Fantasy Baseball Position Preview - Relief Pitchers: Deep Sleepers
Andrew Cooper takes a look at some deep sleeper targets at the reliever position.
Unless you are literally living under a rock, you know that MLB Opening Day has officially passed with no baseball being played. And if you are under a rock you might as well just stay there because that’s probably a great place to quarantine yourself. However, here at Fantasy Alarm we are not going to let this situation dampen our baseball spirit. We are going to push on and keep obsessing over fantasy baseball just as our forefathers intended. And what better way to do that than delving even further into the deepest of middle relievers looking for this year’s hidden gems?
So far in this series we’ve broken down the guys we think are the safest bets at for saves. We’ve warned you about the pitchers who are currently in line to start the season as closer that might not be great picks. We’ve kept you ahead of the curve with the closers in waiting that are most likely to steal a job at some point. We’ve even given you the holds monsters who will likely fly under the radar in your drafts but should rack up holds for you to dominate in any format that values holds (or even in leagues where strikeouts and ratios are hard to come by).
If you still aren’t satisfied after all of that then you are in luck my friend. We are doing one last reliever article in this series for any super deep league sickos (like myself) who might be lurking in the shadows, ready to snap up whatever might help them get that extra edge to take home the trophy (once it’s been washed and sterilized, of course). We’re here for you in these trying times.
What we are going to cover here is simply any reliever we haven’t discussed that interests us for one reason or another – whether that be an outside shot at a closer spot, high end ratio potential, or guys who have additional format specific value based on their eligibilities. So let’s get to it!
Scott Barlow – Kansas City Royals - Ian Kennedy is one of the closers that we suggested could have a path out of town via trade. But anyone that has followed his career knows that he has another path out of the closer role – the long ball. Before making his way into the pen he let up 31, 33, and 34 dongs as a starter. In walks Scott Barlow who appeared in 61 games last year and struck out 92 batters in 70.1 innings. It seems like simple math for us on this one. If the team is good, he’s a high strikeout guy who could rack up holds. If they are bad, they might move Kennedy allowing Barlow to potential steal some saves.
Aaron Bummer - Chicago White Sox – No intriguing bullpen article would be complete without a mention of one of this year’s offseason bullpen darlings – Aaron Bummer . And as Nick Bucher of PitcherList.com pointed out in depth, there is reason to be excited. In a world where pitchers seem to be lumped into two categories – strikeout guys who let up dingers and groundball guys who don’t get strikeout – Bummer has seemingly found a rare combination of striking out guys while generating ground balls. Alex Colomé got a $10.5 million dollar deal with the White Sox so he’ll get every opportunity to close but we’ll have out eyes on Bummer for holds and ratios and you should too.
Yusmeiro Petit – Oakland Athletics – For the most part this article is highlighting upside guys or sneaky format plays so how does the seemingly boring, low-swing and miss Petit factor in? Well we can’t really laud the consistency of Will Harris like we did last article without tipping our cap to the reliable Yusmeiro Petit . Three years in a row now he’s pitched 91.1, 93, and 83 innings. He likely won’t hit the 101 Ks he had in 2017 but he’s had back to back 76 and 71 strikeout seasons. And his incredibly consistent workload while being quite ratio friendly makes him an intriguing player in category formats.
Nick Anderson and Diego Castillo have been touched on in this series but there are two more interesting names here in Colin Poche and Jose Alverado. The Rays are one of the trend-setters in terms of using a “starter” which means that both players should threaten to earn SP eligibility (the benefit of which we will touch on later). Poche may the hot young name having struck out 72 batters in only 51.2 innings last year but his left-handedness will like be a barrier to any sort of closer opportunity. A lot of people may have forgotten about Jose Alverado after he seemingly disappeared last year (he not only dealt with injuries but the turmoil in Venezuela caused him to return home to bring his parents to stay with him in Florida for their safety). Despite only appearing in 35 games, he still notched 7 saves. He’s only 24 years old and only 1 year removed from having 80 Ks in 64 innings.
Much like the Rays situation, there are two names here that are a bit of a toss up for us but one should emerge as a favorite for holds. Taylor Rogers is the presumed closer but both Tyler Duffey and Trevor May pitched well during the last two months of the season once they fully committed to the pen. We lean towards the former starter Tyler Duffey now that he’s consolidated his pitches to mainly a fastball and change up but you will want to roster whoever the hot hand is in case Taylor Rogers faulters. The 37 year old Sergio Romo doesn’t feel like much of a threat in the event they need to switch things up.
