How many of us Fantasy Baseball diehards watch the MLB Top 10 Right Now on MLB Network every year, and know we are wasting our time in terms of watching for Fantasy Baseball purposes?
Personally, I enjoy listening to Eric Byrnes, he has a great personality, but I can’t help but ask myself why I watch the series thinking it will help in my preparation for drafts. The show itself has merit, obviously, but not for this game.
Nevertheless, off the soapbox and on to the breakout Relief Pitchers. The reason I mention the show; we will not focus on superb arms with no role. This is not about the best young relief pitchers, or eighth inning relievers that could have a filthy year in 2016.
Instead, this is merely about the closers. The young up-and-comers that could truly breakout and make an argument as a Top 5 closer in next year’s draft. Or, perhaps the middling reliever that finally has an opportunity to close this year and could really take advantage.
With that said, cross off Tony Watson, Darren O’Day, Carson Smith, and Justin Wilson. Get rid of them. They have live arms, but barring injury, they will not get an opportunity to produce for Fantasy owners this season, outside of “Holds” leagues. Let’s get to the breakout relief pitchers.
Breakout Relief Pitchers
Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta Braves
Jason Grilli reported to Spring Training stating that he plans to be the Braves’ closer on Opening Day. While that might scare away some Vizcaino believers, quite honestly, it’s music to my ears. The more Grilli looks destined to close for Atlanta in April, the cheaper Vizcaino becomes in drafts.
Vizcaino is the future, and Atlanta is looking to the future. Regardless of what Grilli wants, the Braves know they need to give Vizcaino a chance to see what he can do. Perhaps, their Craig Kimbrel replacement has fallen right into their lap.
So, if you put aside the worry of Vizcaino getting save chances and look at the numbers, Vizcaino has all the tools in the world to be a dominant closer. In about half a season last year, Vizcaino had a 1.60 ERA in 33.2 innings pitched with 37 strikeouts and only 27 hits allowed. Even closers on bad teams get saves.
If he limits his walks allowed, the WHIP shouldn’t be far behind. With Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman departing the National League, Vizcaino could easily make an argument as the second best closer in the National League as soon as 2017 (only trailing Kenley Jansen).
As for Vizcaino getting that shot, Grilli is not that far removed from a pretty terrible 2014 season. I’ll take my chances that Vizcaino secures the job by June at the latest, and racks up a minimum of 20 saves, while finishing as a Top 5 National League closer in all other counting stats.
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