Fantasy Baseball Relief Pitcher Rankings – 5/6/23 Depth Chart

Find breakdowns of key bullpen usages from Thursday'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


  • A full slate of 15 games was played on Friday and we’ll see the same on Saturday.


  • The Braves activated Raisel Iglesias from the 15-day IL. He had missed the start of the season with right shoulder inflammation but has returned to health. He may be eased into the role, but he should be the closer for the foreseeable future, moving A.J. Minter into a setup role.
  • The White Sox reinstated Joe Kelly from the paternity list. He will retake his spot as a holds option in the South Side arm barn.


  • The Guardians activated Sam Hentges from the 15-day IL. He had an extended absence dealing with left shoulder inflammation. The Cleveland bullpen was in desperate need of a lefty, so they’ve got to be happy to have him back.
  • The Angels placed Aaron Loup on the 15-day IL with a strained right hamstring. Chris Devenski took his spot on the chart.
  • The Twins placed Caleb Thielbar on the 15-day IL with a strained right oblique. Depending on the severity, he could miss anywhere between a few weeks and a couple of months. Jovani Moran was added to the chart to take his spot.
Yesterday’s Performances

MIA 1 – CHC 4

H: Michael Fulmer (3)

SV: Mark Leiter Jr. (1)

  • Losing from the get-go, the Marlins never saw fit to turn to their closer. Instead, they had Steven Okert, Matt Barnes, and Tanner Scott – all members of the setup crew – attempt to keep the game close. All but Scott was able to do their job. Each of them struck out at least two batters in their lone frames, with Okert leading the way with a strike-out-the-side sixth.
  • A bullpen in turmoil, mostly because the manager can’t decide on a closer, became even more confusing on Friday. April closer Michael Fulmer pitched a clean eighth for his third hold, setting up for Mark Leiter Jr. to record his first save of the season. Leiter Jr. has been striking out everyone this year (39.7% K%) but, in a weird way, is sort of the team’s lefty specialist. For his career, he has reverse splits, with a 4.45 FIP versus lefties and a 5.44 FIP versus righties. That makes it weird that they would save him for the ninth without any southpaw backups. I’m not convinced just yet that Leiter Jr. is the option.


CHW 5 – CIN 4

H: Joe Kelly (3)

SV: Reynaldo López (4)

  • It had seemed as though Reynaldo López had lost any semblance of a closer role in Chicago with his inconsistent performance throughout the year, but new manager Pedro Grifol turned right back to him on Friday following Joe Kellys fine setup work. Lopez got the job done, but I’m not sure I trust him with a spot on my fantasy roster anymore because of his lack of consistency as well as his lack of complete ownership of the closer’s role. With Keynan Middleton looking like the 1A or 1B to Lopez and Liam Hendriks on the mend and due back by the end of the month, it’s time to say goodbye to Lopez. It was a fun ride buddy. The guy has also pitched on consecutive days, so expect Middleton to be out there in the ninth today if necessary.
  • Lucas Sims continues to look great upon his return from an extended injury recovery. The right-hander has yet to give up a run in his first eight frames and is currently sporting the best strikeout (36%) and walk (8%) rates of his career. That bodes well for future performance and makes him an elite setup option despite the limited opportunities in a hitter’s ballpark.


NYY 4 – TBR 5

W: Kevin Kelly (3)

L: Jimmy Cordero (1)

H: Colin Poche (4)

SV: Jason Adam (3)

BS: Garrett Cleavinger (2)

  • A big, four-run sixth helped the Yankees bring the score even, but their arm barn couldn’t hold on. A walk and a hit were all it took to hand Jimmy Cordero the loss. Prospective closer Michael King also appeared for five perfect outs to keep the game close. If he’s available in your league, go grab him now before he becomes ultra-coveted. If you’re deciding between him and Clay Holmes, I think you go with royalty.
  • With Pete Fairbanks on the mend, Jason Adam has been holding down the fort. He’s nabbed all of the team’s saves this past week and seems to be deployed as a traditional closer – unusual behavior for the Rays. They did the same with Fairbanks, so maybe the Rays are attempting to popularize the clear-cut closer again. Adam has gone back-to-back days and in three of the past four, so expect Colin Poche or Kevin Kelly to have a shot at a save tonight…or it could be literally anyone.


