<
>
Get ESPN+

Projecting saves leaders for every NL team

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Modern managers are getting smarter about bullpen usage, ever so slowly, realizing it is not necessary for an experienced closer to save each contest. As a result, saves are declining among the top-end options: Only 14 pitchers saved more than 25 games in 2018, down a bit from 2017 and further from 2016.

Put simply, there is so much change and volatility among closers that a fantasy manager should be able to find saves during the season. (Our closer chart is updated regularly to help you know which players are next in line to get saves.) Skills matter, of course, but opportunity is a key as well.

Here are my thoughts on how each team's saves will end up divided in 2019, starting with the National League. The average big league team saved 41 games in 2018. That's all. Sure, some individuals will save that many (or will they?), but for the most part, if you can secure a strikeout reliever likely to save 25-plus games, it's a good start, and then if you can't add another in the draft, you can fight for more saves through free agency or a trade.

For a look at my predictions for the American League, click here.

Arizona Diamondbacks: ESPN Fantasy (click on sortables for pitchers) projects 27 saves for right-hander Archie Bradley, which seems about right. The club might have brought in the more experienced Greg Holland to handle things, but he was awful last season and so far this spring has been no better. Bradley's 2018 stats nearly mirror his awesome 2017 ones, except for the home runs.

My projection: Bradley saves 31 games, while Yoshihisa Hirano is second on the team with four and a bushel of holds. Bradley, with all the strikeouts, flirts with being a top-10 fantasy closer. Holland is a fantasy nonfactor.