2021 Fantasy Baseball Closer Depth Charts: Saves Tips & Sleepers For MLB Bullpens

Here’s our MLB preseason edition of the 2021 Fantasy Baseball Closer Depth Chart. Bullpens are tricky to figure out when there is not a clear-cut closer. Arbitration years, handedness, and track record all come into play when speculating for fantasy baseball saves.

In this piece, we took a look at every 9th-inning option across the league to examine where we can find an edge to not pay a premium for presumed closers who may lose their job sooner than later. Stashing fantasy baseball sleepers for saves is one of the best ways to win your fantasy baseball leagues.


NOTE: These are our 2021 preseason fantasy baseball closer depth charts. Click the link for the inseason 2021 fantasy baseball closer rankings and depth charts.


2021 Fantasy Baseball Closer Depth Charts

AL East | AL Central | AL West | NL East | NL Central | NL West

AL EAST 2021 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER DEPTH CHARTS

Baltimore Orioles

Definitive Closer?

Maybe: LHP Tanner Scott

Competition/Committee/Backups For Saves

  • RHP Cesar Valdez
  • RHP Hunter Harvey (60-day IL)

Orioles Closer Tips

Tanner Scott is the guy you want. Cesar Valdez is a RHP, but that’s all he has going for him with his limited track record.

While Hunter Harvey was the favorite coming into the season, he suffered an oblique injury in Spring Training and has been placed on the 60-Day IL. Oblique issues are notoriously tricky due to their lingering effects and a high potential for reaggravation, which means we can count him out for this year. Scott’s a lefty but the stuff is stellar and he improved well enough last year.


Boston Red Sox

Definitive Closer?

Maybe: RHP Matt Barnes

Competition/Committee/Backups For Saves

  • RHP Adam Ottavino
  • LHP Darwinzon Hernandez

Red Sox Closer Tips

Last year I was very much for drafting Matt Barnes given that his ADP was suppressed by presumed closer Brandon Workman. However, my stance is anti-Barnes and pro-Ottavino this year.

The same thought process applies in fading the shaky guy with the job and waiting for his backup to take over after the closer possibly blows up in managers’ faces. Hernandez is nice, but he’s very young and probably not closing until September when Boston stops trying and has sold off their veteran relievers.


New York Yankees

Definitive Closer?

LHP Aroldis Chapman

Next In Line/Backups For Saves

  • RHP Chad Green
  • LHP Zack Britton (IL)

Yankees Closer Tips

Even prior to Britton’s injury, Chapman was a buy. His value was suppressed slightly by a delayed start to 2020 due to a bout with COVID but he ended the year on a strong note. Chapman should honestly be drafted before lesser closers like Hader and Karinchak. Chad Green is very good and the backup but by the time Chapman may get hurt, Britton may return and re-claim the closing role.


Tampa Bay Rays

Definitive Closer?

No

Competition/Committee For Saves

  • RHP Nick Anderson
  • RHP Pete Fairbanks
  • RHP Diego Castillo

Rays Closer Tips

LOL Rays. Good luck figuring this out for fantasy baseball teams.

Anderson is the best option with the best command, but TB will use him as a fireman regardless of inning. They do not care about your fantasy team. Draft the cheapest guy (Fairbanks) and hope he stays healthy and manages a dozen saves.


Toronto Blue Jays

Definitive Closer?

RHP Kirby Yates

Next In Line/Backups For Saves

  • RHP Jordan Romano
  • RHP Rafael Dolis

Blue Jays Closer Tips

No way am I trusting 34-year old Kirby Yates after an elbow clean-up last year.

His UCL was untouched and his stuff is elite, but anytime you hear elbow and surgery, it’s worrisome. They paid him $5.5 million for 1 year and while that may be a good chunk of money, it isn’t as if he is guaranteed as the future closer.

If Yates misses time and Romano (preferred target) plays well, Yates won’t just be handed back the job.


AL CENTRAL 2021 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER DEPTH CHARTS

Chicago White Sox

Definitive Closer?

RHP Liam Hendriks

Next In Line/Backups For Saves

  • LHP Aaron Bummer
  • RHP Evan Marshall
  • RHP Matt Foster

White Sox Closer Tips

Hendriks is the guy, they paid him closer money for several years and have an old school manager in Tony La Russa who won’t mess around.

