It’s a fairly light week when it comes to save speculation. There is still an abundance of potential holds candidates and ratio stabilizers available. Here are some relievers to stream for the upcoming week.
One of the primary perpetrators of Twins’ abysmal start to the season is the lack of reliability in their bullpen. Free-agent acquisition Alex Colome’s early struggles opened the door for a new closer, and it might be Robles. Robles has picked up each of the Twins’ last two saves and has been particularly effective in recent weeks. In his last 9 2/3 innings, Robles has given up one run. Alex Colome has also rebounded and represents competition for saves down the line, but for the time being Robles looks like the current closer in Minnesota.
The Padres’ bullpen has been one of the best in baseball in 2021, and Craig Stammen’s emergence has been a big part of it. The 37-year old looks as effective as he ever has, posting a 1.75 ERA and 2.98 FIP through 25 2/3 innings. While earlier in the season he was mostly used as a multi-inning reliever, he’s transitioned into more high leverage work in recent appearances. He’s picked up a hold in each of his three outings and should remain a reliable holds source while Drew Pomeranz is injured.
Over the prior three seasons, Bryan Shaw was one of the least effective pitchers in MLB. So far in 2021, he’s been one of the surprise contributors to the Indians’ lethal bullpen. Shaw’s 16.1% walk rate represents some future trouble, but a career-high 29% strikeout rate and 61.8% groundball rate show he has a skill set conducive to stranding baserunners. Nick Wittgren’s uneven start to the season has allowed Shaw to emerge as the third reliever behind the Emmanuel Clase and James Karinchak backend duo, affording him a role where he will provide holds.
Speaking of the Indians’ bullpen, James Karinchak collected each of Cleveland’s last two saves. Despite Clase’s 0.95 ERA, he possesses a below-average strikeout rate (22.1%) and below-average walk rate (10.5%). He’s been incredibly difficult to square up or elevate, evidenced by his 72.4% groundball rate and 76.7 average exit velocity against, but the walks and balls in play have left Clase victim to poor infield defense (four unearned runs) and inefficient, laboring innings. Karinchak has shown better skills and appears fully capable of filling the closer role if the Indians are unsure of Clase’s command. It’s unclear whether Clase is being removed from the role or not, but it’s a situation to monitor.
Since coming off the injured list Diego Castillo has appeared in the sixth and eighth inning. On Wednesday Pete Fairbanks labored through the ninth inning to pick up his first save of the season. This will likely still be a hard-to-read situation for the time being, but Castillo should see the majority of save opportunities for the foreseeable future.
Rafael Dolis blew a save opportunity on Thursday, giving up three runs to the Red Sox. He walked a batter, gave up a walk, multiple hits, and eventually let up the go-ahead home run to J.D. Martinez. Tyler Chatwood and Jordan Romano provided a clean seventh and eighth inning, respectively, prior to Dolis’s poor performance. One of those two will likely get the next save opportunity and should be added if available.
The Giants' closer situation may be starting to clear up. After blowing a save last Friday in Pittsburgh and then giving up a walk-off home run on Saturday, Gabe Kapler went to Tyler Rogers for the next two saves. Rogers likely wasn’t available for a third straight day on Tuesday, paving way for McGee to get the save. The next day, McGee pitched the eighth to setup for Tyler Rogers, who pitched the ninth in a four-run game. Rogers seems like the preferred option at the moment, but McGee is still a hold as a potential lefty complement to Rogers and backup closer.
After Michael Fulmer closed out the Tigers’ victory on Tuesday, he was pitching in the eighth on Wednesday with Gregory Soto pitching the ninth inning of a four-run game. This is likely similar to the Giants’ situation, although Detroit likely won’t be winning enough games to make both Fulmer and Soto viable.