The Bullpen Call: Saves Adds, Non-Closer Adds, Holds Adds

  • Welcome to our second in-season edition of The Bullpen Call. We’re back to hit on some hot saves adds, holds plays, closer add rankings, and ratio-reducing non-closer options.

    The relief section of your roster can be minimized or maximized, but we often see the positive impact on WHIP and ERA that ratio-reducers can bring being ignored in team builds. If you have excess bench bats or are struggling to find the right streaming starter, hammering in set-and-forget relievers can be a solid play. For example, Bryan Abreu fits the mold as a ratio-reducing RP with K rates that was worth rostering, even before his recent run of a few saves.

    Rostering quality arms brings quality to your team, and elite relievers may even luck into some save situations beyond holds. Any top 100 hitter is usually a hot add, so let’s get open to the option to not let top 100 value from RPs be eliminated from team builds solely because they aren’t getting saves in saves-only. We have a segment below that ranks all the lower rostered save options in terms of add priority. First we’ll hit some newer save options, then we’ll review the saves add ladder, and finish off the segment with holds options and ratio reducers. Enough of the baseball babble, let’s get into the good stuff.

    Hot Saves Adds

    Bryan Abreu (RP, Astros)

    Bryan Abreu burst on the scene in 2022 with 88 Ks in 60 innings. His ERA was great in 2022, but his 1.18 WHIP left a little to be desired. We want sub-1.10 WHIP, SUB-2.80 era, and more Ks than innings to consider adding a ratio reducer. Ryan Pressly is likely past his prime, and the Astros may look to limit him somewhat given his nagging injury history. Pressly is still good, but it was interesting Abreu locked down 2 saves in the last week. Given Abreu was worth rostering before the saves, the added saves put him in the area of a must-roster player for anyone looking to add something to their bullpen. How good has he been in 2023? Abreu has a 0.73 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 2 saves and 19 Ks in 12 innings (which easily puts him within the top 100 of fantasy assets).

    Will Smith (RP, Rangers)

    The Will Smith play is one for leagues that are very competitive in saves (or saves/holds), but he has shown ability to be valuable in any type of competition in fantasy. Leclerc is the perceived 1A closer for the Rangers, but his velocity has been down and Smith locked the save this weekend. Smith now has 2 saves, and it’s not out of the question for him to finish with 10+ saves with ratios under 3.00 for ERA and under 1.15 for WHIP. He’s been ranked in the rosterable range with his stats this season, and he also has some closer pedigree under Bruce Bochy in his past. Smith is not a must roster, but I think he’s a strong RP add.

    Brusdar Graterol (RP, Dodgers)

    Graterol was tabbed by some beat writers as a potential closing option in the pre-season. However, Dave Roberts then tabbed Evan Phillips as their high leverage fireman, but the question has remained of who will garner opps when Phillips goes earlier in the game. Graterol has been good this year, and he earned save equity recently when Phillips was on paternity leave. Phillips also went the 8th against the bottom of the lineup, and Graterol was saved for the 9th in a game before Phillips’ leave. Graterol is now ironically on paternal leave with Phillips returning, but Graterol is fine ancillary saves add for now as things shake out. Graterol may not have eye popping K rates, but the stuff is there for decent ratios and 10+ saves. Daniel Hudson’s eventual return could hurt Graterol in terms of saves, but it’s way to early to tell.

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