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The World Series begins Friday, meaning the MLB offseason is just around the corner. But there never really is an offseason as the action just changes from the field to the front office.

And just like the majors, there is no offseason when it comes to fantasy baseball. Fantasy baseball GMs are already thinking about next year, and that is especially true for those who are in keeper leagues.

Since the last pitch of the regular season, those who play in keeper leagues have been looking at trade targets to shore up weaknesses exposed during this past season and wondering who the top keepers are going to be in 2023 fantasy baseball.

Well, I’m here to try to help you with that last part of the sentence – who are the top keepers for next season. Each week I am going to reveal my list of top keepers for 2023, starting with relievers. Next week I will focus on starting pitchers before going around the infield and then ending with the top outfielders.

A CRAZY GROUP

Before we move ahead, a disclaimer about relievers. The three things we know about relievers are this:

They are wildly inconsistent from year to year
They are wildly inconsistent from year to year
And they are wildly inconsistent from year to year

The inconsistent play even takes place during the season, with Josh Hader being a prime example of that. If there is one position that could use a dartboard to help with the rankings, it is relievers. Thus, these rankings are based a little on past performance, a little on the eye test and a lot of what my gut is telling me.

Unlike other positions, where age weighs in heavily for my top keepers, the age of a reliver doesn’t factor in as much. It may move them down the list if I think other relievers on the staff can become the closer in 2023 (I’m looking at you, Jose Alvarado), but if they are proven closers and also 33, I’m fine with that.

Also, I am assuming that most keeper leagues don’t just use saves but also have holds or saves+holds. A deep league doesn’t just showcase closers. A real pitching staff has starters, middle relievers and closers, so this list features top closers and setup men.

With that in mind, let’s get on with the Top 40 keepers for 2023 – reliever edition.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The plan for today’s article is pretty complex in its simplicity. I set out to build a championship-level redraft team for 2023 using only rookies from 2022. 

C: Adley Rutschman

C: MJ Melendez

1B: Jose Miranda

2B: Vaughn Grissom 

3B: Bobby Witt Jr.

SS: Oneil Cruz

MI: Jeremy Peña 

CI: Gunnar Henderson

This infield is good. Might not win us the league, but getting steals all around the diamond puts us on a winning path. Not just because speed is increasingly rare but because these steals come from middle-order hitters with power.  

Catcher is a pretty clear win. I suppose the Sal Perez team has a leg-up on you if they’ve got anyone in the C2 spot, but aside from that, we’ve got a top-of-the-scale catching duo. 

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Hey there!  Do you look familiar?  I recognize you from reading this article over the past 20+ weeks.  While this may be the end, let’s ensure it ends on a high note!  While many will be happy just to have made it to the finals, our goal is to hoist that trophy…or cash those checks.  Whatever it may be that is your driving motivation.  Let’s take it one step further, do you have any clue who Ken Rosewall is?  Didn’t think so.  What about Raymond Poulidor?  The correct answer to that is “WHO?”.  How about an easier one?  Have you heard of Jim Kelly?  Yes?  Perfect!  So what do those names all have in common?  Ken Rosewall was a historic loser of the Wimbledon finals!  How about Raymond Poulidor?  His nickname was “The Eternal Second” due to his countless 2nd place finishes in the Tour de France.  And finally, Jim Kelly.  Yes, most of us old-timers know him from his historic 4 Super Bowl losses with the Buffalo Bills.  

