Fantasy Baseball: Roto relief pitcher rankings

Roto relief pitcher rankings are always a weird bunch to put together because more so than any other position one stat drives the majority of the rankings and can mean the difference between being 30th at the position and top 10. Of course the statistic I am talking about is saves and while I agree it is not the be all and end all that you get saves it can make a huge difference to how you do in your league whether you finish 10th or 5th in the category.


Where relief pitcher gets funky is trying to balance the combination of getting saves and therefore drafting people with job safety but also drafting people who aren’t going to give you saves at expense of your ERA and WHIP. Major league teams do not really help fantasy owners by often picking a lesser pitcher in their bullpen to be the one that gets saves opportunities to start the season. A guy like Fernando Rodney is someone who is solid when it comes to putting up saves but he can sink you a couple of places in ERA and WHIP. Meanwhile the best pitcher in that bullpen is probably Addison Reed but because he is not experienced in the role the Twins will delay giving him the job as long as possible.

What this does is make the guys who will give you saves and good ratios really valuable, Kenley Jansen and Craig Kimbrel headline this group. Over the years my relief pitcher strategy has canged and I have gone from being the guy who thinks “Yeah I’ll punt saves in the draft, grab a couple of bad closers late and then play the waiver wire” to the guy who wants to make sure I have at least one top 5-7 closer and probably two top 15 closers. The reason is because I have often found that half the league punts saves and therefore getting a couple of good guys can give you a real shot at finishing top three or four at the position. Also relief pitchers are the one group that everyone is watching the waiver wire and in first come first serve waivers you cannot always be the first person to hear the news and grab a guy no matter how attentive you are. Obviously drafting those high end guys depends on value, if everyone is going for them then I am not going to over pay and instead will get the bargains elsewhere before reverting to looking at relievers with saves late in the draft.

Finally you have the talent non-saves guys and what do you do with those? Well that depends on your format; in daily transaction leagues where two start pitchers are slightly less valuable then I want a lot of the Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, AJ Minter and Josh Hader types. These guys can give you a ton of strikeouts and good ratios which are extremely valuable in either a starts or innings capped leagues compared to low end starters who put up meh ratios and don’t really strike people out.

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