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2022 Closer Situations: Team Analysis
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Arizona Diamondbacks
Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
Total Saves: 22
(1/6) 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 in December. Melancon led the majors with 39 saves last season and ranks fourth among active relievers with 244 career saves. He will be 37 when the season starts, but will open 2022 as Arizona's unquestioned closer. Provided he doesn't regress too much from what we've seen in recent seasons, Melancon is likely to receive 80-90 percent of Arizona's save chances. Just keep in mind save chances may be hard to come by, as the Diamondbacks are likely to be one of the worst teams in the majors again next season. A reasonable projection for Melancon is 25 saves.
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Atlanta Braves
Team: Atlanta Braves
Total Saves: 40
Closer: Will Smith
Next in Line: Luke Jackson , Kirby Yates Out
(1/14) Four Atlanta relievers combined for 40 saves last season, but 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 and the talk last spring of manager Brian Snitker possibly using a committee for the closer role. 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 has a hefty $13M contract this season with a team option for 2023, so expect him to open 2022 as Atlanta's primary closer. His job security is high, but if he should falter over an extended period, Luke Jackson, A.J. Minter and Kirby Yates have found success in the closer role in the past.
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Baltimore Orioles
Team: Baltimore Orioles
Total Saves: 26
Closer: Committee
(1/19) 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 had a fantastic year and is the favorite to open 2022 as the leader of this closer committee, but former Rule 5 pick Tyler Wells had a promising rookie season and should be in the mix for saves as well. With Hyde at the helm, it will always be difficult to project how save chances will be split among Baltimore relievers, but a reasonable projection is a 45-35 percent split between Sulser and Wells, with the remaining 20 percent split between the remaining Orioles relievers. Unfortunately, since Baltimore has lost 100-plus games in three straight full seasons, there aren't likely to be many saves to go around.
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Boston Red Sox
Team: Boston Red Sox
Total Saves: 49
Closer: Matt Barnes
Next in Line: Garrett Whitlock , Hirokazu Sawamura Day-To-Day
(1/25) 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. Adam Ottavino and Hansel Robles combined for 15 saves, but both are free-agents, while breakout pitcher Garrett Whitlock appears better suited for a multi-inning role, perhaps in the starting rotation. As the roster currently stands, Barnes is the favorite to return to the closer role, but don't be surprised if Boston addresses the back-end of their bullpen through free agency or trade once the lockout ends.
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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: 40
Closer: Rowan Wick
(1/24) 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. Newly acquired Codi Heuer also logged two saves after a promising rookie debut with the White Sox in 2020. Both relievers figure to be high-leverage mainstays in the Chicago bullpen in 2022. However, at this point in the offseason, neither is guaranteed the closer role with the Cubs free agency plans still unsettled. Even if Chicago opens 2022 with their bullpen as-is, another closer committee is a strong possibility.
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Cincinnati Reds
Team: Cincinnati Reds
Total Saves: 41
Closer: Committee
(1/25) 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 may be the favorite option for saves heading into 2022. Amir Garrett, Art Warren, Luis Cessa and Dauri Moreta are also expected to be in the late-inning mix for the Reds. After the bullpen finished with a 4.99 ERA (fourth-worst in the majors last year), don't be surprised if this unit is much improved in 2022.
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Cleveland Guardians
Team: Cleveland Guardians
Total Saves: 39
(1/25) 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 is currently being drafted among the top 5 closers for 2022. His job security is high and a team save share over 80% is expected, but Karinchak, Nick Sandlin and Anthony Gose should mix in for saves if Clase struggles or is unavailable.
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Colorado Rockies
Team: Colorado Rockies
Total Saves: 33
(1/25) 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, and while Estevez currently slots in as the Rockies closer, consider it a placeholder. Colorado reportedly wants to sign someone with extensive experience in the role and there are a handful of free-agent relievers on the market with 125-plus career saves. Bard (31 career saves) and Estevez (23) do not have that type of experience, but could certainly mix in for ninth inning duties on occasion. Stay tuned as this closer hierarchy is likely to change once the MLB lockout ends and free agency resumes.
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Chicago White Sox
Team: Chicago White Sox
Total Saves: 43
(1/24) 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%. However, Hendriks' overall profile remains elite and he will be the first or second closer drafted.
