20 Middle Relievers to Target in Mixed Leagues
What, you think I'm going to gush on about how middle relievers are a hidden source of Fantasy value, and then leave you high and dry? I'm gonna make you go and find the good ones yourself? You know that's not me. I'm always here to help a friend... Unless you need help moving, then I have plans. Anyway, let's get to the business of finding those middle relievers that have the most to offer in your mixed leagues.
Finding Fantasy Worthy Middle Relievers
When it comes to identifying Fantasy Baseball sleepers, middle relievers are like any other position. It takes a little research to find players that can really help. I'm basically looking for four things when targeting potential middle relievers for my mixed team.
- Strikeout Rate - I'll make exceptions for a pitcher that I know has upside, but I want close to a strikeout per inning or better. This helps offset some of the sample size issues inherent to middle relievers, and pitchers with high K rates are also more likely to get a look in the closer role.
- WHIP - It's a pretty basic stat, but common sense says that pitchers who allow fewer baserunners generally allow fewer runs. Besides, you can put up with some of the "cardiac" issues of Fernando Rodney or Chris Perez when they're giving you 30-plus saves. I want my middle relievers to put up those boring 1-2-3 innings.
- Frequency of Use - In order to get the vulture wins and strikeouts needed to provide value, a pitcher has to take the hill on a consistent basis. This also filters out the long relievers who tend to, "take one for the team," on occasion. High use middle relievers can match many mid-level starters in wins and strikeouts, especially early in the year when starting pitchers aren't pitching late into games.
- Potential Role - In addition to the quantifiable value of their stats, there is more to them. Many of these middle relievers are next in line for saves. A couple of them may return to a starting role at some point. So, while I'm drafting them for what I'm confident they will give me, I'm also leaving some room for the bonus plan.
20 Middle Relievers for 2018 Fantasy Baseball
If you're ready to dabble in middle relievers, here are a few you should be looking to grab in the later rounds of your draft. The good news is that many of them may even make it to the reserve rounds. Grab your SP sleepers in the end game and then a few safety valve middle relievers in the reserve rounds.
Next in Line for Saves Types
These relievers have elite skills and are one injury away from the closer role.
- Nate Jones, Chicago White Sox - Not sure the White Sox give him keys to ninth inning right away, but if he's back to what he was, he will be a huge bargain.
- David Robertson, New York Yankees - Would the Yankees turn to Robertson or Betances if Aroldis Chapman goes down? I'll take either.
- Dellin Betances, New York Yankees - All I heard from Yankees fans last year was how much Betances struggled. I wish all my relievers could struggle to a 2.87 ERA and 100 strikeouts from the pen.
- Cam Bedrosian/Blake Parker, Los Angeles Angels - Blake Parker ended the year as the Angels' closer and would seem to have the edge heading into Spring Training. Whoever gets the job, the other makes a nice stash with potentially great upside.
- Addison Reed, Minnesota Twins - Somehow Fernando Rodney keeps getting closing gigs and holds onto them much longer than we think he will. Reed is still the better pitcher and Fantasy option.
- Andrew Miller, Cleveland Indians - He's the most valuable middle reliever in Fantasy and could be Top 5 closer if Allen goes down.
- Keone Kela/Matt Bush, Texas Rangers - Kela and Bush have both had their struggles, but the pitchers ahead of them hardly inspire confidence. Bush, in particular, has huge upside if he stays healthy and puts things together.
- Ryan Madson, Washington Nationals - Both Oakland and Washington chose to go with Sean Doolittle over Madson in the closer role. It doesn't have to be that way. Doolittle's injury issues could crop up at any time and Madson will be ready.
High K Candidates
These pitchers have near elite skills but are further down in the pecking order.
- Andrew Miller, Cleveland Indians - Should Miller become the closer he instantly becomes a Top 3 option, as he's hugely valuable in almost any format.
- Tommy Kahnle, New York Yankees - Some teams are trading good prospects for middle relievers and the White Sox included a young, cost-controlled dominant reliever as a throw-in to the Yankees? He's way down the list to close in New York, but he has otherwise elite stats.
- Chris Devenski, Houston Astros - He'll rack up 100 strikeouts with a WHIP under 1.00 and could easily vulture another eight wins.
- Chad Greene, New York Yankees - A 0.739 WHIP with 103 Ks in 69 IP. What's not to like?
- Juan Nicasio, Seattle Mariners - He's another source of 70-plus strikeouts for a reserve round grab.
- Carl Edwards Jr., Chicago Cubs - He's been very good the last two regular seasons. Just don't watch him in the playoffs.
Dan, I've targeted Josh Hader and Chad Green in early drafts rather than a team's fifth starter for ratio help w/strikeout upside. Yusmeiro Petit did well in this role last year with wins & saves. Tom Koehler could transition well to the bullpen. https://t.co/iFEfSnxojn
— Greg Jewett (@gjewett9) January 25, 2018
These pitchers could offer tremendous value if they get a chance to start.
- Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers - He's slated to start the season in the bullpen, but could join the rotation at some point. He's a big strikeout arm that could be a huge steal in drafts.
- Brad Peacock, Houston Astros - The Astros' rotation is full, but Peacock can give you 100-plus strikeouts from the pen.
Injury Replacement Types
You probably don't want to use an active slot for these relievers, but they are safe and will vulture their share of wins.
- Will Harris, Houston Astros - He no longer looks like a future closer, but he can protect your ratios when injury strikes.
- Josh Fields, Los Angeles Dodgers - He finally figured things out in 2017, and he could take on the role Brandon Morrow filled for Dodgers last year.
- Pat Neshek, Philadelphia Phillies - He doesn't get enough strikeouts to use on a regular basis, but he's had a WHIP under 1.00 in three of his last four seasons.
- Tommy Hunter, Philadelphia Phillies - He's quietly become a solid reliever who could help a ton in leagues that use Holds.
Got some Fantasy Baseball sleepers of your own? Don't be greedy! Share them with me on Twitter @RotoDaddy.
Chad Green Photo Credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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