Jun 13, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Dellin Betances (68) pitches the ball against the Oakland Athletics during the seventh inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Free Agency All-Star Relief Pitchers

There are currently seven 2014 MLB All-Stars that are owned in less than half of ESPN leagues not counting injured players. One is a lifetime achievement award for a Hall of Famer on his farewell tour named Derek Jeter.

Derek Norris is the second mostly unowned ballplayer, and I have recently written an article about him. Probably more than anyone else I was very pleased to see his named deservedly included on the AL All-Star team this year.

The third player is the catcher of the host of the All-Star game, the Twins.  No, Joe Mauer moved to first base, so it is Kurt Suzuki.  I would have liked to see Brian Dozier get the spot, but I guess a catcher was needed on the roster. Dozier is one of two players to be in the 15-15 HR-SB club at this point. The other is 2013 NL MVP, Andrew McCutchen.

While I could go on all day about my preferred All-Star roster, the point of this article is about the last four players (and one more who is not an All-Star) that have low ownership in fantasy leagues.

All four of these relief pitchers do not earn save opportunities, so they are not considered to have much fantasy value to most.  However, I would be interested in owning any or all of these guys on my team.

The best of the bunch is Dellin Betances, which is evidenced by his stats and higher ownership than the rest. In 55.1 innings pitched, the Yankees reliever has a 1.46 ERA, .70 WHIP, 13.66 K/9, and 84 K.  That is even better than Clayton Kershaw’s absurd numbers per inning.  Of course, Kershaw has pitched 96.1 innings and gets win/quality starts, but Betances gives you absurd ratios and strikeouts.

I think it is obvious that a couple innings of Betances a week will only help your team. He may pitch only 40% of the innings as a healthy starter, but I think I would rather roster a guy who can help me in three categories than a mediocre bench bat or a starter who frequently hurts my ratios. Now, let’s look at the rest.

Pat Neshek has a 0.70 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 8.69 K/9, and 37 K in 38.1 IP.  Again, who would not want those numbers on their roster?  Furthermore, Neshek has been by far the best arm in their bullpen, and you never know if Mike Matheny could make the switch to Neshek as their future closer.

Tony Watson owns a 1.42 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 10.15 K/9, and 50 K in 44.1 IP.  I wish I wrote this article before July 11th because Watson got tagged for three earned against the Reds.  Regardless, Tony Watson is only going to protect your ratios the vast majority of the time.

Tyler Clippard has been one of the best relievers in baseball for a few years now, and he seems to always find his way on my fantasy team every season.  This season is no different as Clippard was rewarded with a late All-Star selection for his work that included a 2.03 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 11.93 K/9, and 53 K in 40 IP.

Last but not least is the only non All-Star in the bunch, Wade Davis who sports a 1.13 ERA, .78 WHIP, and 14.07 K/9, and 62 K in 39.2 IP.  Wade Davis also has SP and RP eligibility to give you more roster flexibility than the other options.

If you do not have a closer in your RP spots or you have P spots that are filled by mediocre starters, then I would look to add at least one of these guys.  I would first go for Dellin Betances, but there is a decent chance he is already owned.  If so, then my next choice would be Wade Davis because of his top tier K rate to go with his fantastic ERA and WHIP.

I am pretty indifferent between Watson and Neshek as the next options, but I would say go with Watson if you want more strikeouts and Neshek for a better ERA and WHIP.  Plus, both of these guys have a great chance of being the next closer in line if Trevor Rosenthal or Mark Melancon falters.  Clippard would be my fifth choice from this list, but he is a still a nice add for help in ERA and K.

Make sure to grab at least one of these guys if you have relief pitchers who are not closers, starters that harm your ratios, or fairly useless bench players.  It never hurts to get a few extra perfect innings a week because it could be the difference in a couple of categories.

Tags: All-Stars Clayton Kershaw Dellin Betances ERA Fantasy Baseball Free Agency K K/9 Kansas City Royals Kurt Suzuki Mark Melancon MLB New York Yankees Pat Neshek Pittsburgh Pirates Relief Pitchers St. Louis Cardinals Tony Watson Trevor Rosenthal Tyler Clippard Wade Davis Washington Nationals WHIP

comments powered by Disqus