March 26, 2013 posted by Chuck Anderson

Closer Report – Sleeper Relief Pitchers

Closer Report – Sleeper Relief Pitchers
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This list is for those of you who play in deep leagues or single leagues.  Each of these hidden gems is currently drafted beyond the top fifty relievers in ESPN drafts, some by a wide margin.  Whether by accumulating saves or posting dominant ratios some of these pitchers will find their way into every league by year’s end.


The Meteoric Riser


Jason Motte has a strained elbow.  It is classified as mild for now, but he will start the year on the Disabled List.  This week’s “mild” can of course rapidly turn into an appointment with Dr. Andrews.


Mitchell Boggs (#87 in ESPN live drafts over the weekend) tallied 34 holds last year and is the replacement, over some other talented options.  He pitched above his skill level in 2012, his ERA dropped from 3.56 to 2.21 but his xFIP barely wavered (3.66 to 3.68).  His K/9 was 7.12 and he has never had a K/BB ratio above 3.00.  He would be a below average closer just based on profile, but he has a direct opportunity for some early saves.


The (Injured) Perspective Starters


Andrew Cashner (#55) cut his thumb, delaying his Spring Training.  He may miss the first handful of games.  Given that he stands to make quite a large innings jump, the team will be cautious.  He made five starts last season and his ERA was an unimpressive 5.12, thanks to a .347 BABIP against.  It is hard to believe his HR/FB will remain at 16.7% in Petco Park.  The standout numbers were 10.7 K/9 and 7.67 K/BB.  Neither Eric Stults nor Jason Marquis should stand in his way.


Franklin Morales (#196) is having back problems, but once he is right he could slide into Boston’s rotation.  In nine 2012 starts he struck out 9.3/9 and had a 1.25 WHIP.  He was also victimized by home runs, giving up nine in 45.2 IP.  He had some platoon split issues, walking more righties and allowing them to hit for power.  He had a 4.35 FIP against them, but showed promise with a 9.38 K/9 vs. RHB.


Luke Gregerson, RP, San Diego Padres

Luke Gregerson, RP, San Diego Padres

Waiting to Pounce


Huston Street has not pitched 60 innings since 2009 and Luke Gergerson (#54) is his handcuff.  His strikeout rate rebounded to 9.04/9, making 2011 look like a clear outlier.  His fastball velocity is trending downward, so a batter per inning is likely his upside for strikeouts.  He also throws more sliders than anyone. Anecdotal evidence suggests his slider usage could place his elbow at risk.


Seattle’s Carter Capps (#93) had a 1.62 FIP in Double-A and a 2.17 FIP in 25.0 major league innings.  He averaged 98.3 mph on his fastball, and regularly touched triple digits.  Tom Wilhelmsen is rock solid, but turned 29 in December and could be traded away from the rebuilding Mariners.


For a true sleeper check out Milwaukee’s Jim Henderson (#139).   A .352 BABIP against gave him a mediocre ERA and pushed him off the fantasy radar.  He was not even drafted in the recent Tout Wars NL Auction.  He racked up 13.21 K/9 and a 1.95 FIP with the Brewers.  That was the highest strikeout rate of his career, but he backed it up with heat in the mid 90s and a 14.9% swinging strike rate.  John Axford has a tendency to be wild and lost his job last year.


For the Skills


Joel Peralta’s (#73) FIPs the last three years are 3.02, 3.37, and 3.14.  That is rare reliability in a non-closing reliever.  There is little difference in his fastball from 2012 and 2007, but last year he set a career high in swinging strike %.  He is well suited to Tropicana Field.  Peralta has allowed a fly ball rate over 50% at the24th ranked park for home run factor.


Jake McGee (#58) was one of seven relievers to generate 2.0 WAR or more in 2012.  He posted a 1.81 FIP and 6.64 K/BB.  He relied heavily on a 95.7 mph fastball but struck more of a balance between his slider and change-up.


Trevor Rosenthal’s (#59) postseason performance was no mirage.  He struck out over a batter per inning and his ground ball rate was over 50%.  He proved exceedingly difficult to square up as only 13.0% of balls in play were line drives while 16.7% of fly balls stayed on the infield.  Those rates are not expected to hold up, but they do imply a nasty arsenal.






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