Relief Pitchers

RP rankings artworkWe wrap up or draft preparation series with Relief Pitchers. You might be asking…”Why isn’t it just closers?”  First, the top of the list is dominated by closers but as baseball changes, fantasy baseball must also change.  More leaguers are using a bullpen category that weighs both saves and holds.  This could become the norm as Major League teams have realized that your best bullpen arm should pitch the highest leverage situation and that may or may not be the ninth inning.

That said, owners will spend a lot of time chasing saves as nothing is secure in the backend.  While the top of the list looks solid, Diaz was heavily used last year and questions will be on the mind of owners whether Treinen can repeat what he did last year.  Finally, there is Craig Kimbrell.  The start of the season is three weeks away and he is still unsigned.  At what point do you put him on your “Do not draft list”.  It’s gotta be soon…

1. Edwin Diaz (NYM) Diaz accumulated 57 saves last year, besting the number two man Wade Davis by 14. He struck out 124 batters in 73 1/3 IP and posted a .79 WHIP. The best in the business, bar none.

2. Blake Treinen (OAK) Trivia question time. How many relief pitchers have posted an ERA lower than their WHIP (.78/.83), struck out at least 100 batters, and recorded 30 or more Saves in a season? I think it’s fair to say that Treinen had a very good 2018.

3. Kenley Jansen (LAD) By most relievers standards, a 3.01 ERA would be considered a decent year. For Kenley Jansen, it was a career worst. In a down year, he still managed to amass 38 saves with a .99 WHIP. We’re betting that the off-season surgery to deal with his atrial fibrillation issues will prove to be a success.

4. Roberto Osuna (HOU) Heading into his age-24 season, Osuna has 116 career saves under his belt. Expect that number to grow exponentially in 2019.

5. Craig Kimbrel (FA) It’s now the beginning of March and Kimbrel is still a Free Agent. With each passing week, the odds of him missing time in the regular season increase. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

6. Felipe Vazquez (PIT) He had huge shoes to fill replacing former closer Felipe Rivero, but thus far has been up to the task.

7. Aroldis Chapman (NYY) He’s still the ninth-inning man for the Bombers, but a few cracks are starting to surface. The depth of the Yankees bullpen guarantees he won’t be overworked, but that’s better for the Yankees than us Fantasy folk.

8. Brad Hand (CLE) How good was Brad Hand in 2018? He was one of only three relievers to earn 30+ saves and strikeout 100+ hitters. Hands down, one of the best in the game.

9. Jose Leclerc (TEX) Some will say that the walk rate is still cause for concern, but when you allow a scant 24 hits in 57 1/3 IP it really shouldn’t be. At this time next year, he could be in the mix as one of the best ninth-inning guys in the game.

10. Wade Davis (COL) Yes, the ERA soared with the move to Colorado, but he was still only one of only three relievers to record 40-plus saves in 2018.

11. Raisel Iglesias (CIN) He has the closer job, but the Reds won’t hesitate to use the 29–year-old veteran in any and every situation. The save totals might not be elite, but the peripherals should be.

12. Corey Kneble (MIL) He had the job, lost it, and regained it in the playoffs. This year he’ll hold the job all season.

13. David Robertson (PHI) Philadelphia signed Robertson in the off-season to a two-year $23 million deal with a $12 million option for 2021 to help shore up their bullpen. In other news, the Phillies support staff are currently negotiating a deal that will see them included in all potential playoff revenue sharing.

14. Jose Alvarado (TB) Alvarado held the opposition to a minuscule .156 BA in the second half while posting a stellar 2.10 ERA. He also tossed in 38 strikeouts in 25 2/3 IP for good measure. Sergio Romo has moved on to the Marlins, leaving Alvarado clearly in the drivers set for saves in Tampa Bay.

15. Andrew Miller (STL) A bounce back is in order for the dominant lefty and the Cardinals will need that stability based on what we’ve seen from Jordan Hicks.

16. Ken Giles (TOR) He wrapped up 2018 in fine form, earning seven consecutive saves and nary an earned run in September. Bud Norris shouldn’t be considered a threat to cut into his ninth-inning duties.

17. Josh Hader (MIL) Hadar will likely settle back into a 7th/8th inning role with a sprinkling of saves. Being that his 143 strikeouts in 2018 were good for the 68th best total amongst all pitchers, there is no doubt that he should be rostered and active in all formats.

18. Archie Bradley (ARZ) I felt a lot more comfortable about Bradley in the ninth inning before the Greg Holland signing. He still looks to be the favorite for the closer job, but with Bradley’s proven success in the 7’th/8’th inning, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him revert back to that role.

19. Sean Doolittle (WAS) Great stuff, but he simply hasn’t been able to stay healthy. A Trevor Rosenthal handcuff is a prudent option.

20. Alex Colome (CWS) It appears as if Colome will start the season as the ChiSox closer, but any stumbles and Kelvin Herrera is waiting in the wings.