Other Notable Names
Kevin Ginkel- ARI– 6’4” power righty, struck out 65 in 35.1 innings in the minors
Rafael Montero - TEX - next man up after shaky LeClerc
Ty Buttrey - LAA – next man up after shaky Robles
Andrew Miller - STL– flashed a little of that dominance we all remember last year
Daily Start Holds Leagues
In certain daily start holds leagues, a few players will have a value boost based on their position eligibilities (namely, on Yahoo! where it only takes 5 starts to gain SP eligibility. In some holds formats, most teams will fill all their RP and P spots with relievers to get as many holds, saves, and Ks as possible. If you have SP eligible relivers, you have a bit of an advantage (for instance, if your league has 3 RP spots and 2 P spots but you have 2 SP eligibly relievers, you can start 6 or 7 relievers every day while your opponent starts 5.
Below are some players who have SP eligibility who gain a boost in that format. If we’ve talked about the player previously, you can read up on them by clicking the link
Jose Leclerc – Texas Rangers – Probable Closers article
Chad Green – New York Yankees – As we’ve discussed in previous articles, a team projected for 100+ wins by Las Vegas is typically a wagon when it comes to holds and Chad Green should have a decent spot on that wagon. He’s had 103, 94, and 98 K’s the last three years with a 12.8 K/9 just last year so he can help there as well.
Matt Strahm – San Diego Padres – We love Pagan and Pomeranz as the holds should roll in with Yates slamming the door so why not give Strahm a look in deep leagues? He has SP eligibility and the former starter was finally able to get his walks under control so he could see a lot of high leverage situations this season, if the season happens.
Cam Bedrosian – Los Angeles Angels – Bedrosians was your perennial “closer in waiting” that never materialized but that doesn’t mean he’s not a valuable arm. He’s going to be the Angels go to for high leverage situations requiring a lefty and that should put him in a spot to deliver some holds. Not to mention, the closer situation there isn’t exactly rock solid with Hansel Robels and Ty Buttrey ahead on the chart.
Ryne Stanek – Miami Marlins – Digging a bit towards the bottom of the barrel here because the Marlins are in no way slated to be a good team but the value in Stanek is mostly tied to A. the idea that Kintzler isn’t a lock to hold down the closer position all year, B. his SP eligibility, and C. the relative weakness of the rest of that pen. If your rosters are very deep in these formats it could be worth it to potentially pull saves from an SP spot down the road.
Depending on your league settings, you may have some IL or NA slots. If you’re anything like me, you try to get every little edge possible at every turn. So with your last pick or last couple picks, why not go for a guy who is illegible to be moved to an IL or NA slot? That way you can pick up another guy right off the bat and get two for the price of one!
Jordan Hicks – St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals bullpen is still up in the air and many people maybe have forgotten about former closer Jordan Hicks who is returning after Tommy John surgery in June of 2019. He was slated for a midseason return so this whole debacle is actually beneficial to his timeline. Not many guys in the league with close experience at 23 years old that throw 100 MPH with crazy movement.
Reyes Moronta – San Francisco Giants
Moronta suffered a brutal injury with a torn labrum in August but before that he was pitching pretty well. Over his three years he has a shiny 2.66 ERA and he had 79 and 70 strikeouts in back to back years. He’ll start the year IL eligible so a possible stash if you have the spots.
David Robertson – Philadelphia Phillies
We are getting pretty deep here but the appeal is obvious – a former closer who had 91 Ks in a season as recently as 2018. He missed almost all of last year with Tommy John and won’t be back until late this year if he can make it so he should be the first guy you drop if you need to free up that IL spot.
Alex Reyes – St. Louis Cardinals
I feel like I’ve been holding out hope for this guy ever since he moved from New Jersey to the Dominican to live with his grand parents for a couple months to dodge the MLB draft. By all accounts his stuff is mustard when he gets it together and he has big strikeout potential but control issues coupled with discplinary actions and Tommy John have derailed his career to this point. He’s still only 25 and has been designated to the minors (though, as of the writing of this article, that hasn’t been updated yet on sites like Yahoo). He falls into the “why not?” category.
Sam Dyson – Free Agent
So this is a weird one. Sam Dyson would be signed as he’s been a reliable bullpen arm but he’s currently under investigation for domestic violence based on reports of domestic violence that stemmed from a post on his ex-girlfriend’s cat’s Instagram account. We wish we were kidding. That being said, if he gets cleared of any wrongdoing, a good landing spot could make him a valuable arm. A team like the Red Sox could be looking for discount bullpen help so we’ll have to see what happens there.