Fantasy Baseball: Elite MLB closers proving worth the draft capital

·4 min read

Elite fantasy closers surprisingly dependable

How relief pitchers are valued can vary greatly between fantasy leagues based on formats, but so far the elite closers have been well worth their ADP (which was as high as the 3rd/4th round in NFBC’s Main Event, which has an overall prize component). Liam Hendriks recorded his AL-leading 18th save Tuesday night, lowering his ERA to 2.15 with a 46:3 K:BB line. Josh Hader has a 0.65 ERA and ranks as a top-25 fantasy player this year. Aroldis Chapman’s unfair velocity was back during another save Tuesday, and he’s also given you four wins over 24.1 innings. Kenley Jansen (1.63 ERA), Edwin Diaz (2.70 ERA) and Raisiel Iglesias (four wins, 11 saves, 1.05 WHIP) have been extremely helpful as well. Add in how volatile it starts getting after tier one (albeit with some gems), and the crazy amount of FAB that’s been spent chasing saves on the waiver wire, drafting relievers earlier in fantasy drafts has been a big profit so far – and ironically far safer than hitters and starting pitchers. Of course, the best fantasy reliever this season has actually been the Giants’ closer, as Jake McGee and Tyler Rogers have combined for 22 saves, three wins and a 2.39 ERA. Rogers (and his frisbee slider) has yet to allow a single “barrel” this season.

A brief update on the spin rate scandal

On the same day MLB officially announced the date (Monday) for the upcoming crackdown on foreign substances, Tyler Glasnow flat-out blamed his UCL tear on the sudden change in enforcing the “rules.” Seriously, listen to what he said about it. The Glasnow news is rough, as he had developed into one of the league’s very best pitchers and was a top-35 fantasy player. Seems to me MLB should be more concerned with producing a consistent ball or forbid, getting the strike zone right. The injuries won’t be limited to pitchers either, as hit batters are about to go up too (less sticky stuff means less control). 

As for Tuesday night, Yu Darvish struggled a bit in Coors Field like most pitchers do (and where he owns a career 5.95 ERA), but it might be worth noting his spin rate was significantly down. Again, this stuff can fluctuate and offense goes up every summer when weather heats up. Still, Darvish is among the leaders when it comes to increased spin rate over the past couple of years (and among the league leaders this season), when he’s seen a big improvement on control, so it’s certainly a storyline worth following. The drop in league-wide spin rate has already been noticeable in June. 

QUICK HITTERS

Marcus Semien is on pace to finish .290-115-37-92-23. Bo Bichette’s projected pace is .280-140-32-97-23. Teoscar Hernandez is on pace to record 102 RBI despite an IL trip. Steamer is projecting Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to win the Triple Crown! And that’s before getting to face pitchers without the sticky stuff (presumably). Buffalo hasn’t been quite the hitter’s paradise like Dunedin, but it’s increased run scoring more than Coors Field over its small sample this season, as both of Toronto’s home parks have helped contribute to the big hitting stats. I’m stashing Alejandro Kirk now in 2-catcher formats.

• The Diamondbacks had a 7-0 lead Tuesday night yet lost their 21st straight road game thanks to an eighth inning grand slam by Mike Yastrzemski. The MLB record for longest losing streak away from home is 22 games.

• Speaking of grand slams, Jose Altuve slugged a walk-off one Tuesday, as the Rangers missed Ian Kennedy while trying to close a lead. No other team in baseball has a K% less than 22%, yet the Astros have fanned just 18.4% of the time this season. 

• Alex Reyes is now up to four wins and 17 saves with a 0.82 ERA this season. He also has 29 walks over 33.0 innings.

• Jesus Sanchez went hitless during his season debut Tuesday but is worth grabbing in deeper fantasy leagues after getting recalled. The 23-year-old should hit regularly toward the middle of Miami’s lineup, and he was batting .349 with a 174 wRC+ in Triple-A. Sanchez has “70” grade power, so he has nice home run potential. Marlins Park destroys run scoring but has actually boosted homers so far in 2021.

• Taijuan Walker recorded a 12:0 K:BB line Tuesday night and sits with a 2.12 ERA and 1.00 WHIP on the season. It’s taken far longer than expected and after most had given up hope, but the former prospect is finally living up to his previously high expectations. Walker will start giving up more homers, but his strong CSW suggests his 2021 is no fluke (and comes with a fastball spin rate in just the 22nd percentile). It also helps throwing in the NL and baseball’s best pitcher’s park.

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