Fantasy Baseball Relief Pitcher Rankings – 5/22/23 Depth Chart

Find breakdowns of key bullpen usages from yesterday's slate of games.

Welcome back to the latest edition of our Reliever Ranks series! This will bring you up-to-date bullpen depth charts every morning for the day’s games and makes for an excellent tool for those looking to stream saves or wins. This series runs seven days a week, so check in every morning to get your daily bullpen fix!




Transaction and Schedule Notes


  • We were treated to sixteen games on Sunday as the Guardians and Mets played a double-header to make up for their rainout on Saturday. We get twelve more games on Monday meaning just six have a scheduled day off. They are: BAL, NYY, NYM, WSH, CHC, SDP.


  • Mychal Givens was activated by the Orioles and immediately got into game action in a close ball game. He was a key piece to this bullpen last year and figures to be so again this year.
  • Aaron Loup was activated by the Angels with Jimmy Herget returning to AAA. Loup had four holds before getting hurt, so he’s likely still in line for some holds now that he’s back. Andrew Wantz was also optioned in a major reshuffling of the Angels’ bullpen with Reyes Moronta joining the Major League squad. Moronta has the ability to strike out batters in droves if he can find the zone, so this is an interesting upside play.
  • Ryan Thompson was optioned to AAA by the Rays to make way for a bulk relief appearance from Cooper Criswell. Thompson had been really struggling and the Rays make use of the options they have. He could easily return in a couple of weeks and get back to being a core member of the bullpen.
Yesterday’s Performances 


NYY 4 – CIN 1

  • Round and round we go as the saves carousel landed on Clay Holmes again on Sunday with Wandy Peralta getting the hold in the 8th inning. Albert Abreu also picked up a win in relief. The Yankees’ last five team saves have now gone to five different players and we have to accept that this is a committee situation through and through. Along with Peralta and Holmes, Michael King has also gotten looks when other top relievers have been available while Ron Marinaccio seemingly only got his chance when Holmes, Peralta, and King were unavailable. King is still not being used in back-to-back games and Peralta has struggled, at times, to get righties out in his career, so I think Holmes does end up getting the most saves on this team by the end of the year, but that’s now a question of 40-50% of the total team’s saves rather than the 70-80% figure we hope for from the top fantasy closers.
  • Kevin Herget cleaned up the last couple of innings for the Reds as they trailed. The ERA looks nice for now, but this isn’t a guy I envision moving forward into higher-leverage work.


DET 4 – WSN 6

  • The Tigers were down big through the middle innings but came back enough to convince them to use Jason Foley in the bottom of the 8th to keep the game close. Foley did have to work around two hits but delivered another scoreless inning to bring his ERA to 1.42. Foley has been solid this year and should be the leader in holds for the Tigers, but I don’t see the strikeout potential to make him more than a middling holds option. Something like a low-3s ERA the rest of the way seems reasonable to me. You could do worse, but you could also likely do better in all but the deepest leagues.
  • A day after Hunter Harvey earned a hold in the 8th and Kyle Finnegan closed down the 9th, Finnegan was brought in in the 6th inning here to stop the bleeding after the Tigers started mounting a comeback. He ended up working the 7th, too, and logged his second hold. Harvey fared much better here than his last save opportunity on Tuesday and needed just thirteen pitches for a clean inning with two strikeouts. He was given two of the three save opportunities from the team this week with Finnegan setting him up on both of them, so I’d say that, if this is a committee, it’s likely a committee that favors Harvey and, if the numbers continue to play out, it won’t be a committee for long. Harvey likely doesn’t have top-10 RP potential this year due to some control issues and team context, but I could certainly see him being a serviceable RP2.


ARZ 8 – PIT 3

  • Scott McGough got a two-inning hold for his eighth of the year. The D’backs then extended the lead and Kevin Ginkel finished out the final two innings with no reward beyond the joy of the game. McGough had previously been hovering around the conversation for saves, but is clearly behind Andrew Chafin and Miguel Castro in the pecking order now, both of whom seem like they’ll get regular shots at saves.
  • While the back of the Pirates’ bullpen has been stellar, their bridge guys have been a bit shaky and that continued on Sunday. Four pitchers combined to give up five runs (four earned) in four innings with Dauri Moreta taking the loss. Fantasy managers would hate it, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Luis Ortiz moved to a long relief role later in this season if the Pirates are still competing. His innings will likely be managed later in the year and he’s having trouble developing the control required of a starter, so having him fill that need would make a lot of sense. We’re not quite there yet this early in the year, though.