BOS 5 – PHI 3

H: Richard Bleier (2), Chris Martin (6)

SV: Kenley Jansen (7)

  • He may be pitching around injuries and age throughout the season, but Kenley Jansen will be effective when he takes the mound. He recorded all three of his outs via the strikeout on Friday and now sports a 37.5% K% which would be his highest mark since 2017, his best season in LA (41 SV, 1.32 ERA, 3.4 fWAR). It may be a bit of a headache to roster him and his save ceiling might be capped because of his physical limitations, but he’s worth the hold. If that headache is too much for you, his trade value should be through the roof right now.
  • The score was close, but the Phillies were never in this one. Connor Brogdon, Gregory Soto, and Andrew Vasquez covered the final 3.2 innings of the game. Soto is the only fantasy-viable one as his 5.02 ERA is offset by a 30.5% K% and a team-leading six holds.


COL 0 – NYM 1

H: Drew Smith (7), David Robertson (3)

SV: Adam Ottavino (4)

  • If I had three wishes from a genie, one of them would be putting Justin Lawrence on the Rays. Mark my words, it will come true someday. The guy’s funky delivery and amazing stuff would be enhanced even further by the fantastic coaching staff in Tampa and would turn Lawrence into a monster. In his own right, he’s surviving just fine in Colorado right now with a 1.56 ERA and four holds. Before Friday, PLV had his slider, his primary pitch, in the 93rd percentile, meaning it is a premier pitch in the game. Give it a couple of years, this guy’s gonna be great.
  • It seems pretty clear that David Robertson is the high-leverage guy in Queens and he’s handling it with ease. His 0.63 ERA leaps off the page and pairs with his 32.7% K% like wine with a well-cooked steak. He and Adam Ottavino will likely split save chances 50-50 throughout the year. It’s not ideal, but at least it brings fantasy viability to multiple players rather than keeping one or the other out of the landscape. They both should be rostered and are likely to be beasts in SV+HLD leagues.


MIN 2 – CLE 0

H: Jorge López (6)

SV: Jhoan Duran (7)

  • I’m so glad Jhoan Duran is a traditional closer. He completely deserves it and it makes him a borderline top-five reliever in my books. His stuff is unhittable and I think his only setback is his age (25). Right now, he’s sort of struggling with control, walking 18% of batters, which is completely unsustainable. I have faith in his ability to keep the free passes under control. On a great Twins team, he should be a lock for 30 saves. The right-hander topped out at 101.7 mph on Friday, the second-fastest velocity of the day. Both he and Jorge López have appeared in consecutive games, so expect Griffin Jax to be the first man called upon if a save arises.
  • It’s difficult to find bad Guardians pitchers. You could call them the Guardians of home plate because they rarely allow baserunners to cross it. Their low-leverage arms pitched on Friday. Both Enyel De Los Santos and Xzavion Curry have ERAs below 2.50 and are trustworthy when needed to keep deficits from growing or to eat innings when deficits are insurmountable.


DET 5 – STL 4

L: Jordan Hicks (3)

H: José Cisnero (4), Jason Foley (5), Mason Englert (2)

SV: Alex Lange (6)

BS: Jordan Hicks (2)

  • That’s now three straight days with a save for Alex Lange as he has doubled his save total in that time. His continued positive performances and the lack of talent in the Detroit pen make him one of the most securely employed closers in the league. I’d feel great having him on my team despite his streakiness in the saves category. He’s striking out over 34% of the batters he’s faced and has allowed just two runs across 15.2 innings. Bad teams can still provide save opportunities because when they do win, they don’t win by much. Lange’s high usage rate should set Jason Foley up to be the fill-in closer on Saturday.
  • Velocity isn’t everything. Jordan Hicks had the fastest pitch on Friday, a 102 mph sinker, but he also allowed three runs and couldn’t escape his appointed inning. His struggles on Friday weren’t out of character as the right-hander has done so all year, pitching to a 7.62 ERA in 13 innings. He’ll stop getting high-leverage work until he figures things out. Both Redbird high-leverage arms pitched in this one with Giovanny Gallegos completing Hicks’ frame and starting the eighth and Ryan Helsley completing the ninth for Génesis Cabrera. The poor guys could use a save opportunity or two.


