Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: Relief Pitchers
As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. We’ve reached the end of this year’s Fantasy Baseball Sleeper series with this edition covering relief pitching. Baseball is roughly a week away and I could not be more excited. My weekend plans consist of an unhealthy amount of fantasy baseball drafts. My preparation and research too is coming to an end and I’m about to have a lot of free time that will be filled with actual baseball. Let’s get into it!
Just as he has done in years past, Nate will bring his favorite sleepers per position of the upcoming fantasy baseball season. For each position he will offer three sleepers, with outfielders, starting and relief pitchers seeing five suggestions. He’ll take into consideration both points and category leagues in his suggestions.
As we make our last stop of the sleeper series and I personally rattle off my final article of the Fantasy Baseball draft season, we now make a call to the bullpen. Like our last two articles of outfield and starting pitching, relief pitching too is a bit interesting as you can start multiple. In the past, I used to be a strong believer in investing in relief pitching early, but recently I have changed my approach. I have been targeting relief pitchers late, trying to find the sleepers that can get some saves and playing the waiver wire across the season. With that being said, these could arguably be the most important sleepers.
Corey Knebel (Philadelphia Phillies)
Position Rank: 17th
2021 Stats: 4-3, 2.45 ERA, 25.2 IP, 3 SV, 30 SO & 0.974 WHIP
Corey Knebel pushed Kenley Jensen a year ago in Los Angeles for save opportunities and for the first time in his career will have the chance to be an everyday closer. The Phillies signed Knebel to the tune of $10 million for one year. The Phillies have made many moves this offseason to better their team and become one of the best offenses in all of baseball. Their starting pitching should be solid and they made some good moves to improve their bullpen as a whole outside of the Knebel signing. Knebel should flirt with 20-plus saves this season and you’re finding this guy in the 14th round of 12-man leagues. I would be content leaving my draft with Knebel as my top relief pitching option.
Taylor Rogers (Minnesota Twins)
Position Rank: 21st
2021 Stats: 3-4, 3.35 ERA, 40.1 IP, 9 SV, 59 SO & 1.140 WHIP
The Minnesota Twins shocked the world when they won the bidding war for star shortstop Carlos Correa. They also moved the likes of Josh Donaldson to the Yankees to acquire slugging catcher Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela. They also made a move to acquire Sonny Gray from the Cincinnati Reds. They’re an improved team overall. Rogers had a 30 save season three years ago but only appears in 31 games over the past two seasons. He should see over 20 saves this season. If you can find 20 saves in the 17th round or later, that’s a win in my book.
Gregory Soto (Detroit Tigers)
Position Rank: 22nd
2021 Stats: 6-3, 3.39 ERA, 63.2 IP, 18 SV, 76 SO & 1.351 WHIP
Gregory Soto is a guy I’m trying to leave every draft with. I’m very high on him. I believe the Tigers to be an improved team from a year ago with the development of their top-tier youth and the additions of Javier Baez, Michael Pineda and Andrew Chafin. This team should flirt with going over .500 and therefore there will be plenty of save opportunities. Soto recorded 18 saves as the Tigers’ primary closer a season ago. Michael Fulmer will take a few opportunities from Soto but not enough to scare me away from the hard throwing left hander.
David Bednar (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Position Rank: 23rd
2021 Stats: 3-1, 2.23 ERA, 60.2 IP, 3 SV, 77 SO & 0.973 WHIP
The Pirates are a developing franchise that probably won’t see a boatload of wins this season and therefore save opportunities could be scarce. However, Bednar is far-in-awhile the team’s best closer so I’m not buying the smoke that they plan to use different closers throughout the season. Bednar really burst onto the scene post All-Star Break a season ago where he had a 1.05 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP. Bednar may be a perfect trade deadline candidate too to move to a contender. You’re finding this guy in the 17th round of 12 man leagues.
Alex Colome (Colorado Rockies)
Position Rank: 37th
2021 Stats: 4-4, 4.15 ERA, 65 IP, 17 SV, 58 SO & 1.400 WHIP
There was once a time when Colome was the best closer in baseball. Heck, he’s had seasons with 47, 37 and 30 saves. He’s bounced around the league as of late and has found a new home in Colorado. Over his last three seasons he has a combined 59 saves. That’s not bad for a guy you’re regularly finding in the 24th round of 12-man leagues. He could see just shy of 20 saves this season pitching for this Rockies’ team. That’s great value for his ADP.