Houston relievers Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly are scheduled to hit free agency this winter. The pair has 35 saves between them this season. Maybe Houston brings someone back. Maybe they anoint Hector Neris (or Ryne Stanek) the guy coming out of camp. Regardless of what the team does, it’s difficult to envision a scenario that excludes RHP Bryan Abreu from the ninth-inning picture, unless you’re building the scenario around injury or poor performance. Command has eluded Abreu at times, so that’s not out of the question, but you could say the same about a lot of relievers. And just so you know, this whole post idea sprung from the fact that Abreu was available in a lot of my leagues despite looking like an obvious closer in 2023 and beyond. 

Cubs RHP Jeremiah Estrada is my long-term favorite for saves among a long list of young relievers making their way to Wrigley. LHP Brandon Hughes has earned himself a share of the ninth, and as long as they’ve got other options for facing left-handed batters, Hughes has the goods to hold the role. His fastball and slider pair and tunnel like they were designed in a lab, ending up about 10.5 horizontal inches apart at the plate despite looking like the same pitch moments after the release point. 

Not really helping anyone much by mentioning Mariners RHP Andres Munoz. His present and future as a wipeout reliever is no secret. Nonetheless, he was acquired pretty cheaply in two of my dynasty leagues this season despite dominating all year long. Paul Sewald has the 9th inning on relative lockdown with a ludicrous but nice .069 WHIP, and he’s not a free agent until 2025. I could go either way on Munoz. Mostly, I’d prefer to trade for him, but if I can get pieces that help, I’m open to moving him despite the risk he becomes an elite closer the moment Sewald gets injured or lost at sea. 

I suspect Reds RHP Alexis Diaz will be an underrated closer at the beginning of draft season: something like the David Carr and Kirk Cousins of drafting quarterbacks according to the experts. I know I’m off book here, but holy cow I cannot believe how many fantasy football talkers think you should draft medium-good quarterbacks. Fine by me, honestly, I’m just surprised at the certainty, especially when it comes to farting in the general direction of a discount Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. Such is life. Grey is always right about starting pitching at the draft table, but experts keep running pitchers up their draft boards. Same story, new season. I like Diaz a lot, but he has six major league saves and eight total saves as a professional pitcher. Good trade target right now, better bet than Cousins, comparatively speaking, but he’s closing for a Reds team without much talent on the field. And for what it’s Weurtz, a lot of the anti-closer talk you hear around draft season and in dynasty valuations has been wrong since it began. Even as a Reds closer, Diaz could bag 7 wins and 25 saves with 90 Ks and elite ratios in 2023. 

Royals RHP Jose Cuas is not a high-strikeout guy, but he generates impressive extension as a plus athlete and spent his first pro-ball life as an infielder. Even made it to High-A despite extreme struggles with the bat. He’s already got one save. Scott Barlow is not a free agent until 2025, something I would not have guessed given how much trade chatter surrounded his name this summer. RHP Dylan Coleman isn’t a free agent until 2028. I wouldn’t add Cuas in most leagues at the moment, but I like him in Save/Hold formats and would be ready to move in on him or Coleman at a moment’s notice. Wouldn’t be shocked to see Barlow moved this winter or at the deadline next summer. 

Dear Evan Phillips, please close a bunch of games for the Dodgers in 2023. Also, please wait until all Razzball readers have you on rosters in their leagues. Thanks! – Itch

Dodgers RHP Brusdar Graterol might be young Evan’s primary competition for saves if he can stay on the field, something he’s rarely managed to do across extended stretches, which is something of a prerequisite for locking down a big league closing gig. 

Yankees RHP Jonathan Loaisiga is available in all of my leagues amidst a dreadful season from which he’s only recently begun rebounding. The strikeouts have fallen off as the results have improved. Interesting development. Feels like it could be an evolutionary leap. Loaisiga has a 1.86 ERA and 83.7 exit velocity allowed in August despite a 17.9 percent strikeout rate in 12 appearances. 

I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of these. Not really the nature of this task to be completionist. Let me know in the comments who comes to mind for you! 

In non-closing news, a whole pile of prospects was called up to sit the bench: Yankees SS Oswald Peraza, Brewers OF Esteury Ruiz, and Rays 2B Jonathan Aranda are all worth a pick up no matter how rarely they play in the early going. Aranda would be my priority of the group because I believe the Rays let hot hitters earn their stay. 

Guardians RHPs Cody Morris and Xzavion Curry will replace snake-bitten Aaron Civale and part-time epidemiologist Zac Plesac in Cleveland’s rotation. I’ve always had a spicy-sweet-tooth for Curry, but I like them both. 

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

31 Comments
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MJ888
MJ888
3 months ago

Hey Itch – Curious if you think Atlanta might try to keep Vaughn Grissom under 130 at bats in order for him to remain rookie eligible in 2023? As long as Albies comes back soon, it would almost make sense for them to consider that as an option.

Kruk_Ain't_An_Athlete
Kruk_Ain't_An_Athlete
3 months ago

Non-closer question, Itch.
Now that Gunnar Henderson, Corbin, Carroll, and some other studs are up, who are the BEST 3, 4, 5, or more prospects STILL in the Minors that *might* be a breakout next year like J-Rod, Bobby Witt, Jr, Strider, Harris II, Kwan, and Rutschman?