Ultimately, what has the paragraph above taught us?  Finishing second is an easy way to be forgotten.  To quote the great Ricky Bobby, “If you ain’t first, you’re last!”  Now let’s Get Ahead In Head To Head and win that ‘ship!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Houston relievers Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly are scheduled to hit free agency this winter. The pair has 35 saves between them this season. Maybe Houston brings someone back. Maybe they anoint Hector Neris (or Ryne Stanek) the guy coming out of camp. Regardless of what the team does, it’s difficult to envision a scenario that excludes RHP Bryan Abreu from the ninth-inning picture, unless you’re building the scenario around injury or poor performance. Command has eluded Abreu at times, so that’s not out of the question, but you could say the same about a lot of relievers. And just so you know, this whole post idea sprung from the fact that Abreu was available in a lot of my leagues despite looking like an obvious closer in 2023 and beyond. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

(NOTE: THIS POST WAS RELEASED EARLY THIS WEEK ON OUR PATREON. IT’S $10/MONTH)

It’s September call-up season, or SZN if you’re crazy hip. Down like a clown. Fresher than def. Only MLB scaled back the number of call-ups a team can do to make it less obvious teams were manipulating time. (That’s why I think, at least.) So, I debated Corbin Carroll, Gunnar Henderson, or Josh Jung for the lede vs. Keston Hiura. Guess which one I went with. Go ahead, I’ll give you five guesses, if you can’t get it, just be lucky you haven’t accidentally suffocated yourself in your own drool. Any hoo! Time for some pictures! Who doesn’t like pictures? First two pictures are Keston Hiura in 2020 and the 2nd two pictures are Keston Hiura in 2022.

You, “Ooh! Fun! Like one of those games where you have to figure out the difference between two pictures only this one is figuring out the difference between the top two pictures and the bottom two. Oh! I know! That’s a different pitcher! Clever, because it’s two different ‘pictures,’ so you made it different pitchers! You can’t get me! So, if you have no other picture games for me, I’m gonna take a nap…” And, with that, you remove your two glass eyes and place them in two glasses of water. You, “Hope I don’t drink them.” Okay, so what you might’ve missed is Hiura’s 2022 stance is much more closed, and his giant leg kick is reduced. He went from stepping over a dwarf to tip-toeing into the room.  For all hitters — all hitters — Keston Hiura has the best OPS vs. righties when sorting by only 90 plate appearances. That’s insane. He has a better OPS (1.120) than Aaron Judge, Yordan Alvarez, Juan Soto, Bryce Harper– EVERYONE! That’s crazy. His slugging percentage vs. righties is .704, which also leads the league. He’s also apparently hanging out too much with Pollock and can’t hit lefties, which is very odd for a righty, but you just switch him out when he faces those that use the weird scissors. Not exactly a fresh-faced call-up, but you can see why I wanted to highlight Keston Hiura with those pictures. Places glass eyes back in head, “Oh! Those are Keston Hiura?” Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The MLB playoffs are still a month away, but your fantasy baseball playoffs are practically here! Your starting pitching philosophy changes dramatically when the stakes are high and time is limited. If you’re a strong team in the playoffs, you’ll want to use pitchers with confident outcomes. If you’re a weak team, you might need to make some risky pitcher plays to stay in the running — but nobody expected the #6 seed to advance anyway, right? When the expected outcome is “lose,” you should take every risk you can to put variance in your favor and win. 

Let’s jump right in to the actionable items. As mentioned last week, I am no longer providing the hierarchical ranks — the data window of remaining MLB games is insufficient to move the ranking needle on up-and-coming pitchers. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

(NOTE: THIS POST WAS RELEASED EARLY THIS WEEK ON OUR PATREON. IT’S $10/MONTH)

“Hey, I’m Guy Frieri shouting from a cherry-red car and we’re rolling out to some of my favorite Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives! Today, we’re going to Red Bank, New Jersey to visit a little hole in the wall called Aunt Flow’s, where Joey Meneses has established his special take on Italian food. This puttanesca red sauce? You’re not gonna wanna miss!”

After Guy Frieri parks his car; high-fives a patron; randomly runs into a retired NFL player who is still wearing his jersey; tries a deep-fried seafood platter; does the “hunch,” and remarks about how many items are on the well-laminated menu, he gets to the back kitchen, and addresses Joey Meneses, “You’re gonna drop in that mirepoix and let it develop nice color, is that right?”

