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Fantasy Baseball 2013: 10 Best Relievers

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There are few certainties in fantasy baseball. One certainty every season is that there isn’t another position with more turnover than at closer.

Once the season gets rolling the position does an impersonation of Donald Trump’s show The Apprentice. It seems like a guy ends up getting pulled from the job just about once a week once  the season starts rolling, and I honestly wouldn’t mind watching the Donald hit them with one of his patented “your fired” when it happens.

Heading into your fantasy draft you should do your best to get your hands on one proven top option. They typically enjoy much more job security. Then you can decide whether you want to spend another couple of picks on some of your riskier options or play the waiver wire in season for a replacement option.

Here are the ten best fantasy baseball relievers for 2013.

Fernando Rodney

Fernando Rodney

Tampa Bay Rays

Last season, Rodney set career best marks in ERA (0.80), WHIP (0.78), saves (48) and strikeouts (76). So naturally one might ask why he is only ranked 10th. My answer is quite simply his numbers are unsustainable. The Rays improved his mechanics making him a better pitcher, but his microscopic BABIP of .220 and LOB% of 89.4 are bound for correction closer to league averages.

Mo Rivera

Mariano Rivera

New York Yankees

Best All-Time. I don’t care if he is 43 and coming off reconstructive knee surgery. Mo is going to come back and continue to post incredible numbers in his farewell campaign. My only concerns with him are the Bombers may use him sparingly to start the year and may actually struggle to get him save opportunities in what very well could be a down season.

Rafael Soriano

Rafael Soriano

Washington Nationals

Soriano parlayed filling in for the aforementioned Mo into a two-year, $28 million deal with the Nationals. His departure from Yankee stadium will definitely be kind to his numbers, but his high LOB% (88.0) means luck was on his side last season while donning pinstripes. I anticipating close to 40 saves here, but I also expect regression in both his ERA and WHIP.

J.J. Putz

J.J. Putz

Arizona Diamondbacks

It must be tough for a manager to hit the bullpen phone and ask for Putz. Jokes aside though, nothing about what this guy does on the mound is a laughing matter. He has a career K/9 of 9.49 and BB/9 of 2.79. Two ingredients I search for in a closer are the ability to miss a bat and not to give away free passes. If he played for a squad with a top offense he would crack my Top-5.

Joe Nathan

Joe Nathan

Texas Rangers

Nathan underwent Tommy-John surgery back in 2010 and for some reason people still label him as an injury risk. The fact that he is 38 probably aids that stigma as well. What I can tell you is the guy posted a K/9 of 10.91 while running his heater up to a steady 94 MPH last year. Those numbers are right in line with his career norms. He remains a rock-steady save option this season.

Kris Medlen

Kris Medlen

Atlanta Braves

If your league has specific slots for relievers, Medlen is exactly the kind of guy you should target — Especially if your league has daily lineup changes. The ability to plug in a Top-30 starting option around 32 times a year will do wonders for both your win and strikeout totals while allowing you to replace him with a closer on days he is off. That in my mind makes him worth more than just about every closer.

Jonathan Papelbon

Jonathan Papelbon

Philadelphia Phillies

His first season closing for the Phillies was pretty much what we expected. He provided strong totals strikeouts, saves and mean stares. There are a few points of concern that lead me to expect a dip in his numbers this year. First he gave up a career worst eight homers last year; never a friendly stat for closers. Second, we saw a drop of 1.2 MPH in his fastball velocity. For a guy who has been steady in that department for the last four seasons it definitely raises an eyebrow.

Jason Motte

Jason Motte

St. Louis Cardinals

There is a lot to like when it comes to Motte. For starters the Cards are going to provide him with plenty of save chances. His 42 last season ranked him tied for third in the league. He also has posted back-to-back seasons with a sub 1.00 WHIP. Nothing drives success among closers more than keeping opposing batters off base. Being able to crank your cheese up close to 100 MPH also works wonders as well.

Aroldis Chapman

Aroldis Chapman

Cincinnati Reds

The Reds front office wants him to start. Chapman and manager Dusty Baker want him to close. This matter should be settled in the first week or so. As a reliever we can expect him to post similar numbers to last season. As a starter expect him to be coddled much like Stephen Strasburg was last year. He may end up struggling with free passes with more exposure, but he definitely has the goods to be a dominant starter if he puts everything together.

Craig Krimbel

Craig Kimbrel

Atlanta Braves

There are closers, and then there is Craig Kimbrel. To give you an idea of just how dominant he is let’s look at his career numbers over his first 160.1 innings pitches. He has saved 89 games while posting a 1.46 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 15.89 K/9. He has shown no signs of slowing down and should be viewed as the leagues premier closer. If you want him you better be prepared to grab him as early as the fourth round in standard 12-team mixed leagues.


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