TEX 4 – LAA 5

W: Carlos Estévez (1)

H: Brock Burke (4)

BS: Will Smith (1)

  • Will Smith attempted to close out the ballgame for the Rangers but he got slapped by the Angels. They put up four runs (three earned) to tie the game and send it to extras. While that outing helped him regress, I think further regression is on the horizon as the veteran southpaw sports a 5.14 xFIP compared to a 3.75 ERA. My preferred option in Texas would be Jonathan Hernández despite the fact he surrendered a run of his own on Friday. The right-hander owns the highest strikeout rate of his career (26.9%) and hasn’t counteracted that by giving up more walks or harder contact. I figure it’s only a matter of time before another changing of the guard anoints Hernandez as the closer.
  • A shaky spring shook off plenty of Carlos Estévez non-believers, but they oughta be believing now. In his first year outside of Colorado, he’s doing exactly what we expected. He’s having much better batted-ball luck and his stuff is playing up. His 33.3% K% is well above his previous career-best rate of 26.3% and his 1.08 ERA is more than 3.50 runs better than his career average entering this season. Call me crazy, but is Estevez a top-10 closer by the end of the month? He’s pitched in three of the past four days, so it could be Matt Moore giving Estevez a night off on Saturday.


WSN 1 – ARI 3

H: Miguel Castro (6)

SV: Andrew Chafin (5)

  • I consider myself a funny guy, but man is it hard to do so in writing. Nick makes it look so easy. I just want to say something stupid about Erasmo Ramírez and Hobie Harris pitching for the Nats on Friday, but all I can think of is saying “lol, look at the unique name”. At least I know I have something I can work on…
  • Andrew Chafin and Miguel Castro have been a pretty mighty 1-2 punch in Arizona. The former is the punchout artist, striking out 41.2% of the batters he’s faced while the latter is the bat destroyer, limiting hard contact constantly. I have much more faith in Chafin’s sustained success and it’s pretty remarkable how big of a step forward he’s taken this year. Teams have got to be kicking themselves for letting him sit on the free-agent wire for so long. I know I’m doing so in fantasy. The mustachioed lefty has appeared in three of the past four days and could turn closing duties over to Castro, Scott McGough, or even All-Star Joe Mantiply.


MIL 4 – SFG 6

  • I love Bryse Wilson as an option in leagues where starts are limited or multi-inning relievers are valued. He has become a different pitcher in Milwaukee with the biggest change being a switch from a slider to a cutter. He doesn’t really stand out in one area or another, but his usage has been enticing. He’s sometimes used as a setup man, sometimes as a bulk reliever/mop-up guy, and sometimes as a three-inning save vulture. I don’t think he should be universally owned, but if that describes someone that would be valuable in your league, definitely consider him, at least for a stream.
  • I think the hype should be higher for Camilo Doval, and I’m not just saying that as a Giants fan. I think my own hype should be higher too. He’s basically Emmanuel Clase Jr. and has a secure role in SF. He’s recorded three saves in the past four days and is striking out 32.8% of batters. He’ll have to cede closing duties to one of the Rogers twins on Saturday, but he’ll be back to blowing gas early next week.


Best of the Rest


  • In a game that finished with a 4-0 score, both Jordan Romano and David Bednar pitched. Romano hadn’t appeared since Monday and secured the four-run lead while Bednar hadn’t pitched since Saturday and was in desperate need of a maintenance inning.
  • Josh Hader secured his 11th save in a win over the Dodgers. The left-hander now leads baseball in saves.
  • The A’s did everything they could to secure win #7 on Friday. That included turning to Zach Jackson even after the Oakland offense pushed the lead to four in the top of the ninth.
  • It’ll be interesting to see how long Ryan Pressly can hold onto the closer role, but he got another save, his fourth, on Friday. The strikeouts are diminished and the bouts of injury occur more and more often. I expect Bryan Abreu to take over at some point this season.


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


Jake Crumpler

A Bay Area sports fan and lover of baseball, Jake is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz with a B.A. in English Literature. He currently writes fantasy articles for Pitcher List, is the lead baseball writer at The Athletes Hub, and does playing time analysis at BaseballHQ. Some consider his knowledge of the sport to be encyclopedic.

One response to “Fantasy Baseball Relief Pitcher Rankings – 5/6/23 Depth Chart”

  1. T. Bear says:

    It’s mighty refreshing to read “Velocity isn’t everything” from a pitcherlist writer. Much appreciated!

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