Holds Ain’t Got No Face! 

These poor schlubs. No one’s favorite player is a middle reliever. The middle reliever never gets the girl. The signed middle reliever rookie card never fetches more than a buck-fifty on eBay. 

Yet these working-class heroes continue to go out every day and grind away to bridge the gap between the billion-dollar, sexy starting pitchers and the dark, mysterious closers. 

So here’s to you Graeme Lloyd! Here’s to you Mark Eichhorn! Here’s to you Matt Thornton! And MY personal favorite player of all time — here’s to you Jeff Nelson! 

 

From a fantasy perspective, the middle reliever has been a non-factor since the beginning of roto baseball. In your standard 5×5 leagues there’s just no room for a player who barely contributes in any of the 5 pitching categories. However, after years and years of heart attacks from being forced to draft Fernando Rodney because they missed the closer runs — cardiologists have created a new fantasy category to prevent such cardiac conditions: saves + holds 

Below I’ve ranked the top-40 non-closers for saves + holds leagues. In true Kerry-fashion, I’ve manufactured my own ranking system. I’ve ranked these guys out into three categories: sv/hlds, limiting runs, and K/9 — the three categories that middle relievers can consistently help you in. Limiting runs is a combination of ERA and WHIP — basically, in one inning, a reliever needs to keep guys off the bases — and if there are already guys on the bases — keeping them from scoring runs. You know — like the job of every pitcher! 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Learn more about our 2021 Fantasy Baseball Subscriptions!

The best daily/weekly Player projections (hitters, starters, and relievers) for each of the next 7-10 days + next calendar week starting Friday. Kick-ass DFS lineup optimizer and projections for DraftKings, FanDuel, and Yahoo!.

I don’t have enough spam, give me the Razzball email newsletter!

Weekly Razzball news delivered straight to your inbox.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Having fun chasing pitching yet? At least this short season won’t be boring. There has been no shortage of actionable bullpen moves. They’re not likely to slow down anytime soon. Get aggressive on middle relievers and closer spec plays.

  • Somethings not right with Ryan Pressly. He blew the save in his first opportunity for Houston without recording a shot. Andre Scrubb worked a clean inning and a third before that. Cy Sneed and Blake Taylor gave up a bunch of runs prior to that. We’ll see which way the wind blows next time the ninth comes up with a lead. Brad Peacock is probably worth a stash as he works his way back from arm soreness.
  • The Cardinals are going to need Kwang-hyun Kim in their rotation upon their restart from quarantine. That leaves the closer role open. Giovanny Gallegos should be ready to go at this point. Many fantasy managers have also made a bet Ryan Helsley will get opportunities.
  • Poor, cursed Nick Burdi has been placed on the season-ending 45-day IL with an elbow issue. At least he was able to earn his first career save before being struck down again. Richard Rodriguez should get the ninth until Keona Kela returns shortly.
  • Brad Hand has shown us the rumors of his demise were somewhat exaggerated. He’s notched two uneventful saves this week. I’d still expect Cleveland to try and rest him between appearances when they’re comfortable with James Karinchak handling the ninth.
  • The Angels are an unexpected dumpster fire in the backend of their bullpen. Hansel Robles has washed out as the closer. Ty Buttrey is filling in but has 1 K to 3 BBs in 6.1 innings. Kenyan Middleton is serving up gopher balls. Felix Pena is the only one treading water.
  • Jairo Diaz is cementing himself into the Rockies closer gig. His Ks and ratios don’t blow you away but the job security is nice.
  • Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

For my last two articles, I highlighted two guys who made pretty big impacts in 2019. For this article, I’m going to be looking at a more under the radar guy who only pitched 8.2 innings in the majors in 2019, but has the potential to provide great late round value in 2020. Bryan Abreu isn’t an unknown prospect; as he was widely regarded as one of the Astros top five prospects after his breakout 2018, where he struck out 90 batters in only 54 IP. His 41.9 K% in 2018 was the highest of any non-reliever with at least 50 IP in the entire minor leagues, so people were intrigued to see how Abreu would build on his success in 2019. At the beginning of the year it looked like more of the same for Abreu, as he sported a 42.4 K% through his first three starts at A+. Following this third start, the Astros decided to get aggressive and promote him to AA, despite him having less than 50 IP at full season ball. In hindsight, I think this move was a bit questionable, as Abreu still has some command issues that I think he could use more time working out at the lower minors, but this move also made it clear to me that the Astros had more interest in Abreu as a reliever. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Roto-Wan is back monkey chuckers, and on less sleep than ever! I actually threw up last night out of sheer exhaustion after feeding the little-wan. I did not know that was possible. Thank to B_Don for being an adequate at best fill in for me. Yesterday was the trade deadline and bullpens were heavily reworked for many contenders. Tiers are of course baby themed. Time for some notes!

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

It’s June, in case you don’t own a calendar or Mayan solar stone. Fantasy owners can no longer afford to hold their breath in any given category. Now is the time to take your shots on middle relievers and hope they earn you a save or two. It’s nice if they can give you strikeouts or stellar ratios in the meantime. Check your wire for the names below.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

I don’t know if there’s a more frustrating pursuit than finding enough pitching in fantasy baseball. Usable middle relievers used to grow on trees. Now the good ones are picked and what’s left probably tastes sour. Nevertheless, we forge ahead trying to find a bandaid for our fantasy staffs where we can. In deeper leagues those won’t be brand name, rather bargain brand bandages. At least we’re far enough into the season that some early injuries have healed.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

It’s getting ugly in the reliever market. Injuries, ineffectiveness, and promotions have wrung much of the top talent out of the scene.  Much like the bazaar in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle there’s stuff everywhere, but it’s hard to find what you need. Also, there’s a basket with a cobra in it. You just have to hope the Rock shows up and start throwing people through walls. I don’t actually know what the fantasy baseball equivalent of that is. I’ve gotten off track here thinking about the Rock’s ridiculous biceps, as per uzhe. I’ll wrap up this lede in ramble with a comparison Jumanji’s theme: the only way to win the game of relievers is to play and win.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

A strain is a tear and a tear is a strain. The arms that are hurting have torn stuff somewhere in there. Don’t let doctors dress thing up with fancy words. Discomfort, swelling, strain all mean something is not in its original state. If one of your pitcher’s arms is hurting you have trouble. Buy some insurance with a well-placed bullpen add.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

Raise your hand if the juiced ball isn’t affecting your high priced pitcher yet. Not so fast Blake Snell owners, he’s on the IL with a broken toe via clumsy furniture moving. You’re going to be in the mean streets of relief appearances with the rest of us now. You can throw on some REM and cry in the shower or work at filling some gaps. A well-aimed non-closer can certainly pay dividends. There’s something below for whatever ails you. I don’t include anyone getting regular saves in the ranks.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
 

The hot stove has been bubbling this winter, mostly thanks to Jerry Dipoto. Bullpen arms tend not to rank all that high in offseason coverage, so I cobbled together the notable moves for your reading pleasure. I know, I know, you’re thinking seriously ‘Wan, I’m not anywhere near the state of mind you need to think about the saves chase. There’s no rest for the closing wicked when it comes to the bullpen landscape, I’m afraid.

Please, blog, may I have some more?