Welcome to the fourth edition this season of my reliever rankings. As a reminder, these are not based on current role, but on skills, stats, and how close the game is when they come in to pitch (using leverage index). For more details, check out my last edition of the rankings here.
Positive change indicates a player has moved up the rankings (gotten better) since last time. As always, I use a 10 inning minimum to catch the newer relievers and all stats are from the always reliable FanGraphs. On to the big Google Sheets table! You can scroll through the list to look at all 300+ relievers if you are so inclined. I’m not sure why you would be interested in Zac Curtis or Luke Jackson, but hey, they’re on there. Hanging out with them at the bottom? A recently demoted/DL’d veteran closer in Anaheim.
Let’s discuss the big movers and the new additions to the list. We have several new comers in the top 50 including new closer Edwin Diaz, recently-traded Dario Alvarez, reliever-turned-starter-turned reliever Juan Nicasio, young gun Carl Edwards, Jr., Bruce Rondon (future Tigers closer?), Maurcio Cabrera (future Braves closer!), Shane Greene, Texas fireballer Keone Kela, starter-turned-relief ace Raisel Iglesias, and the other starter-turned-reliever on the Reds, Michael Lorenzen.
Diaz will be a fantasy monster as long has he is healthy and he should hold tight onto that closer job in Seattle. Carl Edwards Jr. is showing great stuff so far and if Chapman doesn’t re-sign in Chicago, there’s always a chance he could see saves in the next couple years. Rondon would just need to pass lefty Justin Wilson to get saves once K-Rod is gone, but Wilson is good (#8 on the list), so that could be tough. Cabrera is all but guaranteed the closer job once Jim Johnson leaves town and has great stuff.
I think Kela is a dark horse for saves in 2017 if Jeremy Jeffress and Sam Dyson take some steps back to their old selves. Raisel Iglesias is most valuable in fantasy as a starter, but if he is stuck in relief, the path is clear for the closer’s job, at least in 2017. Lorenzen is good enough to compete with him for the job, though, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out.
The biggest positive movers in the top 50 are: Josh Osich, Nate Jones, Kenley Jansen, Cam Bedrosian, and Ken Giles. Bedrosian is now a closer, as is Giles. More proof that this list can be a good indicator of future roles in bullpens. Jones is a guy poised to take over if Robertson struggles more or is moved in a waiver trade. Osich is interesting, but blocked too much to matter.
The big fallers in the top 50 are Sam Dyson, Michael Feliz, Seung Oh, and Addison Reed. I’m not worried about Dyson or Oh losing their jobs, so this fall isn’t a big deal. The other two are still useful in holds leagues. Outside the top 50, Jake Diekman fell 50 spots. That’s nothing compared to the 83 spots David Hernandez fell. Daniel Hudson fell 87 spots, and new Yankee Tyler Clippard fell 49. I have concerns about all of those guys. Diekman lost his 8th inning spot and with Kela around, might not pitch the 7th either. Clippard could lose time to some of the remaining Yankees in that ‘pen.
There’s good news for the big risers outside the top 50! Mark Melancon and Carlos Estevez both shot up the list, but still sit just out of the top 50. K-Rod is another closer that moved up big time. Adam Liberatore and Ryan Dull have been steadily climbing as well and they have moved up their respective depth charts. Brandon Maurer, another closer, has quietly moved up 48 spots.
Feel free to poke around the list and uncover other gems. The hope is that this list captures the best relievers in baseball, including their raw pitching skill (strikeout stuff, control, velocity), contact control (grounders and soft contact are good), and how they are being used (leverage index). Pitchers with high scores should be targeted in fantasy leagues as either the best closers, future closers, or elite setup men. Tschus!