunday due to a stomach illness after allowing two runs in two-thirds of an inning. He should be considered day-to-day due to his illness. Assuming he tests negative for COVID-19, it wouldn't be surprising to see the right-hander available for Game 4 on Monday. It was the first earned run he's allowed since August 29.
  2. 10/5:Entering tonight's AL Wild Card game against the Yankees, Hansel Robles has not allowed an earned run in 15 consecutive outings. Both he and Adam Ottavino enter tonight's contest with two-days rest, while Garrett Richards and Garrett Whitlock have had one day of rest after both pitched on Sunday.
Chicago Cubs
Team: Chicago Cubs
Total Saves: 12
(5/10) The Cubs turned to a closer committee last season after they traded veterans Craig Kimbrel, Ryan Tepera and Andrew Chafin. 12 relievers in all recorded a save, with Rowan Wick leading the way after the trade deadline with five. Codi Heuer also logged two saves, but recently underwent Tommy John surgery and will miss the 2022 season. That left Wick as the favorite to enter 2022 in the closer role, but newcomer David Robertson recorded the Cubs first save of 2022 and has been Chicago's primary option for saves since then. Wick and Mychal Givens are likely to mix in for saves at some point, but the veteran has performed quite well in the closer role thus far.
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Cincinnati Reds
Team: Cincinnati Reds
Total Saves: 6
Closer: Committee
(5/24) Reds manager David Bell likes fluid bullpen roles, as 10 different relievers combined for 41 saves last season. No one on the team finished with more than eight saves, as Cincinnati relievers battled injuries throughout the year and struggled to build any momentum in the closer role. Among the pitchers that did earn saves, Tejay Antone looked most exciting, but he underwent Tommy John surgery in late August and will miss most or all of the 2022 campaign as a result. Lucas Sims finished 2021 strong with a 25:0 K:BB over his final 14.1 innings and might be the favorite option for saves in this bullpen when healthy. However, Tony Santillan earned the Reds' first save of the season and Art Warren earned the second. The emerging Alexis Diaz has mixed in too, but this is likely to be a committee all season.
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Cleveland Guardians
Team: Cleveland Guardians
Total Saves: 8
(5/24) Emmanuel Clase and James Karinchak split closing duties in the first half of 2021, but the latter pitched himself out of the role by mid-season thanks to elevated home run (1.5 HR/9) and walk (5.2 BB/9) rates. Meanwhile, Clase was incredible after the All-Star break, posting a 0.82 ERA, 0.61 WHIP and 33:2 K:BB over 33 innings. He led all of MLB in pitches thrown over 100-mph with 471, which was more than double Jacob deGrom (185). Clase posted four wins, 24 saves and excellent ratios overall and was drafted among the top 5 closers for 2022. His job security is high and a team save share over 80% is expected, but one concern is the lack of depth in high leverage among his setup men. Karnichak (shoulder) opened 2022 on the injured list, and while veteran Bryan Shaw is back with the team after leading all relievers with 81 appearances last year, he has yet to log more than three saves in a season. They've also counted on Nick Sandlin and Trevor Stephan to log important innings for them early in 2022.
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Colorado Rockies
Team: Colorado Rockies
Total Saves: 14
Closer: Daniel Bard
(5/24) Rockies manager Bud Black typically sticks with one primary closer and that was the case again last season. Only four Colorado pitchers combined for 33 saves, with Daniel Bard (20 saves) and Carlos Estevez (11) accounting for 94% of the team save share. Black gave Bard a fairly long leash in the closer role despite his 5.00-plus ERA before he finally made a switch to Estevez for the final month and change. Both relievers are back for 2022 along with newcomer Alex Colome, who brings 155 career saves and a 50-plus percent groundball rate to the fold. One might assume he'd be the easy choice to slot into ninth inning duties, but Black didn't name a closer this spring and said "the best closers usually have strikeouts". This led many to assume Bard (11.0 K/9 since 2018) was "the guy", and he did in fact earn the Rockies' first save of 2022. Colome and Estevez (23 career saves) offer closing experience as well and figure to mix in at some point if Bard struggles or is unavailable. Tyler Kinley has pitched well early in 2022 to earn setup duties and has possibly surpassed Colome in the pecking order for saves.
