Saves and Steals: Muñoz’s Time for Mariners


The trade deadline brought a few bullpen moves across the league, with some situations seeing a shakeup with the closer role. Andrés Muñoz could be the biggest riser, as he’s set to take over as the Mariners’ full-time closer. Meanwhile, Toronto made a move out of necessity, adding Jordan Hicks from St. Louis after Jordan Romano landed on the 15-day injured list with back inflammation. In the steals department, Zack Gelof is getting an opportunity to show what he can do in Oakland.

Tier 1: Untouchable

Felix Bautista
Baltimore Orioles

The best closer in baseball just keeps rolling. Bautista earned a win and a save this week, striking out three batters in a five-out appearance on Monday for his 29th save of the season. The 28-year-old right-hander holds a remarkable 0.87 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and 101 strikeouts across 51 2/3 innings.

Tier 2: The Elite

Alexis Díaz – Cincinnati Reds

Devin Williams
Milwaukee Brewers

Camilo Doval
– San Francisco Giants
Josh Hader
San Diego Padres

Díaz added a pair of saves, giving him a league-leading 32. He’s been outstanding all season. But one thing worth noting, his strikeout rate has declined every month. He struck out 55.9 percent of batters in April. That’s come down to 23.4 percent in July.

Williams overtakes Doval this week. He recorded his 27th save of the season on Tuesday. The 28-year-old right-hander had his best month of the season in July from a skills perspective, striking out 46.7 percent of batters while posting an 8.9 percent walk rate and locking down ten of his total saves. Doval is up to 32 saves, tying Díaz for tops in the National League after blowing an opportunity on Saturday.

The Padres added to their bullpen at the trade deadline, bringing in Scott Barlow
from the Royals. Hader remained in San Diego and locked down a pair of saves. He’s up to 26 with a 0.89 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 62 strikeouts across 40 2/3 innings.

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Tier 3: The Solid Options

Ryan Pressly
Houston Astros

Emmanuel Clase
Cleveland Guardians

Jhoan Duran
Minnesota Twins

Andrés Muñoz – Seattle Mariners

David Bednar
Pittsburgh Pirates

Paul Sewald – Arizona Diamondbacks

Raisel Iglesias
Atlanta Braves

Pressly took the loss on Friday after giving up a run against the Rays. He bounced back on Monday, striking out one batter in a clean inning against the Guardians before recording his 26th save on Wednesday.

Clase is up to 28 saves and has had an overall successful season, posting a 2.96 ERA and 1.09 WHIP across 48 2/3 innings. The problem has continued to be his lack of strikeouts this year. His strikeout rate is down to 21.6 percent after posting a 28.4 percent rate last season.

Muñoz gets a significant boost after the Mariners traded Paul Sewald
to the Diamondbacks at the trade deadline. He’s set to take over as the primary closer in Seattle. He locked down his first save since the trade and second on the season on Wednesday against the Red Sox. There’s no doubt he could be one of the better closers in baseball through the end of the season.

The Twins sent Jorge Lopez
to the Marlins before the trade deadline. Though Duran had already started to see his usage shift to primarily ninth-inning work. He blew a save this week before securing his 18th of the season.

Bednar wasn’t traded at the deadline. He stuck around to record his 22nd save for the Pirates on Tuesday. The 28-year-old right-hander has a 1.24 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 56 strikeouts across 43 2/3 innings.

The Diamondbacks finally have their closer in Sewald after going with a committee through most of the season. Scott McGough
had recorded the last two saves for the team and shipped Andrew Chafin
to the Brewers. Sewald should continue to be a solid source of saves with quality ratios.

Iglesias moves up a tier after securing a pair of saves. He’s now tossed four perfect frames over his last four outings, including striking out the side twice. Iglesias is up to 20 saves and has gradually lowered his ERA down to 3.58 with a 1.16 WHIP and 42 strikeouts across 32 2/3 innings.

Tier 4: There’s Upside Here

Pete Fairbanks
Tampa Bay Rays

Craig Kimbrel
Philadelphia Phillies

Carlos Estévez – Los Angeles Angels

Kenley Jansen
Boston Red Sox

Adbert Alzolay
Chicago Cubs

Will Smith/Aroldis Chapman – Texas Rangers

Erik Swanson/Jordan Hicks – Toronto Blue Jays

Fairbanks makes a jump to the top of this tier after converting a pair of save chances. He’s up to 14 on the year and has gotten better on the mound the further away we get from his early-season injury troubles. His strikeout rate spiked to 43.8 percent in July, putting that upside fantasy managers expected on display.

Kimbrel continues his impressive bounce-back season. He recorded a pair of saves this week to give him 18 for the Phillies. Another surprise reliever, Estévez, earned a win in his lone appearance. He’s up to 23 saves for the Angels, who have decided to go all-in for the playoff push. And in Boston, Jansen locked down two saves to push his season total to 24.

The Cubs decided against selling at the trade deadline. It’s good news for Alzolay, who recorded his 12th save of the season on Friday. He’s quickly establishing himself as a legitimate closer, posting a 2.33 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 52 strikeouts across 46 1/3 innings.

The Rangers had made their big bullpen acquisition well before the deadline when they acquired Chapman from the Royals. Smith got the lone save for Texas this week and leads the team with 18. He’ll presumably continue to get the majority of the save opportunities.

With closer Jordan Romano
on the injured list with lower back inflammation, the Blue Jays traded for Hicks at the deadline. In their first save chance on Wednesday, it was Swanson who got the ninth inning for his third save of the season. Hicks has been the more volatile of the two, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Swanson gets most of the save chances until Romano returns.

Tier 5: Just Getting By

Clay Holmes
New York Yankees

Evan Phillips
Los Angeles Dodgers

David Robertson
Miami Marlins

Alex Lange
Detroit Tigers

Brooks Raley/Adam Ottavino – New York Mets

The Yankees went without a save this week. Holmes continues to lead the team with 14 on the season. In Los Angeles, the Dodgers’ only bullpen acquisition was Joe
Kelly. Phillips remains in line to operate as the primary closer. He picked up his 13th save this week. With Robertson in as closer in Miami, A.J. Puk
takes a back seat to middle relief duties. Raley and Ottavino should split save chances with the Mets. Raley recorded a pair of saves following Robertson’s departure.

Tier 6: If You Must

Justin Lawrence/Daniel Bard – Colorado Rockies

Carlos Hernandez
City Royals
Gregory Santos
Chicago White Sox

Kyle Finnegan
Washington Nationals

Trevor May
– Oakland A’s


Liam Hendriks
– Tommy John Surgery
Hunter Harvey
– Right Elbow Strain
Jordan Romano – Back inflammation

Steals Department

CJ Abrams
led the way this week with five steals. He’s up to 25 with a whopping 14 coming since he took over the leadoff spot on July 7, a span of just 21 games. A pace like this through the end of the season is sure to raise his draft stock for 2024 fantasy baseball leagues. Corbin Carroll
comes in at second this week with four steals, giving him 33 with 21 homers while hitting .275/.353/527 across 426 plate appearances. The 22-year-old outfielder is sure to find himself in the first round of fantasy drafts next season. Athletics second baseman Zack Gelof
is a widely available speed option. The 23-year-old is up to five steals with four homers over 16 games with Oakland after stealing 20 bases across 69 games in Triple-A. Gelof has some swing-and-miss in his game but has the tools to become an interesting power-speed combo for fantasy managers. He’s hit near the top of the order in all but three games so far.

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