What’s poppin, Razzpimples?
It’s already time to start thinking about fantasy baseball again, ain’t that somethin? Really it’s already past that time. Sneaks up on me every year. And with it being fantasy baseball time again, that means it’s time for me to start droppin that goodness on you all every Friday again, too!
I sorely needed a refresher on offseason bullpen action, so I thought maybe y’all did, too. So, to kick off my 2023 coverage, I figured it’d be worthwhile just to take a step back and look at all the [fantasy relevant] relievers wearing different hats this season. Gonna go by division and just touch on some [again, fantasy relevant] names for each team.
Big obvious caveat: it’s still only February. Things will be different-er again soon!
Don’t forget to keep that Razzball Bullpen Chart bookmarked.
Let’s do it to it!
Los Angeles Angels
Carlos Estevez potentially seeing some saves/holds opportunities is the only thing that stands out to me here. He ain’t one I’m gonna draft in most formats, just keep an eye on how that Halos pen gets utilized moving forward. Jimmy Herget should probably be your first target here.
Nobody new to mention, but I’ll give Bryan Abreu a shoutout as someone who should see an increased role in 2023. Man was fiiiiilthy at times last season, finishing the year with a 35.5 K% in 60.1 IP. His only blemish, as is the case with so many other fireballers, is that 15th percentile BB%. Could very well turn into an elite SVHD type nonetheless.
Former Mets Holds Daddy Trevor May is now in Oakland and should see saves looks. Mayhap he sees all the saves looks? Probably not all, but I could see it, I guess. Definitely draftable and potentially holdable. Last season was ugly, but let’s pretend a full offseason has him right as rain in the health department.
M’s pen looks pretty much identical to last year’s version minus Erik Swanson. Maybe Matt Brash works his way into regular setup duties, but I don’t exactly see him leapfrogging Andres Munoz and/or Diego Castillo unless he just pops all the way off.
Another pen that’ll look mostly the same. Seems Jose Leclerc is pretty locked into closing duties for now. Really came back into form in the second half (1.85 ERA and 42 K in 34 IP), but ya never know how things’ll shake out, so keep Jonathan Hernandez on the ol’ radar. Brock Burke is one to watch as well.
Kansas City Royals
Well well well. We’ve now got Aroldis Chapman rocking royal blue. I probably don’t need to remind anyone about last year’s debacle. What does 2023 hold? I predict it holds…holds. More holds than saves, at least. I’m not even a little bit considering him over Scott Barlow for the closing gig. However, as Grey pointed out this morning, maybe they juice him up for the trade deadline. I’m of the opinion if they’re gonna juice anyone for the trade deadline it needs to be Barlow, but this’ll be an interesting scenario to keep tabs on.
This one’s interesting as well. Gregory Soto is gone, and so is Andrew Chafin (for now, but probably for good). Oh yeah, even Joe Jimenez is gone! Beefed up roles for all the names in this pen. Alex Lange is my guess to lead the team in saves once 2023 is over and done with, but he’s still a little raw and has control issues. Maybe Jose Cisnero locks it down. As for the setup side of things, you gotta still like Cisnero, while guys like Will Vest and Jason Foley could step up.
Nothing new here. I like Jhoan Duran the best, but Jorge Lopez should still be in the saves mix as well. Don’t forget about Jorge Alcala for holds; he spent like all of last year hurt but has the goods for fantasy relevance.
Chicago White Sox
*Broken heart emoji*: You’ve probably heard that Liam Hendriks has been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. There’s really no telling whatsoever when he could be back, so I’m operating on the assumption that he won’t be a factor this year. Sure hope he can be, of course. Gotta think Kendall Graveman, Aaron Bummer, and maybe Reynaldo Lopez get chances. All three are definite SVHD targets.
Toronto Blue Jays
The only new name you might want to tuck into the backside of your lil noggin is the aforementioned former Mariner Erik Swanson. Basically zero chance at saves but could get them there holds.
Mychal Givens is back in black…and orange. Even as a veteran with closing experience, I don’t see him working into regular saves outside of injuries to the guys ahead of him. Might be a decent source of cheap holds, however.
Tampa Bay Rays
Ah, the dreaded Rays pen. A fantasy headache year after year. Jalen Beeks might be the name to take the biggest fantasy steps forward. Who even knows, though. If he does, it’ll be for holds methinks. It’s looking like Crazy Eyes Pete Fairbanks may actually be a preferred closer for once? Maybe?? A new contract certainly inspires confidence in that regard.
Boston Red Sox
Kenley Jansen is a Red Sock and should slot directly into the closer role. The real question is how many saves will he rack up? I mean, it’s quite the downgrade from Atlanta in terms of fantasy value. Boston also added veteran Chris Martin, who could maybe see some holds, I guess? I get as excited about him as I do for work emails on the weekend. I’ll give credit where it’s due, however; Martin finished the second half of 2022 as the #7 WAR leader among all qualified RP. Would you be surprised to learn he had a 13.0 K/9 in that timeframe? Cuz I was.
New York Yankees
The biggest note on this pen has already been covered: the subtraction of Aroldis Chapman. There’s also Tommy Kahnle in the mix for setup duties now. He’s had a good MLB career when healthy, it’s just “healthy” isn’t something you can usually say about the guy anymore.
