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Staff Post: Relievers to Target in 2020

The Fake Teams writers give you their favorite men at a volatile position.

St Louis Cardinals v New York Mets Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

It’s an interesting time to be a sports fan. It callous not to acknowledge that fact prior to launching into fantasy baseball chatter. So please be safe out there, use good judgement, and check on your neighbors.

As for Relief Pitcher Week, it’s quickly come to a close, as have all of our positional weeks. So later today, you can expect our 2020 fantasy baseball guide, which houses a link to all of our relevant fantasy baseball content in one place. Now let’s just hope we get to put it to good use this season...

St Louis Cardinals v New York Mets Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Edwin Diaz, New York Mets (Jonathan Butler)

NFBC ADP: 119.13

Two years ago, you wouldn’t have gotten this kind of discount on Diaz. However, 2019 did a ton for this soon-to-be 26-year-old reliever’s stock. Diaz is currently going off the board at 119 over the past month as the RP8. The value on him is great, since he offers the upside as the top reliever this year. His biggest flaw last year was his inability to control his nasty slider, but I’m still a Diaz believer on a Mets team that will have plenty of save chances. There is some risk, but the upside is so unbelievably high as shown by his 2018 season that was highlighted by a 1.96 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 73 innings.

Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Ken Giles, Toronto Blue Jays (Garrett Atkins)

NFBC ADP: 130.10

It’s blind resume time!

Player A: 39.9% K-rate .184 xBA .317 xSLG .238 xwOBA .131 xISO
Player B: 39.9% K-rate .185 xBA .318 xSLG .246 xwOBA .132 xISO.

Player A is Gerrit Cole. Player B is Ken Giles. Is Ken Giles the Gerrit Cole of closers? You decide! The only negative to Giles was the lack of save opportunities the Blue Jays had. Their team save total was a fluke compared to other teams with similar records. Plus, the Blue Jays appear to be a better overall team heading into 2020. I have Giles as the RP7 going into this season.

Los Angeles Angels v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Hansel Robles, Los Angeles Angels (Mark Abell)

NFBC ADP: 168.78

He’s had three straight years of an improving ERA, and a career-best 1.98 BB/9 last year. I am willing to not only take the flier late in drafts on him, but also to bet on the Angels—who look to be a much improved team this year.

Chicago White Sox v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Joe Jimenez, Detroit Tigers (Heath Capps)

NFBC ADP: 218.03

You guys knew I was going to be the one picking the cheapest guy, right? I nearly went Hunter Harvey, but I’ve been targeting Jimenez on the low end of closers as well, and he’s actually got the starting job currently nailed down. He’s only 25 years old, and it seems like he was a closer-in-waiting for ages. Now that he’s finally the guy, his ADP isn’t prohibitive. Sure, walks have been an issue (career 3.44 BB/9) but the strikeout rate is epic (11.27 K/9). Jimenez’s 18.3% HR/FB rate would also seem likely to drop this year, if the bouncy ball is any bit less bouncy. His previous marks in this regard were 13.3% and 6.8%, respectively. His swinging strike rate is on an impressive trend (11.8% to 13.4% to 14.8%) and he’s also beefed up his chase rate each season (27.2% to 30.8% to 35.2%). He’s also better than average with regard to zone contact rate, which has dropped each season. I love taking the guy who already has a role AND who has awesome strikeout skills. And the upside of youth. And the smokescreen of being on a bad team. What’s not to love? Here’s a great way to take a shot at the saves category without wasting high-end draft capital!