Fantasy baseball: Saves and steals have massive value this year

Fantasy baseball has gone retro this year, as more and more players are understanding the massive value in winning the saves and steals categories.

Dominating in these categories was a proven winning strategy back in the 1990s, and it appears as if we are headed in that direction once again.

The new rules implemented by Major League Baseball last season have sent stolen base totals into the stratosphere, and we are already on-pace to beat last year’s numbers, the highest we’ve seen since 1999.

Washington Nationals relief pitcher Kyle Finnegan
Nationals relief pitcher Kyle Finnegan. AP

But though steals are now overly abundant and can be acquired with relative ease, saves are a different story.

The volatility at the closer’s position is well-documented, but the turnover this season has not been what it once was just a few seasons ago.

Players you may have expected to lose their jobs by this point of the season — Kyle Finnegan, Carlos Estevez and Tanner Scott, for example — have been entrenched as their respective team’s closer, which means what’s left on the waiver wire is all injury-related.

With Jordan Romano landing on the IL, the Blue Jays’ ninth-inning situation is somewhat fluid.

Yimi Garcia seems to be the first choice to replace Romano, and Garcia is having a solid year with a 2.16 ERA and 11.88 K/9, but the 33-year-old still posted an ERA above 4.00 in two of the past three seasons.

If Garcia is available, he becomes a must-add, but don’t count out Chad Green.

Out with a shoulder issue for most of May, Green, a former Yankee, was recently reinstated and has allowed just one hit in four scoreless appearances (4 ¹/₃ innings).

When Romano was injured coming out of spring training, it was Green who filled in as the Jays’ closer. If you are desperate for saves and your waiver wire has been picked clean, he presents a possibility.

You also can turn to the Seattle bullpen.

Andres Munoz suffered a back injury last week during a collision at home plate and has missed a few days.

Seattle Mariners pitcher Ryne Stanek.
Mariners pitcher Ryne Stanek. D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

What’s worse is that we were then told the injury was something he has experienced for a while, and this incident just exacerbated it.

His availability for this weekend is up in the air, and a stint on the IL is still being considered.

Right-hander Ryne Stanek and southpaw Tayler Saucedo should split the role in his absence, with Stanek having the edge.

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If you are looking to augment your saves, and trades are tough to come by, you need to be diligent on the waiver wire.

Seattle and Toronto are in flux at the moment, and you always can look to more fluid situations like those of the White Sox, Mets and even the Phillies.

Stay in tune with your league’s standings and figure out your best course of action to move up in saves.

Even a part-time closer could be the difference-maker you need.

Howard Bender is the head of content at Follow him on X @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to for all your fantasy baseball news and advice

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