Top 20 Relief Pitchers – Fantasy 2017
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These rankings are for your standard 5×5 Rotisserie leagues, enjoy!
Updated July 25, 2017. Overall Rankings can be found here.
‘Movement’ column signifies the change in rank at this position, from the last update (June 23, 2017).
My thoughts preseason…
Three I keep drafting…
I’ve been meticulously crafting a piece on Kelvin Herrera regarding my naive comparison of him to Andrew Miller, but the thing I keep coming back to is his repertoire of plus pitches and continual success. I’m not worried at all about him taking over the closer role with the Royals, as he converted 12 saves last season en route to the best year of his career. Even though you’d generally prefer a closer on a better team, as PECOTA has the Royals projected for only 71 wins, a pitcher of Herrera’s caliber can still have top 8-10 value easily. The Royals have also eclipsed the Baseball Prospectus model each of the last three seasons, albeit at a decreasing rate, and I doubt we see then well under the .500 mark at any point in the season. 10 K/9, sub 2 BB/9 with around 35 saves is my expectation and it’s not far off the beaten path.
For my second guy, I’ll venture outside of the main tier (B) that encompasses numbers four through 14. With all the rumors around David Robertson being shipped to the Nationals, Nate Jones would slot in as the immediate beneficiary and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him take off. I tend to believe in closers on worse teams purely because of the value they provide. If you notice closers flying off the board early in your draft and are sitting around with only one potential 35 save guy, Jones is an absolute steal if/when these rumors come to fruition. Rather than opting for more stability with saves, but higher risk of implosion with a guy like Brandon Kintzler, I’m going to take a flyer on a guy who has a chance to be a top 15 option at the position. Jones and his 23.7% K-BB rate, which sat just behind Craig Kimbrel in 2016, are clear precursors for success.
Edwin Diaz is my favorite high end closer this season by far. Although a lot of the hype has picked up around him – NFBC leagues currently have him inside the top 90 at the position – I’m finding more and more that I opt for Diaz if I want an elite closer. Targeting Diaz allows you to be reactive to a reliever run in your draft as well, particularly because he isn’t inside the three at the position that owner’s covet. Mock after mock I wait for Chapman-Jansen-Britton to go and then judge if I’m comfortable enough with my team to take Diaz and solidify saves early. An improved Mariner’s defense, expecting to be in playoff contention along with Diaz’s 18.5% swinging strike percentage (better than both Kenley Jansen and Andrew Miller last season) screams top five finish.
One I stay away from…
There is nothing worse than expecting saves from a reliever you draft inside the 11-12th rounds and seeing a diminished total. It’s too easy not to like Jeurys Familia this season, especially with how well Addison Reed pitched last year, leading the league in holds (40). Any suspension immediately knocks his value down and that isn’t being built into his draft slot at the moment (114 overall in NFBC). I can defend the pick if Familia is your second closer and you handcuff with Reed, but that’s far too much planning on one piece of your team for my liking, go with Herrera and the vulture Reed late in the draft. Draft Familia with caution.
Photo via the Flickr Creative Commons, thanks to our friend AP3.
Statistics from Fangraphs.com.