Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Gameday Inactives
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Red Zone Stats
Teams
Schedules
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Teams
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Relief pitcher tiers for Draft Day 2014

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

Let's get one thing straight from the get-go: We're talking about closers here.

I understand some well-intentioned formats allow a recently converted starting pitcher to carry his relief pitcher eligibility over to the following season, as if he's a shortstop moving to second base, and that in those formats those pitchers have great value for the amount of points they can accumulate relative to closers.

The Tiers Approach to Draft Day
Tiers are designed to deliver the most efficient draft possible by using player rankings to reveal the distribution of talent at each position. A new tier begins whenever the next player down in the rankings has a vastly different projected outcome from the one preceding him. Reducing a position to five or six tiers instead of 30 or more individuals gives you a blueprint to follow as your league's draft unfolds. Naturally, the position to target is the one whose active tier is closest to completion. -- SW

Tiers: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP

Print Scott's tiers for Draft Day!

But in more traditional formats, the way you approach a pitcher who pitches the first inning vs. one who pitches the ninth is so vastly different that I'd rather not intermingle them here. For a list of SPARPs (starting pitchers as relief pitchers), consult the starting pitcher tiers. They're the ones with the asterisks next to their names.

As for the closers, the role has undergone a transformation of sorts. More and more teams have begun manufacturing their own, turning the ninth inning over to their most talented relievers instead of just signing a guy with experience in the role.

The result is a distribution of talent that has become surprisingly top-heavy, with Greg Holland and Kenley Jansen joining in Craig Kimbrel-like production.

The Elite: Craig Kimbrel, Greg Holland, Kenley Jansen
The Near-Elite: Koji Uehara, Trevor Rosenthal
The Next-Best Things: Joe Nathan, Jason Grilli, Sergio Romo, Glen Perkins, David Robertson, Ernesto Frieri
The Fallback Options: Jonathan Papelbon, Grant Balfour, Addison Reed, Rafael Soriano, Steve Cishek, Jim Johnson
The Last Resorts: Joakim Soria, Casey Janssen, Fernando Rodney, John Axford, Huston Street, Jim Henderson, Nate Jones, Tommy Hunter, Bobby Parnell, Jose Veras
On the Horizon: Aroldis Chapman, Rex Brothers, LaTroy Hawkins, J.J. Hoover, Jesse Crain, Josh Fields, Chad Qualls, Jonathan Broxton, Matt Albers

So how does the changing closer landscape alter your approach on Draft Day? Well, for starters, the age-old mantra of "never pay for saves" no longer applies. With those four, you're not just paying for saves, but strikeouts. All were in the neighborhood of 100 last season, putting them 30-40 ahead of the typical closer. Those who go without one of The Elite or The Near Elite at the position will have trouble making up that gap with starting pitchers alone.

But of course, you pay for those strikeouts, with some from the first tier going as early as Round 5 or 6 in Rotisserie leagues. If I feel I'm lacking in strikeouts at that point in the draft (perhaps because I missed out on The Elite at starting pitcher), I'll more likely hold out for Rosenthal, who had 108 strikeouts in 75 1/3 innings last year but belongs to a lower tier since he's still unproven as a closer. Uehara exceeded 100 strikeouts last year as well -- and with a record-setting 0.57 WHIP -- but at age 39 and with a history of injuries, he's not as safe as The Elite.

Get your Custom Draft Kits!
Download your Draft Kit for Draft Day 2014 that's customized to your specific league scoring system, format and player pool!
Download your Draft Kit today!

If I have strikeouts pretty well covered or can't get one of the 100-strikeout club at a value I deem appropriate, I'll default to never paying for saves, taking whichever two or three of the 30 closers happen to fall to me. Sometimes, I'll luck into one of The Fallback Options who slipped through the cracks, but I'm not any less confident in The Last Resorts -- not enough to pass on something else of value, anyway. Yeah, Jones and Hunter haven't technically secured ninth-inning duties yet, but their teams are just doing their due diligence. We all know the way they're leaning. No need to play coy here.

In Head-to-Head points leagues, I wouldn't even bother with the 100-strikeout club. Strikeouts are worth just half a point each, making saves still the ultimate determinant of a closer's value. Case in point: Johnson had half as many strikeouts as Jansen last year but still outscored him thanks to his league-leading 50 saves. Soriano had the fewest strikeouts of any returning closer with at least 60 innings but still ranked seventh at the position in terms of Head-to-Head points.

Of course, how many saves a closer gets, assuming good health and a steady role, is mostly random, giving you little chance of predicting how they'll finish. So I'd rather not try on Draft Day, when the cost of doing so is typically several rounds. I still tier the position like any other, emphasizing job security and raw ability, but it's mostly for appearances. My honest approach to the players in line for saves is to lump them into one big tier ... unless I'm going for strikeouts in a format where they actually make a difference.

Notice I changed the name of the last tier at this position from The Leftovers to On the Horizon. Yeah ... they'll either matter, or they won't. They're technically in the mix for saves right now, so I don't want to overlook them, but they're far too risky to draft except in an emergency situation. The Rockies seem to be leaning toward Hawkins over Brothers at closer, but it's a Brandon League-Kenley Jansen situation if there ever was one. Brothers will overcome Hawkins in time, so if you can afford to stash him on your bench for a month or two, you can get him at a nice discount.

