Saves and Steals: Jason Foley emerges in Detroit

Saves and Steals: Jason Foley emerges in Detroit

The first week of baseball is in the books, and we've already seen some shakeup in the closer landscape. The Tigers are trusting the ninth-inning role to Jason Foley, who has looked outstanding in the early going. And Abner Uribe has emerged as the primary closer in Milwaukee. In the steals department, fantasy managers lost a significant source of speed when Esteury Ruiz was sent to the minors. Let's take a look at some stolen base options on the waiver wire and run down the weekly closer rankings.

Tier 1: At the Top

Edwin Díaz - New York Mets
Josh Hader - Houston Astros

Díaz made his first two appearances since 2022, tossing scoreless innings against the Tigers and Brewers. His fastball velocity is down a tick, but it's not uncommon at this time of the year and should come with more work. His slider is still generating all the whiffs. Díaz's skills and role keep him as the top closer.

Making his debut with his new team, Hader pitched in three of the Astros' first four games. He took the loss on Sunday, giving up a run in a tie game against the Yankees. Hader then got his first save chance on Tuesday but blew a one-run lead against the Blue Jays, giving up two runs in a loss. The velocity and swinging strikes are there, and that's what we want to see in the early going. The saves will come.

Tier 2: The Elite

Raisel Iglesias - Atlanta Braves
Emmanuel Clase - Cleveland Guardians
Andrés Muñoz - Seattle Mariners
Evan Phillips - Los Angeles Dodgers
Camilo Doval - San Francisco Giants
Pete Fairbanks - Tampa Bay Rays
Evan Phillips - Los Angeles Dodgers

Iglesias has made one appearance so far, striking out a batter in a scoreless inning in a non-save situation. The Braves have won their games by six, eight, and nine runs. It comes with the territory of having such a high-powered lineup.

Clase went 2-for-2 in save chances to open the season, working scoreless innings against the Athletics and Mariners. In Seattle, Muñoz looked fantastic in his first outing, striking out three batters for a clean four-out save against the Red Sox. He pitched the eighth inning against the heart of the Guardians order on Monday and allowed one run. His strikeout ability makes him one of the best relievers in baseball. But manager Scott Servais will go to him in high-leverage situations before the ninth inning if he needs to, opening some save chances for Ryne Stanek and eventually Matt Brash and Gregory Santos when they return.

Phillips recorded his second save with a scoreless appearance against the Cardinals after picking one up in the series against the Padres in South Korea. After pitching on back-to-back days, he got the day off when Daniel Hudson stepped in for a save against St. Louis. Phillips then locked down a four-out save with a pair of strikeouts against the Giants on Tuesday, his third of the season. He's struck out five batters with no walks and only one hit allowed through his first four appearances.

Neither Doval nor Fairbanks has seen a save chance yet. Doval gave up a two-run homer in his only outing against the Padres. Fairbanks gave up a run to the Rangers on Tuesday in a non-save situation after striking out two batters in a scoreless inning against the Blue Jays.

Tier 3: The Solid Options

Clay Holmes - New York Yankees
David Bednar - Pittsburgh Pirates
Ryan Helsley - St. Louis Cardinals
Alexis Diaz - Cincinnati Reds
Craig Kimbrel - Baltimore Orioles
Adbert Alzolay - Chicago Cubs

Holmes had a busy opening series against the Astros, recording three saves in four days as the Yankees completed the sweep of Houston. He worked the tenth inning in a save chance on Tuesday against the Diamondbacks. An error and a base hit would tie the game, charging Holmes with the blown save. But he'd end up with the win after the Yankees took the lead in the eleventh. He'll need to limit the contact and generate more swing-and-miss to avoid trouble.

After a scoreless outing against the Marlins in a non-save situation, he blew his first save chance the following day but came away with the win. After pitching on back-to-back days, he was unavailable when Aroldis Chapman stepped in for a save against the Nationals on Monday.

Helsley gave up a pair of runs to the Dodgers in his first outing but bounced back with two scoreless innings, picking up his first save against the Padres on Tuesday. Díaz also recovered from a bad first outing, recording five outs with a pair of strikeouts and earning the win against the Phillies on Monday.

Like many closers, Kimbrel's first outing wasn't his best. He gave up a run to the Royals, blowing his first save chance. As did Alzolay. He blew the save chance against the Rangers on Opening Day, then bounced back with a scoreless inning while striking out a pair of batters on Sunday in a non-save situation before locking down his first save against the Rockies on Wednesday.

Tier 4: There’s Upside Here

Jason Foley - Detroit Tigers
Jose Alvarado - Philadelphia Phillies
Robert Suarez - San Diego Padres
Abner Uribe - Milwaukee Brewers
Kevin Ginkel - Arizona Diamondbacks
Jose Leclerc - Texas Rangers
Mason Miller - Oakland A's
Tanner Scott - Miami Marlins
Griffin Jax/Brock Stewart - Minnesota Twins

Foley jumps to the top of this tier after taking the closer role in Detroit. It was hard to trust Alex Lange with his high walk rate, and Tigers manager AJ Hinch must feel similarly. Foley walked just 5.4 percent of batters last season and came in throwing 98 mph on his fastball. Of the early-season waiver wire closer additions, he has the best chance to keep the job all season with an upside of 25-plus saves.

