2023 Fantasy Baseball Middle Relievers: A.J. Minter, Giovanny Gallegos Poised To Dominate!
Saves can be one of the most annoying categories in fantasy baseball due to the volatility of both the statistic and the players who rack them up. An elite closer with a high strikeout rate can serve as a cheat code for your fantasy team, but one quick injury can quickly cause a top pick to turn into a wasted pick (anyone getting Aroldis Chapman flashbacks?).
This isn’t me telling you not to draft elite closers – we’ll save that for the draft strategy article – but this is also basically me telling you not to draft elite closers. While I’m not against spending a top-100 pick on someone like Edwin Diaz or Emmanuel Clase, I wouldn’t use anything more than one top-150 (or even top-200) pick on a closer.
You can often find saves on the waiver wire during the season if you pay enough attention. And you can also inherit closers overnight by rostering elite set-up guys who basically serve as their own cheat code. Sure, they don’t help you in the save category, but middle relievers with high strikeout rates and low ERAs/WHIPs can augment your pitching in those three categories while you hold out hope that they inherit their team’s closer job. And if you’re in a points league on ESPN, we already talked about how their rule changes now reward holds, so that’s even more of a reason to pay attention to middle relievers if you’re in one of those leagues.
With a closer tiers articles coming soon, let’s first take a look at the elite set-up men who should be targeting on draft day as a potential cheat code (and potential future closer).
Check out our Mock Draft Simulator and the Draft Genius for a real-time draft assistant.
A.J. Minter, Atlanta Braves
Raisel Iglesias will open the year as the Braves' closer (and a good one at that), but he’s no sure thing to hold onto the job all year. Minter put up an absurd 94 strikeouts in 70.0 innings last year, and he did it with an impeccable 1.93 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. Those are the types of peripherals that can make a huge difference on your fantasy roster – even if he never closes a game all year.
Giovanny Gallegos, St. Louis Cardinals
While Ryan Helsey is the Cardinals' closer, Gallegos stands next in line and chipped in 14 saves for St. Louis last year. He also struck out 73 batters in 59.0 innings to go along with a 3.05 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. I’d love to see that ERA dip below three, but those are the type of elite middle reliever numbers I’m talking about when I talk about cheat codes.
Jason Adam, Tampa Bay Rays
There’s a good chance we see no less than four Rays players put up saves this year (probably more), and Adams will likely be one of them. He may not ever become the guy, but that doesn’t matter. He put up a 1.56 ERA and 0.76 WHIP to go with 75 strikeouts in 63.1 innings last year. That’s elite middle-relief stuff right there.
Learn more about our premium fantasy baseball tools and products!
Michael King, New York Yankees
Clay Holmes is the closer for the Yankees, but King is worth rostering. While he’s coming off elbow surgery, he had a 2.29 ERA and 1.00 WHIP to go along with an 11.65 K/9 ratio last year. That’s worth a roster spot even without saves.
Taylor Rogers, San Francisco Giants
Rogers is another player whose ERA I’d like to see dip a bit (4.76 last year), but he put up crazy strikeout numbers last year with 84 punchouts in 64.1 innings and put up 31 saves last year so we know he’s capable of holding a closing role.
Check out all the injuries on every team across Major League Baseball!
Carlos Esteves, Los Angeles Angels
The Angels closer job is open right now and Esteves is the guy who could grab the role. He no longer has to put up with pitching in Colorado and should be able to bring down his 3.47 ERA and 1.18 WHIP from last year. More importantly, he threw almost nine strikeouts per nine innings last year, so he’s got the stuff to supplement our strikeout totals (which is really what we’re looking for here).
Check out the top legal online sportsbook offers and promotions in the United States!
Jorge Lopez, Minnesota Twins
While Lopez sits behind Jhoan Duran in the Twins' pecking order, he’s the more accomplished closer and is a step away from walking into a 30-save situation. He struggled after being traded to the Twins last year, but he was otherworldly while on the Orioles and still struck out 72 batters in 71.0 innings on the year.
A.J. Puk, Miami Marlins
A former starting pitching prospect, Puk struck out 76 batters in 66.1 innings to go along with a 3.12 ERA and 1.15 WHIP last year. There’s a good chance he could open the season as the Marlins' closer. And there’s an even better chance you can get him at the end of your draft.
Peep the latest waiver wire trends to gain an edge over your opponents in your fantasy baseball leagues!
Aroldis Chapman, Kansas City Royals
Speaking of Chapman… He’s currently behind Scott Barlow on the depth chart, but the veteran used to be the most elite closer of elite closers so he’s worth a flier. While his stuff isn’t what it used to be, he still had a high strikeout rate last year and could end up overtaking Barlow by the end of the year.
Matt Bush, Milwaukee Brewers
It remains to be seen how the Devin Williams Experiment fares in Milwaukee, but Bush will be there to pick up the pieces if it fails. He put up 74 strikeouts in 59.2 innings last year, and his other stats (3.47 ERA and 1.02 WHIP) were pretty good too.
Fantasy SP has worked diligently to bring you next-level sports betting analytics, prop betting tools, public betting splits, and so much more! Become an Edge+ member today!#mlb-offseason