Very doubtful Bummer sees saves opportunities even vs. LHB-heavy lineups or in case Bummer goes down given his usage and the team’s comments over the past year. Evan Marshall is most likely “the” guy as a backup, but even so, I’m not very interested given how a season-long injury is the only way to value.

2021 Fantasy Baseball Closer Depth Charts: Saves Tips & Sleepers For MLB Bullpens. Is James Karinchak worth your fantasy baseball trust?

2021 Fantasy Baseball Closer Depth Charts: Be careful not to overvalue Cleveland reliever James Karinchak. This bullpen may be more of a competition and/or committee than fantasy baseball drafters think. (Image: USA TODAY Sports)


Cleveland Indians

Definitive Closer?

No

Committee/Competition For Saves

  • RHP James Karinchak
  • RHP Nick Wittgren
  • RHP Emmanuel Clase
  • RHP Blake Parker
  • RHP Phil Maton

Indians Closer Tips

The price-tag on Karinchak is FAR too high given how the organization wants to utilize him. He is clearly a fireman who will not be set-in as the closer outside of an injury or two. He is incredibly talented but also wild and will be preferred in high-leverage late innings rather than just the 9th.

Nick Wittgren is the “safer” option to garner saves, but the actual stuff guy here is Clase who has the makings of a future star closer. However, given the way this team may want an experienced veteran holding the job (to lower future arbitration costs of their youth), it’s likely Wittgren then Parker/Maton of the non-Karinchak options.


Detroit Tigers

Definitive Closer?

Maybe: RHP Bryan Garcia

Competition/Committee/Backups For Saves

  • LHP Gregory Soto
  • RHP Joe Jimenez

Tigers Closer Tips

Bryan Garcia is deemed the closer to start the season but he is not good. Soto has the best stuff but might be preferred as a fireman. Joe Jimenez was supposed to be the guy after Shane Greene but he’s been mediocre. This team won’t win enough games anyway so this could be an arbitrary discussion. Soto’s my favorite of the bunch but do not be shocked if new pitching coach Chris Fetter unlocks Jimenez after all these years (xERA below 4 from 2018-2019).


Kansas City Royals

Definitive Closer?

RHP Greg Holland

Next In Line/Backups For Saves

  • RHP Scott Barlow
  • RHP Jesse Hahn
  • RHP Josh Staumont

Royals Closer Tips

Greg Holland’s the guy here and actually at a palatable price in the mid-200 ADP range. The Royals are decent this year and should win enough games in an easy division to not sell at the deadline. Holland’s definitely the recommended buy but in case of injury, Barlow is very talented as well and worth keeping an eye on.


Minnesota Twins

Definitive Closer?

No

Competition/Committee For Saves

  • RHP Alex Colome
  • LHP Taylor Rogers
  • RHP Tyler Duffey

Twins Closer Tips

Taylor Rogers’ ADP was firmly in the top-15o prior to the Alex Colome signing and has rightfully slipped since. While Rogers is very good, the Twins never wanted him to close in the first place which is why they tried so hard to make Sergio Romo a thing.

Colome will likely see the most saves in this bullpen, but this, by all means, reeks of a committee where an elite reliever like Tyler Duffey could sneak in some saves. Duffey is the guy I want since his ADP is 200~ picks cheaper than Colome/Rogers.


AL WEST 2021 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER DEPTH CHARTS

Houston Astros

Definitive Closer?

Maybe: RHP Ryan Pressly

Competition/Next In Line/Backups For Saves

  • RHP Enoli Paredes
  • RHP Pedro Baez

Astros Closer Tips

This team is in need of bullpen help. While Pressly is very good at full-strength, he dealt with a forearm strain last season and those are notorious precursors to further issues. Not to mention, Pressly only attained the job because of Osuna’s injury.

Enoli Paredes has great stuff and has closed in the minors at times but is young with terrible command issues. Pedro Baez, upon return from his positive COVID case, is the back-up/set-up man behind Pressly but we all know how randomly the disease affects everyone, including athletes.

The Astros are the team most likely to add a bullpen piece in the first half to bolster the back end and potentially close.


Los Angeles Angels

Definitive Closer?

RHP Raisel Iglesias

Next In Line/Backups For Saves

  • RHP Mike Mayers
  • RHP Felix Pena
  • RHP Ty Buttrey

Angels Closer Tips

The Angels made their intentions very clear when pursuing Raisel Iglesias, they wanted a man who has handled the 9th inning in the past and possesses the abilities to continue it. Iglesias is a guy with a track record and no health concerns of late. Absolutely worth his ADP.

