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Fantasy Baseball 2017 Positional Preview: Relief Pitcher

A look at the relief pitcher position for the 2017 Fantasy Baseball season.

Edwin Diaz appears prime to break out in 2017. Where does he rank among the best closers in the game?
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Check out my top 250:
Fantasy Baseball 2017 Top 250

We are at the finale of our positional previews. It is fitting we end this series with closers. In addition to giving you the top players to draft at the position, I’ll offer up breakout players, sleepers, busts, and an overall strategy of how to go about drafting the position.

Top 40 Relief Pitchers

Pos Rank Player Team Age PR League
Pos Rank Player Team Age PR League
1 Kenley Jansen LAD 29 13 NL
2 Aroldis Chapman NYY 29 44 AL
3 Zach Britton BAL 29 17 AL
4 Seung Hwan Oh STL 34 61 NL
5 Edwin Diaz SEA 23 226 AL
6 Andrew Miller CLE 31 39 AL
7 Mark Melancon SF 32 28 NL
8 Roberto Osuna TOR 22 55 AL
9 Wade Davis CHC 31 153 NL
10 Ken Giles HOU 26 273 AL
11 Kelvin Herrera KC 27 169 AL
12 Danny Duffy KC 28 84 AL
13 Alex Colome TB 28 73 AL
14 Craig Kimbrel BOS 28 126 AL
15 Cody Allen CLE 28 76 AL
16 Dellin Betances NYY 29 173 AL
17 Jeurys Familia NYM 27 43 NL
18 David Robertson CWS 31 112 AL
19 Tony Watson PIT 31 215 NL
20 Francisco Rodriguez DET 35 81 AL
21 Raisel Iglesias CIN 27 232 NL
22 Sam Dyson TEX 28 87 AL
23 A.J. Ramos MIA 30 114 NL
24 Addison Reed NYM 28 172 NL
25 Cam Bedrosian LAA 24 342 AL
26 Neftali Feliz MIL 28 360 NL
27 Brandon Maurer SD 26 380 NL
28 Hector Neris PHI 27 224 NL
29 Kyle Barraclough MIA 26 251 NL
30 Tyler Thornburg BOS 31 98 AL
31 Ryan Madson OAK 36 144 AL
32 Nate Jones CWS 30 176 AL
33 Jim Johnson ATL 33 202 NL
34 Dylan Bundy BAL 24 311 AL
35 Shawn Kelley WAS 32 206 NL
36 Fernando Rodney ARI 40 219 NL
37 Brandon Kintzler MIN 32 307 AL
38 Jeanmar Gomez PHI 29 213 NL
39 Chris Devenski HOU 26 118 AL
40 Matt Andriese TB 27 282 AL

*PR stands for 'Player Rater' which is a measure of how good a player was in a standard 5x5 roto league

Breakout players – Edwin Diaz, Ken Giles
Sleepers – Addison Reed, Cam Bedrosian
Busts – Craig Kimbrel, Jeurys Familia, David Robertson

Position Overview

Relief pitchers are one of my favorite positions for fantasy coverage this season. Trying to nail down who will close for teams and who is next in line is what makes being a fantasy writer so fun. Most owners play in leagues where the format includes saves and that stat alone has a huge impact on a reliever’s value.

For new readers, I run a column on this site called “Pure Reliever Rankings”. In this, I look at relievers without saves or wins to see who the best “Pure Relievers” are. Expect to see this return in 2017.

In terms of closers, there are 11 closers with top 5 upside. I include Andrew Miller, the #1 Pure Reliever of 2016, because of his strikeouts, innings, and incredible ratios. Barring injury, these closers are pretty safe to keep their job all season. My strategy is to draft at least one and possible two of this group. I do not want to miss out on this group completely. The next group of Kimbrel, Familia, and Robertson (aka my busts) just aren’t very good relievers. Throw in A.J. Ramos and Francisco Rodriguez and you have my dark side of the closer position. This group might get around 30 saves each, but aside from that, their value is extremely poor and potentially negative. For those looking past saves for relief pitcher help, look no further than Addison Reed, Kyle Barraclough, and Tyler Thornburg. Even Chris Devenski at RP #39 offers great ratios and plenty of innings. Believe it or not, he was actually a top 120 overall player for fantasy in 2016!

That concludes the positional preview series. I hope these help you to winning some fantasy baseball leagues this season. Thanks for the read and best of luck in your drafts.

Stay tuned for our 2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit coming out soon!

Other positional previews:
Catchers
First Base
Second Base
Shortstop
Third Base
Outfield
Starting Pitcher