CHC 1 – PHI 2

  • Adbert Alzolay was brought on in the 7th inning of a scoreless game and gave up a pair of runs which ended up being enough to saddle him with his third loss of the season. As I mentioned last week, I think Mark Leiter Jr. is the guy to own in this bullpen for right now. Alzolay could have his time and is certainly pitching very well overall, but the late-season stash may end up being Jeremiah Estrada over him. A positive takeaway from this performance is that the slider looked untouchable here with three swinging strikes and three called strikes on seven offerings. The swinging strike rate on his slider had been down considerably this year, so, if he can get it back consistently, it could help him bump that K-rate back up towards 30% where we’d like to see it.
  • Pretty much all of Philadelphia’s high-leverage guys came on for this one and it ended with Craig Kimbrel picking up a dirty save working around a solo homer and a walk. Kimbrel’s velocity was up, but he was even more wild than the box score would have you believe here. He threw six balls to Trey Mancini before finally succeeding at walking him and nearly threw one to the backstop only to be saved by an amazing snag from J.T. Realmuto. I get the upside here is a top-tier closer, but there’s a considerable floor here as well that we shouldn’t forget about.


SEA 2 – ATL 3

  • The Mariners needed just three outs from their bullpen here and no holds, wins, saves, or losses were allowed.
  • Raisel Iglesias notched his third save of the season and his third straight 1-2-3 outing since allowing multiple runs in back-to-back appearances on May 10th and 14th. He seemed to have a bit of a velocity dip last week, but that turned out to be just a blip in the radar as Iglesias has seemed to be the dominant reliever Atlanta was hoping for this past week. Nick Anderson did allow a homer in this one but struck out two and picked up his eighth hold. Anderson has quietly been one of the most successful reclamation projects of the year as his 3.10 ERA undersells his stellar 24:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 0.79 WHIP. If Iglesias isn’t able to close, either temporarily or for a long stretch, Anderson would make for a very interesting add.


BAL 8 – TOR 3 (F/11)

  • Working without Félix Bautista and Yennier Cano, both of whom had worked three of the previous four days, the Orioles managed to navigate and win an extra-innings affair with Mike Baumann earning the victory, his third, and closing out his own win. Although he looked rough in this one, the return of Mychal Givens gives his already excellent bullpen yet another option in high-leverage middle innings. It’s amazing how far this bullpen has come after a historically bad 2021. They are now legitimately one of the best bullpens in the league top to bottom.
  • Toronto was similarly handcuffed with Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson unavailable due to usage and they did not fare as well. Yimi García had a very bad Sunday afternoon, allowing five runs (four earned) and taking his second loss of the season. The sample size of a reliever is so small that one outing can change how we look at their entire year. Coming into this game, Garcia had a serviceable 4.29 ERA and was second on the team with seven holds. Now, it has ballooned to 5.82, he’s taken losses on back-to-back days, and I’m starting to wonder if Trevor Richards and his ridiculous changeup start taking more 6th/7th inning hold chances.


CLE 4 – NYM 5 (Game 1)

  • Is no one safe in Cleveland’s bullpen? Who will guard the Guardians? Trevor Stephan blew the save on Sunday, the team’s third blown save of the weekend, and took his second loss of the year. Stephan has been impeccable all year, but this just goes to show that everyone gets touched up every now and again in such a long season. Despite these struggles, the bullpen is still overall one of the better ones out there and Stephan is still a solid option for holds.
  • Adam Ottavino struggled to keep the Guardians at bay in the 8th and was relieved by David Robertson to stop the bleeding. He, then, allowed a go-ahead homer to Jose Ramirez leaving him on the hook for the loss. The offense flipped the script, though, and he was able to close things out, but for a win this time. Even when he loses, he wins! The eight saves aren’t great in volume, but Robertson has put up excellent ratios so far this year and now has a pair of wins, both coming this week. He looks like a solid low-end RP1 the rest of the way.


CLE 1 – NYM 2 (Game 2)

  • Shane Bieber tossed all 8 IPs here to save the bullpen from having to work a second game.
  • Brooks Raley picked up his first save of the season and needed just two strikes to do so after hitting Amed Rosario and generating a double play. Raley also picked up a hold in game one on just nine pitches, so he recorded a hold and a save on the same day and needed fourteen pitches to do it. A remarkable feat that he will almost certainly never achieve again.


MIL 6 – TBR 4

  • Devin Williams worked around a pair of walks to earn a four-out save, his seventh of the campaign. Peter Strzelecki stumbled his way to a team-leading eleventh hold. Williams’ save total is a bit lower than most of his other counterparts who have held the job all year, but his performance hasn’t been the cause of the lack of saves. The Brewers seem to be experimenting with how to use him more as both of his saves this week have been more than three outs.
  • It was an opener game for the Rays who used Jalen Beeks for two to start, then Jake Diekman and Zack Littell. I’m definitely interested to see what the Rays can do with Diekman, who has had pockets of dominance in the not-too-distant past, but who has also always struggled mightily with walks and general command. The Rays seem to be much more solidified and consistent in their usage of high-leverage guys this year, so it would take a lot for Diekman to break into that and I wouldn’t even expect that many chances for holds in the short term.


OAK 0 – HOU 2

  • Oakland as a team has converted four saves on the year. Four saves total. None of the pitchers who converted those saves are currently on the active roster. Houston only scoring one run in three innings against them is honestly a disappointment.
  • Framber Valdez was his own set-up man and closer on Sunday as he delivered a CGSO. Tip of the cap.