Meneses looks at Guy then the camera and shouts, “Leave me alone! It’s that time of the month and I didn’t invite you back here! Get out! Aunt Flow’s is closed to business for three to five days!”

So, Joey Meneses has left Aunt Flow’s for 28 days a month to hit for power on our fantasy teams. I did some conjecture on the podcast this week — available to watch now on Youtube! — about Joey Meneses’s hot hitting and Josh Bell’s slump. My thoughts were punctuated with some um’s, but the gist was: If there’s no one in Washington to hit, pitchers will challenge Meneses, not pitch around him, and just let him hit solo homers. On the reverse, Bell now has a good lineup, and pitchers are being more exact with him. It’s conjecture, but con makes a ject out of U R E. Okay, that makes no sense, but you hear me. Meneses was a 20 homer guy with a .286 average in Triple-A this year, but he was about seven years too old for that level. He’s a Quad-A player but a Quad-A player with power is exactly the kind of guy that could excel in the final weeks when pitchers are like, “Meh, what the eff, just pitch him some meatballs.” Did someone say meatballs?! I’m gonna meatball you! Get out of my kitchen! Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Stands from a folding chair, and clears throat. I’m in the back of a church. Around me a group of people who look like they need a cigarette. The group leader asks me to introduce myself. “Hi, I’m Grey, and it’s my first time here.” Everyone murmurs hi to me. I force a smile. Then, I continue, “Yesterday, I not only thought about a perfect game happening while it was in the process of happening, but I also mentioned it to my wife, Cougs. It was me, who jinxed Drew Rasmussen.” Everyone nods their head. One guy who’s wearing a Steel Panther shirt says, “I did the same during Armando Galarraga’s.” Reactions from the group members, they can’t believe he jinxed Armando. I continue, “That makes me feel better, actually. Armando’s jinx is much worse than mine.” Steel Panther Guy screams, “I jinxed it, but I inadvertently caused instant replay to be adopted!” As he stormed out of the room. The leader swallows hard, “Um, thanks for sharing, Grey.” So, I turned the TV onto Drew Rasmussen (8 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 1 hit, 7 Ks, ERA at 2.80), and his Maddux perfecto just in time to jinx him. Sigh, my bad. The trade of Willy Adames for Rasmussen has ended up working for both teams, and for all involved in fantasy. Rasmussen has been mostly Yesmussen with a 7.4 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, and 3.68 xFIP as he throws a slider that’s mostly unhittable (.212 BAA), and not just by the O’s. His 38.6% HardHit% would be around Sandy Alcantara, Gerrit Cole and Kevin Gausman. I blame myself for yesterday’s perfect game lost in the 9th, but, in 2023 fantasy, Rasmussen is going to be undervalued, even though the Rays haven’t had a bad pitcher in, like, ten years. (Hyperbole to make a point; don’t tell me about Yarbrough.) Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

(NOTE: THIS POST WAS RELEASED EARLY THIS WEEK ON OUR PATREON. IT’S $10/MONTH)

Dustin May aka The Giant Human Carrot last May yelled Mayday and everyone was like, “Okay, cool, he’s psyching himself up!” That was not it, he was calling for help. May, um, made the right choice to undergo Tommy John surgery. Better to ‘Suck it up, buttercup,’ and buy Dr. James Andrews an 18-inch Rolex to hang from his neck like Flavor Flav vs. trying to rehab by injecting fat from Bartolo’s ass into his arm. Now, 15 months later, May’s yelling Mayday once again, but this time it’s like Dre yelling Dre Day and he looks flat-out dominant in the minors during his rehab, and the Dodgers could use another starter. May, uh, may rejoin the Dodgers after one more rehab start. Usually don’t love the “pitchers returning from major injury” flyer, but May is an ace, and The Giant Human Carrot could be a difference maker the rest of the way. Remember, you’re no bunny ’til some bunny is eyeing your Carrot Top. Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?