By: Nate Leer
More pitching to finish our series of posts for 2017 fantasy baseball. After breaking down the top 50 SP, we move to the most volatile position in the game – relief pitchers. Standard H2H leagues put a premium on saves as they are 1/10 of the scoring. That makes low end closers valuable and leads to tools such as Closer Monkey that track the nearly constant changes at the back end of major league bullpens. The last couple years have seen a few setup guys emerge that were so dominant they had value even without the valued save opportunities. However, one really needs 2-4 certified closers to compete in the saves category. Let the fun begin!
The top 25 RP for fantasy baseball 2017:
1. Seung Hwan Oh – StL: OhMG! Dude was dominant last year and is in the ideal situation for a team with a manager that thrives with a strong, clear closer.
2. Zach Britton – Bal: Britton does not rack up Ks like most of the other players near the top of this list but his save numbers were off the charts last year. He also has an ideal situation, a common refrain among top closers.
3. Aroldis Chapman – NYY: The most dominating arm in the sport is on a team that is not expected to win as many games as those of the other top closers. Less wins = less save chances and that is the only thing that can slow down Chapman at this point.
4. Kenley Jansen – LAD: Many years Jansen would be the clear cut #1 RP but there are 3 other super studs at the position. That said, Jansen had arguably the best season and there may be no better place to pitch than Chavez Ravine on a warm SoCal night.
5. Craig Kimbrel – Bos: Not long ago Kimbrel was the top RP. His skills have declined a tab but he still Ks dudes like mad and is on a good team. You could do worse.
6. Wade Davis – ChiC: I am conflicted on Davis. He has been dominant in recent years and the Cubs brass seems to know what it is doing. However, Davis looks to me like a guy who has peaked and may not have the stuff to be a lights out closer anymore. Time will tell…
7. Mark Melancon – SF: Not a prototypical power closer, Melancon has still thrived in recent years for multiple organizations. San Fran seems like an great landing place so expect excellent save numbers with solid peripherals.
8. Jeurys Familia – NYM: Familia got a lighter than expected suspension for a domestic issue. He will only miss 15 games so drafting him doesn’t hurt too much early. A sneaky move is to grab his understudy in Addison Reed who is just dominant to be helpful even without getting saves.
9. Alex Colome – TB: Lesser talents have had success for the Rays so it was not surprising that Colome was damn good for them last year. His age and arm mean there may be more upside especially if the team is more competitive.
10. Cody Allen – Cle: Allen gets most of the saves for the Indians so he is ahead of the slightly more talented Andrew Miller who picks up wins more often. Allen is no slouch so don’t expect the roles to change.
11. Andrew Miller – Cle.
12. Roberto Osuna – Tor: Osuna is on the leading edge of several talented but unproven young closers from the American League upcoming. All of them – Osuna plus Diaz, Giles and Herrera – throws gas. Their fantasy value will be based on consistency and how good their teams are.
13. Edwin Diaz – Sea.
14. David Robertson – ChiW: Robertson and K Rod (#15) are the old guard of the American League Central. Robertson has more life left in his arm but his team is tanking so K Rod has a more save opportunities headed his way. A likely trade for Robertson to a contender could be great (if he’s the closer) or devastating (if he’s not) for his value.
15. Francisco Rodriguez – Det.
16. Ken Giles – Hou.
17. Kelvin Herrera – KC.
18. Tony Watson – Pit: The Pirates usually get it right at closer and Watson did not disappoint when he got the chance last year. He’s not dominant but has been effective for years.
19. Blake Treinen – Was: Having been named the closer for a playoff caliber team, Treinen jumped up the rankings this week. He could be really good in the role or wilt under the pressure. He is worth handcuffing because the situation is favorable except that there are 2 more quality candidates in the Capitol – Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover. This is a situation to buy into and/or monitor closely early in the season. If one of these guys can settle into the closer role, they could have excellent value. Or maybe the Nats trade for Robertson…
20. Dellin Betances – NYY: The ability to strike out nearly 2 batters per inning make Betances a viable option to have even without the saves.
21. Sam Dyson – Tex: Dyson has had some success closing for the Rangers. However, he’s not dominant which worries me for a pitcher in Arlington.
22. AJ Ramos – Mia: Solid talent on okay team. Many possible outcomes for Ramos.
23. Jeanmar Gomez – Phi: Had a decent run as closer last year but there are more talented arms behind him.
24. Jim Johnson – Atl: Johnson is a nice sleeper play as the Braves may be better than expected and he is solid.
25. Greg Holland – Col: The formerly elite door slammer is working back from arm issues. He is expected to get first crack at closing in Denver but he could experience bumps in the road. If he struggles, the Rockies could turn to ADam Ottavino early and often.
10 more closers or setup men to consider: Cam Bedrosian – LAA, Brandon Maurer – SD, Rasiel Iglesias – Cin, Neftali Feliz – Mil, Fernando Rodney – Ari, Sean Doolittle – Oak, Ryan Madsen – Oak, Brandon Kintzler – Min, Addison Reed – NYM, Adam Ottavino – Col.