Updated: Jun 16
6 Relievers Who Could Save Your Fantasy Baseball
Written by: Wendell Quan Fun
The days of Mariano Rivera, John Wetteland, and Trevor Hoffman are over. Barely half of the teams in Major League Baseball have a dedicated, full-time closer. And if you auto drafted your fantasy baseball team, or just faded closers, you're lucky to have even one of them on your roster. Now you're struggling to get just one more save than your opponent in a head-to-head league, or just trying not to punt the saves category in rotisserie.
The relievers on this list could "save" your fantasy baseball season, because they play on teams that:
have winning records (especially against their own division), and usually have the lead
have at least 49 divisional games left to play this season
have had at least 60% of games decided by 3 runs or less, against division rivals
And finally, they might still be available, since they are all less than 66% owned in Yahoo leagues.
Here are 6 relievers that could pile up saves for your fantasy baseball team:
1) Emilio Pagan, Minnesota Twins
Despite recording 8 saves and playing for a first-place team, Emilio Pagan is owned in only 40% of Yahoo leagues. He's not even sharing the closer role. Pagan throws a 94.8 mph 4-seamer, but also features a splitter with a 40% whiff rate.
2) Paul Sewald, Seattle Mariners
Paul Sewald doesn't throw particularly hard, but he is at least a co-closer for the Mariners, with 4 saves so far. Despite having a losing record overall, the M's have actually been above .500 against their own division, as well as the AL Central. 6 out of their 10 games against the AL Central were decided by 3 runs or less. Going forward, the Mariners could have so many save opportunities that they'll actually need two closers. This bodes well for Sewald, and the next reliever on this list.
3) Diego Castillo, Seattle Mariners
See above. Diego Castillo also has 4 saves, but his ERA and WHIP are much higher compared to Sewald's. He does have a career K/9 of 10.73. Castillo actually had 14 saves last year for the Tampa Bay Rays, but has spent most of his career in a setup role. And yes, he and Paul Sewald are co-closers.
4) Jake McGee, San Francisco Giants
Jake McGee isn't exactly sharing the closer role with the Giants. He only has 2 saves, compared to 8 by Camilo Doval. However, just like the Seattle Mariners, they could be faced with too many save situations for one closer to handle. You could say that Jake McGee...is the real McCoy as a closer. Last season, he recorded 31 saves for the Giants. He also had 19 saves for the Rays in 2014, and 15 saves for the Colorado Rockies in 2016.
5) Tanner Scott, Miami Marlins
The Marlins have a losing record, but have been very good (15-7) against their own division, the NL East. With a K/9 of 13.89 this season, Tanner Scott has the inside track to save opportunities right now. His main competition is Anthony Bender, who is currently on the IL. Bender has 6 saves, but also a much higher ERA and WHIP, and a much lower K/9. Dylan Floro, the incumbent closer, has seen his fastball velocity slowly drop over the last four seasons. Tanner Scott currently has 4 saves and is owned in only 15% of Yahoo leagues.
6) Ryan Helsley, St. Louis Cardinals
The Cards have played great against their own division, the NL Central, but haven't played a ton of close games. On paper, Ryan Helsley isn't a co-closer with Giovanny Gallegos (who has 8 saves compared to Helsley's 4), but they have taken turns pitching in setup and save situations. Helsley has thrown the hardest fastball of the season at 103.1 mph, and has dominated all season, with a 0.39 ERA, 0.51 WHIP, and .080 BAA. With stats like that, Ryan Helsley can only gain a bigger share of save opportunities going forward.
Emilio Pagan, Minnesota Twins / Image courtesy of Paul Rutherford, USA Today Sports
Go ahead and "save" this page to your Favourites for easy reference (I couldn’t resist)! Let me know who you end up adding to your fantasy baseball team in the Comments section.