From a straight love em’ and leave ’em perspective, the middle relief guys (the ones that are only there for stream-ability) are the daily glue that keeps a lineup together.  Unlike hitters who get the spot start and we know pregame that they are in the lineup, inserting the correct reliever to help with K’s and ratios becomes a guessing game.  So we are still in draft mode and we can always go into the season with some idea of the guys in the middle relief core that don’t get the save love, but still are vital contributors to the fantasy community.  Their spotty appearances allow you to add innings with substantial K/9 value, and at a fraction of the innings price that streaming a starter would.  Because if there was a starter on the waiver wire that had a 12-plus K/9 rate, he would not be on the waiver wire. So adding to the sum total one inning at a time is a nice way to get a good chunk of strikeout and ratio help.  Granted that they don’t suck when they are in your lineup. My theory on in-season middle relief for leagues that don’t use Holds is this: Find two.  Fall in love with one (but don’t move in together) and promise the other you will call her all the while you are totally looking for that next best one the very second that the other pitcher pitches. I call it the “steady girl and grass is greener” theory. With the innings limit, and minimums upcoming for the Fantrax Razzball leagues, it is important to find middle relief that gives you some middle relief.  Roster one all the time, and always find a new fling on the horizon.  Here are some K/9 relievers that are late draft day boons to your fantasy roster from the jump. We are talking about the guys after Chad Green, Carl Edwards Jr., Chris Devenski and Dellin Betances are long off the board.


Here’s a little chart showing the top non-closers (under 3 saves and at least 30 innings pitched) in the second half of last year. I prefer to look at the surgers rather than the compilers for the year.  Here are the stats and numbers that I am looking at to determine my MR for rostering on draft day…

Name K/9 BAA wOBA SwStr%
Chad Green 15.25 .146 .191 15.8
Drew Steckenrider 14.70 .183 .272 13.5
Kirby Yates 14.64 .200 .310 16.8
Josh Hader 14.01 .177 .258 17.4
Frances Martes 12.90 .237 .319 12.7
Carl Edwards Jr. 12.77 .137 .242 15.6
Tyler Lyons 12.54 .143 .228 10.7
Edubray Ramos 12.49 .225 .257 11.7
Tony Cingrani 12.46 .256 .348 14.2
Tommy Kahnle 12.24 .245 .286 16.6
Anthony Swarzak 11.89 .209 .279 12.7
Dominic Leone 11.45 .205 .247 14.2
Mychal Givens 11.42 .192 .269 13.6

Mychal Givens – Not really in the closer talk with Brach and O’Day.  Three straight years over the 10 plus K/9 rate that makes relievers tolerable. What I am interested in is second half of last year.  BAA was under .200, K/9 rate spiked to almost 13.  Showalter is a man of pattern with relievers and Givens is his guy a lot of times regardless of versus LH or RH.

Emilio Pagan – Got 50 innings last year for the Mariners and was traded in the Ryon Healy trade.  10+ K-rate in second half and a SwStr% of 13.3 in second half is something to hang your hat on.  He is young and the walk rate is always something to watch, but not here.  The 8 walks in 159 batters faced is pretty phenomenal for someone who throws hard.  If there’s a sleeper this year for me it is definitely him.

Yusmeiro Petit – Amassed 86 innings in relief last year and was basically Scoiscia’s horse.  Which I don’t think Mike actually knows what a horse is, but anyways. 101 K’s on the year and was far stronger in the second half last year.  9.25 K/9 first half, 10.8 second.  Moves to a better ballpark for saving runs and limits bats to a .204 BAA last year.  I am all over him on draft day.

A.J. Minter – Swoon.  15 K/9 rate is to dies and the youth and talent is in his favor. Future closer that is sitting behind Vizcaino and Jose Ramirez on the priority chart which makes him fair game for free. A reliever that misses bats, doesn’t walk many and K’s a ton.  Sign me up. Has been my last round pick in three drafts to date.

Craig Stammen – What is it recycling day?  This guy just seemed to come out of nowhere and gives the Father’s 80 quality innings.  A veteran around youth is always a good thing for stream-ability, because more times than not he is going to get the call in a tough situation.  Shy away from using him on days that have LH heavy teams as they hit him 60 points higher than RH.  A .254 wOBA is nice, but he is that second girl that use up and throw away on multiple occasions this year.

Pat Neshek – Dude is just funky enough to be effective.  Plus is an awesome dude in real life.  Was already having a really fantastic year at Philly pre-trade to Colorado.  After trade did everything better.  K rate was up, BAA down and wOBA down  All good check marks for rostering a reliever.  Is the second chair closer for Phil’s but that doesn’t get too much love on draft day as his ADP is currently 5 bills in NFBC.

Anthony Swarzak – Best part of him is that he has two closers lying in front of him.  So save speculation will be on A.J. Familia.  Between him and Blevins they should be a great bridge to the end game for the Mets.  Split last year with the White Sox and Brewers, after trade had a 11 k/9 rate in 26 appearances.  Limited the opponents to a .208 BAA and a .253 wOBA.   If I could start the year with Peit and Swarzak as my two i would be completely happy.

Adam Morgan – I am starting to fall in love with some of the high quality arms that are in the Phillies pen.  Embraced the role of semi-long reliever last year and once he established himself as better than that he had a 12+ K/9 rate, SwStr% 16.8, which puts him in the top 12 relievers.  Between him and Hoby Milner they are going to be a tough LH combo that mixes in with the Neris, Ramos, Garcia, Neshek mix.



