Relief pitcher is probably the most volatile of all positions to consider on draft day. Closers lose their jobs at various points throughout the season, and any team that can assembly several dependable options will undoubtedly be at an advantage, so it’s important to take a hard look at injuries, team situations, and of course, the next man up. Let’s take a look at several over/underrated players, breakout candidates, and our top sleeper picks at the relief pitcher position.
Storen was dynamite closing in 2014, the Nationals are loaded, and the NL East is down after the Braves conducted their fire-sale. He’s been a 40+ saves closer before, and I can’t see any reason he can’t do it again on a team that seems like a lock to win 90+ games. Maybe it’s my inner Homer McFanboy talking, but I think I’d rather have Drew than a couple of the closers being taken in the top 75 picks.
I can’t see how it’s possible that Casilla, an established closer for the World Champion Giants, is almost not being taken inside the top 200. All he did in 2014 was save 19 games, post an ERA of 1.70 and a WHIP of .86 – downright dominant. Maybe the Giants repeat, maybe they don’t – we’re still talking about a great closer for a good team here. Why the disrespect? I hope I can capitalize and grab him everywhere.
Rondon went 29-33 in save chances for a terrible Cubs team in 2014. Manager Joe Maddon has already confirmed that he’ll begin 2015 as the closer. If you buy the ‘Cubs will be better’ narrative like I do, then you see Rondon as a pretty darn good value at 176. I think he’s a lock for 30+ saves if the can keep the job. If he can’t, at least you aren’t out a high pick!
He wants out. They want him out. Trouble is he’s expensive and nobody wants to pay him to be mediocre at the end of his career. So he’s still in Philadelphia. He was actually pretty useful in 2014, finishing with 39 saves, but I just don’t want to be a part of virtually anything Phillies-related, especially Papelbon. It’s just a mess there.
Closers are dicey investments, even when they’re established and excellent. McGee is coming off elbow surgery. He’s throwing, but there’s no way he or anyone else can say for certain how he’ll feel in a month. Boxberger is expected to get most of the early saves, but I can’t see the Rays being terribly good anyway. There just isn’t much to see here as far as draft day in my mind.
So let’s just get it out there. Nathan finished with 35 saves, but he also finished with a decidedly non-elite 4.81 ERA and puny 8.38 K/9. Basically, if he wasn’t named Joe Nathan, he would have been out of a job. Shocker: In 2015 he isn’t getting any younger, and if the Tigers have title aspirations there’s no chance they’ll let him labor though another terrible year. I’m not touching him unless the price drops significantly.
If/when Joe Nathan blows it, the insurance in the bullpen is Soria. He’s been a dominant closer before and has the repertoire to succeed again. If the Tigers had any sense at all they would just hand him the job now, but try to convince them of that…good luck. If you’re speculating for saves, Joakim should be right at the top of your list.
By my count, Cecil is literally the last established closer off the board at the moment. Which is downright silly. He rolled up a 2.70 ERA with 12+ K/9 in 2014, and looks to be the Jays closer for Opening Day 2015. Toronto is expected to be better this year, and if they are Cecil should easily reach 30 saves. He could be a massive bargain if he can hold the job.
Average draft position (ADP) information is courtesy of FantasyPros and is aggregated from Yahoo, CBS, and ESPN draft data.