Mike Mayers is very good but not a threat for saves unless Iglesias gets hurt or pitches multiple times in a short span of days.


Oakland Athletics

Definitive Closer?

RHP Trevor Rosenthal (INJ)

Next In Line/Backups For Saves

  • RHP J.B. Wendelken
  • LHP Jake Diekman
  • RHP Lou Trivino
  • RHP Sergio Romo

Athletics Closer Tips

Trevor Rosenthal is dealing with a groin strain at the moment but that should not be much of a hindrance upon return. Oakland paid him $11 million to be their closer and as long as he’s healthy and keeping the ball around the zone, the job is his to lose.

Rosenthal’s past health issues are worrisome as he was essentially out of the league and playing on a minor league contract but his arsenal was as potent as ever last season. He can be a considered a riskier option of those with the sole job but if others are off the board, he is a viable target.

Diekman was rumored as the closer prior to Rosenthal’s signing but not only is he a lefty but he is not very good. The back-ups are gross outside of Wendelken and even so, he’s not even worth drafting given that there would be a heavy committee.


Seattle Mariners

Definitive Closer?

RHP Rafael Montero

Next In Line/Backups For Saves

  • RHP Kendall Graveman
  • LHP Anthony Misiewicz
  • RHP Andres Munoz

Mariners Closer Tips

Rafael Montero is going under-the-radar as a good draft pick that no one really wants but will take if necessary. He was mediocre in 2020 but who wasn’t? Since 2019, he has an ERA of 3.09, xFIP just below 4.00, a 22.7% K:BB, and 0.99 WHIP over the course of 46.2 IP.


Texas Rangers

Definitive Closer?

RHP Jose LeClerc

Next In Line/Backups For Saves

  • LHP Joely Rodriguez
  • RHP Josh Sborz

Rangers Closer Tips

LeClerc is the guy until he is not. He was supposed to lead the team in saves last year but a shoulder injury shut him down after just two appearances. Any sort of arm issue is concerning but LeClerc seems healthy thus far in Spring Training. Jonathan Hernandez (UCL sprain) was perceived as a threat to the closer role but he is out indefinitely leaving LeClerc competing against himself. Joely Rodriguez is also very talented and someone to watch in the event that LeClerc is traded by the deadline.


NL EAST 2021 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER DEPTH CHARTS

Atlanta Braves

Definitive Closer?

No

Committee/Competition For Saves

  • LHP Will Smith
  • RHP Chris Martin

Braves Closer Tips

This is confusing. Will Smith has closing experience but the team is non-commital on him as a closer. Maybe it’s lefty-bias? Nothing concrete but it seems as if Chris Martin will have his fair share of opportunities to close and he is pretty good! Martin’s peripheral statistics are incredible throughout his career and his strikeout rate has spiked above 30% over the past two years. Martin is the guy to buy here given his price tag is 150 picks cheaper than Smith.

2021 Fantasy Baseball Closer Depth Charts: Saves Tips & Sleepers For MLB Bullpens. Is Will Smith the true Atlanta Braves closer? Chris Martin is nipping at his heels, if not sharing the job with him.

Will Smith (pictured) and Chris Martin make up one of 2021 fantasy baseball’s most-watched closer battles in spring training. (Image: USA TODAY Sports)


Miami Marlins

Definitive Closer?

Maybe: RHP Anthony Bass

Next In Line/Backups For Saves

  • RHP Yimi Garcia
  • RHP Dylan Floro

Marlins Closer Tips

Bass is mediocre, but he’s the man with the job here.

I’m skeptical of him holding onto to if any form of struggle occurs. Garcia has the best stuff of the group and is likely the next man up, making him a better addition in deep drafts than Bass. Floro has been stated as the middle-inning man but he has been better than Garcia throughout his career.

It’s a murky situation, to say the least, and I’m not very interested.


New York Mets

Definitive Closer?

Maybe: RHP Edwin Diaz

Competition/Next In Line For Saves

RHP Trevor May

Mets Closer Tips

Edwin Diaz is who the Mets want to be the closer. They notoriously gave up arguably the best prospect in baseball and need to justify that move from the former GM despite Diaz’s tumultuous 9th-innings over the past two seasons. At his peak, he is the best closer in baseball bar-none, but the inconsistency makes that a fever dream of sorts.

