At some point, the fantasy baseball community is going to have to move away from saves being a scoring category. Some leagues have opted to go with “saves plus holds” instead — a move that broadens the scope of usable relievers and doesn’t force us into chasing saves all year.
But if you thought wins was an arbitrary statistic, good luck figuring out how holds are awarded. And until the time comes when we find a new category, we are left with saves, and the grueling task of deciphering the whims of teams and managers alike.
With most managers looking to play the matchups, we have been left with a declining number of true closers. The Padres, Indians and Blue Jays have all announced a committee approach to closing out games, and there are bullpens, like those of the Rangers, Rays and Red Sox, which remain unsettled.
If you find yourself nodding your head in shared frustration right now, you can, at least, claim a minor victory with some teams mapping out the game plan for you.
Phillies manager Joe Girardi finally put an end to the debates on the eve of Opening Day when he named Hector Neris as his closer. Girardi comes from the same “school” as Marlins manager Don Mattingly and prefers to have designated bullpen roles over the committee approach. That’s not to say guys like Neris or Marlins closer Anthony Bass are secure all year, but it would take more than just a single bump in the road to force a change.
Though it will frustrate those who drafted Jordan Hicks, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak explained how the team would ease Hicks into the role, following his recovery from 2019 Tommy John surgery, and both he and manager Mike Shildt pointed to Alex Reyes as the current stopgap with Giovanny Gallegos filling in on days when Reyes can’t throw. A short bench may make it difficult to stash Hicks, but, for now, Reyes is your target for saves in the month of April.
Bullpen volatility has become the norm in fantasy baseball, and you are going to have to stay vigilant with team reports and managerial testimony. Any job changing hands leads to a feeding frenzy on the waiver wire. It will be up to you to sift through the clutter to find what you need.
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy baseball advice.