Written by: Ray Butler
Easily the most volatile position in fantasy baseball, relief pitching simply sucks. Thank you for your time.
It’s a bonus to have a strong group of relief pitchers, but it’s not a make-or-break position. Heck, contenders can trade for them anytime (before the deadline) and rebuilders could forego the position altogether.
Thank goodness the RP pool is so broad and now correctly values stars such as Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances since we finally decided to expand from NSV to NSV/H. It’s so unimportant, I’m writing about them before starting pitchers just so the finale of this series isn’t anticlimactic.
Let’s take a look:
#1. Matt Smith- Relief Pitchers: Edwin Diaz, Tony Watson, Raisel Iglesias
Though there isn’t overwhelming starpower amongst these closers (though Diaz is a bonafide stud), Matt takes home the RP Championship simply because he has the convenient weapon of rostering a SP/RP in Raisel Iglesias. This group should dominate NSV in matchups throughout the season based purely on quantity of opportunities.
#2. Van Moore- Relief Pitchers: Kenley Jansen and Zach Britton
Okay, what are the odds that Van owns either of these guys by the LORG trade deadline? For now, this duo of elite closers will combine to help secure NSV on a weekly basis for a rebuilding team. What kind of value can Van get for these guys down the stretch?
#3. Gregg Morris- Relief Pitchers: Roberto Osuna and Seung Hwan Oh
Already a top-of-the-line contender, Gregg 1) won’t have to overpay for a closer(s) at the trade deadline and 2) has guys that have a death-grip on the closer’s job for their respectable team. Osuna and Oh are both solid relief pitchers who should strike out more than a batter per inning without breaking a sweat.
#4. Caleb Stumpf- Relief Pitchers: Mark Melancon and Alex Colome
Now a member of his third team in two seasons, Mark Melancon should get plenty of save opportunities with the Giants in 2017. Colome proved to be a viable closer option in 2016, and an equal encore performance this season could lead the Rays to trading him to a contender.
#5. McKinnon Ray- Relief Pitchers: Jeurys Familia, Kelvin Herrera, and Addison Reed
McKinnon gets the nod here mostly because he holds closers on teams that should win their fare share of games (especially in comparison to the 6th ranked owner). Familia should face a hefty suspension before Opening Day, but McKinnon grabbed Addison Reed to fill the temporary void.
#6. Ray Butler- Relief Pitchers: Aroldis Chapman and Cam Bedrosian
On the flip side from Gregg, Ray already paid the price (a top 40 SP in Steven Matz) to acquire an upper-echelon closer in Aroldis Chapman. If Bedrosian can stay healthy and take control of the closer role in Anaheim, this duo should win a lot of NSV matchups and could also play a role in winning pitching K’s.
#7. Bobby Morrison- Relief Pitchers: Ken Giles, David Robertson, and Francisco Rodriguez
The good news: Bobby owns three closers. The bad news: LORG only has two slots for non-SPARP closers. If he chooses to hold all three, Bobby should be able to rotate guys and find optimal matchups on a daily basis. Also, David Robertson might be the most likely closer to be traded (from the White Sox) at some point during the 2017 season.
#8. Zach Gerhart- Relief Pitchers: Craig Kimbrel and Shawn Kelley
Though he isn’t a household name (yet), Shawn Kelley was one of the better Waiver Wire War acquisitions following the LORG draft. He seems to be the favorite to land the 9th inning role for the Nats, who should win plenty of games in 2017. The Red Sox should also win several games, and Kimbrel should continue to be a top 10 closer this season.
#9. Adam Stumpf- Relief Pitchers: A.J. Ramos and Sam Dyson
Adam wraps up the LORG owners with two closers. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s weak at the position, but I do question whether Sam Dyson is the long-term ninth inning guy in Arlington. Regardless, Adam should hold his own in NSV for the near future at least.
#10. Frank Selesky- Relief Pitcher: Wade Davis
Wade Davis is the assumed closer for the best team in baseball. He’s also less than season removed from a decently serious forearm injury, and the Cubs will have guys ready to assume the closer’s role if he can’t get the job done. Still, Davis is in an environment that will be easy to succeed in. He may not be the guy he was in 2014 and 2015, but Davis should be a solid option this season.
#11. Ben Roach- Relief Pitcher: Cody Allen
Cody Allen is an above-average closer, there’s no question about it. But, paired with Andrew Miller for a full season in the Indians bullpen, will Allen see each and every save opportunity? Indians folks say Allen will be their ninth inning guy, but I believe we’d all feel a lot better if we see that plan in action before leaning on Allen too heavily.
#12. John Morrison- Relief Pitcher: Andrew Miller
Before I get into my “it’s ridiculous that Andrew Miller basically holds zero value in this league” spill, allow me to say this: I’m not sweating John being ranked last in something. I’m taking it with a grand of salt, especially in this ranking. John will be competitive in NSV when John feels like he needs to be competitive in NSV. Now, it’s ridiculous that Andrew Miller basically holds zero value in this league. We are all smart, informed observers of baseball. There’s not a single owner in this league that doesn’t appreciate what Andrew Miller (and Dellin Betances, amongst other fantastic relief pitchers who aren’t closers) can do on the pitching rubber. Adding Holds to Net Saves would allow some of the best pitchers in baseball to hold value in a well-informed league. Elite closers would maintain their value while also allowing a role for the top-shelf 7th and 8th inning guys. You have nearly an entire year to get your mind right before we re-vote on this in 2018.
On Deck: The grand finale, LORG 2017 Starting Pitcher Rankings
Link to LORG 2017 Catcher Rankings: https://sidelinesandheadlines.com/2017/03/01/lorg-2017-catcher-rankings/?frame-nonce=6f3eacd168
Link to LORG 2017 First Base Rankings: https://sidelinesandheadlines.com/2017/03/03/lorg-2017-first-baseman-ranks/
Link to LORG 2017 Second Base Rankings: https://sidelinesandheadlines.com/2017/03/05/lorg-2017-second-base-rankings/
Link to LORG 2017 Third Base Rankings: https://sidelinesandheadlines.com/2017/03/09/lorg-2017-third-base-rankings/
Link to LORG 2017 Shortstop Rankings: https://sidelinesandheadlines.com/2017/03/11/lorg-2017-shortstop-ranks/
Link to LORG 2017 Outfielder Rankings: https://sidelinesandheadlines.com/2017/03/14/lorg-2017-outfield-rankings/