Trevor May was deservedly PAID this offseason and while they will not go to him unless absolutely necessary, there is high upside here on a very good team with a shaky closer. Diaz’s price is just too high to stomach for what he’s shown and May has 7 saves over the past 3 years. Not much, but he’s at least done it to some degree.


Philadelphia Phillies

Definitive Closer?

No

Competition For Saves

  • RHP Hector Neris
  • RHP Archie Bradley
  • LHP Jose Alvarado

Phillies Saves Tips

Hector Neris has 72 career saves, Archie Bradley has 28, Jose Alvarado has 15. My order of who to target is Neris, Alvarado, and then Bradley. Neris is the preferred target as the incumbent man who has had success in Philly before with a very appealing price-tag around pick 300.

Alvarado may be utilized as a left-handed fireman but he was dominant as a closer for a stretch in 2018 before issues at home in 2019 derailed him. Bradley is fine but he’s better off in a late-inning set-up role, the stuff is not as potent as Neris/Alvarado.


Washington Nationals

Definitive Closer?

LHP Brad Hand

Next In Line/Backups For Saves

  • RHP Tanner Rainey
  • RHP Daniel Hudson

Nationals Closer Tips

Brad Hand is the guy here but the team stated prior to the signing that Tanner Rainey would be given an opportunity. Hand has been a good closer throughout his career making it unlikely that Rainey sees any work unless a blow-up occurs or Hand is in need of a rest day. Hand could be utilized earlier in the late innings if a left-heavy lineup presents itself but he should be the guy in any other scenario. Rainey is very good though and someone to keep an eye on if Hand struggles as he did in 2019.


NL CENTRAL 2021 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER DEPTH CHARTS

Chicago Cubs

Definitive Closer?

RHP Craig Kimbrel

Next In Line/Backups For Saves

  • RHP Ryan Tepera
  • LHP Andrew Chafin
  • RHP Brandon Workman

Cubs Closer Tips

“Definitive” may not be the correct term but Kimbrel is the guy because he’s getting paid like the guy and actually looked decent to close out 2020. Kimbrel obviously has the track record but the inconsistencies over the past two seasons are astounding. The back-ups here don’t inspire much hope but if anyone could take the job away, it is accidental MVP vote receiver Ryan Tepera. He took a major step last season. Workman had the job with the Red Sox for a bit but his career is marred with blow-ups and limited reliability.


Cincinnati Reds

Definitive Closer?

No

Committee/Competition For Saves

  • LHP Amir Garrett
  • RHP Lucas Sims
  • RHP Tejay Antone
  • RHP Michael Lorenzen

Reds Closer Tips

The Reds traded away their long-time closer Raisel Iglesias and have an extremely talented bullpen but no closer. Sims was presumed to be the best bet but he is dealing with an elbow issue. Garrett is very good but a lefty. Antone and Lorenzen are potential starters, which leaves a lot of question marks. I’m still a big believer in Antone/Lorenzon as better for the bullpen than rotation but the team is making it tough with how they’ve been going about in Spring Training. Probably best to avoid most of these guys but Antone is my best bet if any.


Milwaukee Brewers

Definitive Closer?

Maybe: LHP Josh Hader

Next In Line/Backups For Saves

  • RHP Devin Williams
  • RHP Justin Topa

Brewers Closer Tips

Hader is a fireman, not a pure closer. The team wants to utilize him in a multi-inning role to get the toughest outs possible and not limit him to the 9th inning. Devin Williams is in a similar situation as the RHP version of Hader. This team is becoming much more analytically inclined and the price-tag for both is a top-150 pick. Probably best to avoid either given that the saves will be hard to predict. Topa is a sneaky option but would probably require a long-term injury to either. Williams is currently dealing with a strained right rotator cuff but should pitch in games soon.


Pittsburgh Pirates

Definitive Closer?

Maybe: RHP Richard Rodriguez

Next In Line/Backups For Saves

  • RHP Chris Stratton
  • RHP Kyle Crick

Pirates Closer Tips

Richard Rodriguez was VERY good last season and has closer stuff. Drafting him is fine, but it comes with the caveat that a trade could occur at any time to a team that may not view him as a closer.

