In truth, something like half the closer roles are up in the air right now, but I have nothing new to offer on teams like the Mariners, Twins or Rangers. If you want a name for each, I'll say Drew Steckenrider, Tyler Duffey and Joe Barlow, but it isn't with much confidence. And certainly for the Mariners and Twins, I doubt the next save will be the final say anyway.
So let's skip them for this week and look at 10 other closer scenarios in flux.
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).
Scott Barlow emerged as the Royals closer down the stretch last year, but one pitcher who got a shot before him was Josh Staumont. A bout with COVID left Staumont weakened and too often unavailable to stick in the role, but he's healthy now and cranking his fastball up to 100 mph with regularity. And sure enough, he got a chance to close Saturday, with Barlow setting up for him. Granted, Barlow was facing the heart of the Tigers lineup, so it may be he's in the sort of high-leverage role that still earns him most of the saves. Or it may be that manager Mike Matheny prefers to keep him flexible and would rather reserve Staumont for the ninth.
Since securing a save against the rival Yankees in front of a national audience last Sunday night, Jake Diekman has only been used in the eighth inning, twice recording a hold. One of those holds gave way to a save chance, which Hansel Robles handled. Robles isn't as talented as Diekman, but he throws right-handed, which would give him the leg up in any timeshare, and he has more experience as a closer. He's probably the one to have here, though in leagues where saves are scarce, Diekman is worth rostering, too.
Though Jake McGee handled the Giants' most recent save chance, Camilo Doval handled the two before that and was clearly due for a day off Saturday, having worked three of the previous five days. Though he failed to convert it, Doval also got a save chance on opening day. In fact, whenever the Giants have had a save chance and Doval has been available to pitch, manager Gabe Kapler has turned to him. Kapler isn't one to declare bullpen roles (or stick to them when he does), but his actions speak louder here.
After struggling with velocity in the early going, Ryan Pressly recently landed on the IL with knee inflammation. Astros GM James Click said the right-hander is already "feeling great" and should be back "very, very soon," even expressing optimism that the injury might explain the velocity dip. If there is some kind of setback, though, former Phillies closer Hector Neris seems poised the handle the role. He worked the ninth inning with a four-run lead Saturday and again with five-run lead Monday.
Early on, it seemed like Art Warren was earmarked for closing duties, but after that initial save on opening weekend, he has appeared only twice, once in the seventh inning and once in the eighth. And his latest outing didn't go so well, making it even harder to say he's the front-runner for saves. With Tony Santillan also seemingly disqualifying himself, maybe things are actually lining up for Lucas Sims to assume the role when he returns from the IL Friday. He got occasional save chances last year and certainly has the stuff to close.
When Mychal Givens got a save last week despite David Robertson being rested and ready to go, it called into question how committed manager David Ross is to having in any one pitcher in the role. But Robertson has handled both of the team's save chances since then, including his second in as many days Monday. The Cubs had a three-run lead when Givens got his save, so Ross may not have seen it as such a high-leverage situation.
Anthony Bender has gotten a couple saves as the Marlins closer but hasn't been lights out. It leaves the door open for Dylan Floro to reclaim the role once he's back from rotator cuff tendinitis, which should be soon. Floro isn't exactly a natural fit, though, and it's unclear if manager Don Mattingly intended to have him fill the role beyond just the final two months last year. What is clear is that Mattingly has called Bender his "go-to guy" in the ninth inning, so it might take an actual meltdown for him to cede the job to Floro or anyone else.
Daniel Bard has been piling up saves in the early going, which is especially notable since few projected him to be the Rockies closer in the first place, and it's still possible he loses his grip on the role, as happened last year. That's not why Alex Colome got his first save Monday, though. Bard needed a breather after pitching back-to-back days. With a 98 mph fastball and swing-and-miss slider, Bard is capable of sticking in the role and is worthy of investment in all formats at this point, but Colome makes for an experienced fallback option should it not work out.
The first save in what has been billed as a closing tandem went to David Bednar on Sunday. It only took nine games for the Pirates to make it happen. For a bottom-of-the-division club like them, the save chances are scarce enough without being divided in two. Bednar is clearly the more talented one and has yet to struggle like Chris Stratton did in his last outing. He's the more likely to claim the role outright, presuming there's even a chance of it.
Tanner Rainey looked like the Nationals closer of the future when he put together a 2.66 ERA, 0.74 WHIP and 14.2 K/9 during the pandemic-shortened 2020. Apparently, the future is now because he's handled both of their save chances so far. It may have seemed like a long shot after he self-destructed with a 7.39 ERA last year, but he's healthier now and probably their best option by default. Kyle Finnegan, who got save chances down the stretch in 2021, is ultimately too hittable for the role.