Following the theme of closers' early struggles, Alvarado was hit for five runs in his first outing against the Braves. He picked up his first save with a clean inning against Atlanta on Sunday.

Suarez has looked solid in the early going. He's locked down his first three save chances, including a five-out save against the Cardinals on Wednesday.

It's evident the Brewers are trusting Uribe with the closer role in Devin Williams' absence. The 23-year-old right-hander has secured three of the team's first four save chances. Outside of a solo homer given up to Pete Alonso, he's looked outstanding. Given the timeline of Williams' injury, Uribe has a chance at 20-plus saves.

Ginkel hasn't seen a save chance yet as he figures to fill in for Paul Sewald. He had tossed a pair of scoreless innings before giving up a pair of runs in extra innings against the Yankees on Wednesday.

Leclerc has looked shaky to start the season. He's given up at least one run in each of his first three outings, including a four-run appearance against the Rangers on Sunday to take the loss. It doesn't seem like his job is in danger, yet. But it could be something to monitor.

It's unfortunate that the A's likely won't be getting Miller many save chances. He gave up two runs in his first appearance against the Guardians but came back with four strikeouts over two scoreless innings against the Red Sox. Miller should see most save chances that do come across in Oakland, but they could be few and far between.

The control issues have really come back to haunt Scott. He took a loss on back-to-back days against the Pirates and Angels and has walked six batters over three innings to start the season. He made his last appearance in the eighth inning and could lose the closer role if he doesn't solve his walk problem.

It's a true matchup-based committee in Minnesota. We've seen Jax, Stewart, and Steven Okert pitch the ninth inning over the first week of baseball. Jax is the only one with a save so far and has been the reliever used in high-leverage spots against the best part of the opposing lineup. It's likely all three relievers see save chances while Jhoan Duran is sidelined.

Kopech is really dialing up the velocity as he's moved into a relief role. He locked down his first save on Tuesday, recording five outs against the Braves. It was the second time in three outings he's been used for more than one inning.

Tier 5: Just Getting By

Kenley Jansen - Boston Red Sox
Kyle Finnegan - Washington Nationals
Carlos Estevez - Los Angeles Angels
Chad Green - Toronto Blue Jays

Jansen looked good in Boston's opening series, picking up a save with two strikeouts in a scoreless inning against the Mariners. However, he was unavailable for the next couple of days due to a back issue. This may just be a recurring problem throughout the season. Jansen did return to record a save against the A's on Wednesday.

Finnegan went 2-for-3 in save chances to the season. After a scoreless appearance against the Reds for his first save, he blew his second opportunity to Cincinnati with three runs allowed on a pair of homers. Finnegan bounced back on Wednesday against the Pirates with a scoreless outing for his second save. And Estevez got the job done on back-to-back days, recording his first two saves with a pair of scoreless innings with no strikeouts. In Toronto, it appears Chad Green may get the most save chances until Jordan Romano returns. However, Romano could be back as early as next week after throwing a successful bullpen session on Tuesday.

Tier 6: If You Must

Will Smith - Kansas City Royals
Tyler Kinley/Justin Lawrence - Colorado Rockies


Devin Williams - back
Jordan Romano - elbow
Jhoan Duran - oblique
Paul Sewald - oblique

Steals Department

Through the first week of action, Jarren Duran and Brice Turang lead baseball in steals with six. Both are off to a fantastic start at the plate. After a four-hit day on Wednesday, Duran is 11-for-28 (.393) with four runs scored. He's yet to leave the yard, but half of his batted ball events have been hard-hit. Turang is in a platoon at second base with the Brewers, getting most starts against right-handed pitching. He's 7-for-16 to start the season, though his hard-hit rates are much lower. Checking in on last week's featured player for steals and one of the big early-season waiver pickups, Victor Scott II has gone 3-for-25 (.120) with a couple of doubles, five runs scored, and a stolen base through Wednesday. Lars Nootbaar began a rehab assignment with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds on Tuesday and could be returning soon from his rib injury. It'll be interesting to see how long of a leash the team is willing to give Scott II. But fantasy managers should remain patient with the 23-year-old. In a somewhat surprising move, the Athletics optioned Esteury Ruiz to Triple-A Las Vegas this week, removing one of the game's premier stolen base sources. Fantasy managers who lost Ruiz could be looking at the waiver wire for help in the steals department. José Caballero is rostered in only four percent of Yahoo leagues and has three steals while playing nearly every day as the Rays' primary shortstop. Teammate Jose Siri, who also has three steals, could be available in more shallow formats (38 percent rostered).