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Detroit Tigers
Team: Detroit Tigers
Total Saves: 42
(1/25) 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 has already gone on record 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). Should he falter, Fulmer is most likely to take over after excelling as a reliever in 2021. There's a decent chance Fulmer logs 10-plus saves in 2022 anyway, even if Soto serves as the primary closer throughout the season. Jose Cisnero and Alex Lange return as well for ancillary saves support.
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Houston Astros
Team: Houston Astros
Total Saves: 34
(1/25) 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. The Astros signed veteran Hector Neris this offseason, but Pressly's job security is high and he's routinely being drafted as a top 5 closer in early drafts.
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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: 37
(1/25) 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. He should enter the 2022 campaign with the first chance to claim the closer role for the Royals, assuming the team doesn't make any major additions to their bullpen. Keep in mind Barlow out-performed his estimators and his ratios are likely to regress a bit from the 2.42 ERA he posted last year. Should he struggle in the role, Josh Staumont and Dylan Coleman are worth monitoring as possible replacements.
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Los Angeles Angels
Team: Los Angeles Angels
Total Saves: 39
Next in Line: Mike Mayers , Aaron Loup
(1/25) 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 Mike Mayers and newly signed southpaw Aaron Loup will provide ancillary saves support whenever Iglesias is unavailable.
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Los Angeles Dodgers
Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Total Saves: 56
(1/25) After a decade of dominance as the Dodgers closer, Kenley Jansen is a free-agent and there is uncertainty surrounding a return to Los Angeles. In the event he re-signs with the Dodgers, the closer role is his after he ranked second in the league with 38 saves last season. If Jansen signs elsewhere, Blake Treinen is likely to step into the role after securing seven saves as Jansen's setup man last year. Treinen also led the league with 32 holds and turned back the clock to his 2018 breakout season, so there are high expectations for him if he does become the Dodgers closer. Newly signed Daniel Hudson and the emerging Alex Vesia may be in the mix for saves as well, but just be sure to monitor this bullpen once the lockout ends to see if Jansen re-signs with the Dodgers or not.
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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: 33
Closer: Dylan Floro
(1/26) Only three Marlins pitchers combined for 33 saves in 2021, as manager Don Mattingly kept his closer role pretty tight after Anthony Bass promptly blew the team's first two save chances. Yimi Garcia stepped in and was Miami's primary closer until he was traded at the deadline. Veteran Dylan Floro took over the rest of the way, with Anthony Bender providing ancillary saves when Floro was unavailable. As the roster currently stands, Bender has the stuff to close, with 97-mph heat on his sinker and a filthy slider that propelled him to the 78th percentile in whiff rate. He should be in the mix for saves moving forward, but don't expect a full share of the closer role just yet. For now, the job is likely Floro's to open 2022 -- unless Miami signs a free-agent closer like Kenley Jansen after the lockout ends. It would be a logical reunion for Jansen and his former manager, but we'll have to wait to see if Miami entertains that. The mere possibility gives me pause when it comes to Floro at his current January ADP (199.8 - Round 14 in 15-team drafts).
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Milwaukee Brewers
Team: Milwaukee Brewers
Total Saves: 44
Closer: Josh Hader
Next in Line: Devin Williams Out, Jake Cousins
(1/26) Josh Hader continues to miss plenty of bats, as his 15.7 K/9, 21.7 SwStr% and .126 batting average against 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. A trade is possible if Milwaukee falls out of playoff contention, but he's still one of the top two closers off the board for 2022 drafts. Devin Williams remains one of the top closers-in-waiting after recording the first three saves of his career last year, while Jake Cousins (13.2 K/9 in his rookie season) is worth monitoring as well.
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Minnesota Twins
Team: Minnesota Twins
Total Saves: 42
(1/26) Alex Colome finished strong last season, but didn't meet the Twins contractual expectations as they declined their mutual option for 2022, thus making him a free-agent. Of the relievers currently rostered, Taylor Rogers is far and away the most talented. With 48 saves over his last three seasons, including 30 in 2019, he's the favorite to open 2022 as the Twins' closer. This assumes he has fully recovered from the left middle finger sprain that ended his season prematurely last July. However, there's always a possibility manager Rocco Baldelli splits the closer role again like he did last year with Rogers and Hansel Robles. Tyler Duffey is back after recording three saves in 2021, while Jorge Alcala is trending upward after a dominant second half and his first career save in last year's finale. Keep in mind Rogers and Duffey will be free-agents in 2023 and may become trade candidates if the Twins don't rebound this season.
