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Fake Teams Staff Post: Who's My Relief Pitcher?

Each of your favorite FT writers let you in on the relief pitcher they will be targeting at their current values.

Hunter Martin

Each week, when we cover a position here at Fake Teams, in addition to all of the content you've been seeing, we're going to be doing two staff posts where each of the writers will contribute a brief comment on a player they will personally be targeting in drafts and a player they will be avoiding. Because we're generally an optimistic group here, we're going to start with a player each of us thinks is a good value. Come back tomorrow to find out who the guys we're avoiding are.

So without any further ado, I present the Fake Teams staff and their favorite relief pitching targets for 2013:

"I had Ernesto Frieri in my top 10 prior to the Ryan Madson signing, and still think he has the potential to be a steal on draft day. Our consensus rankings had Frieri at #31, which is probably in the right ball park if you are looking at Madson claiming the closer's job fairly early in the season. That said, this is a pitcher who struck out over 13 batters per 9 last season, and allowed an absolutely ridiculous 26 hits in 54 innings pitched last year. He has shown the skills to be a top 10 closer, and I have to believe that if Frieri comes into spring and nails down the job while they wait for Madson, he may not let it go at any point in the season." --Jason Hunt

"I was surprised to see Greg Holland ranked so high, at No. 13, in the Fake Teams Consensus Reliever Rankings, but I think the Royals closer can even top that. Holland took over as the ninth-inning man when Jonathan Broxton was traded to the Reds on the last day of July in 2012, and he picked up 16 saves in 20 chances, proving he can handle the job in 2013. His 12.22 K/9 was ninth best among qualified relievers, and while his walk rate of 11.8% is higher than you’d like to see, he limited the damage by giving up just two home runs in 67 innings -- his HR/FB rate of 3.4% was sixth best in the league. As recently as 2011, Holland had a K/BB of 3.89, so I’m not as worried about the high walk totals as some others. If he can continue to keep the ball in the ballpark, Holland can be a top 10 closer in 2013." --Alex Kantecki

"When talking about closers, there are three stereotypes which can work against a player's value. First, closers from bad teams are generally overlooked - when there's very little correlation between team success and number of save opportunities. Secondly, closers who aren't flamboyant tend to get overlooked. That's just human nature. Finally, history tells us that closers aren't supposed to be left-handed (which is pretty insane when you think about it). These three stereotypes have all morphed together to unnaturally keep Glen Perkins from getting the love he deserves. His 2.56 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 78 K in 70 1/3 IP during 2012 doesn't look all that much different from the pitching lines of top closer options like Jonathan Papelbon and Jason Motte." --Bret Sayre

"In April 2012 Toronto closer, Sergio Santos, went on the DL. Enter Francisco Cordero who promptly lost the job to Casey Janssen. Casey proceeded to save 22 games, while posting an ERA of 2.54 and a WHIP of 1.15. He is now slated to be the closer for the Blue Jays in 2013, and he has the ability to keep that job. Mr. Santos is still in Toronto, so there are no guarantees, but Janssen has the stuff. In each of his last three seasons, he has had a K/9 of 8.3 or more, and has walked 2.8 or less. Additionally, in each of his last two seasons, he has had an ERA of 2.54 or lower and a WHIP of 1.10 or lower. All of this adds up to a good possibility Casey will begin and end the season as the Blue Jays closer." --Brad Dengler

"Heading into 2013 drafts, I would not waste an early pick on a Craig Kimbrel or Jason Motte in the first 8-9 rounds. I am not saying they won't have solid seasons, I just think that you could grab a guy like Kenley Jansen about 6-8 rounds later who could be just as effective as Kimbrel and Motte. Like I mentioned in Part 2 of our consensus reliever rankings, I see Jansen taking over the closer role in Los Angeles early in the season. Plus, there is a chance Mattingly just hands him the role on Opening Day as he is the better reliever anyway. He strikes out just under 14 batters per nine innings, and cut his walk rate to just over 3 per nine last season, while saving 25 games in 32 chances. He limited lefties to a triple slash line of .145/.225/.293, and righties to a .146/.236/.255 slash line last season. When pitching at home vs a right handed hitting lineup, he was money last season, holding righties to a slash line of .086/.172/.103, giving up just 5 hits to the 64 batters he faced, striking out 31 and walking five. Add in the fact that a change in his pitching mechanics resulted in a 6-7 mph improvement in his cutter, his most effective pitch, and he could be even more dominant in 2013. All he needs is a little love from Mattingly." --Ray Guilfoyle