Welp, there's been more turnover, more tumult, more reason to wonder who's actually closing for half the teams in the league.
Granted, some of those situations are clearer than others. For some, you may not even recognize how solidified the roles have become. But if there's even a perception that the lead dog is on shaky ground, I included it here.
I've listed the teams according to how badly I want their lead dog in Fantasy. It's sort of a ranking, in that way.
Note: "Pecking order" refers to rosterability in Fantasy and not necessarily who's first in line for saves (though it's usually one and the same).
If you want to say Taylor Rogers is still the Twins closer, I won't correct you on it, but time has revealed it to be more of shared role with Sergio Romo, who both have had their struggles recently. It certainly seems like manager Rocco Baldelli still views Rogers as his top leverage guy, but he didn't hesitate to have him set up for Romo when the matchups warranted it back on Aug. 16, as he would occasionally have Rogers do for Blake Parker early last year and for Romo himself late last year. Rogers may be more like a closer than not, but he doesn't appear to be one in the strictest sense.
Emilio Pagan had a successful 2019 as the Rays closer and has recorded his two saves for the Padres without incident. But seeing as he has a 6.23 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 6.9 K/9 on the year, he doesn't inspire the same level of trust as Drew Pomeranz, who was fortunately able to play catch Tuesday and may have only a short stay on the IL.
It has to be Giovanny Gallegos by now, doesn't it? The Cardinals made one last desperate attempt to avoid it, throwing a few save chances Andrew Miller's way once they returned from their lengthy quarantine, but he predictably faltered and has gone back to working the eighth in his last two appearances, setting up Gallegos for a four-out save in one. Gallegos has been untouchable so far, just as he was last year, so it couldn't be an easier call. John Gant is off to a nice start, though, and Ryan Helsley will likely return from the IL sooner than later.
With Seth Lugo shifting to the starting rotation, it seemed like a foregone conclusion Edwin Diaz would be back in the starting role. But the Mets had to turn to him in the eighth inning with the bases loaded Wednesday, and he promptly allowed all three inherited runners to score, leaving with what was ruled to be leg cramps. He has been awesome this year except when he's needed to make his case to close, so hopefully, this hiccup doesn't disqualify him again.
This situation has quietly crystalized thanks to a recent (and unlikely) stretch of three saves in five days for the Mariners, with Taylor Williams getting the call for all of them. I decided to include the Mariners here, though, because Fantasy Baseballers aren't actually treating Williams like he's the closer. I, too, am skeptical of a 29-year-old with his lack of track record, but he's missing bats at the requisite rate and has a .176 xBA, according to Statcast. I suppose he could still get traded.
The Phillies acquired Red Sox closer Brandon Workman last week to be the solution to all their bullpen woes, but he blew his first chance with them Saturday and hasn't had a clean inning yet. He thrived in spite of a high walk rate last year, but it's worth pointing out that his .123 batting average against was the second-lowest ever for a pitcher with at least 50 innings, which suggests he may not be so fortunate again. That said, his only real competition for the role, Hector Neris, has been worse.
Just when you thought the Cubs were ready to turn back to Craig Kimbrel, giving him the save chance in Game 2 of a doubleheader last week, they then had him play setup man to Jeremy Jeffress on Sunday. It's easy to see the way this one is trending, though, especially with Kimbrel striking out nine over four consecutive hitless appearances while Jeffress and saves leader Rowan Wick both have had recent hiccups.
Keone Kela, who it's worth pointing out still has yet to record a save, hasn't made appearance since leaving Friday's game with forearm tightness, which is reportedly not a big deal even though it sounds like it certainly could be. Setup man Richard Rodriguez, meanwhile, has recorded a save since then and has a 3.09 ERA, 0.51 WHIP and 12.3 K/9 on the year, so keep an eye on him.
The Rays' last five saves have gone to Diego Castillo, Edgar Garcia, John Curtiss, Jalen Beeks and Chaz Roe, only one of whom (Castillo) really shows the makings of a closer. The team leader in saves, Nick Anderson, is on the IL for a few more days but remains their one reliever who is at least worth rostering for the ratio help. Of course, Oliver Drake, who recorded the first two saves for the Rays this season, is also nearing a return, so don't expect any clarity for this situation anytime soon.
Though manager Charlie Montoyo has said he's comfortable with either Jordan Romano or Anthony Bass closing games, recent usage suggests it's Romano's job for now -- and he's genuinely deserving of the opportunity, boasting a 0.64 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 12.9 K/9 in 14 appearances. Of course, with Ken Giles (strained forearm) back to throwing bullpen sessions, the opportunity may be short-lived.
After racking up four quick saves back in July, Joe Jimenez has been melting down in August and officially lost his job Wednesday. Truth is he has never had the numbers befitting of a closer. Meanwhile, Jose Cisnero and Gregory Soto do. It was actually Buck Farmer, heretofore the eighth-inning guy, who was reserved for the ninth inning Wednesday, but he got knocked around in what turned out to be a non-save situation. Ultimately, my money's on the 25-year-old Soto, who's clearly the best bat-misser of the bunch.
The Rockies are another team that has paid lip service to the closer committee but actually appears to have neatly defined roles. Jairo Diaz has seemingly disqualified himself, but since his removal, Carlos Estevez has continued to fill a setup role while Daniel Bard has shifted to ninth-inning duties. Of course, Bard's two saves haven't come without drama, so you wouldn't want to get too attached to him, especially since Wade Davis (shoulder strain) is back to throwing bullpen sessions. Yup, we may not have heard the last from him.
Manager Joe Maddon has been consistently reserving Ty Buttrey for ninth-inning duties, though seeing as the right-hander has just six strikeouts in his 14 2/3 innings, it seems like only a matter of time before it all comes crashing down for him. Meanwhile, last year's closer, Hansel Robles, continues to struggle, which seemingly leaves Felix Pena, the former starter who has been filling more of a setup role this year and has a wicked slider.
Matt Barnes, who opened last year as the team's closer, is back in the role following the Brandon Workman trade, but more because no one else has stepped up and claimed the job than because Barnes deserves it. His two conversions have been shaky, and considering there was also a blown save in between, it may not be long before this devolves into the most unattractive of closer committees, sort of like the Orioles last year.
We know it isn't Trevor Gott anymore, not after he allowed 11 earned runs over a recent span of three appearances, but most every pitcher's numbers in this bullpen are a straight-up disaster. The exceptions would be Tony Watson, a 35-year-old lefty who the Giants prefer as a leverage guy, and right-hander Sam Selman, who has mostly worked the middle innings. Those would be the current leaders in the clubhouse for saves, but we manager Gabe Kapler isn't going to tip his hand.