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Chicago White Sox
Team: Chicago White Sox
Total Saves: 17
(5/24) Hendriks set career best marks in multiple categories with eight wins, 38 saves, a 42.3 K% and 2.6 BB% while leading all qualified relievers with a 39.7 K-BB% that was almost five percentage points higher than anyone else. He did so while throwing harder than ever, as his fastball velocity topped out around 98-mph on average. Simply put, Hendriks was one of the most dominant closers in baseball and his job security was never in question, even after Chicago's acquisition of Craig Kimbrel at the trade deadline last year. In fact, Hendriks was one of only four relievers who had a greater than 87% share of his team's total saves. The only blemish on Hendriks' incredible season was the amount of hard contact he gave up. His 1.4 HR/9 was his worst mark in the category in eight years and he ranked in the 36th percentile in Statcast's Hard Hit%. Hendriks is off to a rough start in 2022, but several metrics in his profile remain elite and his job security is not in question.
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Detroit Tigers
Team: Detroit Tigers
Total Saves: 9
(5/24) A.J Hinch took over as manager of the Tigers in 2021 and opted for a closer-by-committee with no established closers on the roster. Eight relievers combined for 42 saves, with Gregory Soto (18) and Michael Fulmer (14) accounting for the majority (76%) of them after separating themselves from the pack. Hinch went on record shortly after the 2021 season to name Soto as the Tigers' closer to open 2022, but will keep his role flexible in high-leverage spots earlier in games. A greater than 50% save share is likely, especially if Soto improves his command (he's posted a 5.00-plus BB/9 in each of his three seasons), but he's struggling with walks early in 2022. Should he falter, Fulmer or the emerging Will Vest are most likely to take over. There's a decent chance Fulmer logs 10-plus saves anyway, even if Soto serves as the primary closer throughout the season. Newcomer Andrew Chafin may provide ancillary saves, while Alex Lange returns for additional support.
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Houston Astros
Team: Houston Astros
Total Saves: 10
(5/24) Last year, Houston ranked in the bottom half of the league with only 34 saves as a team. Their bullpen wasn't deep, but the low save total might be attributed to Houston's number of blowout wins, as they had the fourth-best run differential (+205) in the league. Meanwhile, Ryan Pressly was one of the best relievers in baseball, setting career-best marks across several pitching categories while posting 26 saves in 28 chances. Pressly held a firm grip on the Astros' closer role and was one of only seven relievers in baseball who had a greater than 76% share of his team's saves. He recently dealt with a knee injury that required a stint on the IL, during which former Rangers and Mariners closer Rafael Montero filled in with two saves in Pressly's absence. Hector Neris was an important high leverage addition as well.
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Team Notes
  1. 9/29:Ryan Pressly is currently managing a knee issue and hasn't pitched since Saturday. Kendall Graveman was placed on the paternity list Tuesday. Look for Ryne Stanek or Yimi Garcia as the favorites to pitch in potential save opportunities for the next couple days if Pressley remains unavailable.
Kansas City Royals
Team: Kansas City Royals
Total Saves: 8
Closer: Committee
(5/24) Eight different Kansas City relievers combined for 37 saves last season, as manager Mike Matheny likes to employ a modern approach to ninth inning usage. Scott Barlow led the closer committee with 16 saves and was the only Royals reliever in double-digits after receiving the majority of save chances in the second half. Josh Staumont earned the Royals first few saves of 2022, but it appears Barlow is emerging within the committee again. Taylor Clarke, Amir Garrett and Dylan Coleman are worth monitoring in this bullpen and could become options for saves based on their performance throughout the season.
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Los Angeles Angels
Team: Los Angeles Angels
Total Saves: 14
(5/24) Fresh off the best season of his career, Raisel Iglesias returns to the Angels after inking a four-year deal with Los Angeles in November. Iglesias converted 34-of-39 save chances and ranked fourth among relievers with an 87.2% team save share. He's locked in as the Halos' closer for the foreseeable future, while Ryan Tepera, Archie Bradley and Aaron Loup will provide ancillary saves support whenever Iglesias is unavailable.
