In fantasy one of the best things about creating your bullpen is trolling around looking for the next guy who could get you 20-25 saves without costing you an arm and a leg. These guys are typically sitting on your waiver wire, especially in leagues without holds, or they are the throw ins on the back end of a deal to “even things up.” Whatever the case may be, here are five guys I’d be targeting in light of their peripherals and their opportunity for saves in 2014:
Cody Allen, RP-CLE
Allen posted a top 15 K-rate last year amongst relievers as well as a 3.38 K/BB ratio. He’s been a bit fly ball prone early on in his career (32.8%) but has been able to limit the big flies (8.0% HR/FB) so far. His FB is meh, but he can bust out an 85 MPH curve that generates 49% whiffs (#7th overall among relievers). If you think Axford has regained his mojo then maybe Allen isn’t as attractive, but I’d be all over this guy as I think he’s the one to own long-term in Cleveland.
Jake McGee, RP-TB
McGee has been one of my favorite bullpen pieces the last couple of years to acquire. Armed with a 4-seam FB and slider combo (with a curve thrown in from time to time), he generated a 3.4 K/BB ratio last year. The fast ball sits at 96, and generates lots of swings (52%) although not a ton of whiffs. However, he gets the job done. He gets a decent amount of grounders (42%), the LOB% should inch up this year (74% last year), and his xFIP of 3.11 indicates that the results will come. Even as a lefty he has no discernable splits. If Grant Balfour goes down, McGee could get the call and do a fine job.
Joaquin Benoit, RP-SD
I picked up Benoit late last year and rode him to my first championship in my 18-team dynasty league. Unfortunately for owners he was shipped to San Diego this offseason to set up for Huston Street. For all the knock on Street being injury prone, he still saved 33 games last year so Benoit will need help to get to the closer roll here. However, he posted a 3.31 K/BB ratio last year and the highest GB% of his career (42%). Now he moves into the friendlier National League and PETCO played slightly tougher than Comerica last year. His splitter has the nasty factor, coming in at 84 MPH (28th overall), it generates tremendous vertical and horizontal run (top 15 overall), and gets a ton of whiffs (top 5 overall for RP). He’s a sneaky pickup late in your draft.
Sergio Santos, RP-TOR
As a Casey Janssen owner, I really don’t want to write about my love for Santos because I don’t want anyone to pick him up before I do in my current draft. That being said, when he came back from injury last year (25 IP), he just did this: 7 K/BB ratio, 0.35 HR/FB, and generated 50% grounders, while posting a 1.75 ERA and 1.84 FIP. Sure, the HR/FB ratio and .175 BABIP will come up (xFIP 2.61), but if he can harness the control he displayed last season he could seriously wrest the closer job away from Janssen. If I haven’t whet your appetite yet, try this: he’s got an 88 mph change (5th overall), that generates a top 9 whiff/swing rate, and generates 70% ground balls (#1 overall). That’s unfair. By the way, no one has a slider (500 min. pitches thrown) that generates more whiffs than Santos. Just sayin’. Janssen has been money the last couple of years since Santos went down, but the Jays aren’t paying him all that dough to accrue holds.
Mark Melancon, RP-PIT
2013 was oh so good for Melancon as he compiled an 8.9K/9 rate while cutting his walk rate in half to 1.09BB/9 (which led all pitchers, min. 70 IPs). Only Brad Ziegler topped his 60% GB rate, and he led the league with a microscopic 0.13 HR/9. When all is said and done, it’s hard to imagine him posting those kind of numbers again in 2014, but his 1.64 FIP was not too far off his stellar 1.39 ERA—even his 2.05 xFIP wasn’t bad. Grilli was awesome last year, but he’s been injury prone and is a year older. The Pirates have a great staff (albeit one with Edinson Volquez at the back end), so Melancon is going to have value no matter his role in the ‘pen this year for the Pirates….arrrrggh
Anyone you’d recommend? Banter below or suggest some more guys on Twitter (@agape4argentina).
Baseball Prospectus (Pitch F/X Leaderboard)