Phillies manager Joe Girardi told us Friday that Jose Alvarado was his new closer.

He left no room for nuance, no reason to read between the lines. It was as simple and as straightforward as this:

So why is it that the Phillies' two saves since then have gone to Hector Neris and Archie Bradley? Why is it that Alvarado pitched the eighth inning Sunday, setting up Bradley for his save? Just what the heck is going on here? 

It's one of 12 closer scenarios I'll be addressing today

Note: "Pecking order" refers to rosterability in Fantasy and not necessarily who's first in line for saves (though it's usually one and the same).

Alvarado indeed got the Phillies' first save chance following Girardi's comment, attempting to close out Game 1 of a doubleheader Friday, and blew it, which opened the door for longtime closer Neris to convert a save in Game 2. His success led to him getting the call in the ninth inning again Saturday, only this time Neris blew it, giving him four blown saves in the month of June. You can see why Girardi might be tempted to move on.

So what about Bradley? His numbers certainly aren't closer-caliber, and I suspect that if the heart of the Mets lineup wasn't due up in the eighth, Alvarado would have been held back for the ninth. I still say Girardi trusts the left-hander more than any of his other relievers right now, but Neris has survived multiple threats to his job over the years. We shouldn't count him out.

Pecking order

Manager Terry Francona is just toying with us at this point -- or at least Emmanuel Clase, who keeps stepping in as the closer only to be overtaken, through no fault of his own. James Karinchak looked like he had blown his chance to claim the role with a couple shaky outings late in May, but he has bounced back to record the Indians' past two saves, with Clase working the eighth. It certainly seems like Francona wants Karinchak in the role, if he proves he can handle it, but you shouldn't be so quick to dump Clase.

Pecking order

Jake McGee was quick out of the gate with six saves before falling apart in late April, his ERA climbing over 5.00, which opened the door to Tyler Rogers handling ninth-inning duties for the next several weeks. But in an ideal world, Rogers' submarine delivery wouldn't be confined to the ninth inning, and apparently, that's how manager Gabe Kapler sees it, too. McGee rehabilitated himself enough in a setup role that he's now back to closing, with each of his past five appearances coming in the ninth inning or later.

We should never get too comfortable predicting what the Rays will do with a save on the line, but my suspicion is that Diego Castillo is back to being the front-runner -- maybe not for all the saves, but for the majority of them. He's gotten four of the team's past six, with Peter Fairbanks notching the other two, and has been the last Rays pitcher to take the mound in eight of his past 10 appearances. Keep an eye on Matt Wisler, though, who has been near untouchable since coming over from the Giants.

Aroldis Chapman is one of the most notable relievers whose spin rates have suffered in correlation with the foreign substance crackdown, and it may be impacting his performance. He has allowed eight runs on 12 hits in his past 5 1/3 innings, spanning seven appearances, and has suffered two blown saves along the way. It's hard to imagine him outright losing his job, given his track record, but it's not unthinkable. Zack Britton, himself a former closer, recently landed back on the IL with a hamstring injury, but he isn't expected to miss much time.

Blue Jays
Pecking order
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Anthony Castro TOR RP

If his three saves over the past week didn't make it abundantly clear, then allow me to report that Jordan Romano is finally the Blue Jays closer, claiming the role we all pegged him for when Kirby Yates first went down in spring training. All other reasonable challengers have been quashed while Romano has staked his claim with a 1.26 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 11.6 K/9. He may be a top-12 closer going forward, so if he's still lurking on your waiver wire, pull the trigger already.

Pecking order
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Drew Steckenrider SEA RP

Though he hasn't had a three-save week to announce it so emphatically, Kendall Graveman's claim to the closer role has, like Romano's, never been clearer. Manager Scott Servais eased him into the role when he first came off the COVID-19 IL earlier this month, but Graveman has now handled the Mariners' past three save opportunities, converting two of them. His main challenger earlier in the year, Rafael Montero, has an ERA over 6.00 to go along with six blown saves and has been appearing earlier and earlier in games.


Just when it seemed like manager A.J. Hinch was committed to making Michael Fulmer his closer, the converted starter hit the IL with a neck issue that doesn't sound serious but doesn't have a concrete timeline either. Right-hander Jose Cisnero has handled the team's only save chance since then and has been the team's best reliever since about mid-May, but his latest appearance came in the eighth inning, with left-hander Gregory Soto working the ninth and 10th. The two will probably split chances until Fulmer is ready to return.

Pecking order
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Hansel Robles MIN RP

Hansel Robles has notched the team's past two saves. Taylor Rogers recorded the three before that, but only after two more for Robles. Then Rogers, Robles, Rogers, Robles ... you get the idea. Closer committees don't get much clearer than that. Whichever one isn't closing on a given day is usually setting up for the other. It's much like the Athletics' committee between Lou Trivino and Jake Diekman, but while the right-handed Trivino has emerged as the preferred Fantasy option there, I'll side with the left-handed Rogers here. The talent gap in this committee is bigger.


Lucas Sims seemed to stabilize the Reds bullpen for a time, recording six saves over a three-week span, but now he's out for about a month with a sprained elbow. I still don't know that there's a Reds reliever I'd rather have since it's mostly the same cast of characters who squandered chance after chance before Sims stepped up. Right-hander Brad Brach and left-hander Amir Garrett have each recorded a save since Sims went down, and I'm guessing manager David Bell will play matchups between the two. Tejay Antone, for what it's worth, is back on the IL with continued forearm issues.

Pecking order
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Paul Fry BAL RP

As a team, the Orioles have registered all of three saves in June. Two belong to Cole Sulser, who is just as often asked to pitch the sixth inning as the seventh or eighth. The other belongs to Paul Fry, whose usage more resembles that of a closer, often being asked to work the eighth or ninth inning, often to finish out a game. The times there have been actual stakes, though, apart from the save, he has floundered, with Monday representing the latest example. I'm not sure anyone is worth stashing for the next chance, whenever it might be.


Manager Mike Matheny has shown no interest in moving Josh Staumont back to the closer role since his IL stint for a sprained knee, having him instead work the sixth and seventh innings. By now, it's clear the team's most effective reliever is Scott Barlow, but he continues to operate in more of a setup role. Greg Holland, who has handled the team's past three save chances, got pummeled in the latest one, taking a blown save and a loss, and doesn't have closer-caliber numbers anyway. Guessing Matheny's next move, though, has proven to be a fool's errand.