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MX News Update 2024

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Save and steal: best in class

In this week’s Saves and Steals, Emmanuel Clase, Mason Miller and Clay Holmes jump up the leaderboard with an excellent week on the mound. Craig Kimbrel and Jason Foley are heading in the opposite direction with some reason for concern. And Evan Phillips is on the injured list in Los Angeles. In terms of speed, Willi Castro is starting to make a run and Vidal Bruján is seeing more playing time with Luis Arraez in Miami.

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Fantasy Baseball Closer Rankings

Level 1: At the top

Edwin Diaz – New York Mets
Emmanuel Clase-Cleveland Guardians
Mason Miller-Oakland A’s

Granted, Díaz missed all of 2023, but his big save on Sunday against the Rays was his first big save since May 24, 2022. He had converted 26 straight saves, the longest active streak until Sunday. Díaz rebounded the next day with his fifth save of the season. And it was time to move Clase to this top level. He converted two saves to take his tally to 11, adding a win on Wednesday. His numbers are virtually identical or better than before last season. Clase’s swinging strike and strikeout rates are in line with his 2021-2022 numbers.

Miller was rested after not seeing any save opportunities this week on Wednesday. He took the mound in the eighth inning with a five-run lead in the first game of the doubleheader against the Rangers. Miller struck out four in two perfect frames for his eighth save.

Level 2: The Elite

Clay Holmes-New York Yankees
Jhoan Duran – Minnesota twins
Ryan Helsley – St. Louis Cardinals
Camilo Doval – San Francisco Giants
Robert Suarez – San Diego Padres
Josh Hader – Houston Astros

Holmes rose to the elite level as he extended his scoreless streak to 16 1/3 innings to start his season. He picked up his 11th save against the Tigers on Saturday. Holmes struckout 18 batters while walking just one batter this season.

Duran picked up his second save after being activated from the injured list. He then pitched the eighth inning in back-to-back appearances, with Cole Sands and Caleb Thielbar recording the saves before Duran finished with another save on Wednesday. He looked excellent in his five appearances, striking out eight with no walks and allowing two hits in five scoreless innings.

Helsley continues his strong season with his eleventh save this week. He has a 1.50 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 19 strikeouts over 18 innings. JoJo Romero was solid as the main setup man, posting nearly identical numbers with 11 holds.

Doval made a pair of scoreless appearances, including his sixth save against the Red Sox. He then pitched the ninth against the Rockies in Colorado with a four-run lead on Wednesday and surrendered a pair of runs, bringing his ERA to 3.95 with 17 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings.

Suarez is one of the best closers of the season so far. He converted two saves this week and led baseball with 12 this year. The 33-year-old righthander has an ERA of 0.55, 0.67 WHIP and 15 strikeouts over 16 1/3 innings.

Hader picked up his third save on Friday and took the loss on Sunday with one run allowed on a solo homer against the Mariners. He maintains a strikeout rate of 38.1 percent, a higher mark than in 2022 and 2023. As long as he continues to strike out batters at this rate, the rest of his numbers should decline throughout the season.

Level 3: The solid options

Raisel Iglesias-Atlanta Braves
Kirby Yates-Texas Rangers
Jordan Romano-Toronto Blue Jays
Kenley Jansen – Boston Red Sox
Alexis Diaz – Cincinnati Reds
David Bednar-Pittsburgh Pirates

Iglesias gave up a run in overtime against the Dodgers and got a save opportunity on Friday. He returned with a scoreless outing on Tuesday, striking out one batter for his ninth save. The only concern here is the decreased strikeout rate.

Yates threw two scoreless innings against the Royals on Sunday, then earned his sixth save against the A’s on Monday. He found himself in a stressful situation on Wednesday, scoring five runs against Oakland, with the bases loaded and no outs. He allowed four runs on a sacrifice fly and a pair of hits before holding on for his seventh save.

Romano gave up a run on Wednesday, but held on for his fifth save. He appears to still be adjusting after missing the start of the season with an elbow injury. Meanwhile, Jansen showed up in a no-save situation to get some work. He hasn’t seen an opportunity for rescue since April 20.

Díaz saw his ERA balloon on Sunday after a four-run performance in a non-save against the Orioles. He remains at six saves with a 6.57 ERA, 1.54 WHIP and 14 strikeouts across 12 1/3 innings.

