Ramirez, Clarke, Clippard and de Geus round out the remaining options for saves, although Clarke is currently on the 10-day IL with a shoulder injury. Prior to hitting the shelf, Clarke posted nine scoreless outings over his last 10 appearances with an 11:2 K:BB over 10 innings. Used mostly as a mop-up reliever during his career, Ramirez has worked high-leverage spots for manager Torey Lovullo, who has a history with the right-hander dating back to their time together with the Red Sox in 2015. Clippard was recently activated after missing four months due to a shoulder strain suffered in spring training, but has experience in the role with 68 career-saves. de Gues hadn’t pitched above High-A prior to debuting with the Rangers earlier this season. In 2019, he had a 72:13 K:BB over 61.2 minor-league innings with eight saves, but has struggled to a 7.08 ERA thus far.
Martin was phenomenal in 2020, with a 1.00 ERA and 0.61 WHIP, and a 30.3% strikeout rate to illustrate his clear potential for a late-inning role. The right-hander dealt with shoulder inflammation earlier this season, but returned to the team on May 12 and immediately stepped into a setup role for the Braves. Manager Brian Snitker previously hinted at the possibility of splitting save opportunities between Martin and Smith based on matchups, but that has yet to come to fruition. Martin has a 3.75 ERA and 1.21 WHIP through 24 innings thus far.
Minter has prior experience in the role after recording 15 saves for Atlanta in 2018. He's logged a 4.86 ERA and league-leading 20 holds through 42 appearances, but was recently optioned to the minors to sort things out after some recent struggles.
Matzek got off to a fantastic start this season with a 14:4 K:BB over his first eight appearances without permitting an earned run. Then the southpaw hit a rough patch before correcting course again during the month of May. In fact, he did not allow an earned run in nine May appearances. Matzek has maintained a strong 29.1% strikeout rate this season, which could eventually move him up the pecking order for saves, but walks (15.9%) remain an issue.
After logging 18 saves for Atlanta in 2019, Jackson has 12 holds across 41 appearances this season while boasting an impressive 2.06 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 36:16 K:BB over 35 frames.
After inking a one-year deal with Atlanta on May 9, Greene has struggled to a 10.38 ERA. He has 66 career saves should the relievers ahead of him in the pecking order be unavailable.
Is Wells next in line? Wells is a rookie reliever with promising ratios (3.92 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 11.3 K/9, 1.9 BB/9) that is capable of pitching multiple innings, but he has not pitched much in high-leverage until recently. He's pitched the ninth inning in his two appearances since the All-Star break, both of which were close games that Baltimore was leading, albeit not save situations. Hyde appears to trust the Rule 5 draft pick though and there's a good chance he receives the next save opportunity for Baltimore.
Harvey made his season debut in June after dealing with an oblique strain he suffered this spring. He logged a 4.15 ERA through nine appearances before experiencing right shoulder discomfort, as injuries continue to limit Harvey's potential for saves.
Ottavino had a bumpy 2020 campaign and didn't have a great start to April. In his age-35 season, Ottavino's velocity is up at 94.8 mph, but his walk percentage (13.5%) is also up. The veteran was great in June with three saves, three holds and a 2.31 ERA. After an inconsistent start with his new club, those are much better results with more saves on the horizon for the first-place Red Sox.
Taylor struggled last season and is unlikely to break out as a reliable option for saves in 2021. However, he's earned a higher-leverage role with the Red Sox after a 26-game scoreless appearance streak recently came to an end.
Hernandez made strides in 2020 with a 2.16 ERA and 32.5% strikeout rate, numbers that illustrate his potential for a late-inning role. The left-hander is a promising weapon for Alex Cora's bullpen as his sole weakness tends to be his command (17.2% walk percentage), a common issue among young relievers.
Whitlock, a Rule 5 draft pick, had a great spring and won a spot in Boston's bullpen in a multi-inning role. He's been one of the team's most impressive relievers with a 1.34 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 52:11 K:BB over 47 innings (28 appearances). Whitlock will likely remain in a multi-inning relief role rather than see opportunities in the ninth-inning.
Sawamura spent the entirety of his professional career playing in the Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan, but made his way to the majors in 2021. The 33-year-old right-hander recorded 73 saves between the 2015 and 2016 campaigns in Japan, but he's been utilized in middle relief for the Red Sox with promising results. Sawamura has allowed just 12 runs over 37.2 innings (2.87 ERA), but he's allowed nine home runs (2.2 HR/9) and is trying to elevate his fastball more as a way to limit the long ball. If he can make that adjustment, he could earn his way into a higher-leverage role.
Brasier has yet to make his 2021 debut since suffering a left calf strain during the final week of spring training, then suffering a comebacker to the head during his minor league rehab assignment. Brasier earned seven saves for the Red Sox in 2019 and could re-enter the late-inning mix assuming he proves healthy and effective whenever he does return.
Wick, Brothers and Winkler round out the remaining options for saves. Wick saw plenty of high-leverage chances last year, recording a 3.12 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 27% strikeout rate while recording four saves and five holds. An oblique strain has sidelined him since spring training, but he recently embarked on a minor-league rehab assignment and has struck out five over two scoreless innings thus far. Brothers is a southpaw with a 14.5 K/9 that is tough on lefties (.154 BAA). It's possible the Cubs form a committee with Wick and Brothers in the event Kimbrel is traded. Winkler has a 2.76 ERA through 37 appearances this season.
Wick saw plenty of high-leverage chances last year, recording a 3.12 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 27% strikeout rate while recording four saves and five holds. It is likely that Wick will step back into a high-leverage role once he returns from an oblique strain has sidelined him since spring.
We've included our analysis of the Chicago Cubs' closer depth chart below, but our full analysis of every team is reserved for RotoWire subscribers. We follow the latest closer news every day so you can trust that you'll be getting the best possible information. Once you start using our closer grid, you'll wonder how you ever chased saves without it.
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- Emmanuel Clase (CLE)
- Tyler Rogers (SF)
- David Bednar (PIT)
- Lucas Sims (CIN)
- Adam Ottavino (BOS)
- Pete Fairbanks (TB)
- Drew Steckenrider (SEA)
- Devin Williams (MIL)
- Amir Garrett (CIN)
- Kendall Graveman (HOU)
- Seth Lugo (NYM)
- Ryan Tepera (CWS)
- Blake Treinen (LAD)
- Hector Neris (PHI)
- Corey Knebel (LAD)
- Alex Colome (MIN)
- Kyle Finnegan (WAS)
- Dylan Floro (MIA)
- Josh Sborz (TEX)
- Nick Anderson (TB)