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Los Angeles Dodgers
Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Total Saves: 11
(5/24) After a decade of dominance as the Dodgers closer, Kenley Jansen surprisingly signed with with the Braves this offseason. Not long after, the Dodgers traded for Craig Kimbrel to be their closer for 2022. Daniel Hudson, Alex Vesia and Brusdar Graterol will back up Kimbrel for ancillary save support while Los Angeles awaits the return of fireman Blake Treinen (shoulder), who isn't expected back until after the All-Star break.
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Team Notes
  1. 10/14:Corey Knebel will serve as the opener for Thursday's NLDS Game 5 matchup against the Giants. Knebel filled the opener role four times during the regular season, allowing one run in a combined 5.2 innings of work. Julio Urias is expected to follow him in bulk relief.
  2. 10/6:The Dodgers' highest-leverage relievers are well rested, as Jansen, Treinen and Vesia enter Wednesday's NL Wild Card game against the Cardinals on 4 days rest.
Miami Marlins
Team: Miami Marlins
Total Saves: 9
Closer: Committee
Next in Line: Cole Sulser , Dylan Floro , Anthony Bender 15-Day IL
(5/24) Only three Marlins pitchers combined for 33 saves last season, as manager Don Mattingly kept his closer role pretty tight. With 2021 primary closer Dylan Floro unavailable for the start of the season, Anthony Bender stepped into the role with mixed results. Floro recently returned to the Marlins and may enter the saves mix now that he's healthy. Anthony Bass is off to a nice start in 2022, while Cole Sulser and Tanner Scott have logged saves in the early going of the season. Mattingly certainly has better quality depth options in the bullpen and it will be interesting to see how he manages this situation moving forward, as Bender hasn't been as sharp as last year.
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Milwaukee Brewers
Team: Milwaukee Brewers
Total Saves: 19
Closer: Josh Hader Bereavement
(5/24) Josh Hader continues to miss plenty of bats, as his 15.7 K/9, 21.7 SwStr% and .126 batting average against in 2021 were best among qualified relievers, while his 34.8 K-BB% ranked second. He tied for fifth in the league with 34 saves in 35 chances while posting a career best 1.23 ERA. After three straight seasons with at least 1.0 HR/9, he finally minimized the long ball with only three home runs allowed in 58.2 innings. Manager Craig Counsell was very strict with Hader's usage, limiting all 60 of his appearances to one inning or less with most in save situations or tie games. Hader is getting pricier with two years of arbitration remaining until he's a free agent, and he's often discussed in trade rumors, but Hader is once again in elite form to open 2022. Devin Williams remains one of the top closers-in-waiting after recording the first three saves of his career last year, while veteran Brad Boxberger and Jake Cousins (13.2 K/9 in his rookie season) are worth monitoring as well.
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Minnesota Twins
Team: Minnesota Twins
Total Saves: 12
Closer: Committee
(5/24) Alex Colome finished strong last season, but didn't meet the Twins contractual expectations as they declined their mutual option for 2022. Top lefty and presumed favorite for the closer role Taylor Rogers was traded to San Diego on Opening Day, leaving manager Rocco Baldelli to use a closer committee to open 2022. Tyler Duffey, who is in the final year of his contract with Minnesota, received the team's first save chance of 2022. Duffey blew the save, but has been one of the Twins' best bullpen arms over the past three years and is likely to see a few opportunities as the season progresses, perhaps as a way to boost his trade value before mid-season. Newly acquired Emilio Pagan currently leads this committee, but gave up 2.3 HR/9 last season and has a career-worst walk rate early on in 2022. Meanwhile, rookie Jhoan Duran has been electric and has already tallied a few saves. Duran could be one of the best closers in baseball if he takes over as Minnesota's primary ninth inning option.
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New York Mets
Team: New York Mets
Total Saves: 13
Closer: Edwin Diaz
Next in Line: Drew Smith , Seth Lugo
(5/25) Edwin Diaz logged 32 of the Mets' 41 saves (78% team save share) and returns as the team's primary closer for 2022 in the final year of his contract with New York. Diaz didn't have too many hiccups in 2021 aside from a three-game blown save streak in mid-July that he quickly rebounded from. He posted the best home run rate (0.4 HR/9) of his career and was the second highest-leveraged reliever in baseball as measured by gmLI, which measures a pitcher's average Leverage Index upon entering a game. Diaz is in elite form to open 2022 and has solid veterans behind him for ancillary save support Drew Smith, Seth Lugo, Adam Ottavino and Trevor May (when healthy).
