2017 Fantasy Baseball: How To Draft Closers

By on February 18, 2017
Draft Closers Photo Credit: Ken Lund

When drafting in Fantasy Baseball, the key is to take the best talent for the best deal at each position. The only problem is most owners don’t plan how to draft closers. This causes owners to panic, reach, and overdraft closers all the time.

This is almost like going to an amusement park when you were a kid and planning out what you want to do. You want to do everything, but you and your parents make a plan to can hit all the rides the best you can. You start with the biggest attractions early in the day when the rides are less crowded. Then you go the water rides in the middle of the day when it’s the warmest. Finally, you save some time at the end of the day to go on your favorite ride one more time.

This is hardly different than drafting in Fantasy Baseball, except now you don’t have your parents weighing you down. Closers in Fantasy Baseball are like the rides you go on when everything else has lines that are too long. But when it comes to drafting closers in Fantasy Baseball, investing in a good closer early makes a big difference. In most standard points leagues, Kenley Jansen was the leading relief pitcher, and scored nearly 150 than the fifteenth ranked Craig Kimbrel.

There were only six relief pitchers who had 40 or more saves last season. We don’t know how many closers will save 40 games this year, but try to prepare for six pitchers. While many sites have released their relief pitcher rankings, there are still many closer situations around the league that won’t be sorted out until spring training.

There are still many important things to consider when drafting your relief pitchers. It’s important to know how your league’s scoring system works for closers, so you know when to draft the position. It’s also important to understand how the other members of your league value relief pitchers. Also, be sure to track when closers start coming off the board because you don’t want to be stuck without a good closer. Everyone has different plans on how to draft relief pitchers, but this is the best way to draft the position.

How to Draft Closers

Draft a closer who will save 40 games

 

As I mentioned earlier, there were only six closers that earned 40 or more saves last season. This list includes Kenley Jansen, Zach Britton, Jeurys Familia, Mark Melancon, Francisco Rodriguez, and A.J. Ramos. Now I’m not saying these six will save 40 games again this season, but Jansen, Britton, and Melancon are very safe bets when targeting a top tier closer.

Another elite closer not listed here is the hard-throwing Aroldis Chapman, who missed the first month of the 2016 season and was then traded to the Cubs. Chicago blew opponents out so often that save opportunities weren’t always there for Chapman. With Chapman now back with the Yankees, I like the hardballer’s situation better than I did last season.

When targeting relief pitchers, I try to target teams that will be in a lot of close games. Before Chapman came over to Chicago last season, all Hector Rondon owners were complaining that the Cubs were scoring so many runs that Rondon wasn’t getting enough save opportunities. For this reason, try and target teams like the Giants, Nationals, Mets, Royals, and the Cardinals. There are still a lot of closer roles that need to work themselves out, but sometimes the situation can matter more than the pitcher.

For your second relief pitcher, get someone in the middle of the mix that you can rely on

 

In most leagues, I like to own three relief pitchers, depending on the number of starting RP spots. If you grabbed an elite closer early, you don’t need to break the bank for your second option. A realistic option is to get a reliever you feel comfortable with and will get 30-plus saves.

A couple of options that I really like are Tony Watson of Pittsburgh, Kelvin Herrera of Kansas City, and A.J. Ramos of Miami. All of these relievers meet the guidelines I’m looking for with my second reliever. They also won’t break the bank in auction drafts and cost me two high draft picks on relievers. If you can get a steady second reliever to compliment your elite closer, your save total should be in good shape for this season.

For a possible third reliever, just be patient in your draft and see who falls to you.

 

There’s still many closer situations that will not resolve themselves for weeks in baseball, so my best advice for your third closer is to be patient. Wait and see what relievers fall to you, and go with whoever is in the best situation to get saves. If nobody falls to you, don’t worry about it. There will be relief pitchers on waivers that will step into closer roles and will serve as fine RP3s.

There’s always one team in the league that has too many relievers, and when they realize what they’ve done, you can buy low on one of their relief pitchers. Either way, the key is be patient with your third reliever. You will get a way better return by filling other positions on your roster at this point in drafts.

 

It’s important in Fantasy Baseball drafts to know what your plan is for drafting relief pitchers. The position is one where you don’t want to overdraft early, but you can’t ignore on draft day. By knowing your plan with the position, you won’t have to hope relief pitchers will fall to you. Figuring out the relief pitcher position will help you to create a much more balanced roster. Use this strategy above to to cover yourself when drafting relief pitchers in all formats.

2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit
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John Leinweber
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John Leinweber

Fantasy Sports Fanatic. Warriors, Lions, Raiders, Giants, A's.
John Leinweber
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