Fantasy Baseball Closer Chart (last updated February 21)
The chart below breaks down all 30 major-league teams' bullpens in terms of relievers' proximity to the closer role, not their overall fantasy value. Teams are broken down by division.
"CLOSER" is either that team's officially designated closer, or the pitcher most likely to get the team's next save chance. "NEXT IN LINE" is the pitcher next-most likely to take over if something happens to the closer, or the one who might get any save chances on the closer's nights off. "NOTES" beneath each division's chart provide detail on teams' closer situations that might have an unusual wrinkle, like an injury to the typical closer requiring a short term fill-in, or a committee situation.
NOTES: New Orioles manager Brandon Hyde plans a more matchups-oriented bullpen in 2019, so Givens, while the favorite for the majority of their saves, might be used in the game's highest-pressure situation regardless of inning. RIchard Bleier, Miguel Castro and Paul Fry seem the next most-likely to be used in high-leverage spots. ... With Craig Kimbrel still lingering on the free-agent market, the Red Sox's closer picture is entirely up for grabs. Manager Alex Cora could go with an entirely matchups-driven approach, but Barnes and Brasier look like the top candidates if only one closer is chosen. Steven Wright, Heath Hembree and Tyler Thornburg are also candidates. ... The Yankees could go with Dellin Betances or Adam Ottavino to close games anytime Chapman is unavailable, but Britton's past experience in the role probably gives him a leg up as the true "handcuff." ... The Rays are likely to again go with a committee-driven pitching staff, but Alvarado has easily the best stuff and makeup to close most nights.
NOTES: White Sox manager Rick Renteria said at the start of spring training that he has multiple closer candidates, mentioning Colome, Herrera and Nate Jones, and Jace Fry was an effective enough reliever last season that he could fit into the picture in-season. It's unclear whether Renteria was referring to a spring battle or committee plan to the position. ... Royals manager Ned Yost said he doesn't want to define bullpen roles at the onset of spring training, a strong hint that Peralta and Boxberger will be in competition to close. Kevin McCarthy could also factor in the late innings. ... The Twins have as many as five viable closer candidates, with Blake Parker, Trevor Hildenberger and Addison Reed joining May and Rogers in the competition. May finished 2018 in the role and Rogers had the most effective season of the bunch, perhaps putting them in the lead, but manager Rocco Baldelli might ultimately opt for a matchups-driven bullpen.
NOTES: The battle for setup duty in Houston is more compelling than for closer, where Osuna is locked in. Pressly, Hector Rondon, Will Harris and Chris Devenski are all in the mix to handle the eighth. ... Similarly, the Athletics will have Trivino, Joakim Soria and potentially Fernando Rodney duking it out for eighth-inning duties. ... Mariners manager Scott Servais said "there may not be a set closer on a particular night," meaning that Strickland, Swarzak (if healthy), Shawn Armstrong and Cory Gearrin could all be in the mix for saves. ... The Rangers are another team that will have competition for their primary setup role, with Martin, Shawn Kelley, Zach McAllister and Jesse Chavez all in the mix.
NOTES: Marlins manager Don Mattingly has hinted he'll go with a closer-by-committee to start the 2019 season, with Steckenrider, Romo and Adam Conley his three most likely options on any given night. Tayron Guerrero is a deep sleeper to move into the mix in-season. ... Phillies manager Gabe Kapler loves to mix and match, so while Robertson is the favorite for the majority of the team's save chances plus has the requisite experience in the role, Dominguez and Hector Neris will surely get their opportunities on some nights. Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter could also figure into the late-inning mix. ... The Nationals are pretty high on Rosenthal, and are likely to start him off as their primary setup man.
NOTES: Strop is expected to serve as the Cubs' primary closer while Brandon Morrow recovers from a debridement procedure on his right elbow in November, with Morrow projected to miss roughly a month's regular-season time. Brad Brach could also join Cishek in setup duty. ... New Reds manager David Bell plans to use Iglesias in lengthier outings, which doesn't sound much different from the team's 2018 strategy, but that could mean Hughes or David Hernandez gets an occasional save if Iglesias is tired. ... The Brewers could use as large as a three-headed monster to close games, with Jeremy Jeffress joining Knebel and Hader as finishers on any given night. Knebel's lights-out conclusion to 2018 probably makes him the favorite most nights. ... Cardinals manager Mike Shildt plans to use a committee to close games in 2019, with Hicks and Miller probably equally likely to get save chances on any given night. Alex Reyes is a darkhorse candidate for in-season, as might be Carlos Martinez if he can't prove healthy enough for the rotation.
NOTES: The Diamondbacks could go in any of three directions to close games in 2019, with Yoshihisa Hirano joining Bradley and Holland in what could be a spring battle or a simple in-season committee approach. ... Rockies manager Bud Black named Oberg and Seunghwan Oh as prime candidates to take over eighth-inning duties this season. ... Jose Castillo could provide a left-handed matchups option to close games if the Padres don't have Yates available on a given night and don't want to go in that direction ahead of Stammen. ... Giants manager Bruce Bochy is in no hurry to name his Opening Day closer, but Smith has to be considered the favorite for those duties. Melancon, Tony Watson and Sam Dyson could provide some spring competition.