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New York Yankees
Team: New York Yankees
Total Saves: 15
Closer: Clay Holmes
Next in Line: Jonathan Loaisiga 15-Day IL, Aroldis Chapman 15-Day IL
(5/25) Aroldis Chapman had a roller coaster 2021. He looked as dominant as ever to start the year, not giving up an earned run until May 23rd. Then he fell apart before the All-Star break, taking several losses and blowing a few saves while his walk rate ballooned and he gave up a ton of runs. Chapman was himself again in the second half, but his ratios suffered overall due to the rough stretch. He returns as the Yankees primary closer for 2022 in what will be his age-34 season and the final year of his contract. Chapman has not pitched more than 58 innings since 2015, so Clay Holmes and Jonathan Loaisiga should mix in plenty to keep him fresh. A late-May IL stint has sidelined Chapman, so expect Holmes to receive the majority of save chances in his absence. Holmes has been dominant in 2022 and may be the better choice for saves anyway.
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Team Notes
  1. 10/5:Entering tonight's AL Wild Card game, Aroldis Chapman has a career 6.43 ERA and 2.07 WHIP in 14 innings at Fenway Park. However, he logged a 2.70 ERA against Boston this season with a 8:4 K:BB in 6.2 innings, albeit with two home runs allowed.
  2. 9/29:Jonathan Loaisiga (shoulder) will likely be activated Wednesday.
Oakland Athletics
Team: Oakland Athletics
Total Saves: 12
(5/25) In December, the A's hired Mark Kotsay as their new manager to replace Bob Melvin. Kotsay's intent entering 2022 was to lean on veteran Lou Trivino for saves in this otherwise inexperienced bullpen, however, Dany Jimenez has emerged as the team's primary option with Trivino proving ineffective thus far. Domingo Acevedo and A.J. Puk are also worth monitoring as darker horse targets for saves.
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Philadelphia Phillies
Team: Philadelphia Phillies
Total Saves: 10
(5/25) Philadelphia's attempts to overhaul its bullpen last offseason didn't work out to expectations, as the unit's 4.60 ERA was sixth-worst in baseball. Hector Neris (12 saves) and Ian Kennedy (10) were the primary occupants of the closer chair, while Ranger Suarez, Jose Alvarado and Archie Bradley pitched in for saves as well. Only Suarez and Alvarado remain on the Phillies roster for 2022 and neither are being used in save situations. Enter Corey Knebel, who signed with Philadelphia in December after an injury-shortened 2021 with the Dodgers. Knebel saved 55 games for Milwaukee between 2017 and 2018 and is the clear primary option for saves. Philadelphia also added veteran relievers Jeurys Familia and Brad Hand to the bullpen, but don't forget about Seranthony Dominguez, who logged 16 saves as a rookie in 2018.
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Pittsburgh Pirates
Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
Total Saves: 11
Next in Line: Chris Stratton , Heath Hembree 15-Day IL
(5/24) For a team in rebuilding mode, the Pirates had a relatively clear-cut closer situation last year. Manager Derek Shelton only used three relievers for saves (tied for lowest in the league) and once the team traded Richard Rodriguez, closing duties were split between veteran Chris Stratton and the promising David Bednar. Stratton (eight saves) received the primary share, but Bednar (three saves) mixed in when necessary and was clearly Pittsburgh's best reliever, boasting an impressive 32.5% strikeout rate. As such, Bednar was drafted this season as if he was Pittsburgh's primary closer and that's how the saves have been trending lately. Stratton may still mix in for saves on occasion, but Bednar's performance thus far makes him the clear primary option moving forward.
