Who To Draft Fantasy Baseball 2014: Relief Pitchers
Who should you avoid in your fantasy baseball drafts in 2014? Which players are sleepers that you might consider targeting given their below market draft day cost? In this series we'll take a look at each position and give you some names to avoid and some to target.
* ADP's taken from the NFBC.
Craig Kimbrel (42), Aroldis Chapman (58), Kenley Jansen (63): I think these are three of the four best closers in fantasy (the other is Greg Holland). At same time, I just cannot get behind taking a closer in the top-75 overall. I don't think it's the right move to make, not with so many strong arms available so much later in the draft.
Koji Uehara (92): He is coming off arguably the best relief season in history. The numbers were stupendous: 1.21 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 12.23 K/9 an a 11.22 K/BB ratio. I simply cannot call out his name in the top-100. The reason? First off it's the fact that no one can do what he did two years in a row. Second, Uehara has been in the big leagues for five years but he's yet to throw 50-innings in back-to-back seasons.
John Axford (219): He throws 95 mph and has a career 1.45 GB/FB ratio. Those are impressive numbers. He's also struck out at least a batter per inning in each of his five big league seasons. Amongst the struggles last season people lost fact of the fact that his walk rate was half a batter below his career rate at 3.60 BB/9. Hard for me to think we'll see a third straight year with a line drive rate of 24 percent, and the 19 percent HR/F ratio he's had the last two years is bonkers high.
Rex Brothers (225): Much better bet than LaTroy Hawkins to lead the Rockies in saves. Brother has an 11.17 K/9 rate for his career and his GB/FB ratio is over 1.50 the past two years. Two issues. One is the presence of Hawkins. Second is the fact that he has a 4.76 BB/9 rate for his career.
Nate Jones (253): Jones had a 10.27 K/9 mark last season. Jones had a 51 percent ground ball rate last year. Jones had a 1.80 GB/FB ratio. Strikeouts and grounders, that's what I look for in a hurler.
Chad Qualls (386): Could end up leading the Astros in saves this season with Jesse Crain still unable to really cut 'er loose. Qualls was much better than many seem to have noted in 2013 as he posted a 2.61 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 2.58 K/BB ratio. Those are solid numbers. He also had an off the charts 63.3 percent ground ball rate last year as well, the 4th best in baseball (minimum 60 innings pitched).
Sergio Santos (424): Casey Janssen is continually dealing with some physical malady, so despite having a strong arm he's looking shakier by the week. Santos on the other hand has a huge arm, something folks forget because Santos had arm issues that kept him out of play for so long. When he did pitch last year he was special with a 1.75 ERA, 0.58 WHIP, 9.82 K/9 and just four walks over 25.2 innings. Don't forget that Santos also has a contract that could pay him up to $26.5 million the next four years since he was brought to Toronto to close before injury struck.
Get All of Ray's Picks in the 2014 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide.
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 7-10 PM EDT), Ray also hosts his own show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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