KCR 2 – CHW 5

  • The Royals used Carlos Hernández as an opener here for two innings and he faced the minimum, striking out three. He hit 102 on the gun on two separate pitches and tossed 20 of his 27 offerings for strikes. He now has a 1.80 ERA and 35% K-rate over 10 IPs in the month of May. While Scott Barlow and Aroldis Chapman are getting all the attention right now, Hernandez may quietly be the best arm in this bullpen right now and could easily be closing games for this team by August 1st.
  • It was a welcome, but too uncommon sight for White Sox fans this year. They finally saw their bullpen go a clean 7-8-9 and convert the save without much fanfare. Joe Kelly was the beneficiary this time and picked up his first save of the season. Kelly did only get this save because Kendall Graveman was unavailable and Liam Hendriks is expected back within the next week or so, but I still can’t help but be intrigued by Kelly who is sporting a ridiculous 37% K-BB% and has only walked one of 48 batters faced this season. His sinker is a much-improved pitch this year with more extension and spin leading to him adding nearly three inches of ride on it versus last year. He keeps the ball on the ground, strikes people out, and, so far this year at least, isn’t giving up walks. We really don’t know where Liam Hendriks is at right now or how he’ll hold up for the rest of the year and we have a guy already on the roster doing his best Liam Hendriks impression. I think it’s worth a look.


LAD 5 – STL 10

  • The previously infallible Dodgers bullpen had yet another rough day on Sunday as four pitchers combined to allow six ERs in 4.1 IPs. Their bullpen is worse than the Nationals and second worst in the NL only scraping by the Giants. There’s still a really good core here, but it’s strange to see their depth be so bad.
  • Matthew Liberatore did come on in relief after all here which calls into question when we might see him as a starter. He took quite a while to settle into the game, throwing seven of his first ten pitches for balls, but did seem to find some sense of comfort by the end of the inning. It’s really tough to ask a pitcher to switch back and forth between starting and relief, but that’s apparently what St. Louis wants to do with him right now.


COL 3 – TEX 13

  • Justin Lawrence and Brent Suter continue to fight the tide and continue to deliver scoreless innings despite the Rockies’ plethora of other problems. They’re pitching extremely well, but with the team context, they likely won’t ever see that many holds opportunities. The team as a whole has generated just eight holds all season. There are eighteen players with eight or more holds on the season.
  • A couple of former closers for Texas got low-leverage work in this one as Joe Barlow continues to try to re-cement himself on the major league roster and José Leclerc continues to try to justify that $6 million option the team picked up to bring him back. Barlow did generate four slider whiffs, but he doesn’t look much different from what he has in the past. Leclerc actually looked pretty good despite allowing a couple of runs. He struck out a pair and produced eight swinging strikes on his 27 offerings and featured improved velocity. He’s obviously nowhere close to high-leverage work right now, but he could be headed in that direction soon.


MIA 5 – SFG 7

  • The Marlins were trailing throughout the late innings and threw their lower-leverage guys to end a week that had quite a bit of high-leverage work. They’ll need all the pitching help they can get as they go into a four-game series in Colorado.
  • Camilo Doval capped off an extremely busy week with his fourth save which gives him twelve overall on the year in thirteen chances. He did allow an unearned run in this one on a couple hits, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s been absolutely dominant in May with a 0.84 ERA and 0.75 WHIP across 10.2 IPs in which he’s struck out sixteen, walked four, and gone nine-for-nine in save chances. After such a heavy workload this week, I’d be surprised if they went to Doval again if another save opportunity arises on Monday.


MIN 2 – LAA 4

  • The Twins bullpen took over with the game tied at one, but Jorge López couldn’t keep his inherited runner from scoring and José De León let in a couple of insurance runs to tag Pablo López with the loss. Jorge López has been quite a reliable option for Minnesota in the 7th/8th innings, so this represents a blip in an otherwise excellent season for him so far.
  • Boy, was I wrong about Carlos Estévez at the beginning of the year. He is now a perfect twelve-for-twelve on saves after converting another one on Sunday and lowering his ERA to 1.23 on 22 IPs on the season. I thought the walks would be a bigger factor and they haven’t been. He looks ready to provide great value across the whole season.


BOS 0 – SDP 7

  • Boston got a short start and was down big early, so they emptied out their lower-leverage pitchers to get through this game.
  • After not working since Tuesday, both Nick Martinez and Josh Hader got maintenance innings ahead of a scheduled off day on Monday. Hader did need 29 pitches to get through the inning, but the off day should allow him to still be available for Tuesday.


Bullpen Depth Charts

Also, if you’re looking for a detailed list or ranking of RPs, check out Rick Graham’s weekly pieces:

The Hold Up: Ranking the Top 100 Relievers for Holds Every Thursday

Closing Time: Ranking the Top 30 Closers

Top 100 Relievers for Save+Hold Leagues


(Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)


Eric Dadmun

Eric is a Core Fantasy contributor on Pitcher List and a former contributor on Hashtag Basketball. He strives to help fantasy baseball players make data-driven and logic-driven decisions. Mideast Chapter President of the Willians Astudillo Unironic Fan Club.

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