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New York Mets
Team: New York Mets
Total Saves: 41
Closer: Edwin Diaz
Next in Line: Trevor May , Seth Lugo
(1/26) 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 highest-leveraged reliever in baseball as measured by gmLI, which measures a pitcher's average Leverage Index upon entering a game. Diaz is currently being drafted among the top 6 closers after yet another strong season. Just keep in mind the possibility of a mid-summer trade if the Mets don't perform to expectations this year. For what it's worth, Trevor May, Seth Lugo, Miguel Castro and Trevor Williams are also set to be free-agents in 2023.
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New York Yankees
Team: New York Yankees
Total Saves: 47
(1/26) 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 Chad Green (6 saves in 2021) and Jonathan Loaisiga (5) should mix in plenty to keep Chapman fresh.
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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: 39
Closer: Lou Trivino
(1/26) In December, the A's hired Mark Kotsay as their new manager to replace Bob Melvin. It's unclear at this time how Kotsay intends to manage his bullpen - whether he adopts the modern approach to ninth-inning usage with flexible roles throughout the bullpen, or sticks with a primary closer - but Lou Trivino is the current favorite to lead this otherwise inexperienced group to open 2022. We all remember Trivino's brutal stretch towards the end of last season, but he was very valuable otherwise in converting 22-of-26 saves while capturing seven wins and eight holds. A.J. Puk is worth monitoring as a darker horse for saves and it's possible Oakland become players for a cheaper short-term reliever once free agency resumes.
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Philadelphia Phillies
Team: Philadelphia Phillies
Total Saves: 36
(9/29) While the Phillies overhauled nearly the entirety of the high-leverage portion of its bullpen this offseason, Neris remained the Phillies' primary closer to open 2021. He is 12-for-19 in save opportunities overall, but blew four saves at the end of June, leading manager Joe Girardi to make a change to Ranger Suarez, who earned four saves in July before shifting to the starting rotation. Neris has performed much better since his demotion from the closer role, however, the Phillies acquired Ian Kennedy via trade and he has received the majority of opportunities for his new club. Kennedy excelled as the Rangers' closer prior to his arrival in Philadelphia, logging 16 saves in 17 chances. He has struggled to a 4.50 ERA with seven home runs allowed since joining the Phillies, but the team has stuck with him in the closer role and he's likely to finish out the season in the chair.
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Pittsburgh Pirates
Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
Total Saves: 25
Closer: Committee
(9/29) For a team with little stability and clearly in rebuilding mode, the Pirates had a relatively clear-cut closer situation prior to the trade deadline. Richard Rodriguez secured 14 saves for Pittsburgh before the team traded him to Atlanta. Now that he's no longer with the team, the closer role has alternated between Bednar and Stratton, although Bednar recently experienced right side discomfort which required a trip to the injured list. Stratton served as Pittsburgh's primary closer in Bednar's absence, but Bednar is back with the club to close out the season. Bednar had been dominant prior to his injury, logging a 0.54 ERA, 0.48 WHIP and 23:2 K:BB over 16.1 innings with three saves since August 1.
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San Diego Padres
Team: San Diego Padres
Total Saves: 43
Closer: Committee
(9/29) Melancon may not be the dominant force he was at his peak, but he still has been mostly effective keeping runs off the board (2.26 ERA) while racking up league-leading 38 saves. He has a tight grasp on the Padres' closer role and will continue to see the vast majority of save opportunities over the final week. Should Melancon be unavailable, Hudson would likely fill in with Pagan struggling in September (11.74 ERA and four home runs allowed).
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Seattle Mariners
Team: Seattle Mariners
Total Saves: 51
Closer: Committee
(9/29) Manager Scott Servais has employed a closer committee this season with eight different relievers recording saves thus far. Three relievers out of the eight have logged double-digit saves, including Steckenrider (12), Sewald (11) and Kendall Graveman, who logged 10 before Seattle shipped him to Houston before the trade deadline. Expect this closer committee to continue between Steckenrider, Sewald and Castillo for the remainder of the season.
