We're never far away from the next closer catastrophe, and this past week has seen a couple.

The Cubs have pulled the plug on Adbert Alzolay after four blown saves. A home run was to blame for each of those blown saves even though he allowed only five all of last year. The Rays, meanwhile, were forced to place Pete Fairbanks on the IL with what's only being described as a "nerve issue." No word yet what sort of timetable he's looking at.

So who's in line to replace Alzolay and Fairbanks, and how permanent are those changes? Here's what's happening in those bullpens and seven others from around the league.

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).


We don't know the extent or really even the nature of Fairbanks' nerve issue, so I'm reluctant to remove him from the top spot given the possibility it's a short-term absence. But nerve issues can be serious. His velocity has been lagging all season, and he's been getting knocked around for the most part. I wouldn't say I'm optimistic about a quick return. I am, however, optimistic that Jason Adam is the one to replace him. Fairbanks was often injured last year, too, and Adam was always the one to fill in, accumulating 12 saves along the way. Given the possibility of an extended absence for Fairbanks, I'd say that Adam is a high-priority pickup.

It's hard to say whether the rise or fall of Abner Uribe as Brewers closer was more abrupt. Six days into the season, he already had three saves, but he got only two more ninth-inning appearances after that. Joel Payamps pulled even with his third save Sunday and has worked the ninth inning in five straight appearances. Seeing as Payamps was the presumed favorite to close after Devin Williams went down with a back injury this spring training, it's reasonable to think he's secured the job now. The recent return of Trevor Megill from the IL could complicate things, but not if Payamps continues to get the job done. Meanwhile, Williams is still months away from returning.


The Cubs are indeed making a change at closer, but it's one of those halfhearted ones designed to "give Adbert some confidence," to quote manager Craig Counsell. In other words, who knows if it'll stick? Alzolay was genuinely great as the Cubs closer last year, but Counsell wasn't there to see it. What he has seen is a home run rate that's untenable for a closer. Hector Neris, who got the first save in Alzolay's stead Saturday, also has closing experience and was even better than Alzolay last year (albeit as a setup man for the Astros). He's struggled with walks so far, which is why he's no certainty to claim the job from Alzolay. There's also Mark Leiter, a 33-year-old with a nasty splitter and closer-caliber strikeout numbers this season and last. You can consider him more of a dark horse candidate.


While the Cubs' removal of Adbert Alzolay from the closer role is thought to be only temporary , the same was true for the Rangers' removal of Jose Leclerc at this time a week ago. By now, though, it's pretty clear that Kirby Yates is just the guy. And what a guy he is. The 37-year-old has yet to allow a run in his 10 innings this season, surrendering a total of two hits. You may not remember that he had one of the all-time great closer seasons in 2019, recording 41 saves with a 1.19 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 15.0 K/9. Tommy John surgery has diminished his effectiveness somewhat, but he looked good out of the Braves bullpen last year, too, apart from issuing too many walks (a common issue for those recently returned from Tommy John).

There's a chance Yates goes belly-up like Leclerc did, but I think there's an even better chance that he's monster saves source for the defending World Series champions. If you have your choice between Yates, Jason Adam and Hector Neris, Yates is the one you want.


Manager Scott Servais' meddling has made a mess of the Mariners bullpen, turning a potential ace closer in Andres Munoz into a tentative reliever with a confused role. OK, so Muñoz's own pitching may be partly to blame, but things were going well enough until Servais brought him in prior to the ninth inning in three consecutive appearances, including twice to set up someone else for a save. Then when Muñoz was himself brought in for a save Sunday, he blew it, allowing two runs on three hits without recording an out. I suppose we should have seen it coming given Servais' history of bullpen management, but as only a part-time saves source, Muñoz isn't even a top-20 reliever in Fantasy anymore.


Speaking of part-time saves sources, that seems to be all Jose Alvarado is for the Phillies. But this past week at least provided clarity that he's the better bet for saves than Jeff Hoffman. Alvarado is responsible for each of the team's past two saves -- one coming Wednesday and one coming Saturday -- while Hoffman still has only one all year. They've traded off the eighth and ninth inning some and likely will continue to based on matchups, but everything else being equal, manager Rob Thomson does show a preference for Alvarado. And why not? The left-hander has allowed all of one hit since his rocky outing on opening day.

Orion Kerkering is back from the IL and could claim the job for himself at some point, but so far in his 10 days back, he's appeared only twice -- neither time in a particularly high-leverage spot.


There's no question who the closer is for the Mets, but Reed Garrett has become such a force in his own right that manager Carlos Mendoza felt comfortable deploying Edwin Diaz in the eighth inning to handle the top of the Dodgers lineup Saturday. Garrett then struck out the side in the ninth for his first career save and is seemingly positioned for a high-leverage role after serving as more of a long man early on. He has struck out 21 batters in 10 2/3 innings so far, giving him a total that compares to some starting pitchers, and offers far more looks than the typical reliever, his fastball serving as just a change-of-pace offering for his slider, sweeper and splitter. If there's any non-closer who needs to be rostered right now, it's Garrett.

Griffin Jax recorded the Twins' first save on opening day and their last one on Saturday, which I guess makes him the favorite for right now. But the truth is that manager Rocco Baldelli hasn't stuck to any prescribed roles, and at this point it may be a moot point. That's because Jhoan Duran, the team's actual closer, is set to begin a rehab assignment Tuesday and should return from an oblique injury in short order. I managed to pick him up in one league over the weekend, and if he's somehow still available in one of yours, you should do the same. He was being drafted as a top-five reliever before the injury.


The Twins never did settle on a replacement for Jhoan Duran, but Kevin Ginkel was always thought to be the replacement for Paul Sewald, who's sidelined by an oblique injury of his own, and has filled the role well. Like Duran, though, Sewald is set to begin a rehab assignment Tuesday, meaning Ginkel's stint as Diamondbacks closer is nearing its end. A setback is always possible, so you shouldn't pull the plug yet. But you'll want to be prepared for what's coming.