So this is it, huh? Playoffs after just 10 weeks of regular season play feels weird, but it's better than nothing, right? Congratulations to all of our readers who made it to the championship in their fantasy leagues, here's hoping this weekend goes well and helps you bring a title home!
This week, we'll take a look at the bullpen news for this last week of the regular season, then we'll go back and see how close and how far I was on some of my bold bullpen predictions from before the season started. Huge thank you to everyone who has kept up with Closers and Saves Report in this weird season, I hope it's been helpful!
Take a look at our Closer Depth Chart, which is updated daily. Let's jump in and take a look at what's been going on in the bullpens around baseball.
Bullpen News for Week 10
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels are...still not eliminated from postseason contention as of the writing of this article. They've gone with Mike Mayers in key late innings, and he seems like the best bet for saves over this weekend. He's been fantastic this year and has definitely worked his way into late-inning consideration for 2021. Mayers has a 1.52 ERA and a 35.9 K% in 29 2/3 innings. His 2.64 SIERA and 1.70 FIP back up his strong performance.
The Orioles have turned to veteran Cesar Valdez for a few saves down the stretch. Hunter Harvey is still the best pitcher in that bullpen, but Valdez looks like the leader of the Orioles committee for the last few games. Anyone desperate for maybe one more save can almost certainly find him on the waiver wire.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals closer committee is hard to predict, with Andrew Miller seemingly at the top, but Genesis Cabrera and Ryan Helsley also throwing good innings. Now, Giovanny Gallegos is back from the injured list and figures to mix in as well. It'll be hard to predict who the Cardinals will use in save situations, but they may be the team with the most games left to play. They have an "if necessary" double header against the Tigers on Monday, so fantasy owners desperate for saves may want to take a chance on a St. Louis reliever. The safest pick is likely Miller (assuming that your league will count stats accumulated from those potential Monday games, of course.)
Bold Predictions Revisited!
Before the season, I wrote a Bold Bullpen Predictions for 2020 article, then updated it in early July without making too many changes. You can see that article by clicking here: Bold Bullpen Predictions. Turns out, of my five predictions (all of which I caught TONS of flak for), two were correct, two could have been correct, and one was WAY off.
- Brad Boxberger leads the Marlins in saves and nets a legitimate prospect at the Deadline.
- Okay, so that didn't quite happen, but Boxberger did pitch really well and could have likely been traded for a decent prospect at the deadline if the Marlins had been sellers. I don't think anyone could have predicted the Marlins being legitimate buyers at the deadline, but Boxberger has a 2.12 ERA in 17 innings, five holds, and a 24.7 K%.
- James Karinchak
makeswould have made the All-Star team.
- Of course, there was no All-Star Game so this prediction was wrong from the get go, but still, the point made was that Karinchak was really, really good and not a lot of people knew who he was. The 25-year-old struggled somewhat with his command (15.1 BB%), as predicted, but he pitched to a 2.77 ERA (1.68 FIP) with a 47.2 K%. Would he have made the All-Star Team? Probably not, but he ended up fifth among all Cleveland pitchers in fWAR.
- Josh Hader exits the top tier of fantasy closers and is just OK.
- This is the one that I got THE MOST side eye for. Ranging from "yeah, right" to [expletive deleted], people were just not ready to believe that Josh Hader might not be the top closer in 2020. Cut to the end of the season, and Hader has a 4.24 ERA, a career low strikeout rate and a career high walk rate. Sorted by fWAR, Hader is 146th on the lost of relievers in 2020. I'd say that's safely outside of the top tier, right?
- Edwin Diaz has a huge bounce-back season, gets Cy Young Award votes.
- I don't expect Diaz to win the Cy Young, of course, but he may get some down ballot votes to make this prediction completely right. The important part though, was the "huge bounce-back season", which he definitely had. Diaz had a struggle or two earlier in the year, but his overall numbers are excellent: 1.50 ERA, 46.6 K%, and a .184 opponent's batting average.
- Luke Jackson will be the best pitcher in the Braves' bullpen.
- This was my big miss. Jackson not only isn't the best pitcher in the Braves bullpen, he actually hasn't really been all that good at all. He has an ugly 5.33 ERA and a 16.4 K% to go with a 9.8 BB%. Meanwhile, the rest of the Braves bullpen has been the best bullpen in baseball by many measures, making this prediction not only wrong in terms of the individual player, but in terms of the whole team.
I guess we can play three true outcomes with my predictions. I either struck out (Jackson), walked (Karinchak and Boxberger), or hit a home run (Diaz and my Hader grand slam).
Best of the Season
This section is usually for our Best of the Week, but let's wrap things up with a Best of the Season instead!
Liam Hendriks, Oakland A's- 23 IP, 1.17 ERA, 14 SV, 39.8 K%, 1.2 fWAR
A's closer Liam Hendriks was the best fantasy closer again this year, posting 14 saves and a tiny 1.17 ERA. He was second among all relievers in fWAR with 1.2.
Brad Hand, Cleveland Indians- 19 2/3 IP, 2.29 ERA, 14 SV, 32.9 K%, 0.9 fWAR
Cleveland closer Brad Hand had a huge bounce back season that I certainly didn't predict. Hand had all kinds of issues last season, but he was great in 2020, saving 14 games while posting a 2.29 ERA that could have been even better when looking at his 1.45 FIP.
Alex Colome, Chicago White Sox- 21 1/3 IP, 0.84 ERA, 12 SV, 17.2 K%, 0.5 fWAR
White Sox closer Alex Colome doesn't strike guys out, but he just gets it done. He gets guys out, he saves games. Colome had a dozen saves and a microscopic 0.84 ERA.
Devin Williams, Milwaukee Brewers- 25 IP, 0.36 ERA, 0 SV (9 HLD), 55.3 K%, 1.4 fWAR
MLB's leader in fWAR among relievers in 2020 is Brewers rookie Devin Williams. Williams had a stunning season, allowing just one earned run and six hits all season long, all while striking out 52 and walking just nine. If he ends up in the closer's role, Williams could easily be the number one reliever in baseball next season.