March 6, 2014
Dynasty League Positional Rankings
Top 75 Relief Pitchers
For the earlier editions in this series, follow the links below:
Let’s be honest right up front: if there’s anything that can be as fickle as a prospect list, it’s a long-term reliever list. Relievers break out, they break down, they lose roles and that can all happen in a single year. When you look at the position across many years, the task grows fickle as unlike any other position, reliever values are predicated on saves and saves are determined, not by skill but, by manager preferences. And predicting manager preferences three years down the road is, well, kind of pointless. Additionally, this list does not presuppose that your league counts holds—it’s the save’s world and we just occupy it. You’ll also notice that there are a small handful of players on this list who project as potential starting pitchers down the road, but if they would only have been eligible in a RP slot (if your league designates like that) and are not guaranteed a rotation spot in 2014, they will be ranked here and not on the starting pitcher list. The two biggest examples of that are Carlos Martinez and Drew Smyly, so value them accordingly.
And now, your Top 75 relief pitchers in dynasty formats:
No matter how you slice it, this is your top five. These closers are all reasonably young, throw gas and capable of striking out over 100 batters per season. In dynasty leagues, it’s not wise to invest heavily in closers because of the huge turnover, but if you’re going to invest, these five are the safest bets. On top of that, there’s very little risk of any of them moving into the rotation—it’s always going to be a slight, slight concern with Chapman and Rosenthal, but I don’t think it’ll ever happen for either.
This was a big point of contention between me and noted Carlos Martinez fanboy and fellow BP writer Craig Goldstein, but let me clarify a few things. One, I do believe that Martinez can start long term from a talent perspective. Two, I don’t believe he’ll crack the rotation in 2014, despite him being a better option than Joe Kelly. Three, I don’t know what the Cardinals have in store for him long term. The talent is there. Buy accordingly.
Here’s the next group, and it rounds out our top 10 nicely. Robertson should be able to run with the job in New York and be fine, but then again, we all thought that when Mariano Rivera went down in 2012 too. Reed hasn’t been as good at the major league level as we thought when he dominated the minors, but he can be better than this—even in that park.
We’ll just call this group the velocity question marks. Feliz is having trouble getting his trademark heat squared away this spring and could start the season on the disabled list if things don’t improve. Papelbon lost his fastball in 2013, but early reports would lead you to believe that it has a chance to bounce back this year. Romo’s velocity continues to decline, especially in the second half of 2013. There aren’t too many closers out there who throw 87 mph. Then there’s Uehara, who doesn’t fit in that category, but scares me regardless because of the 2013 workload including the playoffs.
Solid guys here. And likely to hold on to their jobs, too.
It would be a big upset if Smyly didn’t make the Tigers’ rotation, but his stats aren’t likely to look as rosy in the rotation as they did in the pen. He’s a solid back-end guy but unlikely to be more.
More closers. They’re probably going to hold on to jobs if they stay healthy. If they hold on to their jobs, they’ll get saves, which is the end goal of all human life.
In terms of skills, Allen may be a borderline top-10 reliever on this list. Unfortunately, life isn’t fair and John Axford has a manly mustache.
Some of these guys have jobs, but some do not. The ones who do not are close to having one and could potentially see real saves in 2014 if things (read: the guys in front of them) break right (read: down).
These three throw very, very hard. Managers love closers who throw very, very hard.
Let’s be honest, you’re not expecting much out of any of these guys. If you got five saves from any of these players you’d be thrilled and it will have been worth the trouble. But I’ll spare you the pain, in dynasty leagues, they’re not worth the trouble.
Because, hey, you never know.