With another week removed from the trade deadline, the closer landscape has become relatively stable. The Nationals, Rangers, Diamondbacks, Reds, and Marlins have all seemed to settle on a clear number one option. This still leaves a couple of situations with question marks and a few committees. Here are the three relievers I’d be looking to pick up for this upcoming week.
When Seattle acquired Diego Castillo, it seemed as though they were acquiring a closer to allow them to use Paul Sewald in a more flexible way. Instead, Seattle has gone into a full committee approach to saves. In the month of August, Castillo only has one save while Steckenrider and Sewald have recorded two saves apiece. Given how much Servais seems to want to spread saves around, this could be a good time to get Steckenrider for the next week or two. Steckenrider’s 2.06 ERA is the best among this trio, and while his peripherals are not nearly as impressive as Sewald or Castillo, it’s clear Seattle trusts him in save situations and likes the flexibility of using Sewald and Castillo at earlier points in games as well.
Heuer dominated in 2020 to the tune of a 1.52 ERA backed up by 2.77 FIP while averaging almost 98 MPH on his fastball. He ran into major trouble in 2021 with his fastball down nearly two miles per hour from 2020 and becoming ineffective. While he has turned to his changeup more often to mitigate the lack of effectiveness on his heater, he wasn’t able to get back on track consistently for the White Sox. To this point in Heuer’s Cubs’ career, he has not seen a rebound in his fastball velocity and has also seen his strikeouts take a step back. Given his track record, quality secondary pitches, and his standing as the second piece in a major trade for the Cubs, it would make sense for him to receive multiple looks in save situations before the season is over. He’s a clear speculative add but the Cubs host the Rockies early next week, giving them at least a decent chance to win a game or two. Heuer is the reliever for the Cubs I would want to stream and hope he receives a potential save chance this week.
The Royals’ bullpen has been a mess the entire season. At certain points, each of Josh Staumont, Scott Barlow, Greg Holland, and even Wade Davis spent time as speculative save sources. Now lefty Jake Brentz has begun to throw his name into this mix. He converted his second save on Tuesday. Despite laboring through two walks the Royals let him find his way through it, making it clear he wasn’t deployed as a matchup play. He also came on to face the top of the Houston Astros’ batting order. Brentz’s skills have not been great so far in his career, posting a 4.57 xFIP and 14.7% walk rate. Still, it seems as though he is in the closing mix for the Royals and he is worth a speculative stream in deeper leagues.
Angels’ rookie reliever Austin Warren closed out their comeback victory on Thursday with a two-inning save. With Raisel Iglesias unavailable and Mike Mayers already deployed in the seventh inning, Joe Maddon rode Warren for the last six outs of the game. Warren has been reasonably effective in his brief introduction to the major leagues, collecting twelve strikeouts in thirteen innings with a 2.08 ERA. He is not a threat to Raisel Iglesias for saves in the short-term and likely is behind Mike Mayers in the pecking order as well.
Lucas Luetge picked up a one-out save on Wednesday after Aroldis Chapman yielded a home run, walk, and single. The Yankees then went to Chad Green for the save on Thursday rather than Chapman. Chapman has just returned from an elbow injury and some rust is expected given his layoff. The Yankees may elect to ease him back in slowly, but he will see the bulk of the save opportunities through the rest of the season.
The Giants bullpen has been busy as of late saving close games. Zack Littell came in for a one-out save last Friday after Jake McGee struggled to close out the game. McGee rebounded to record saves Sunday and Monday, and then Dominic Leone picked up a one-out save on Wednesday with both Jake McGee and Tyler Rogers unavailable and Jarlin Garcia unable to secure the final out of the ninth inning. Through all of this, Jake McGee is the Giants’ clear first choice for saves still.