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San Diego Padres
Team: San Diego Padres
Total Saves: 18
(5/25) San Diego closers have been very effective in recent years with both Mark Melancon (39 saves in 2021) and Kirby Yates (41 saves in 2019) leading the league in saves. With Melancon departing for Arizona, and new manager Bob Melvin replacing Jayce Tingler, the closer role was unsettled all spring until the Padres acquired Taylor Rogers from Minnesota on Opening Day. Melvin quickly named him the closer and Rogers has responded to the role well early in 2022 while ranking among the league's save leaders. Robert Suarez recorded 42 saves in Japan last year and makes sense as the 'next man up' when Rogers is unavailable.
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Seattle Mariners
Team: Seattle Mariners
Total Saves: 7
Closer: Committee
(5/24) Eight Seattle relievers combined for 51 saves last season, with Drew Steckenrider (14 saves), Paul Sewald (11) and Kendall Graveman (10) all finishing with 10 or more for the Mariners. Seattle's 2022 bullpen is an obvious strength for manager Scott Servais, who will eventually get experienced closer Ken Giles back for his committee. Andres Munoz has emerged as a high leverage relief option early in 2022 and he's especially interesting since Seattle recently bought out his remaining arbitration years with his contract extension. If he pitches to his massive potential, the Mariners may just let him run with the job, but Servais hasn't deployed one primary closer since Edwin Diaz in 2017 and 2018. In the meantime, Munoz will join Sewald, Steckenrider and Diego Castillo among Seattle's closer committee options.
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San Francisco Giants
Team: San Francisco Giants
Total Saves: 10
(5/25) San Francisco tallied 56 saves as a team in 2021, tied for most in baseball with the Dodgers. Veteran Jake McGee recorded more than half of them with 31, while Tyler Rogers chipped in 13. However, it was the exciting Camilo Doval who finished the season as the Giants' closer after a dominant run and served as manager Gabe Kapler's closer in the playoffs. Doval flashed the upside of a top-tier closer in the league, but will need to maintain that form to continue receiving save chances as he has thus far early in 2022. Don't forget he had a 5.1 BB/9 in the minors and struggled after he was first promoted early last year. Should he falter, McGee and Rogers are veterans who can easily slide into ninth inning duties, while Dominic Leone, who earned the Giants' first save of the season, can mix in as well.
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Team Notes
  1. 10/4:The Giants bullpen gets a much-needed break after winning the NL West. Camilo Doval, in particular, pitched 4 times in 5 days during the final week.
  2. 10/1:Doval, Rogers and Leone have worked 2 out of the past 3 games, with Rogers throwing 47 pitches over that span. Strong possibility Rogers gets the night off against San Diego.
  3. 9/30:Doval earned his 2nd big-league save on Wednesday and may be the new closer in San Francisco.
  4. 9/29:The plans for Jake McGee (oblique) beyond Wednesday aren't entirely clear, but so long as he gets through mound work without any setbacks, a return to the Giants' bullpen for the final regular-season series against the Padres might not be out of the question.
St. Louis Cardinals
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Total Saves: 10
Closer: Committee
(5/25) Giovanny Gallegos proved last season that he's more than capable of handling the primary closer role. His success and reliability last September carried St. Louis during a 17-game winning streak and an NL Wild Card playoff berth. However, the Cardinals hired new manager Oliver Marmol shortly after the 2021 season to replace Mike Shildt. At 35, Marmol becomes the youngest manager in the league and all indications during spring led us to believe he will have a fluid bullpen free of defined roles. Marmol didn't name a closer, but Gallegos has been his primary option for save opportunities early in 2022. However, Ryan Helsley has added velocity this season and has been dominant thus far. He earned his first save of the season on May 1 and should mix in more often due to his performance thus far.
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Team Notes
  1. 10/6:The Cardinals' highest-leverage relievers are well rested, as Gallegos, Cabrera and Reyes enter Wednesday's NL Wild Card game against the Dodgers on 4 days rest, while Garcia is on 3 days rest.
  2. 10/1:Garcia earned his 2nd save of the season Thursday night as the Cardinals give Gallegos some much deserved rest before the playoffs. Gallegos has logged a new career-high 79.1 innings this season.