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San Francisco Giants
Team: San Francisco Giants
Total Saves: 56
Next in Line: Jake McGee , Tyler Rogers
(9/29) McGee did not allow an earned run from May 31 through August 7, a span of 24.2 innings. His dominant form allowed him to lock down 31 of his 36 save opportunities before hitting the IL in mid-September with an oblique strain. In his absence, manager Gabe Kapler will likely employ a committee between Rogers, Leone and Doval, the latter of which earned his first-career save on September 28.
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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: 50
(9/29): Reyes was originally designated to be a long reliever this season with future plans to end up in the rotation, but served as the Cardinals' primary closer for five months before blowing three saves in five chances in late-August. His struggles forced manager Mike Shildt to make a switch to Gallegos, who has always displayed the upside of a traditional closer, but was typically reserved for the highest-leverage situations rather than the ninth inning. Gallegos has earned 11 saves in September and is poised to remain the Cardinals' closer through the end of the year. Meanwhile, Reyes will transition to a multi-inning relief role with an eye on building him up for a spot in the starting rotation in 2022.
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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: 42
Closer: Committee
(9/29) The Rays' progressive approach means their bullpen is typically among the most difficult to parse, but Tampa Bay was decimated with injuries earlier this season which forced manager Kevin Cash to employ a more traditional path with Diego Castillo primarily manning the ninth inning. Castillo saved 14 games for the Rays before the team surprisingly traded him to Seattle before the deadline. The closer role has been a committee ever since, with a total of 14 different relievers earning a save for the Rays this season. Kittredge had been the committee leader prior to hitting the IL with neck tightness, but he recently returned to the club. Anderson earned the Rays' most recent save on September 26, but he subsequently hit the 10-day IL. Kittredge, McHugh, Robertson Fairbanks and Chargois remain in the mix for saves over the final week.
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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: 31
Closer: Joe Barlow
(9/29): Jose Leclerc was expected to be in the driver's seat for closing duties, but he suffered a UCL sprain in camp that later required Tommy John surgery, taking him out of the mix for the Rangers until at least the second half of the 2022 season. Jonathan Hernadez (elbow) was effective in 2020, but also underwent Tommy John surgery in April. With Hernandez and Leclerc dealing with long-term injuries, Ian Kennedy quickly emerged as the Rangers' closer, converting 16 saves in 17 chances before he was traded to the Phillies in late-July. In Kennedy's absence, Patton received the first chance in the role, but was ineffective blowing two of his three chances. Barlow was next-man-up after recording seven saves for Triple-A Round Rock earlier this season. He earned two saves before hitting the 10-day IL with a blister, but stepped right back into the role again upon his return. The 25-year-old right-hander has 10 saves in 11 chances overall and should close out the rest of the season in the closer role.
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Toronto Blue Jays
Team: Toronto Blue Jays
Total Saves: 34
(9/29) The offseason addition of Kirby Yates was expected to clarify the closer role, but he sustained a flexor strain late in spring training that required season-ending Tommy John surgery in late-March. Merryweather earned a couple saves in April, but suffered an oblique injury that sidelined him until mid-September. More injuries and overall ineffectiveness forced manager Charlie Montoyo to turn to Romano, his highest-leveraged reliever, to maintain leads in the ninth inning. Toronto also acquired Cimber, Soria and Brad Hand to shore up the late innings, but Hand has since been designated for assignment. Romano has been a steady presence in the closer role since late-May and will continue getting save chances as the Blue Jays push for an AL Wild Card spot in the playoffs.
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Washington Nationals
Team: Washington Nationals
Total Saves: 36
Closer: Committee
(1/24) 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. It will be interesting to see if the Nationals turn back to Finnegan or Rainey to open 2022, or sign a closer once the lockout ends and free agency resumes. Rainey has the strikeout upside (career 13.0 K/9) befit of a closer, but walks (6.9 BB/9) have always been a problem and Finnegan's command (4.7 BB/9) isn't much better. Neither reliever projects to have much security in the closer role if they get the opportunity. At this point of the offseason, we consider Finnegan the slight favorite for the job.
Bullpen Usage Last 7 Days
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Team Stats by Reliever
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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.