Fantasy Baseball Relief Pitcher Shuffle Up: Jordan Romano is a value play

Fantasy baseball saves are a pain in the neck. I don’t think I’m breaking any new ground there.

Closers come and go, committees form and fall apart, managers toggle between creativity and a loyalty to a dated, old stat.

And fantasy managers chase after them, because every category matters.

In some years, I haven’t shuffled the relievers at all. Obviously it’s a big part of what we do — my in-season Closing Time was originally developed as a nightly closer recap, though we quickly saw the appeal of making it a broad fantasy recap. More than any other position, your league’s rules, habits and attitudes will shape how you price relievers. No position needs more personal “season to taste” as much as this one does.

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Here’s my best guess at the save-chasing board. Again, please, use this as a starting point, if you use it at all. You know your league’s format better than I do. I used save potential as a heavy determinant for these ranks, but of course when in doubt we’d always prefer a good pitcher to a mediocre one. Team environment also plays heavily into reliever value; we want to grab for as many available wins and saves as we can.

The Big Tickets

$27 Josh Hader

$25 Liam Hendriks

The runaway ADP salaries on these two make it highly unlikely I’ll roster either one. My yearly goal is to land a second-tier closer who can return first-tier results; think Kirby Yates in 2019 or Blake Treinen in 2018.

Legitimate Building Blocks

$24 Edwin Diaz

$23 Raisel Iglesias

$22 Ryan Pressly

$21 Jordan Romano

$19 Kenley Jansen

$18 Emmanuel Clase

$18 Aroldis Chapman

Pressly is the safest play from this tier, though I also feel good about Romano being a possible answer for that Yates/Treinen Award. I’ll actively fade Chapman despite his standing as the established closer on a winning team — he hasn’t made it to 60 innings since 2015, and he’ll have 3-4 weeks where he can’t find the plate. I don’t have the patience for him.

Ryan Pressly #55 of the Houston Astros is a top fantasy baseball closer
Ryan Pressly is one of the few closers with a safe fantasy baseball floor. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Probably the Guy

$17 Giovanny Gallegos

$16 Corey Knebel

$15 Blake Treinen

$14 David Bednar

$12 Matt Barnes

$11 Mark Melancon

$11 Scott Barlow

The Cardinals have a new manager and I don’t think the idea was to hand Gallegos the clear job, but the Alex Reyes setback gives him some additional leash . . . The Red Sox fancy themselves a contender, which means Barnes can easily be replaced if he loses his control again. GM Chaim Bloom has built a deep bullpen . . .

Melancon’s age and K/BB rate are concerning, and the Diamondbacks don’t look like a contender. A closer is a luxury for a losing team; if Melancon has a bushel of saves (or even good ratios), look for Arizona to shop him aggressively around the All-Star break. Melancon’s done his share of moving around; the Snakes are his ninth organization.

Talk them up, talk them down

$10 Dylan Floro

$10 Kyle Finnegan

$11 Camilo Doval

$10 Jake McGee

$10 Gregory Soto

$9 Lucas Sims

$9 Taylor Rogers

$9 Joe Barlow

$8 Lou Trivino

$6 Rowan Wick

$6 Andrew Kittredge

$6 Michael Fulmer

$6 Garrett Whitlock

$5 Will Smith

$5 Alex Colome

$5 Tanner Rainey

$5 Cole Sulser

$5 Tyler Wells

$5 Luis Garcia

Soto has a power arm but doesn’t always know where it’s going. I’d rather speculate on Michael Fulmer later in the draft . . . Doval gets the brief edge over McGee to start, given that’s how the Giants ended things, albeit McGee’s late-season injury played into that. Gabe Kapler is one manager who might be willing to actually run a committee as something past a temporary solution . . . Colome was brought to Colorado to close, but the thin air threatens his ratios. He fell apart late last year in Minnesota . . . Smith’s value collapsed when Atlanta signed Jansen, but he’s still the second option on a likely contender, which could mean a decent chunk of wins and maybe 6-10 handshakes. Jansen is another closer who usually needs a rest or an IL stint at least once a year.

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Up all night to get lucky

$4 Tyler Duffey

$4 Diego Castillo

$4 Craig Kimbrel

$4 Ken Giles

$4 Pierce Johnson

$4 Chad Green

$4 Jonathan Loaisiga

$4 Brad Hand

$4 Drew Steckenrider

$3 Hector Neris

$3 Ian Kennedy

$3 Pete Fairbanks

$3 Mychal Givens

$3 Carlos Estevez

$3 Anthony Bender

$3 Chris Stratton

$3 Tyler Rogers

$3 Daniel Hudson

$3 Paul Sewald

$3 Jake Diekman

$3 Devin Williams

$3 Jorge Alcala

$3 Emilio Pagan

$2 Tony Santillan

$2 Art Warren

$2 Greg Holland

$2 James Karinchak

$2 Deolis Guerra

$2 Austin Adams

$2 J.P. Feyereisen

$2 Robert Suarez

$2 Yimi Garcia

$2 Caleb Thielbar

$2 Kendall Graveman

$2 Amir Garrett

$1 Hansel Robles

$1 Jose Leclerc

$1 Seth Lugo

$1 Trevor May

$1 Genesis Cabrera

$1 Dillon Tate

$1 Daniel Bard

$1 Matthew Wisler

$1 Jose Alvarado

$1 Julian Merryweather

$1 David Robertson

$0 *Alex Reyes