Tampa Bay Rays
Team: Tampa Bay Rays
Total Saves: 11
Closer: Committee
(5/25) Tampa Bay once again led the league with 14 pitchers with saves last season. It was the third consecutive year they've used 10-plus pitchers for saves. Diego Castillo led the closer committee with 14, while no one else finished with more than eight. We've come to expect varied late-inning usage from manager Kevin Cash and anticipate 2022 will be no different. With Castillo now in Seattle, Andrew Kittredge is committee leader when healthy, while Brooks Raley, Ryan Thompson and J.P. Feyereisen mix in. Fantasy managers who wish to keep their sanity might want to avoid this unit altogether, but Raley, Thompson and Feyereisen have all performed well through the first two months of 2022 and could pick up a few extra saves than normal with Kittredge currently on the IL.
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Team Notes
  1. 10/11:Collin McHugh will serve as the Rays' opening pitcher Monday against the Red Sox as part of a bullpen day in Game 4 of the ALDS, Manager Kevin Cash hasn't appointed a primary pitcher to work behind McHugh, as the Rays will instead likely turn to a cadre of arms to fill innings out of the bullpen. Josh Fleming, JT Chargois, Pete Fairbanks, J.P. Feyereisen, Andrew Kittredge and Matt Wisler tossed 20 pitches or fewer in Sunday's 13-inning loss, so the Tampa Bay bullpen should be relatively fresh for Monday's contest.
Texas Rangers
Team: Texas Rangers
Total Saves: 8
Closer: Joe Barlow Day-To-Day
(5/25) Only five Texas relievers combined for 31 saves last season, with Ian Kennedy (16 saves) and rookie Joe Barlow (11) accounting for the majority of them. Barlow pitched well upon his promotion from Triple-A while mostly evading the command issues that plagued him throughout the minors, thus earning an opportunity in the closer role after Kennedy was traded. However, Barlow is currently one of the more risky targets for saves due to his lack of experience and history of command issues (5.8 BB/9 in minors). He also out-performed his estimators by nearly two points (3.39 xERA, 3.44 FIP) , suggesting luck may have been on his side last year. Rangers manager Chris Woodward expressed in April that he did not want Barlow to close right away, given the team's lofty expectations, but he's been Texas' primary closer early on in 2022 and has performed quite well. Also don't forget about Jose Leclerc or Jonathan Hernandez, who are expected to return sometime in June.
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Toronto Blue Jays
Team: Toronto Blue Jays
Total Saves: 17
Next in Line: Adam Cimber , Yimi Garcia
(5/25) Nine Toronto relievers combined for 34 saves last season, as injuries and overall ineffectiveness in the late innings forced manager Charlie Montoyo to turn to Jordan Romano for saves. Montoyo's preference may have been to keep Romano in a more flexible high-leverage role, but he didn't have much of a choice due to injuries to other relievers. Romano was outstanding as the Blue Jays' primary closer, recording 23 saves for a 67% team save share. He has the talent to be a top 5 closer for 2022 and has racked up plenty of saves through late-May. Adam Cimber has filled in for saves when Romano has been unavailable, while Yimi Garcia has experience in the closer role last year during his time with Miami.
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Washington Nationals
Team: Washington Nationals
Total Saves: 4
(5/25) After the departures of Brad Hand and Daniel Hudson at the trade deadline last season, manager Dave Martinez gave both Kyle Finnegan and Tanner Rainey a shot in the closer role. Finnegan secured the role for about two months, logging 11 saves in 14 chances, before ceding the reigns to Rainey after a stretch of poor outings. Rainey endured a brutal 2021 from a health and performance standpoint, but logged the first three saves of his career and closed out the year striking out 11 over 5.2 innings. Manager Dave Martinez didn't name a closer coming into the season, but he did tell MASN Sports back in mid-March that he would "love" for Rainey to show he's ready to close. The early returns have reflected Rainey as the primary option for saves, although the Nationals are currently dead-last in the majors in the category. Rainey certainly has the strikeout upside (career 13.0 K/9) befit of a closer, walks (6.9 BB/9) have always been a problem. Victor Arano is likely the next man up if Rainey struggles due to his impressive start to 2022, otherwise Finnegan and veteran Steve Cishek (132 career saves) could factor in.
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Team Notes
  1. 9/23:Tanner Rainey earned the save for the Nationals last night and has worked 3 out of the last 4 games. Expect Kyle Finnegan, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 19, to get the save chance if one presents itself against the Cardinals tonight.