  1. pdo says:

    5×5. Keeping 17.SOLDS. I’m relying on ratios and Ks. So far I have as MR/Cl = Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Kimbrel, Edwin Diaz, Iglesias, Peacock. I have the chance to get Hader super cheap but would have to drop and then try to draft Peacock. Thoughts?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:

      @pdo: Hader and Peacock are about same value wise. Peacock more so because he has dual eligibility. I would hold

  2. Nick says:

    Honeywell looks headed to AAA ,,,
    would you add “Yummy” Petit for him in a dynasty ?


    • Smokey

      Smokey says:

      @Nick: not in a dynasty. Honeywell value long term is greatee

  3. LeftCoastYankee says:

    Agreed – I rode MR to the title last year using at times Betances, Green, Devenski, et al (not the airline).

    I’m in a 12-team auction league (standard 5×5, $260), many of these guys are forecasted in your rankings with a NEGATIVE auction value…so, do you recommend picking up one or two MRs for $1 each toward the end of the auction?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:

      @LeftCoastYankee: meh negative schmegative yes well worth the buck.

      • GarthVolbeck says:

        @Smokey: Similar situation but -Only league with keepers. Does MR value change, max price per assuming two?

        • Smokey

          Smokey says:

          @GarthVolbeck: goes up a bit due to scarcity, dollar becomes three fo elites

  4. swaggerjackers says:


    I’m in a Saves + holds league. Are you going to have a combined list that ranks the closers and the rest of the late innings guys together? I’m torn between drafting mid-range closers versus top tier non-closers.

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:

      @swaggerjackers: I hadn’t planned on it, start drafting holds guys from tier one after the 15th closer is off the board. Closers always go faster in Solds leagues.

  5. Big League Wood says:

    Hey Smoke,

    in weekly line-up 5 x 5 league, can you run an MR with 2 closers and 5 starters on a consistent basis? I grabbed Betances in an auction and my initial thought is to start him only when I can’t find a decent Streamer.

    I am guessing this may be too tough on the overall Ks and Wins?

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:

      @Big League Wood: wins are wonky anyways. An dyes you can run a MR in there but you need a reliever that consistently gets 2 appearances a week tough to guess at some times

  6. Danny Almonte says:

    How concerned are you about guys like Petit that have had a huge workload by bullpen standards?

    I’m in a deep league with very limited FA moves so it’s best to get a safe set it and forget it guy

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:

      @Danny Almonte: concerned sure but gotta hope that the pieces around him are sufficient enough that he doesn’t get burnt out. Quality surrounding quality type thing. Petit has that former starter pedigree so he can throw some innings.

  7. Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:

    20 team h2h dynasty. 25 man active rosters but we can protected list up to 10 players that are either NA in yahoo right now (unsigned guys or prospects with little to no chance of being up right now), guys who fit standard prospect at bats/innings (130/50) or are likely to start year in minors from best depth chart (rosterresource). i’m TEX and need at all times at least 9 of them in either DL or active slots . extra stats like defensive stuff (putouts/assists/outfield assists/double plays) and pitcher stuff like QS/holds, K/9, relief wins, complete games, shutouts, double plays, relief appearances, OBPA. also OPS, BB’s hits. from rules intended to prevent pitcher hoarding at MOST one of our 4 BN slots can be a pitcher, but of course optimally that’s your 6th SP slot. right now i cannot do that it appears. i have some sicko prospects stashed that it sure appears i need to move for either draft pick (to stash more prospects) or SP, or maybe holds guy, but that last seems too low for dahl or brinson. 5 DL. during season we also have 10 NA slots.
    C chirinos
    1B gallo (3B/LF)
    2B odor
    SS andrus
    3B beltre (i thought he’d be retired by now, gotta be soonish)
    LF desmond (1B)
    CF blackman
    RF stanton
    util (1) calhoun (LF)
    BN choo (RF), mazara (LF/RF)

    SP (5 slots) archer/darvish/morton/ryu/j.urias (gets DL’d later)
    RP (7 slots, for the first time in years i am good at closer with maybe too many): morrow/giles/claudio/kela/peacock (he’s worth holding even while being a RP)

    obvious drops: cargo 2 (TB), e.escobar (he’s maybe a better version of similar MI types in FA from time to time), j.mccann,

    possibly protected guys: cobb (unless signs by the 3rd),
    -brinson LF/CF (under at bats, but when year starts will need to come up as he will be in real life),
    -dahl (over at bats, but rosterresource shows in minors so he could be stashed for now at least)
    -napoli (could have trade value to the CLE guy if not easy drop)
    – eloy jim (possibly insane trade value to WSOX), mejia (same on the CLE trade value), leody taveras, puk, y.mendez

    – other possible RP keepers (i have room for at most 2 of these assuming peacock is kept 3 if i hold only 3 BN hitters and move peacock into being my 6th SP): mcgee/alexander/phelps/hildenberger/leclerc

    1. right now i have room for picking 3 prospects (active keepers at 22/25th) if everybody putdownable is put down. do that or hold any/which of those RP?

    2. trade which of brinson/dahl first for either draft pick(s) or RP?

    3. got a trade offer of dahl for merrifield. do this or no? i am super OF deep and need to get value from probably one of dahl or brinson (or just drop choo and have maybe minimum 9 TEX guys but he’s leading off so value)

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:

      @Aubrey Plaza’s Pillow: 1.prospects, all the RP are easily replacable
      2. Dahl
      3. Do it

  8. pdo says:

    In a SOLDS league and down to my last 2 picks of the draft. Which 2 would you take (keeper league)

    1. AJ Minter
    2. Boxberger
    3. Niscasio
    4. Steckenrider
    5. Yates
    6. Kahnle
    7. Leone

    (and so I don’t bug you in case one of your choices get picked, who is the guy you’d take if one of your two choices gets picked) THANKS!

    • Smokey

      Smokey says:

      @pdo: Minter and Nicasio. Yates/Leone would be my third

Comments are closed.