Saves and Steals: Helsley Returns

Date:

Ryan Helsley
returned from the injured list, giving the Cardinals a boost to their bullpen over the final stretch. Pete Fairbanks
continues his rise. And David Bednar
continues to lock things down in Pittsburgh with a four-save week. In the steals department, Tommy Edman swiped six bases to pace the league. In Colorado, Nolan Jones is rewarding the Rockies for the full-time opportunity. That and more in this week’s Saves and Steals.

Tier 1: Untouchable

Devin Williams
Milwaukee Brewers

Williams gave up a run on Friday, blowing the save chance before coming away with the win. He gave up another run on Saturday but held on to convert the save. He’s up to 32 saves this season and remains atop the closer rankings going into the final stretch of the season.

Tier 2: The Elite

Alexis Díaz – Cincinnati Reds

Raisel Iglesias
Atlanta Braves

Josh Hader
San Diego Padres

Camilo Doval
– San Francisco
Giants
Emmanuel Clase
Cleveland Guardians

Díaz made three appearances this week, picking up two wins. He was hit for three runs against the Cubs on Sunday while not recording an out, though only one run was earned. He remains at 35 saves with an excellent 2.26 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 79 strikeouts across 59 2/3 innings.

Hader went another week without a save chance. He’s converted just three since the start of August. Still, he’s been outstanding on the mound with a 1.13 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 77 strikeouts over 47 2/3 innings. Doval also didn’t see a save chance for the scuffling Giants, keeping him at 35 for the year. Iglesias is on his tail, adding two more saves this week to give him 28. He’s lowered his ERA down to 2.56 across 45 2/3 innings.

Clase made three clean appearances this week, picking up a save on Friday before striking out one batter for his MLB-best 38th save on Wednesday.

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Tier 3: The Solid Options

Ryan Pressly
Houston Astros

Paul Sewald
Arizona Diamondbacks

Adbert Alzolay
Chicago Cubs

Pete Fairbanks – Tampa Bay Rays

Jordan
Romano – Toronto Blue Jays

David Bednar – Pittsburgh Pirates

Jhoan Duran
Minnesota Twins

No saves for Pressly this week, who remains at 29 this season. Sewald recorded a save against the Orioles on Friday, then gave up a run but held on for his 30th save against the Rockies on Monday. Alzolay had a rare hiccup, giving up two runs to blow a save and take the loss against the Reds. The Cubs went on to sweep the Giants but didn’t get a save chance.

Fairbanks blew a save on Saturday, then bounced back with a save against the Guardians on Sunday and another against the Red Sox on Wednesday. He struck out the side in a non-save situation Tuesday against the Red Sox. The 29-year-old right-hander started slow, battling injuries to begin the season. But he’s been excellent over the last several months, posting a 2.41 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 51 strikeouts across 37 1/3 innings while converting 20-of-22 saves.

Romano added his 32nd save of the season on Sunday against the Rockies. He allowed a run against the A’s on Monday but fell in line for the win. It was the first run he’s allowed since coming off the injured list in mid-August.

Bednar gets a boost back into this tier after converting four saves. The strikeouts remain on the decline, but he’s been able to get the job done for 32 saves this season. And Duran made two appearances against the Rangers, picking up his 24th save.

Tier 4: There’s Upside Here

Andrés Muñoz – Seattle Mariners

Kenley Jansen
Boston Red Sox

Evan Phillips
Los Angeles Dodgers

Kyle Finnegan
Washington Nationals

Craig Kimbrel/Jose Alvarado – Philadelphia Phillies

Yennier Cano
Baltimore Orioles

Tanner Scott
Miami Marlins

Clay Holmes
New York Yankees

Carlos Estévez – Los Angeles Angels

Muñoz falls into this tier after taking two losses this week, giving up runs against the Mets and Reds. He’s now 11-for-14 in save chances with a 3-7 record while posting a 2.95 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, and 55 strikeouts across 39 2/3 innings.

Pitching for the third consecutive day, Jansen allowed three runs (two earned) without recording an out in the 11th inning against the Rays on Tuesday to blow the save. He had allowed two runs against the Royals on Sunday. Jansen now carries a 3.43 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 52 strikeouts over 44 2/3 innings with 29 saves.

Phillips recorded five outs in a scoreless appearance but didn’t see a save chance this week. Neither did Finnegan, who gave up two runs and took a loss against the Marlins on Sunday before bouncing back with a scoreless inning on Wednesday and earning the win.

Kimbrel recorded a save against the Brewers on Sunday, striking out two batters in a scoreless ninth inning. He then faced the top of the Padres order on Monday, leaving Alvarado for the save chance against the bottom of the San Diego lineup. There could be more of this matchup-based approach over the final few weeks, but I’d expect Kimbrel to continue leading the team in save chances.

The Angels continue their disappointing end to the season. Estévez blew his only save chance this week against the Orioles. Cano picked another save for Baltimore, locking down his sixth of the season. And Holmes had a rough stretch to end August, but made a few scoreless outings this week, including two saves to give him 18.

Scott blew a save and took the win on Friday, then bounced back in his following two appearances, adding a pair of saves. He’s up to five with a 2.33 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 88 strikeouts across 65 2/3 innings.

Tier 5: Just Getting By

Will Smith/Aroldis Chapman/Jose Leclerc – Texas Rangers

Ryan Helsley/Giovanny Gallegos – St. Louis Cardinals

Alex Lange/Jason Foley – Detroit Tigers

Brooks Raley/Adam Ottavino/Drew Smith – New York Mets

The Rangers’ situation has been an absolute mess. Between Smith, Chapman, and Leclerc, no one has been able to separate themselves as a consistent option in the ninth inning. Smith has bounced back a bit after a tough stretch, making five scoreless appearances.

Helsley returned from the injured list and made a couple of scoreless appearances. The Cardinals will be cautious with his workload to end the season, so I wouldn’t expect him to pitch in many back-to-back days. Gallegos recorded the only save for the team this week.

Lange recorded two saves for the Tigers this week, giving him 21 this season. Meanwhile, Smith and Ottavino each locked down one save for the Mets.

Tier 6: If You Must

Trevor May
– Oakland A’s
Justin Lawrence/Tyler Kinley – Colorado Rockies

Carlos Hernandez
Kansas City Royals

Gregory Santos
Chicago White Sox

Injured

Liam Hendriks
– Right Elbow Inflammation
Hunter Harvey
– Right Elbow Strain
Felix Bautista
– Right Elbow Inflammation

Steals Department

Tommy Edman
turned up the speed this week, leading the league with six steals. He’s up to 23 on the season following Wednesday’s action. Nolan Jones
could be available in some shallow formats. He’s stolen four bases over the last week for a total of 12 while hitting .282/.363/.514 with 14 homers and 46 RBI across 322 plate appearances. The 25-year-old has been an everyday player for the Rockies, batting in the heart of the order. Leody Taveras
stole a pair of bases to give him 13. It’s a lower total than expected given the new rules after he stole 11 in only 341 plate appearances in 2022. But the Rangers are fighting for a playoff spot and have gone through a bit of a rough stretch, so Taveras could end the season with more aggressiveness on the bases.

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