2017 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2017 Fantasy Baseball: Three to Add, Three to Keep, Three to Drop– Relief Pitchers

Relief pitchers are the bane of everyone’s existence when it comes to fantasy. The save has become the end all be all statistic everyone craves and yet the save has never been less valuable than it has now. Most teams do not even employ their most effective relief pitcher there as they have discovered that there are other points in the game where an effective relief pitcher is more valuable. That brings us to the 3x3x3 series and relief pitchers.

In particular, most closers are owned immediately, so picking new guys becomes a tightrope act between bringing in a potential closer on a struggling team or adding a setup man/middle reliever that is particularly effective. In leagues that include holds, this decision is easy. In standard five category leagues it is a lot more difficult.

(All Statistics as of June 18, 2017)

Three to Add

Will Harris— Houston Astros

Yahoo: 19.0%

ESPN: 10.4%

Key Numbers: 27.2 INN, 2 wins, 2.28 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 32 K, 12 holds, 2 saves

What is going on?

Ken Giles is holding down the closer role for now, but Luke Gregerson has struggled as the primary setup guy. That has created a committee approach that includes Harris, Chris Devinski, and Michael Feliz. Harris isn’t as electric as the other two, but he has been steady over the last three seasons. In a league that includes holds he is a really valuable commodity.

Barriers to Launch

The Astros bullpen has been overworked as of late. That workload will catch up with all of them if it hasn’t already.

Pat Neshek— Philadelphia Phillies

Yahoo: 20.0%

ESPN: 12.2%

Key Numbers: 27.0 INN, 2 wins, 0.67 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 24 K, 7 holds, 1 save

What is going on?

Neshek is a compromise between the two strategies. The strikeouts per nine innings total indicates he isn’t as dominant as other guys, but the Phillies 9th inning situation has been a mess most of the season. The percentage owned numbers indicate the difference between holds leagues and non-holds leagues. Even without the holds, getting a guy that throws zeroes helps a fantasy staff.

Barriers to Launch

The Phillies don’t win a lot of games and therefore there are fewer save and hold opportunities to be had.

Blake Parker— Los Angeles Angels

Yahoo: 6.0%

ESPN: 2.7%

Key Numbers: 32.1 INN, 2 wins, 1.95 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 48 K, 7 holds, 0 saves

What is going on?

The numbers speak for themselves even in most fantasy players have never heard of Parker. Every year there are young relievers that burst on the scene and this year it is him. They are obviously limiting his exposure to high leverage situations for now, but eventually they will have to give him a shot.

Barriers to Launch

He is unheralded and unknown. Teams will get a book on him eventually.

Three to Keep

Santiago Casilla— Oakland Athletics

Key Numbers: 24.1 INN, 1 win, 4.07 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 26 K, 2 holds, 11 saves

What is going on?

He opened the season as the setup guy in a very average bullpen. Now, he is the closer in a very average bullpen. He doesn’t blow up anyone’s skirt, but he has been steady over the last several seasons in terms of saves. That should continue for the rest of the season.

Drop if…

He gets dealt to a team as a middle reliever. He is valuable as a closer. As a middle reliever you can find better.

Kelvin Herrera— Kansas City Royals

Key Numbers: 28.0 INN, 1 win, 4.82 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 29 K, 0 holds, 15 saves

What is going on?

Clearly there was some separation between Greg Holland, Wade Davis, and Herrera. Of course, one can’t blame Herrera for the Royals’ struggles, but the once vaunted bullpen is very ordinary. Playoff teams love to acquire struggling closers so they can employ them in the 7th and 8th inning. Herrera has better stuff than Casilla, so he has a better chance of turning it around.

Drop if…

He gets dealt to a contender that wants to use him as a middle reliever.

Fernando Rodney— Arizona Diamondbacks

Key Numbers: 26.2 INN, 1 win, 4.73 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 31 K, 0 holds, 20 saves

What is going on?

It always feels like Rodney is a week away from being demoted to setup guy. After all, nothing will make you chain smoke faster than watching a Rodney pitched ninth inning when he is on your fantasy roster. Still, the numbers speak for themselves and indicate his ERA should go down. Everything else is reasonable.

Drop if…

He has a bout with wildness as he has in the past.

Three to Drop

Brandon Maurer— San Diego Padres

Key Numbers: 27.2 INN, 0 wins, 6.51 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 28 K, 2 holds, 12 saves

What is going on?

Saves are the tail that wags the fantasy dog, but even some cases are not worth it. Sure, he could get to 30 saves by the end of the season, but at what cost? The Padres really don’t have better options and they will deal what little they have for some magic beans.

Keep if…

He gets inserted into a role that he can handle.

Francisco Rodriguez— Detroit Tigers

Key Numbers: 23.2 INN, 2 wins, 6.08 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 22 K, 0 holds, 7 saves

What is going on?

He came up much like Parker in 2002 and helped the Angels win the World Series. He’s been a constant as a closer throughout that time and has more than 400 saves to his credit. Unfortunately he’s done. The Tigers tried to squeeze one more productive season out of him, but it’s just not going to happen.

Keep if…

They somehow insert him in the closer’s role again and he gets on a roll.

Tony Watson— Pittsburgh Pirates

Key Numbers: 31.0 INN, 4 wins, 4.65 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 24 K, 0 holds, 10 saves

What is going on?

Watson’s most likely future is as a left handed specialist on a contender. The numbers don’t look all bad, but he had a great April. The wheels, axel, and both fenders fell off after that. He has been demoted from the closer’s role so there is very little reason to keep him around.

Keep if…

He gets dealt to a team where he can pitch in some meaningful games.

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