Fantasy Baseball Relief Pitcher Rankings – 5/8/23 Depth Chart

Find breakdowns of key bullpen usages from Sunday'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


  • All 15 games were played on Sunday and 11 are scheduled to be played on Monday meaning eight teams have a scheduled day off. They are TOR, BOS, MIN, ATL, NYM, PHI, CIN, and SDP.


Yesterday’s Performances

BAL 2 – ATL 3 (F/12)

  • The Orioles needed nineteen outs from their bullpen here and that generally means bad news for most teams, but this crew allowed just two unearned runs. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough as Cionel Pérez took the loss with Félix Bautista getting a blown save. Yennier Cano extended his scoreless innings streak to sixteen to start the year. Despite the loss and blown save here, this is an excellent bullpen overall with Bautista being an elite option for saves and Cano along with Bryan Baker as excellent sources of ratios and holds.
  • Earlier in his rehab assignment, we were told that Raisel Iglesias would need to complete a back-to-back before being reinstated, but I guess they just decided to do it with the big league club. He showed no discernable drop in velocity or command and logged another efficient, fifteen-pitch scoreless inning. Atlanta needed 5.2 IPs more from their bullpen and they delivered big time, allowing just one unearned run with Michael Tonkin earning his third win of the year. Tonkin, by the way, has been a really solid long man for Atlanta so far this year and could easily pick up another few vultured wins over the next few months. However, with Iglesias back and already looking ready for back-to-backs, it doesn’t appear there’s much room for anyone else in the bullpen to retain more than a small ancillary save share.


TOR 10 – PIT 1

  • Jordan Romano came on to save the Blue Jays from a jam in the 8th and was likely prepared to go out for the 9th as well had the team not extended their lead by five runs in the top of the 9th. Romano had gone more than three outs once already this year and several times last year. Given his relatively low workload recently, two outings totaling twelve pitches on the week coming into Sunday, and with a scheduled off day on Monday, Toronto would have been comfortable letting him go for five outs. I wouldn’t expect that to happen much more until the second half if the team still finds itself fighting for a playoff spot.
  • Pittsburgh was down five runs by the time the relief corps took over, so the game was finished out by bulk guys. It’s interesting that they let Chase De Jong get all the way to 50 pitches on his third day off the IL with just one day of rest from a 21-pitch outing. I imagine they might be stretching him out to be a spot/emergency starter, but, as you can see by the results here, I don’t think it’s anything to chase.


BOS 1 – PHI 6

  • Zack Littell was called up on Saturday by the Red Sox after having a great start to the year at AAA. Littell, at times, was a really good middle relief arm for the Giants, but he doesn’t seem to be anywhere near the place he was at in 2021. I don’t think any of the three arms used here are in line for many holds or high-leverage use in the near future.
  • We were told earlier in the week that Matt Strahm would be transitioning back to the bullpen and here he is in his first outing getting a save! José Alvarado was used in the 7th and the bats tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the 8th, so it’s unclear who would have replaced Strahm in the 9th, if anyone, had the lead remained three. Boston’s two most dangerous hitters, both lefties, were due up in the 7th and I’d say that’s why Alvarado was deployed in the 7th here. My guess is Craig Kimbrel would have taken the 9th if it was still 4-1 and that this Strahm save is a bit of a fluke. If Kimbrel had come on and converted the save, the count would have been five to four. That’s still in favor of Alvarado, but more indicative of a tandem/committee approach.


COL 13 – NYM 6

  • Daniel Bard was used in another low-leverage situation on Sunday entering in the 7th inning of the game with his team up 11-5. Bard continues to sit around 95 mph on his fastball and slider whiffs are way down, too. While this home run was the first run he gave up on the year, underlying results show a lot more could be coming soon unless he starts to look more like the pitcher we saw last year. Personally, I’m cutting bait and stashing a pitcher who has actually looked good this year. Beyond baseball, we simply don’t know when Bard will be ready mentally or if he will be ready this year. If you missed out on Pierce Johnson and absolutely need a member of the Rockies bullpen on your team, it seems like Justin Lawrence, who worked a clean inning in this one, would be the next man up and could do a decent job.
  • The Mets’ low-leverage guys were roughed up in this one to the tune of ten ERs in 5 IPs of work. The team didn’t do Dominic Leone any favors, calling him up from AAA and immediately using him in three of four games including back-to-back games with over 25 pitches.


