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.