Stratton is the next-man-up here and much better than Crick. I’d rather draft wait on him to take over since the Pirates will be sellers this year.


St. Louis Cardinals

Definitive Closer?

No

Competition/Committee For Saves

  • RHP Giovanny Gallegos
  • RHP Jordan Hicks

Cardinals Closer Tips

Jordan Hicks is the “future” closer for the team, but coming off of Tommy John Surgery, there is no guarantee he holds up this season or even pitches to his full potential.

The team would probably prefer Gallegos as their fireman given his talents, but Gallegos might be forced to man the 9th inning if Hicks struggles or misses time.

Gallegos is the target here. 4 saves in 16 games last year, and to be honest, a better reliever than Hicks.


NL WEST 2021 FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER DEPTH CHARTS

Arizona Diamondbacks

Definitive Closer?

Maybe: RHP Joakim Soria

Competition/Committee/Next In Line For Saves

  • RHP Stefan Crichton
  • RHP Kevin Ginkel

Diamondbacks Closer Tips

Crichton is better than Soria but Soria has closing experience. Soria is very likely the closer to start this season but that job could easily be lost. To be honest, none of these options instill much hope and we could see a carousel of failure unless they add a piece which is doubtful give the state of this roster. Avoid.


Colorado Rockies

Definitive Closer?

Maybe: RHP Daniel Bard

Competition/Committee For Saves

  • RHP Scott Oberg
  • RHP Robert Stephenson
  • RHP Mychal Givens

Rockies Closer Tips

Daniel Bard is a feel-good story. He was out of the league from 2014-2019 and returned last season, closing in 6 games for Colorado thus establishing himself as their closer this year.

However, it is hard to ignore when someone has missed so much time, and drafting him in the top 300 picks is very risky. He has had severe issues with the yips and if in a premier role albeit on a terrible team.

Not to mention, he pitches in COORS. Root for him, but don’t draft him or any of his back-ups. Bard’s stuff isn’t good enough to mitigate Coors for a full season.


Los Angeles Dodgers

Definitive Closer?

RHP Kenley Jansen

Next In Line/Backups For Saves

  • RHP Blake Treinen
  • RHP Corey Knebel

Dodgers Closer Tips

Kenley Jansen is the guy until he isn’t. Jansen, throughout the regular season and playoffs over his tenure as a Dodger, has been given every opportunity to close and unless he completely flames out, he will be the guy.

Blake Treinen has closing experience in the past and has revamped himself to a very good back-end reliever but his strikeouts have disappeared. Corey Knebel was elite until he tore his Achilles on the mound and has struggled to regain form since.

It actually could be a toss-up as to who the back-up closer is but, even so, the chances of moving off of Jansen outside of an injury or massive disappointments are slim. Jansen could actually regain some solid form in his contract 2021 year.


San Diego Padres

Definitive Closer?

No

Competition/Committee For Saves

  • LHP Drew Pomeranz
  • RHP Emilio Pagan
  • RHP Mark Melancon
  • RHP Keone Kela
  • RHP Austin Adams

Padres Closer Tips

The Padres utilized Pomeranz as the primary closer last year but were obviously not happy with a lefty in that role and went out grabbing Melancon/Kela who have that experience in the past. This situation is so murky and if I had to put money on someone, it would actually be Pagan. He was incredible in 2019 and closed 20 games for the Rays.

Last year something was out-of-whack resulting in a reversion to his 2018 form. Kela is very skilled as well but forearm inflammation last year sidelined him. Just so hard to buy-in there despite his incredible showings thus far as a Padre.


San Francisco Giants

Definitive Closer?

No

Competition/Committee For Saves

  • LHP Jake McGee
  • RHP Reyes Moronta
  • RHP Tyler Rogers
  • RHP Matt Wisler

Giants Closer Tips

The Giants initially stated that Reyes Moronta was the closer going into this season but a rough Spring Training may lead him back into the minors to work out some kinks. The Giants have a 40-man roster squeeze so this decision may not be too difficult and Tyler Rogers may go with him. This leaves McGee and Wisler as the two options. McGee has closing experience while Wisler is a righty. It all depends on how their seasons start. This could be a rotational role based on matchups and I want no part of it.


Identify your stable fantasy baseball closers and your fantasy baseball sleepers for saves with our 2021 fantasy baseball closer depth charts for each MLB team. Then, read the rest of our content in the full 2021 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide before you pick your team.

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