Joseph Pytleski

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).



Brooks Baseball

Baseball Prospectus (Pitch F/X Leaderboard)

10 comments on “2014 Relief Pitcher Targets: Setup Saviors

  1. Kelvin Herrerra – 3+ k/bb, 10+ k/9 w/ xFIP of 2.86 in 2013
    Luke Hochevar – 82k to 17 bb last year. 2.90 xFIP
    Sean Doolittle – 60k to 13 bb last year. 9+ k/9. 3.08, 2.71 FIP last two years.
    Steve Delabar – 80 plus ks last two years. 3.07, 3.35 xFIP last two years. 10+ k/9. walks could be an issue.

    • Dan SchwartzDan Schwartz on said:

      Yup agree with all these guys Kurt. Herreras my peripheral sleeper…thought he could output closer to his xFip giving him solid 3 category line…but doubtful for saves. Even holds would get split with the other high impact relievers they have (another you listed + crow)

    • Joseph Pytleski on said:


      All those guys have super peripherals and will be assets to teams this year, especially in holds leagues. However, I’m not sure that they have as clear a shot at closing: Hochevar and Herrera would both have to usurp Holland, and I just don’t see that happening (even though it almost did at the beginning of 2013!), Delabar would have to leap frog Santos (not happening), and Doolittle over Ryan Grant. Of all these guys I could see Doolittle being given a shot. So, I was hoping to identify some guys with shots to take over the 9th this year. Thanks for the observations, though, I think you’ve identified some good relievers.

  2. Tim KolarTim Kolar on said:

    Biggest risk with all these guys is the big inning that can cripple them for the entire year. McGee is my best example as his slow start in the opening series against Baltimore and the first month of the season had him chasing his numbers all season. Pitched great the next four months before falling off again in September. I like McGee a great deal and think last year was a floor for him. He has a great manager in Tampa, but I can’t help but think that Joe will go with an “experienced” closer in Bell or Oviedo if something was to happen to Balfour as he constantly speaks of how much he likes McGee in the late innings where he has always been comfortable, just not the last inning.

    • Joseph Pytleski on said:

      Agreed on McGee–he might not be the first choice, but he’s got the stuff to do it more than the others you mentioned, IMO.

  3. Ahhh – I’m in a SOLDS league (saves plus holds) plus extra cats K/9 & K/BB so I target guys with peripherals at later rounds over closers. I hear you though.

  4. I also think if Pestano can regain his fastball and arm slot he could be an sleeper over Allen.

    Brian Wilson could be a bounce back candidate – he pitched well with a small sample size last year.

    Thoughts on Joe Smith (LAA), Jordan Walden (Atl) Jessie Crain (Hou) or Rex Brothers (Col) ?

    • Joseph Pytleski on said:

      Pestano is 1b, to Allen’s 1a but bullpens are volatile so he’s an option. Allen kind of leapt over him last year though. I definitely thought about Wilson, but I just see little opportunity for him to take away the job from Jansen–although I considered him. For Smith, anything’s possible with Frieri but I actually think he (Frieri) will be fine so I didn’t touch that bullpen. Like Walden’s bounceback year last year (seems like a great deal for Hanson at this point,no?), but again, you’re talking about unseating the great one. Crain’s pretty much got the gig as soon as he’s healthy and Brothers does too, really. They’ve already declared a committee approach in CO. Most of those guys I looked at but wanted to narrow it down to 5 guys I thought could really take the job away because of opportunity and stuff.

  5. Brownie on said:

    Rex Brothers belongs on this list….Hawkins won’t hold that job all year.

    Farquhar also belongs on here now that Rodney is officially in front of him.

    Pedro Stroup (SP?) from the Cubs could overtake Veras as some point this year if he pitches like he did in Chicago last year (not like he did in Baltimore).

    • Joseph Pytleski on said:

      Brothers was initially on my list until I saw that the Rockies are already going to match up in the 9th so effectively it puts him in the partial-closer category. So, I decided to focus on guys that were definitely setting up presently.

      I can see both Farquhar and Strop as possibilities for a follow up post, as I decided to focus on only 5 guys this time ’round. Bottom line is that, like in most years, there could be a lot of turnover by the end of the year. Thanks for the response.

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