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Saves and Steals: Mid-season closer rankings

Higashioka 'on the radar' in fantasy
Eric Samulski and Scott Pianowski discuss San Diego Padres catcher Kyle Higashioka, who could retain his fantasy baseball value even after Luis Campusano returns from IL.

In this week’s Saves and Steals, it was status quo through much of the rankings as the top closers continue to dominate. Emmanuel Clase holds the first spot in the rankings as we cross the midway point of the season. Craig Kimbrel led the way with four saves this week, moving him into fourth on the all-time list. Clay Holmes saw a bit of a slide after a rough week, and Alexis Díaz got on track with a scoreless streak. In the speed department, Garrett Mitchell could be worth a pickup, and Noelvi Marte is still available in too many leagues.

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Fantasy Baseball Closer Rankings

Tier 1: At the Top

Emmanuel Clase - Cleveland Guardians
Ryan Helsley - St. Louis Cardinals
Mason Miller - Oakland A’s

Clase made one appearance this week, pitching a clean frame against the White Sox and falling in line for a win. Meanwhile, Helsley locked down three more saves, giving him 31 to lead baseball at the midway point of the season. No saves came Miller’s way. He surrendered two runs in a non-save situation against the Angels on Tuesday. Still, he’s been one of the most skilled relievers in baseball, posting a 2.39 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and 66 strikeouts over 37 2/3 innings while converting 14 saves. While Miller isn’t getting the high save total in Oakland that we’d want from a top closer, he’s an elite contributor with his 66 strikeouts to lead all relievers.

Tier 2: The Elite

Craig Kimbrel - Baltimore Orioles
Robert Suarez - San Diego Padres
Josh Hader - Houston Astros

Kimbrel converted four saves to give him 21 with a 2.23 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and 48 strikeouts over 32 1/3 innings. Kimbrel matches Suarez’s 21 saves after Suarez recorded a save Wednesday against the Rangers. In Houston, Hader gave up a solo homer against the Blue Jays but held on for his 13th save. He’s posted a 3.82 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 60 strikeouts across 37 2/3 innings.

Tier 3: The Solid Options

Evan Phillips - Los Angeles Dodgers
Clay Holmes - New York Yankees
Andrés Muñoz - Seattle Mariners
Kirby Yates - Texas Rangers
Paul Sewald - Arizona Diamondbacks
Raisel Iglesias - Atlanta Braves
Kenley Jansen - Boston Red Sox
Jhoan Duran - Minnesota Twins
Kyle Finnegan - Washington Nationals
Trevor Megill - Milwaukee Brewers
Pete Fairbanks - Tampa Bay Rays

Phillips gave up a run in each of his last two outings but fell in line for a win on Tuesday against the Diamondbacks. Holmes has also hit a bit of a skid. He’s allowed at least one run in four of his last five outings, with his last save coming on June 9. Muñoz has also gone a while without a save chance, with his last converted save coming on June 18. He made one scoreless appearance and maintains an excellent 1.64 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 43 strikeouts over 33 innings with 13 saves. Yates also didn’t see a save a chance this week. He’s at 11 with a 0.95 ERA and 38 strikeouts across 28 1/3 innings.

Sewald recorded his 11th save Saturday against the A’s, then followed with a clean outing Sunday in a non-save situation. He ran into trouble Tuesday against the Dodgers, giving up two runs to blow the save chance and take the loss. The two runs allowed were the first since his season debut on May 7.

Iglesias made an appearance in a non-save situation against the Pirates on Saturday, striking out two in a scoreless inning. He then picked up his 21st save against the Giants on Wednesday. Iglesias has now struck out 11 batters over his last six outings after failing to record double-digit strikeouts in all of April or May.

Jansen recorded his 16th save of the season Saturday against the Padres. Even in his 15th season, he’s been incredibly effective, posting a 2.22 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 33 strikeouts over 28 1/3 innings.

Duran had a solid week, making three scoreless appearances while converting two saves to give him 13 on the year. Finnegan pitched four scoreless innings this week, picking up his 23rd save on Wednesday against the Mets. He’s down to a 1.98 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 39 strikeouts across 35 1/3 innings. Behind him, Hunter Harvey has stumbled of late, giving up nine runs across his last six appearances.