Kruk_Ain't_An_Athlete
Kruk_Ain't_An_Athlete
Reply to  The Itch
3 months ago

Awesome! You’re the best, Itch! (sorry, Grey, if you’re reading this YOU are still the one all men want to be and all women want to be with…)

Kruk_Ain't_An_Athlete
Kruk_Ain't_An_Athlete
Reply to  Kruk_Ain't_An_Athlete
3 months ago

Love to hear more thoughts on guys like Chourio, Kyle Harrison, Ricky Tiedemann, Noelvi Marte, Evan Carter, and those you listed.

Steamin Beamen
Steamin Beamen
3 months ago

Hey Itch!

Aranda or Toglia?

Thanks!

Dr Sauce
Dr Sauce
3 months ago

Put on your prognosticator hat: stat lines of Gunnar and Corbin Carroll next year as rookies? What kind of potential numbers do we see in their primes?

riverycity
riverycity
3 months ago

Feels crazy to ask, it would you start Carroll today over Acuña? Carroll has an easier matchup and Acuña has a sore knee that might be sapping his homer in swing.

junior56
junior56
3 months ago

Morning Itch!

Thanks for this write up! I missed out on Phillips but did grab Abreu.in 2 leagues.

Of these OFers whom would you deal?

Hassell
Valera
Wood
Veen
Adell

Ray
Ray
Reply to  junior56
3 months ago

Not Itch but I would deal Adell. Not sure I deal him for a reliever though.

Gordeon
Gordeon
3 months ago

Pickup Ben Joyce

Better Call Limehouse
Better Call Limehouse
3 months ago

13 team dynasty, regular starting hitting slots, but 50 total active rosters. somebody dropped abrams. drop which of brujan, w.diaz, e.leonard for abrams?

Jimmy
Jimmy
3 months ago

Good morning Itch…. Thoughts on Max Castillo today, ROS and next year? Thank you

galica1234
galica1234
3 months ago

The Itch!!!

Awesome!

a. Great report, enjoyed thoroughly.

b. I saw Eaton get called up and like his OBP/SB combo in my 4×4 keep forever dynasty league. I also especially like him because he graduated from VMI and will never do stupid stuff like Rodolfo did (carrying his mobile phone on field). Just crawled into a tie for 1st. Here’s the skinny.

Hitting
SB 155 (1st, 2nd is 127)
OBP 0.316 (8th, in 7th is 0.321 and in 9th is 0.314)
RC 883.3 (2nd, 1st is too far to mention, 3rd is 833.9)
TB 2886 (2nd, 1st is 2921 and 3rd is 2762)

Pitching
QS 93 (tied for 2nd, 4th is 86)
SVH 161 (2nd, 1st is 186, 3rd is 135)
K/9 9.36 (4th, 3rd is 9.5 and 5th is 9.29)
WHIP 1.126 (3rd, 2nd is 1.098 and 4th is also 1.126)

Who is the drop?

Contreras
Tellez
India
Dermis
Xander
Meneses
Esteury
Mateo, Arozarena, Betts, Fraley, Michael A Taylor
Peraza, Marte

Bench Drury, Brujan, Massey, Berti, Stone Garrett, McCarthy, Lane Thomas

SP Lodolo, Cease, Manoah, Contreras, Musgrove, Ryan
RP Robertson, Montero, Lopez, Herget, Hendriks, Fairbanks, Doval, ADiaz
IL Gonsolin, Kopech, Paxton

I was thinking Dermis, Tellez. As of now I have just Dermis and Drury at 3B.

b. Another big question I had was what to do about prospects when they get called up from AAA but looking at the fact that the AAA season was extended to September 28 and rosters were only expanded from 26 to 28, I guess there’s no question. Outman is raking in OKC looks like they will need him there.

c. George Carlin quote of the day for September 4, 2022

People are fucking nuts. This country is full of nitwits and assholes. You ever notice that? Oh, my goodness. Nitwits, assholes, fuckups, scumbags, jerkoffs, and dipshits. And they all vote. They all vote. In fact, sometimes you get the impression that they’re the only ones who vote.’

From Life Is Worth Losing (2005)
Cheers,
Ante

Manny
Manny
3 months ago

I believe that before the season Ryan Pressly was signed to a 2 year extension through 2024 with an option for 2025. He will still be at the back of the Houston bullpen another 2-3 seasons unless I am missing something…

Ray
Ray
3 months ago

Hey Itch!
I picked up Phillips off waivers in my NL keeper and am hoping he closes next year as well. I own Graterol as well.
Here’s to Phillips closing in 2023!
Ray

FunnyGeorgeLopez
FunnyGeorgeLopez
Reply to  Ray
3 months ago

Itch – really appreciate all your work. Your philosophy on fantasy baseball is great and you provide awesome info on pop up guys. I also like your non-baseball references and writing style.

Pressly is signed through 2024. Astros have a 2025 option. Mlb teams continue to overpay relievers….