21. Cody Allen (LAA) The signing of Allen by the Halos provides an opportunity for him to regain his spot near the top of the closer rankings. At the same time, in Dynasty formats, buying Kenyan Middleton and stashing him on your DL for 2020 isn’t a bad plan.

22. Jordan Hicks (STL) The stuff is off-the-charts good. Where it’s going is relatively unknown. Andrew Miller could force his way into the ninth inning in a job share.

23. Hunter Strickland (SEA) He’ll break down doors to own the ninth inning gig and punched his ticket to Seattle by doing exactly that.

24. Kirby Yates (SD) 2018 was a good year for the soon-to-be 32-year-old righty, but let’s temper those expectations a tad. We are talking about a reliever that has the grand total of 14 Saves on his resume.

25. Arodys Vizcaino (ATL) The footsteps he keeps hearing belong to A.J. Minter.

26. Will Smith (SF) Will Smith get the lion share of the ninth inning work or will the Giants put their faith in a Mark Melancon rebound?

27. Pedro Strop (CHC) Strop is in line to anchor the Cubs bullpen until the eventual return of Brandon Morrow….whenever that may be.

28. Shane Greene (DET) The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

29. Mychal Givens (BAL) 2018 was a rocky year for the O’s closer, much the same as everyone else in Baltimore, but he’s heading into 2019 with the job his to lose.

30. Trevor May (MIN) He is arguably the best arm in the Twins bullpen, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be getting the bulk of the save opportunities.

31. Matt Barnes (BOS)

32. Greg Holland (ARZ)

33. Kelvin Herrera (CWS)

34. Brad Boxberger (KC)

35. Ryan Pressly (HOU)

36. Dellin Betances (NYY)

37. Seranthony Dominguez (PHI)

38. A. J. Minter (ATL)

39. Jared Hughes (CIN)

40. Trevor Rosenthal (WAS)

41. Seth Lugo (NYM)

42. Mark Melancon (SF)

43. Brandon Morrow (CHC)

44. Jeremy Jeffress (MIL)

45. Adam Ottavino (NYY)

46. Jeurys Familia (NYM)

47. Blake Parker (MIN)

48. Sergio Romo (MIA)

49. Wily Peralta (KC)

50. Drew Steckenrider (MIA)

51. Blake Parker (MIN)

52. Joe Jimenez (DET)

53. Ty Buttrey (LAA)

54. Craig Stammen (SD)

55. Seung Hwan Oh (COL)

56. Zach Britton (NYY)

57. Keone Kela (PIT)

58. Pedro Baez (LAD)

59. Yoshihisa Hirano (ARZ)

60. Lou Trivino (OAK)

61. Rya6n Brasier (BOS)

62. Diego Castillo (TB)

63. Adam Conley (MIA)

64. Ryan Tepera (TOR)

65. Adam Cimber (CLE)

66. Matt Strahm (SD)

67. Tony Watson (SF)

68. Trevor Hildenberger (MIN)

69. Joakim Soria (OAK)

70. Carl Edwards Jr. (CHC)

71. Shawn Armstrong (SEA)

72. Taylor Rogers (MIN)

73. Shawn Kelley (TEX)

74. Brad Peacock (HOU)

75. Nate Jones (CWS)

76. Justin Miller (WAS)

77. Jose Castillo (SD)

78. Chris Devenski (HOU)

79. Miguel Castro (BAL)

80. Caleb Ferguson (LAD)

81. Fernando Rodney (OAK)

82. Joe Kelly (LAD)

83. Chaz Roe (TB)

84. Dan Winkler (ATL)

85. Tommy Hunter (PHI)

86. Richard Rodriguez (PIT)

87. Kyle Barraclough (WAS)

88. Chad Green (NYY)

89. Tyler Clippard (CLE)

90. Justin Wilson (NYM)

91. Steve Cishek (CHC)

92. Justin Anderson (LAA)

93. Kevin McCarthy (KC)

94. Bud Norris (TOR)

95. Kyle Crick (PIT)

96. Hector Rondon (HOU)

97. Ryan Buchter (OAK)

98. Neil Ramirez (CLE)

99. Jace Fry (CWS)

100. Anthony Swarzak (SEA)

101. Adam Warren (SD)

102. Dakota Hudson (STL)

103. Josh Staumont (KC)

104. Heath Hembree (BOS)

105. Tim Hill (KC)

106. Bobby Poyner (BOS)

107. Jesse Chavez (TEX)

108. Danny Salazar (CLE)

109. Chris Martin (TEX)

110. Durbin Feltman (BOS)

111. Reyes Moronta (SF)

112. Addison Reed (MIN)

113. Tommy Eveld (MIA)

114. Zach Burdi (CWS)

115. Tony Barnette (CHC)

116. Jake Diekman (KC)

117. David Hernandez (CIN)

118. Scott Oberg (COL)

119. Ryan Madson (FA)

120. Xavier Cedeno (CHC)

121. AJ Ramos (FA)

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