If you have been keeping up with our 2024 fantasy baseball series here at Philly Sports Network, you have probably been waiting to see what we would say when we finally reached the bullpen. Well, today is the day!
Previously in this series, we have looked at the Phillies’ starting pitchers, outfielders, and infielders. Unless otherwise stated, assume any analysis is primarily meant for 5×5 category leagues. Adjust accordingly to your specific fantasy team’s settings.
Addressing the Elephant in the Bullpen
Let’s start by addressing the obvious: more than any other position on the field, the Phillies’ bullpen situation is still very much an enigma now as we are in the final days before the official report date for pitchers and catchers to Clearwater.
For fantasy baseball purposes, there is only one position in the bullpen that matters in most formats: the closer. The relief pitcher slot on your roster is almost always focused on saves and saves alone. A typically lower ERA and higher K/9 numbers typically help as well, but saves are the name of the game.
So, if the Phillies secure a bona fide closer via trade, such as Devin Williams or Emmanuel Clase, then this article becomes very simple: draft them as your closer and you will have no issue. If the Phillies do not add a closer to their roster, however, the situation becomes a bit more murky.
Peering into the Phillies’ Pen
With the departure of Craig Kimbrel, the Phillies have a lot of interesting pieces in their bullpen but seemingly no captain to steer the ship. Manager Rob Thomson always seems willing to go with a day-to-day approach to the bullpen, fluidly using all of the pieces at his disposal to manage each game as needed, but that doesn’t bring much security to a fantasy baseball owner looking for saves.
If the Phillies’ bullpen remained unchanged, Jose Alvarado would be the most likely candidate for the closer position. His 10 saves in 2023 were the most in his seven-year career, but the Phillies’ reliever also posted a career-best 1.74 ERA over a 41.1-inning season. His 13.9 K/9 would also be a welcome sign to a fantasy team as well, but his value rests on whether he can sustain that ERA and, more importantly if he were to be the Phillies’ closer.
As of today, in normal leagues, Alvarado would be the only Phillies’ reliever worth considering in your fantasy draft. You will need other relievers in front of him on your draft board, and you should not draft him until late in your draft, but as of now, Alvarado is worth considering.
The other names on the rankings are all names you shouldn’t consider unless you are in a deeper league or a league that includes pitching Holds as a category as well. Young gun Orion Kerkering is a name that you should keep an eye on for years to come, but the 22-year-old is still just getting his feet wet in the wild waters of Major League Baseball. With a high potential ceiling, he could become a wonderful closer for the Phillies, but his time has not yet come.
The Short of the Short
The Philadelphia Phillies won 90 games in 2023 and are set to have similar success in the 2024 season. A closer on a team of that many wins is guaranteed to get a sizable number of save opportunities (the Phillies recorded 45 saves collectively in 2023).
Whoever the closer is, whether it be Jose Alvarado or a stronger name brought in from outside of the organization, will have fantasy value in 2024. Is anyone else in the bullpen? Wait until after the draft and see how the season goes.
Photo Credit: (Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press via AP)