With Broxton beginning the year on the DL, Hoover looks like the favorite for saves in Cincinnati while Chapman recovers from a facial fracture. I'd like to see Crain claim the closer gig in Houston given his 0.74 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 38 appearances last year, but he'll have to bounce back from biceps surgery first. Good luck with Fields, Qualls and Albers in the meantime.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott at @CBSScottWhite .

  •  
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Jorge De La Rosa strikes out seven vs. Cubs Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:01 am ET) Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa wasn't a factor in Tuesday's decision after giving up three earned runs on six hits and one walk in six innings and striking out seven in his team's extra-innings game against the Cubs.

De La Rosa was staked to a 3-0 lead after the top of the first inning but gave one back in the bottom half of the first. He then surrendered a two-run home run in the fourth inning and left with the game tied. De La Rosa owns a 4.20 ERA and 93:47 K:BB ratio in 122 innings. He's scheduled to face the Tigers Sunday.


Edwin Jackson lasts four innings in no-decision Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:01 am ET) Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson wasn't a factor in the decision Tuesday, giving up three earned runs on six hits and three walks in four innings and striking out four in his team's extra-innings game against the Rockies.

Jackson gave up all three runs in the first inning, but he was inefficient throughout, needing a whopping 105 pitches to get through his four-inning start. He owns a 5.79 ERA and 108:53 K:BB ratio in 119 2/3 innings. Jackson is scheduled to face the Dodgers Sunday.


Kenley Jansen picks up four-out save vs. Braves
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:00 am ET) Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen earned his 31st save Tuesday by recording the final four outs of his team's 8-4 win over the Braves.

Jansen came on with two on and two outs in the top of eighth inning and retired the first batter he faced on just two pitches. His offense extended the lead in the bottom of the eighth, and Jansen took it from there, striking out two batters in the ninth while allowing one hit and one walk. He owns a 3.14 ERA and 68:13 K:BB ratio in 43 innings.


Anthony Varvaro takes loss vs. Dodgers Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:00 am ET) Braves pitcher Anthony Varvaro was stuck with a loss Tuesday after giving up three earned runs on four hits in one inning of action while striking out one in his team's 8-4 defeat against the Dodgers.

Varvaro (3-3) gave up a pair of singles to begin the bottom of the seventh and saw the first run cross the plate on the second out of the inning. He then surrendered a two-run home run, which was just his third homer allowed this season. Varvaro owns a 2.83 ERA and 41:9 K:BB ratio in 41 1/3 innings.


Aaron Harang surrenders four runs vs. Dodgers Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:59 am ET) Braves pitcher Aaron Harang didn't factor into Tuesday's decision, giving up four earned runs on nine hits and one walk in six innings and striking out three in his team's 8-4 loss to the Dodgers.

Harang gave up a two-run home run in the second inning to fall behind, then surrendered two more runs in the fifth to lose his lead. He had delivered six straight quality starts before failing to do so Tuesday. Harang owns a 3.43 ERA and 107:50 K:BB ratio in 136 1/3 innings. He's scheduled to face the Padres Sunday.


Brandon League earns win vs. Braves Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:59 am ET) Dodgers pitcher Brandon League picked up a win Tuesday, giving up one hit and one walk in one scoreless inning of work in his team's 8-4 victory over the Braves.

League (2-2) threw just nine of his 19 pitches for strikes in the seventh inning, but he was able to keep the game tied before the Dodgers scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh. He owns a 1.97 ERA and 26:17 K:BB ratio in 45 2/3 innings.


Josh Beckett pulled in fifth inning vs. Braves Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:58 am ET) Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett couldn't make it out of the fifth inning in a no-decision Tuesday, giving up four earned runs on nine hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings and striking out two in his team's 8-4 win over the Braves.

Considering the number of baserunners the Braves had against Beckett, he's lucky the damage was limited to just four runs. He threw 105 pitches in the short outing before being removed. Beckett owns a 2.74 ERA and 101:36 K:BB ratio in 111 2/3 innings. He's set to take on the Cubs Sunday.


Joaquin Benoit picks up third save Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:38 am ET) Padres closer Joaquin Benoit recorded his third save Tuesday, striking out two and hitting one batter in a scoreless ninth inning to finish off his team's 3-1 win over the Cardinals.

Benoit hasn't had the best July, taking two losses during a three-game stretch in the middle of the month, but he hasn't blown a save opportunity since inheriting the job. He owns a 1.88 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 51:13 K:BB ratio in 43 innings.


Lance Lynn strikes out six in loss vs. Padres
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:34 am ET) Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn was hung with a loss Tuesday after giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits and three walks in six innings and striking out six in his team's 3-1 defeat against the Padres.

Lynn (11-8) needed 117 pitches to get through six innings one start after throwing 118 pitches against the Rays. He's topped 100 pitches in each of his last five games and 110 pitches four times during his five July starts. Lynn owns a 2.98 ERA and 123:52 K:BB ratio in 133 innings. He's slated to face the Brewers Sunday.


Tyson Ross walks five in win vs. Cardinals Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:33 am ET) Padres pitcher Tyson Ross picked up a win Tuesday, giving up just one earned run on four hits and five walks while striking out seven in his team's 3-1 victory over the Cardinals.

Ross (10-10) has been excellent in July despite the abundance of free passes Tuesday. He has given up just five earned runs in 41 innings over six starts while striking out 48 batters in July. Ross owns a 2.60 ERA and 150:52 K:BB ratio in 148 2/3 innings. He's scheduled to face the Braves Sunday.


 
 
 
Rankings