Bednar bounced back after a rough week with a pair of scoreless performances to pick up a win and a save against the Rockies. As long as he maintains his velocity, continues to limit walks, and maintains a high strikeout rate, we should see Bednar’s ratios improve.

Level 4: There is a positive side here

Kyle Finnegan – Washington Nationals
Paul Sewald – Arizona Diamondbacks
Jose Alvarado/Jeff Hoffman-Philadelphia Phillies
Andrés Muñoz/Ryne Stanek – Seattle Mariners
James McArthur-Kansas City Royals
Craig Kimbrel – Baltimore Orioles
Jason Adam – Tampa Bay Rays
Trevor Megill – Milwaukee Brewers
Jason Foley – Detroit Tigers
Daniel Hudson/Alex Vesia-Los Angeles Dodgers

Finnegan made three scoreless outings with two saves, making it 14 consecutive games since allowing an earned run. He has recorded 12 saves with a 1.65 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 16 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings.

Sewald returned from the injured list on Tuesday and made an appearance against the Reds, giving up one point. It appears the Diamondbacks are loosening him after he missed the start of the season. He wasn’t used in Wednesday’s win over the Reds. It was Joe Mantiply who got the save, recording one out after Kevin Ginkel surrendered a run.

Alvarado converted a pair of saves against the Giants. He has seven runs this year with a 4.30 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 15 strikeouts over 14 2/3 innings. His fastball rate is a lot slower this season, and he’s not getting as many whiffs. Hoffman was excellent, giving up just two runs with 24 strikeouts in 16 innings. In Seattle, Muñoz picked up a four-out win against the Astros, but didn’t see a save opportunity this week.

McArthur took a step back with a pair of botched saves, but bounced back with his seventh of the season against the Brewers on Wednesday. Kimbrel has also had a hard time. He gave up two runs against the Nationals in the ninth inning on Wednesday and has now allowed runs in four of his last five outings. Manager Brandon Hyde expressed his intention on Wednesday to keep Kimbrel in the closer role, saying the veteran should be vindicated.

Adam recorded a win and a save this week, while Phil Maton also picked up a save. Pete Fairbanks could be back soon. He is currently in rehab at Triple-A Durham. In Milwaukee, Megill has taken over the role in the ninth inning and recorded two saves this week. He ranks third with an ERA of 1.04 over 8 2/3 innings.

We could see the Tigers go with a more matchup-based committee. Foley was brought in in the seventh inning on Wednesday after making a save on Friday. He wasn’t as effective against left-handed hitters. And his fastball velocity has steadily declined over the past month. Andrew Chafin picked up the ninth inning on Wednesday and blew the save opportunity. The Dodgers may not settle for one reliever in the ninth with Evan Phillips out. Phillips was placed on the 15-day injured list due to a hamstring injury. Alex Vesia and Daniel Hudson each recorded a save in his absence.

Level 5: Just getting by

Hector Neris – Chicago Cubs
Carlos Estévez – Los Angeles Angels
Tanner Scott – Miami Marlins

Neris added a win and a save this week, but still has just two clean sheet appearances all season and has walked more batters than he has struck out, with a 13/12 K/BB ratio over 14 innings. Mark Leiter Jr. was the most effective reliever in Chicago’s bullpen and could ultimately see save opportunities if Neris struggles to close out games.

Estévez recorded his sixth save of the season and struckout two in an error-free inning against the Pirates on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Scott extended his winless streak but saw no chance of redemption.

Level 6: if you have to

Michael Kopech – Chicago White Sox
Tyler Kinley/Justin Lawrence-Colorado Rockies

Injured

Devin Williams – Back
Evan Phillips Hamstring

Department of Stealing

This past week, José Caballero led the way in steals with five. The 27-year-old shortstop has racked up 14 steals while hitting .254/.310/.373 with two home runs, 18 runs scored and 13 RBI in 131 at-bats. In Minnesota, Willi Castro started the bases with three steals. He got off to an excellent start at the plate, slashing .273/.336/.471 with three home runs, 18 runs scored and five steals in 134 at-bats. Vidal Bruján could be more widely available for deeper fantasy leagues. The 26-year-old second baseman has played every day in Miami since the team traded Luis Arraez to the Padres. Bruján doesn’t offer much power, but he hits for contact and can add some speed. He stole a total of 22 bases in 2023 and has two steals in 71 at-bats with the Marlins this season.