When it comes to closers, all we ask for is clarity. There are no style points for saves (within reason, anyway), but we have to know who's getting them.

It's why we should be grateful to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who seemed all too eager to mix and match when Evan Phillips was sidelined by a strained hamstring but turned right back to Phillips in the right-hander's return to the mound Saturday. No fuss, no drama. He notched his ninth save, and we have every reason to believe he's the closer again.

It's also why we should be frustrated with Mets manager Carlos Mendoza, who has kept us guessing with Edwin Diaz sidelined by a shoulder impingement even though there would seem to be an obvious alternative.

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).

OK, so in fairness to Mendoza, Reed Garrett has had several stumbles lately, his ERA rising from 0.72 to 3.00 in his past six appearances, but his 14.1 K/9 and 18 percent swinging-strike rate are still top five among full-time relievers. And besides, Adam Ottavino's struggles have been even more acute, his ERA approaching 6.00 after allowing nine earned runs in his past six appearances.

It may all be a moot point. Diaz threw a bullpen session Tuesday and could begin a rehab assignment Thursday, putting him on track to return next week. Then again, Diaz had technically been removed from the closer role prior to his injury because he was struggling to close out games. Presumably, Garrett's and Ottavino's struggles have been a sobering enough experience for Mendoza to reinstall Diaz right away, but it's not a certainty.

Blue Jays
Pecking order

After six weeks of sputtering in the closer role for the Blue Jays, Jordan Romano went back on the IL with the same elbow injury (inflammation) that sidelined him for the start of the season. His removal creates an opening for the reliever who has actually been the Blue Jays' best this year, Yimi Garcia. Garcia has secured the Blue Jays' one save since Romano's latest IL stint and handled the final two before Romano returned from his previous IL stint.

It's pretty clear, then, that Garcia is the replacement, and judging by his 1.57 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, and 11.3 K/9 on the year, it's not so crazy to think he could just keep the job, whether because Romano continues to suffer setbacks or because manager John Schneider just like how things are going by the time Romano is ready to return. Granted, the more likely scenario is that Garcia steps in for a couple weeks and then cedes the job back to Romano, but the alternative scenario is at least a plausible one.

When Will Smith eliminated himself as a closer possibility, Royals manager Matt Quatraro quickly had to settle on a replacement with the team winning games at an unexpected clip, and for about a month, James McArthur proved to be up to the task. But his fastball isn't overpowering in the way a closer's needs to be, and it's been exposed since the end of April, yielding an 8.18 ERA over McArthur's past 10 appearances.

For the year now, McArthur has a 5.11 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, and 8.4 K/9, which certainly aren't closer-caliber numbers, and given that his past two appearances have both come in the eighth inning rather than the ninth (to put out fires, but still), it's not so clear that he has a stranglehold on the role anymore. He may hold onto it just because no one else in this bullpen is begging to take his place, but if the Royals remain in contention, you can bet they'll be looking to upgrade.


Though the Phillies' closer scenario is far from ideal, there's at least a certain clarity to it. We know that to close out a lead, they'll turn to one of Jose Alvarado and Jeff Hoffman in the eighth inning and the other in the ninth. We just can't say on any given day which pitcher will handle which inning. Hoffman has secured three of the team's past five saves, but Alvarado got the latest one Monday (with Hoffman working the eighth, of course). It seems like purely a matchups thing, with Alvarado throwing left-handed and Hoffman throwing right-handed, but does that tip the scales in either pitcher's favor? Not especially. I'm giving Alvarado the edge here because he's already rostered in more leagues, but really, it should be pretty equal between him and Hoffman.

I don't see much reason to doubt whether Trevor Megill is still the Brewers' closer. It's true he worked the seventh inning in his latest appearance Saturday, but that's only because he took a liner off the elbow in his previous outing and manager Pat Murphy wanted to make sure he had suffered no ill effects. It would seem Megill passed that test with flying colors, seeing as he struck out the side. The Brewers have some interesting alternatives if Murphy were to second-guess things, but no matter what happens next, you should keep in mind it's a temporary arrangement with Devin Williams (back fractures) expected back for the second half.


What a mess this bullpen has turned into. The Tigers' last save went to left-hander Tyler Holton, with presumed closer Jason Foley working the eighth, but you might be inclined to dismiss it as a fluke seeing as it happened way back on May 25. The only problem is that each of Foley's three appearances since then has also come in the eighth. So who's been handling the ninth? Well, again, the Tigers haven't had a save during that time. Most recently, left-hander Andrew Chafin followed Foley in the ninth, but his numbers don't make him seem any better suited to close.

Foley has been unsteady enough that you can understand manager A.J. Hinch wanting to experiment again, but there just isn't a great alternative. That is, unless Shelby Miller, who's expected to be activated from the IL Tuesday, comes back throwing fire.

Pecking order

As of the last Bullpen Report a couple weeks ago, Jhoan Duran wasn't working the ninth inning exclusively, instead being tasked with the eighth inning for four of his first eight appearances back from the IL. Well, that's all been straightened out now. His last eight appearances have come in the ninth inning, with his last seven resulting in a save. Of course, he hasn't necessarily looked great doing it. The fastball has been lagging a bit. The strikeouts are down, and the hits are up. Griffin Jax continues to be the Twins' best reliever -- having pitched to a 2.13 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 11.7 K/9 so far -- and he may be worth keeping around in deeper Rotisserie leagues where saves are scarce.

The Rays' situation is similar to the Twins' situation. Yes, Pete Fairbanks would seem to be back to closing full-time, having handled the ninth or 10th inning in each of his past seven appearances and secured three of the team's past four saves. But like Jhoan Duran, his fastball still isn't back to where it was last year, and also like Duran, his outings haven't been nearly as crisp. He has a great alternative behind him in Jason Adam, and left-hander Garrett Cleavinger has emerged as a viable one as well. You'll want to keep them in your sights just in case Fairbanks turns out to be not as healthy as the Rays would have us believe.