To help prepare for the upcoming MLB season, I’ll be providing analysis of each fantasy baseball position. To stay consistent I’ll be referencing the FantasyPros Expert Consensus Ranking from FantasyPros. I’ve found from experience that the consensus rankings give a better overall picture of positional rankings. This particular ranking provides the aggregate ADP (Average Draft Position) from Yahoo! Sports, ESPN, NFBC, CBS Sports and RTSports.
In this edition we’ll be looking at the Top Relief Pitchers, the Best Value, Sleeper Pick and Potential Bust. Position rank, ADP and projected stats are based off FantasyPros Relief Pitcher consensus rankings.
Top Three Relief Pitcher:
1. Jeurys Familia, Mets (4th Relief Pitcher, 86.6 ADP)
Analysis: Jeurys Familia came into 2015 as the Mets primary setup man behind closer Jenrry Mejia. After Mejia was injured (then failed three PED tests while getting banned from MLB for life) the closer job was all Familia’s, and he made it count big time. Familia had an outstanding 2015 season with 43 saves and a lights out 1.85 ERA to go along with 87 strikeouts. Amazin’ Avenue has a nice article on Familia’s improved control that has been vital to his success. His current ADP of 86.6 puts him in the 7th round but I’d bump that up to 6th round since he should receive plenty of save opportunities with the Mets outstanding starting roation. GTD Suggested Round: 6th Round
2.Kenley Jansen, Dodgers (1st Relief Pitcher, 64.2 ADP)
Analysis: To go along with Clayton Kershaw, the top pick in the recent Starting Pitcher Preview, the Dodgers have one of the best closers in baseball in Kenley Jansen. The 28 year old Jansen had another great season in 2015 recording 36 out of 38 saves, had a 2.41 ERA to go along with a fantastic K:BB ratio of 80:8. Over the past three seasons he’s averaged 36 saves per season and an outstanding K:BB ratio of 292:45. There should be added motivation this year as ESPN’s Doug Mittler reported that Jansen is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the season after not reaching an extension with the Dodgers before Opening Day, the typical contract extension cutoff date. Jansen is a top two closer and safe 6th round pick. GTD Suggested Round: 6th Round
2016 over/unders from @BovadaLV:
Clayton Kershaw: 2.20 ERA, 18½ W, 255½ K
Kenley Jansen: 39½ saves
Scott Kazmir, Alex Wood: 10½ wins each
— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) March 30, 2016
- Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox (3rd Relief Pitcher, 65.4 ADP)
Analysis: Craig Kimbrel has been as steady as they come at the closer position over the past five years. From 2011-2015, Kimbrel has averaged 45 saves and 105 strikeouts per season with a ridiculous 1.70 ERA. Even on a 4th place Padres team with only 74 wins Kimbrel was able to post nearly 40 saves. Still only 27 (soon to be 28) years old and moving to the AL this season on what should be an improved Red Sox team, Kimbrel should be able to get back to the 40+ save mark. He’s a safe 6th round pick following Jeurys Familia and Kenley Jansen. GTD Suggested Round: 6th Round
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) March 24, 2016
Best Value Pick: Hector Rondon, Cubs (12th Relief Pitcher, ADP 120.4)
Analysis: Hector Rondon built on his strong 2014 season with an outstanding 2015 campaign for the Cubs. To go along with his outstanding 1.67 ERA, he struck out 69 in 70 innings and saved 30 out of 34 opportunities. The Chicago Tribune Cubs Preview mentioned for Rondon; “Management, manager placing more trust in his abilities; look for more breaking pitches.” He’s had an extremely tough spring so far with a 12.38 ERA, giving up 17 hits and 11 ER in 8 innings pitched, but hopefully returning to the “Friendly Confines” of Wrigley Field will help turn around his start to 2016. He’s currently the 12th ranked relief pitcher and there certainly should be plenty of save opportunities with the Cubs strong offense this year, he’s worth a 10th round pick. GTD Suggested Round: 10th round
Sleeper Pick: Jeremy Jeffress, Brewers (35th Relief Pitcher, ADP 292.4)
Analysis: Jeremy Jeffress won the Brewers closer job by default last week as his main competition Will Smith tore his LCL in the locker room while trying to take off his cleats to shower. Jeffress likely would have won the closer job anyways with his great spring following his solid 2015 season. In 2015, Jeffress went 5-0 with a 2.65 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 68 innings. The 28 year old is off to a great start this spring, pitching five scoreless innings with five strikeouts. Steve Drumwright from the State Journal details Jeffress path back to the Brewers after being their first round pick in 2006 and moving on from stints with the Royals and Blue Jays, he’s ready to take on the Brewers closer role. Although the Brewers don’t project to win many games this season, Jeffress is worthy of a late round pick/free agent pickup. GTD Suggested Round: Late Round Flier
Potential Bust: Jonathan Papelbon, Nationals (13th Relief Pitcher, ADP 131.2)
Analysis: Jonathan Papelbon had an “interesting” 2015 season to say the least. He put up some nice numbers with the Phillies registering a 1.59 ERA and 17 saves but struggled with the Nationals with a 3.02 ERA and 7 saves as the Nationals imploded. Papelbon didn’t exactly help matters either by attacking the teams best player in Bryce Harper for not running out a popout to left field in late September. The 35 year old Papelbon has also had an iffy spring giving up 4 runs in 7.2 innings, compounding that with his lackluster end to 2015 I’d wait until the 12th round, two rounds later than his current ADP of 131.2. GTD Suggested Round: Wait Until 12th Round
That’s it for the Game-Time Decision Fantasy Baseball Previews, best of luck this season!