MIN 0 – CLE 2

  • Brock Stewart delivered another scoreless inning on Sunday to extend his scoreless innings streak to six to start the year. He may not have made the Opening Day roster, but boy did he dominate AAA in his seven relief appearances there and he’s carried that impressive stuff into the majors so far. Command was an issue for him when he was still coming up as a starter in 2018-19 and he allowed six walks across his past three appearances coming into this one. However, if he finds enough command to be effective, this is a guy with the stuff to rise into the conversation for holds behind Griffin Jax and Jorge López.
  • It was just as the Guardians drew it up with James Karinchak and Emmanuel Clase taking care of the only two innings needed in relief with the former earning his eighth hold and the latter his twelfth save to take sole possession of the MLB lead. Clase is still not missing nearly as many bats as last year, but the lack of swing-and-miss and strikeouts hasn’t mattered so far. He’s still getting and converting tons of save opportunities and figures to be among the league leaders at the end of the year.


NYY 7 – TBR 8 (F/10)

  • We got extended looks at two of the league’s best bullpens in this one and Clay Holmes was deployed in the 7th with the game tied at 7. Michael King was used in the 9th inning at the same score with Wandy Peralta in between. It looks to me that King is the primary guy, but, because he’s not cleared to do back-to-backs yet, we might see a decent amount of ancillary save chances. It’s possible that King eventually does get cleared to do back-to-backs and, in that case, I think he’s just the Yankee’s closer. For what it’s worth, all three were pretty dominant in this one.
  • It was an extremely busy week for Jason Adam with Pete Fairbanks going on the IL, and he was used in the 8th inning of a tie game for his fourth appearance of the week here. The Rays have been quite a bit more predictable in the late innings this year. When Fairbanks has been available, he’s gotten the 9th and when he’s not been available, it’s been Adam. They’ve been mixing and matching a ton with holds and I have no idea what they see in Javy Guerra, but the roles seem a bit more well-defined this year. Colin Poche and Ryan Thompson also worked in this one and should consistently be in the mix for holds.


OAK 1 – KCR 5

  • The Shintaro Fujinami experience extended to the bullpen back on April 26th and it’s only gone mildly better than his short stint as a starter. He allowed three more runs in this one to increase his ERA to 13.94. His command has been among the worst in the league so far this year and the only hope is that he is adjusting to the differences in the ball and that he can find some semblance of MLB-caliber command before the year is over.
  • It’s possible that this 7-8-9 combination is the Royals’ A-team right now. They went Carlos Hernández to Aroldis Chapman to Scott Barlow to wrap up the victory here although only the first two guys registered holds as Kansas City tacked on a few insurance runs in the 8th. The overall ERA and numbers for Hernandez are still a bit gaudy, but a single five-run, no-out performance against the Rangers earlier in the year is the major culprit for this. He’s looking like he could even be a dark horse to close in August and September if the Royals sell at the deadline and move both Chapman and Barlow and their expiring contracts.


DET 6 -STL 12

  • The Tigers took a 6-3 lead into the bottom of the 6th and Mason Englert was promptly lit up, taking the loss and the blown save, and the team never sniffed the lead again. The team’s main options for holds had seen lots of action over the past 3-4 days and, with this performance, I expect Englert continues to only receive the occasional hold opportunity.
  • It was a mess of a 6th inning for Cardinal relievers with three unearned runs coming in and the eventual blown save being credited to JoJo Romero. The offense picked them up and we eventually saw Ryan Helsley in the 9th even though there was a 6-run gap. Even though he was unavailable on Saturday battling knee soreness, Helsley looked fresh in this one averaging 101.2 mph on his six fastballs and making short work of the Tigers. Helsley is safe to keep in your lineups after the injury scare.


MIA 5 – CHC 4 (F/14)

  • Pretty much every available arm got in this one, so I wouldn’t read at all into Andrew Nardi getting a save. First, Sandy Alcantara tried to be his own closer again and A.J. Puk was brought in to keep the game from being lost in the 9th. After that, the team just needed to keep digging deeper and deeper with each inning. There are a couple of guys who will need two or more days off after this one like Tanner Scott (three days in a row) and Huascar Brazoban (30 pitches on Saturday and 31 on Thursday). Puk will also probably not be available for a third straight day of work on Monday, so that means the save chance likely goes to Dylan Floro with Matt Barnes setting up if the opportunity presents itself on Monday.
  • Michael Fulmer and Brad Boxberger were used in the 7th and 8th respectively with the team behind, so I don’t think Boxberger is in line for saves right now either. Once the game went to extras, the Cubs first went to Mark Leiter Jr. for two innings and then to Adbert Alzolay for three. Jeremiah Estrada was optioned back to AAA earlier in the week, so there’s a bit of chaos happening right now in the Cubs bullpen, but I think Leiter and Alzolay are the guys to own in the short term. Stuff+ hates Leiter, but it’s so bad that I see it as a sign he’s breaking the model rather than a sign regression is coming. I’ve written about Alzolay already this year and really like him as a pitcher, but I think he might be a little bit behind Leiter in the pecking order for now. With Alzolay going for 37 pitches in this one, though, I’d say that he won’t be available until Wednesday, so Leiter is the guy for at least the next couple days.


