26 Feb 2017 Fantasy Baseball: RP Rankings (15-1)
By: Shane Thompson
Not only have pitchers and catchers have reported to camp, position players have found their way to Florida and Arizona to start their quest for a World Series trophy. We are also down to the nitty gritty with the difference makers, flame throwers and game finishers in the final innings. Here are the top 15 relievers going into the 2017 season.
You can find Rankings 30-16 right here: http://thesportscrew.com/2017-fantasy-baseball-rp-rankings-30-16/
15) Kelvin Herrera (KC): No more Greg Holland and Wade Davis to hold Herrera back from closing out games. Even with Herrera’s past success though, you wonder how a career 7th and 8th inning guy will handle taking over the reigns as the Royals closer. He averages a 10.8 K/9 and a 7/1 strikeout to walk ratio which is exactly what you want from your closer in fantasy.
14) David Robertson (CWS): The biggest worry about him is not only that he is likely to be traded, but also to which team. If he is traded to a team that doesn’t use him in the closer role then he loses all his value. From the White Sox standpoint, it makes no sense to hold onto a reliever getting paid 10 plus million per season when you’re in rebuild mode. Despite his salary being as high as it is, D-Rob still closes out games at a second tier rate and racks up strikeouts. Just proceed with caution.
13) Jeurys Familia (NYM): It’s hard to critique a power pitcher that throws a 98 mile an hour two seem fastball. The good news is he will be closing out games for a very good starting pitching staff and lead the league in 2016 with 51. The bad news is he walked 31 batters in 71 innings. Despite the pressure in New York, he will still be a reliable closer in all fantasy formats. It is worth noting that he may be facing a suspension due to a domestic violence incident. If a suspension is handed down, his ranking drops.
12) Dellin Betances (NYY): If you’re one of those fantasy owners that doesn’t care about saves but loves strikeouts, holds, IRS and quality innings, this is definitely your guy. His stat line in 2016 was flat out in human with 126 punch outs in just 73 innings. My prediction is he will end up being moved before if not at the trade deadline, especially with all the drama surrounding the front office and his contract negotiations.
11) Andrew Miller (CLE): The wildcard in all of this is you never know when he’s coming into the game. Francona has used him as early as the fifth and as late as closing the game out due to match ups. If you asked me, he wouldn’t be my first or second closer, but could be valuable for multiple pitching categories. I mean, he won 10 games last season on top of everything else. He is likely in the same category as his former team mate Betances, minus the fact that Miller isn’t be traded.
10) Cody Allen (CLE): It’s not everyday that you put relievers back to back in top 15 fantasy projections. Cody Allen isn’t only filthy, I mean we know he throws hard, but this guy is also a “gamer”. He only blew 3 saves last season and is entering a contract year. He just saw how much money was given to closers on the open market this past offseason so I’m pretty sure he doesn’t lack incentive entering 2017. Allen is also on a World Series caliber team, which means he is likely to be in the limelight.
9) Wade Davis (CHC): I think we can all agree that there will be plenty of opportunities for Davis to close out games while being the closer of the Chicago Cubs. Maybe that can go without saying. Either way, his ERA was 1.87 which is his worst in three years. That’s just insane to think about. To top it off, Chicago only gave up a platoon outfielder in Jorge Soler to get him as their replacement for Aroldis Chapman. The only concern I have about Davis is that he didn’t take a physical prior to the trade that sent him to Chicago. With that being said, I still consider him as a top ten closer with top three upside.
8) Roberto Osuna (TOR): Can you believe that he’s only 22 years old? There are question marks going into this season about the Blue Jays middle relief and about whether they did enough this offseason. The biggest question of all is did they properly fill the void in their lineup left by Edwin Encarcaion taking his talents to Cleveland? Osuna is a combination of power pitching and a pitch to contact which is rare in the game today. He will only continue to get better as a pitcher and is definitely deserving of being in the top 10.
7) Craig Kimbrel (BOS): Kimbrel pitches for a team that was full of splashes in the offseason, highlighted by the trades for Chris Sale and setup man Tyler Thornburg. The only negative for Boston is that they saw their star player and face of their franchise in David Ortiz retire The addition of Thornburg is a huge one and has gone unnoticed in some circles. The Boston Red Sox have a ton of “thump” in their lineup but need someone to bridge the gap from their SP to Kimbrel. They have found that now. With the combination of Kimbrels abilities, experience and the overall strength of his team, he is a can’t miss closer in 2017.
6) Seung-Hwan Oh (STL): A blessing in disguise is the first thing that comes to mind when his name is brought up. The job was pretty much up for grabs with Rosenthal having command issues and Siegrist being more suited to be the setup man. Oh might top out in the low 90’s but possesses top notch off speed stuff, which allows him to get consistent outs and shut the door.
5) Edwin Diaz (SEA): If you’re like me and you had the MLB extra innings package, then found that the Mariners were leading going into the ninth, you definitely wanted to flip the channel to this game. Diaz had 88 strikeouts in just 51 innings and possesses a fastball that has hit 102 MPH multiple times. He is 22 years old, no needless to say, there are high hopes for this Dominican phenom.
4) Mark Melancon (SFG): He may not wow you, he may not rack up the strikeouts or throw the ball very hard, but he seems to always get results. The San Francisco Giants lead the league with 30 blown saves in 2016 which ranks as one of the worst in MLB history. There is tons of pressure on Melcancon after signing a 4 year/64 million dollar contract but I believe he can handle it. He is sure to see a lot of save chances and pitches in a very pitcher friendly ball park.
3) Aroldis Chapman (NYY): It was no secret that Chapman enjoyed his time with the Yanks before being traded to the World Champion Chicago Cubs. He made it known that he would go back to New York at seasons end if the price was right. He got his World Series ring in Chicago but the Cubs passed up on making him a legit offer in free agency. The Yankees team Chapman has rejoined is an upcoming one that has numerous question marks in the starting rotation. If not for those question marks, Chapman and his 100+ MPH fastball would likely be the top reliever on this list.
2) Kenley Jansen (LAD): An average of 13+ strikeouts per nine innings in his first seven seasons is flat out ridiculous for any pitcher. He doesn’t only close games but does so by throwing multiple innings to seal the deal. He is the most effective and dominant RHRP in all of baseball is set to have another stellar season in 2017. I personally don’t believe in reaching for closers in the draft, but he is top tier draftee in any league format.
1) Zach Britton (BAL): I know what you’re thinking. Really? Britton? I’m going to throw two things at you to prove his worth. First, he allowed FOUR RUNS total all of last season. Yes, you read that right, four runs total. Secondly, Britton is entering a contract year and will be pitching for big bucks next offseason. His 0.54 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP in 2016 should speak for themselves come draft day.