In this week’s edition of Saves and Steals, David Bednar locked down three saves to give him 13 for the season. His performance this week is enough to bump him up a tier. Camilo Doval follows Bednar into The Elite after picking up his National League-leading 15th save. Jordan Romano and Raisel Iglesias enjoyed big weeks on the mound. And Emmanuel Clase adds to his MLB lead with two saves to give him 19. But perhaps topping all the reliever news this week, Liam Hendriks is officially back in the closer role with his first save of the season.
Tier 1: Untouchable
I originally had Bautista and Diaz grouped in with the next tier. But after looking at their numbers, I just had to separate them. Bautista continues to dominate on the mound, picking up one more save this week. He made two appearances and recorded all six outs via strikeout while not walking a batter. His strikeout rate sits at an absurd 50.4 percent. Diaz added a save and earned a win, striking out five batters over three innings of work this week. His strikeout rate is now up to 48.9 percent. These two closers have put themselves ahead of the pack with their performance this season.
Tier 2: The Elite
One of the new additions to this tier, Bednar, had an outstanding week with three saves over three scoreless outings. He lowered his ERA to 1.13 with an 0.75 WHIP and 30 strikeouts over 24 innings. His 20.7 percent swinging-strike rate ranks second among qualified relievers behind Bautista.
The other reliever I couldn’t justify keeping outside of this range, Doval, locked down his National League-leading 15th save on Wednesday against the Rockies. He’s been one of the league’s best relievers since the start of May. Williams picked up his tenth save on Saturday. Meanwhile, Hader was left without a save chance this week.
Tier 3: The Solid Options
Clase added two saves, adding to his MLB-best 19 on the season. The lack of strikeouts has been concerning, but he struck out two batters in back-to-back outings for the first time this season. Romano led the way this week with four saves, giving him 16.
Muñoz returned from the injured list on Tuesday against the Padres and struck out two batters in the eighth inning of a three-run game. It was encouraging to see him put into a setup situation right away. But Sewald pitched the ninth to earn the save for his 12th of the season.
Estévez added two more saves with a pair of scoreless outings. He’s allowed just two earned runs since April 17. And Pressly picked up his 11th save last Thursday against the Angels.
Tier 4: There’s Upside Here
Jhoan Duran, Jorge Lopez - Minnesota Twins
Jason Adam - Tampa Bay Rays
Kenley Jansen - Boston Red Sox
Ryan Helsley, Giovanny Gallegos - St. Louis Cardinals
Alex Lange - Detroit Tigers
Will Smith - Texas Rangers
Duran made a five-out appearance against the Guardians on Friday, striking out three for his eighth save. He served up a solo homer to take the loss on Wednesday against the Rays. Still, he’s been one of the best relievers in baseball, posting a 1.57 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 32 strikeouts over 23 innings.
Adam added two more saves this week to give him nine. He’s worked as the primary closer with Pete Fairbanks on the injured list. No other Rays reliever has more than one save. Fairbanks could return as early as next week. But injuries aside, he hasn’t been quite as effective as last season, posting a 7.9 percent swinging-strike rate and a 20.4 percent strikeout rate. I’d bet on Adam leading the team in saves the rest of the way.
Jansen and Smith added a pair of saves. Smith gets bumped up a tier this week with his consistent performance. The veteran closer is up to 11 saves with a 2.86 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and 26 strikeouts across 22 innings.
Tier 5: Just Getting By
Raisel Iglesias - Atlanta Braves
David Robertson, Adam Ottavino - New York Mets
Liam Hendriks - Chicago White Sox
Michael King, Clay Holmes - New York Yankees
Andrew Chafin, Miguel Castro - Arizona Diamondbacks
Evan Phillips, Brusdar Graterol, Caleb Ferguson - Los Angeles Dodgers
Iglesias had his most encouraging week, picking up three saves. He reached a season-high 97.5 miles per hour on his fastball on Tuesday. It’s an excellent sign that he’s getting over his early-season shoulder issue.
In his fourth game back after shutting the door on cancer, Hendriks secured his first save of the season on Tuesday. He’s still working on getting his velocity up, but Hendriks should operate as the White Sox closer moving forward.
The Dodgers’ situation has been a messy one all season. Phillips had appeared to have a hold on the closer role, but he hasn’t recorded a save since May 12. Meanwhile, Graterol has one save in the last month. Ferguson has the two most recent saves between the three of them.
Tier 6: If You Must
Justin Lawrence - Colorado Rockies
Craig Kimbrel - Philadelphia Phillies
Scott Barlow - Kansas City Royals
Mark Leiter Jr., Adbert Alzolay - Chicago Cubs
Kyle Finnegan - Washington Nationals
A.J. Puk, Dylan Floro - Miami Marlins
Trevor May - Oakland A’s
Lawrence has been the Rockies’ best and most consistent reliever all season. He was rewarded with two saves this week as he looks to be taking over the closer role.
Puk returned from the injured list on Tuesday. He would have been in line for the save on Wednesday, but the Marlins extended the lead to put the save chance out of reach. He struck out three and worked around a hit. Puk will likely take most of the save chances now that he’s back, as long as he can stay off the injured list.
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The Reds have been running wild on the bases of late. Jake Fraley and Jonathan India both swiped four bags in the last week, leading the league, along with Christian Yelich and Jake McCarthy. Fraley was scratched from the lineup on Wednesday but entered late as a pinch-runner. India is having an excellent bounce-back season. He’s already up to 12 steals on the year with a .280/.361/.419 slash line across 274 plate appearances. He’s on pace to go well over 20 stolen bases. Joining Fraley and India in Cincinnati this week was top prospect Elly De La Cruz, who adds both power and speed to the lineup. The 21-year-old third base prospect hit 12 homers with 11 steals across 186 plate appearances in Triple-A. Yelich continues to hit the ball as hard as ever, but a persistent groundball lean will limit his power. Still, he’s provided plenty of value with 16 steals after his four-steal week. Astros’ outfielder Corey Julks had solid week, hitting two homers and stealing a pair of bases. He hasn’t exactly been an everyday player, but he’s gotten consistent enough playing time to add some value in deep leagues, with five homers, eight steals, and a .261 batting average across 166 plate appearances.