Fantasy baseball reliever watch: Stock up, stock down

Craig Kimbrel's recent performances brings back fond memories of years past as he continues to impress in his first season with the Phillies. AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

It wasn't a bad gamble when the Philadelphia Phillies gave future Hall of Fame closer Craig Kimbrel a one-year deal back in December, but certainly there were reasons for skepticism, in the real and fantasy baseball worlds. Kimbrel saved 22 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, but his strikeout rate fell as the season advanced and the franchise wanted him nowhere near their bullpen for the playoffs. The Phillies employed a committee approach to the ninth inning in their 2022 World Series run and Kimbrel notably struggled in a non-closing role in 2021.

He earned his 13th save in as many chances in Tuesday's 3-1 win at Tampa Bay and continues to thrive as the Phillies' closer. At this point, it does not look like a committee as Kimbrel, when available in a traditional role, is manager Rob Thomson's top choice. LHP Jose Alvarado still lurks, but Kimbrel is the one with a 0.60 ERA and 1.10 FIP since the beginning of June, with a .334 OPS against and 24 strikeouts in 15 innings. He has issued three walks in that span.