Pitching options in a mono-league are always difficult to come by. Everyone wants to have two closers and be competitive in saves, but if you do the math, there simply aren’t enough options to go around. The skill of identifying middle relievers who will consistently deliver zero’s in the ERA column and have the chance to get saves and wins is an important one. Grabbing a guy in the reserve rounds who is able to accrue 30 saves can be a season changing acquistion. Finding solid middle relief options to help balance out your roto ratios, even if they don’t ever gain the closer job, is incredibly helpful as well. In order to aid you on your quest to fantasy dominance, I have created a list of some AL-Only relief pitchers who meet this criteria.
Joaquin Benoit, Detroit Tigers: The Tigers closer situation is one that has garnered significant attention over the last few days. Manager Jim Leyland expressed some doubt in Bruce Rondon’s ability to effectively close games, as the young pitcher has been throwing fireballs, but has absolutely no idea where they are going. There has been some buzz that Jose Valverde may be coming back, but many baseball people believe this to be ridicolus; count me in that camp. While Benoit is theoretically behind Phil Coke at the moment, Coke simply cannot get right handed batters out. Benoit doesn’t have extreme splits, and is a all around solid closing option. Not spectacular, but not terrible. If Benoit is not your style, Al Alburquerque had a .68 ERA in 8 2012 appearances and could be in the mix.
Tim Collins, Kansas City Royals: For the past several years, the Kansas City Royals’ starters have been so bad that their relievers got an extraordinary amount of work; that doesn’t appear to be the case with an improved staff for 2013, but that doesn’t change that the bullpen is load with young talent. Collins is behind Greg Holland and Aaron Crow, but is the owner of a 93.1 MPH fastball and a curveball that is 3.7 runs above average, according to Pitch F/x. Collins pitched 69.2 effective innings last year and with a K/9 of 12.01, he is a very solid and cheap option.
Casey Fien, Minnesota Twins: A very deep sleeper, Fien posted a 2.08 ERA in 35 innings for the Twins last year. His 91.5 MPH fastball ranked a whole 10 runs above average, going by Pitch F/x’s metrics. The Twins are going to be a very bad team and Fien doesn’t have a great track record at any particular level, but certainly was impressive last year. If Fien end’s up repeating his 2012 performance or even coming closer to his 3.24 ERA, he could be valuable in the right role on your team.
Carter Capps, Seattle Mariners: Capps put the smackdown in AA last year, posting a 1.29 ERA, 1.63 FIP, and a K/9 of 13.04. Granted it was Double-A, but when Capps got the call up to the majors, he struck out 28 batters in 25 innings and was not over matched. Capps is firmly behind Tom Wilhemson and closer of the future, Stephen Pryor (who also deserves to be on this list), but if he able to grow up a bit more and perform anything like he did in Double-A, he’ll be worth owning in AL-Only leagues.
Jake McGee, Tampa Bay Rays: If Fernando Rodney turns back into a pumpkin, McGee is going to have crazy value in AL-Only leagues. McGree throws his fastball at 95 MPH, only has Joel Peralta in front of him, strikes out almost 12 batters per inning, and is just a solid young pitcher. Batters against him in the majors, for his career are only hitting .198. Even if Rodney has the closer job for the entire year, McGee is an elite middle relief option.