The most fantasy relevant addition to this atrocity of a pen is Cole Sulser. At one point he was closing for the Marlins last year. And then he just forgot how to baseball and became utterly irrelevant. New surroundings can work wonders for some people, so we’ll just have to see how he gets utilized and how he capitalizes on said chances. I’ll say that outside of NL-only formats you ain’t catching me with this guy on my draft board.
Los Angeles Dodgers
So that Craig Kimbrel guy won’t be around in 2023. That leaves three names in my book for save opps: Daniel Hudson, Evan Phillips, and Alex Vesia. You’ll see the Razz pen chart has the latter two for saves right now. That’s just speculation on my part, as Hudson has been quoted in the past saying he prefers a setup role.
San Francisco Giants
Awwww, twin brothers Taylor Rogers and Tyler Rogers are on the same team!! Totes adorbs. The former Rogers at times was MLB’s best RP last year, and at other times he was one of the very worst. Wild how that can happen. I expect Tay Tay to be the better of the two Rogerses in terms of fantasy value, but it’ll probably take an injury or extended suckage from Camilo Doval for Tay Tay to get into saves territory.
San Diego Padres
Nothing new here. Maybe Drew Pomeranz is healthy for once and becomes something of a holds source, but I’m at the point where I think he’s just not worth a lick of your time.
A couple less names clogging up the pathway to holds for the Rockies pen in 2023: Carlos Estevez and Alex Colome are gone. Pierce Johnson stays in the NL West, moving from Slam Diego to Coors. As long as Tyler Kinley is on the shelf, it’ll likely be Johnson and Dinelson Lamet battling it out for what holds there are to be had in Colorado. Daniel Bard is your man for saves, of course. Man, what a 2022 that guy had. Great story.
St. Louis Cardinals
Brad Box Burger is a Cub now, so he’s probably in the mix for holds. Brandon Hughes emerged as a save source last year, and I expect that’ll be the case this year. However, they’ve got Codi Heuer coming back sometime in the early summer probably, and they’ve got this kid Jeremiah Estrada who’s making a little noise as a potential saves sleeper. I’d stick with Hughes if you made me pick a target, it’s just not one I’d feel super hunky dory about. UPDATE: Michael Fulmer has signed with the Cubs, so expect him to at least slot directly into some sort of late-inning role.
Business as usual here. The only name worth a flip in most formats is Mr. Elite David Bednar.
Not a new face in a new place, but I don’t want y’all to forget about the potentially massive fantasy value from Tejay Antone if he can stay on the diamond. Tough to say how a perfectly healthy Atone gets utilized, but I’d wager he’d go back to his elite fireman-ness, while Alexis Diaz remains one of the better closers in baseball pitching for a ridiculously bad baseball team.
Welp, Kenley Jansen is gone so Raisel Iglesias is probably back to being an S Tier fantasy reliever. Joe Jimenez is now a Brave and could factor into some holds here and there. He’s certainly not the first or second name from this pen I’d want on my roster, though.
Marlins pen has turned quite messy. You’ve got Dylan Floro and Tanner Scott with closing experience, but now Matt Barnes is tossed in there. Experience goes a long way with some managers when they decide who gets the ball in the ninth. I’d figure Barnes gets his chance at some point to show he’s still got it. There’s also J.T. Chargois to think about now, too, but that’s probably more for holds if anything.
New York Mets
No question about the closer here. Couple new names to consider for setup though: David Robertson and Brooks Raley. Both are probably behind Adam Ottavino in the pecking order, though there are likely to be lots of holds to go around.
Lest ye’ve forgotten, Tanner Rainey had Tommy John and has very little chance to see any action in 2023. Kyle Finnegan should be the closer, with Carl Edwards Jr. and Hunter Harvey handling setup duties. I mean, not gonna lie, you’re kind of in dire straits if you’re looking at these guys for too much fantasy value.
Remember that Craig Kimbrel guy I mentioned earlier? This is where he wound up. Seranthony Dominguez keeper owners have been collectively groaning ever since. Phils also added Gregory Soto and Matt Strahm, both of whom had success as closers last year. Aaaand that qualified RP WAR list I mentioned earlier with Chris Martin? Jose Alvarado was #6. Me oh my, what fun! I’d still pick Dominguez of all of em, though. It’s just not clear what his day-to-day usage looks like. Philly’s pen has been a running joke in fantasy circles for years now, but 2023 is shaping up to be a different story (though the names they’ve added are still volatile in their own ways). This could easily turn into the Rays of the National League, or Dominguez’s caliber could vault above the rest anyway. My advice is to target the for-sures like Pressly, Iglesias, Hader, Helsley, etc. and take a stab at a Dominguez or a Kimbrel as a late flier. If someone in your draft is willing to pay up for a Phils guy, just make sure that someone ain’t you.
I do some fantasy baseball as well as some fantasy hockey here at Razzball. Find me on Twitter: @jkj0787. DMs are always open for questions, comments, concerns, complaints, etc. Odds are good I’m drinking black coffee, dark beer, or some form of bourbon at any given time.