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Staff Post: Relievers to Target in 2019

The Fake Teams writers tell you which relievers to trust in 2019.

Getty Images/USA Today/Pete Rogers Illustrations

Look, I know reliever week has been sparse, but what did you expect? We are mining for saves here, and there aren’t many commodities that we can trust. That said, we tried to find our best targets for you, anyway.

Texas Rangers v San Francisco Giants Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

Jose Leclerc, Rangers (Zack Waxman)

NFBC ADP: 109.89

Jose Leclerc is locked in a closer’s role, has Josh Hader ratios, and did not even get a full season’s worth of closer responsibilities last year. He’s only outside of the elite tier because of his shorter track record. With closers being so volatile, I could care less about track record. What have you done for me lately? Give me Leclerc all day as the best value relief pitcher on the board.

Divisional Round - Houston Astros v Cleveland Indians - Game Three
Allen is the favorite for saves in Anaheim.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Cody Allen, Angels (Mark Abell)

NFBC ADP: 187.94

Three things. First, look at his averages. Six consecutive seasons with a sub-3.00 ERA with a sub-1.30 WHIP, and suddenly last year he tanks. I am betting he rebounds into previous territory. Second, the hardest stat was his HR/9, which spiked from 0.9 a few years back to 1.20 in 2017 and to 1.48 last year. He fell victim to his fly ball rate spiking higher than it has ever been in his career. I expect him to have worked on that and have it come down to south of 1.20 territory. Third, a lot was going on with the Indians bullpen last year in terms of team struggles across the board, and now Allen holds down the main closer role in LA. I think we see a nice year from Cody.

Divisional Round - Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees - Game Four
Robertson is now a Philadelphia Phillie.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

David Robertson, Phillies (Punk is Dead)

NFBC ADP: 198.87

David Robertson is going outside the top-20 at reliever and outside the top-200 overall in NFBC drafts. I even took him at 196 overall in TGFBI after being shocked he was still on the board. Robertson is the man for the Phillies. I’m not buying the Gabe Kapler talk. Robertson should get 30+ saves on a team that is going to win a lot of games in 2019. Over the past three seasons, Robertson has a 2.83 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 11.9 K/9. He has top-10 closer upside in my book.

Wild Card Game - Colorado Rockies v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Pedro Strop, Cubs (Heath Capps)

NFBC ADP: 266.85

Playing for right now is underrated. The fiery Strop acquitted himself well in the closer’s role last year, and his competition Brandon Morrow is sidelined until what sounds like April (at least). A 16.0% swinging strike rate and 38.7% chase rate from a year ago are encouraging, as is the dirt-cheap ADP. If Strop continues to do well in the role, there’s a chance he retains it all (or most) of the season. I counseled the same sort of strategy for Brad Boxberger a year ago—and though he didn’t hold the role all year, he was plenty useful while he did so.