MIL 7 – SFG 3

  • Peter Strzelecki bounced back after a couple rough outings and earned his ninth hold of the year while striking out the side. The Brewers added on a couple insurance runs, so Devin Williams didn’t earn a save for his inning of work. Williams hadn’t worked in a week, so this was more of a maintenance inning than anything, so I wouldn’t read much into his performance.
  • Jakob Junis took the bulk innings in this one where the Giants trailed after the 5th inning. Junis may eventually get a few more starts for the Giants at some point this year and he’s shown enough that his arsenal can work for stretches. While he’s in this role, though, he doesn’t generate enough strikeouts to pursue as a potential win vulture.


TEX 16 – LAA 8

  • This was an offensive shootout from the beginning and Josh Sborz left with a win for his two scoreless innings. Cole Ragans also delivered 2.1 IPs of scoreless ball and shouldn’t be forgotten as a potential starter at some point later in the year. He showed some big improvements in Spring Training and, while they haven’t translated to his relief role, he still has potential to be an interesting sleeper later on in the year.
  • Chase Silseth attempted to salvage the game after the Angels’ starter got roughed up, but he himself was roughed up as well with six runs (three earned) to his name while recording ten outs. Silseth is another guy who could start games for this team later in the year, but I don’t see as much that intrigues me here.


WSN 9 – ARI 8

  • Hunter Harvey earned his first save of the season with Erasmo Ramírez lucking into the win thanks to the Nationals’ 9th-inning rally. While this save absolutely doesn’t signal the beginning of Kyle Finnegan being removed from the closer role, it absolutely should. This would have been Finnegan’s fifth appearance in the past six days, so Harvey only got in because Finnegan was unavailable here. However, Harvey beats out Finnegan by pretty much any metric you look at. I don’t want to roster Finnegan no matter how desperate I am for saves, but Harvey or even Mason Thompson would be interesting options, although still borderline RP2/3 given the poor team context.
  • Andrew Chafin would have also been working for the fifth time in six days, so the Diamondbacks were forced to turn to Miguel Castro to try to lock down the save, but he gave up a go-ahead home run to Joey Meneses and took the blown save and the loss. This blown save really was a team effort with Kevin Ginkel allowing two runs in the 7th and Kyle Nelson allowing a run in the 8th. I think Chafin does hold this job in the long term, but I don’t believe he’s a dominant closer. Unless Arizona makes a major trade, they simply don’t have anyone better to take the 9th.


HOU 1 – SEA 3

  • Bryan Abreu came on in the bottom of the 8th and struck out the side in order on 15 pitches. Abreu has quietly been among the most dominant relievers in the league the past two years and we’ve already seen in the couple of situations that Ryan Pressly was unavailable that he’s got the best chance to take over as closer whenever Pressly can’t. If that ever happens for an extended time, Abreu would likely return value similar to the top closers in the game.
  • The Mariners continue to avoid giving Paul Sewald back-to-backs as they turned to Justin Topa for his first save in this one. Topa doesn’t possess the dominant strikeout upside of Matt Brash, but he also doesn’t sport the volatility. I expect, at some point this year, for Brash to put together a ridiculously dominant stretch that makes people think the team has two of Andrés Muñoz.


CHW 17 – CIN 4

  • The White Sox put up eleven runs in the 2nd inning, so I wouldn’t read too much into the usage or performance of the bullpen after that point. It was a bit surprising to see Keynan Middleton, a guy who seemingly pitched his way into the 9th inning, used in such a low-leverage situation here only three days after a back-to-back with no off day tomorrow. It’s a bit of a strangely placed maintenance inning, but maybe there’s something here I’m not seeing.
  • Reds pitchers struggled to get outs in this one. Reiver Sanmartin left with elbow discomfort to add injury to insult. Alex Young, however, continues to look like a really strong reliever with his nasty changeup. He’s one of several guys who took big steps forward this year to make this Cincinnati bullpen, at least.


LAD 5 – SDP 2 (F/10)

  • Evan Phillips locked down his fifth save of the year as he held the Padres to a scoreless 10th. Caleb Ferguson took home the win after keeping the game tied in the 9th. It’s encouraging to see Phillips go in back-to-back games and be effective. Brusdar Graterol will likely continue to get the occasional save, but Phillips should end up with more by the end of the year.
  • Josh Hader came on to try to earn his league-leading twelfth save of the season, but he was thwarted by a two-out, game-tying homer by Mookie Betts for his first blown save of the year. Brent Honeywell Jr. came on in the 10th to try to keep the game close, but he allowed three runs and took the loss. It was the first homer and second overall run Hader has allowed this year. Sometimes, stars like Betts just get one.


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

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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