Megill locked down two more saves and is up to 18 after taking control of the closer role in Milwaukee. Devin Williams is on track to pitch a simulated game next week and could return by the end of the month. In Tampa Bay, Fairbanks recorded his 13th save Friday against the Nationals.

Tier 4: There’s Upside Here

Camilo Doval - San Francisco Giants
Jose Alvarado/Jeff Hoffman - Philadelphia Phillies
Tanner Scott - Miami Marlins
Carlos Estévez - Los Angeles Angels
Jason Foley - Detroit Tigers
Alexis Díaz - Cincinnati Reds
Aroldis Chapman - Pittsburgh Pirates
Chad Green - Toronto Blue Jays
James McArthur - Kansas City Royals

Consistency continues to be an issue for Doval. He gave up a run to blow the save against the Dodgers on Friday before falling in line for the win. He then bounced back with his 15th save Tuesday against the Braves.

Hoffman converted two consecutive saves for the Phillies this week. He’s up to seven with a 1.24 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and 46 strikeouts across 36 1/3 innings. While Hoffman has been the more effective reliever, Alvarado leads the team with 13 saves as the lead man in the closer committee.

Scott recorded two saves with a pair of perfect innings, giving him 12 saves with a 1.50 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 38 strikeouts across 36 innings. Estévez also made two scoreless appearances, coming away with his 16th save. Meanwhile, Foley allowed an unearned run against the Angels on Friday to take the loss.

Díaz has put together a six-game scoreless streak, his longest since April. He recorded his 19th save against the Yankees on Wednesday. Chapman also picked up a save this week, his third of the season in David Bednar’s absence. Bednar is playing catch out to 120 feet as he rehabs from an oblique injury, though there’s no clear timetable for his return.

Green also picked up his third save as he’s filled in for the injured Jordan Romano and Yimi García in Toronto. Romano is expected to be shut down for six weeks following arthroscopic elbow surgery. García was scheduled to throw a bullpen session and will need a rehab stint before he’s activated. In Kansas City, McArthur added his 15th save on Wednesday against the Rays.

Tier 5: Just Getting By

Reed Garrett/Adam Ottavino/Jake Diekman - New York Mets
Hector Neris - Chicago Cubs
Michael Kopech - Chicago White Sox
Tyler Kinley/Jalen Beeks - Colorado Rockies

Garrett recorded a one-out save against the Nationals on Monday, the first since Edwin Díaz was handed a 10-game suspension. Díaz is eligible to return on July 6.

Neris had one of his better weeks, picking up a win and a save while striking out two batters in each of his last three outings. And Kopech recorded two saves, his firsts since May 15. Kinley picked up a win on Monday, but the Rockies bullpen has been charged with six blown saves over the last three games, which tells you all you need to know about the situation.


Devin Williams - Back
Jordan Romano - Elbow
David Bednar - Oblique

Steals Department

The steals leaders on the week come out of the National League Central. Christian Yelich led the way with four, putting together a big week that included two home runs. The 32-year-old outfielder is having his best season since 2019, slashing .333/.408/.519 with nine homers, 37 runs scored, 37 RBI, and 19 steals across 263 plate appearances. Yelich’s teammate, Garrett Mitchell, was activated from the injured list this week after missing the first three months of the season with a fractured bone in his hand. Available in over 90 percent of Yahoo leagues, he could be worth a pickup in deeper leagues for some power/speed upside. He hit four homers with four steals and a .318 batting average over 52 Triple-A plate appearances during his rehab stint. In Cincinnati, Stuart Fairchild swiped three bases as he’s operated as the team’s everyday center fielder. There isn’t as much upside here, as he’s slashing .233/.306/.362 with four homers and 11 steals across 181 plate appearances. However, Reds third baseman Noelvi Marte is still available in some shallower formats. The 22-year-old hit his first homer of the season on Wednesday against the Yankees and has stolen a pair of bases in his first six games.