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2018 Relief Pitcher Rankings: Don’t Pay For Saves, Pay For Elite Relievers

Relief Pitcher Rankings
Photo Credit: Not That Bob James

Relief Pitcher rankings get overlooked more than any other position in Fantasy Baseball. The adage of “Don’t pay for saves” has grown and grown every year that I play the game.

However, as I have always said, the key to Fantasy Sports nowadays is to zig when everyone else is zagging. We all have basically the same information at our disposal on draft day. It is how we mine value with each pick like they are the ever-increasing valuable Bitcoin.

So if nine members of my 10-team league are waiting to build their relief pitching, you better believe I am going to stockpile the best closers earlier than normal. The best relief pitchers now give you elite production in three categories (Saves, ERA, WHIP) while now providing decent strikeout numbers as well. Their value is under-estimated year after year.

I get the point of the theory though. At least half of the closers on draft day will not be the closer for that team when the season ends. It is the most volatile position in sports. But, I believe that buys into my argument even more. Secure the very best of the best so that you do not have to play Waiver Wire Roulette.

Lastly, the addition of holds to people’s leagues has become a rising trend. While I do like the addition, these relief pitcher rankings are geared more toward leagues with just saves. There are still non-closers that have value though, especially the high-efficient K-artists in the Indians’ and Yankees’ bullpens. They especially give you an uptick in leagues with innings or starts limits.

These relief pitcher rankings are for mixed leagues. The Average Draft Position and Expert Consensus Rankings (both overall and by position) are relative to as of March 1.

2018 Relief Pitcher Rankings

Rk.Player, TeamADPECRECR (Pos.)
1Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers36511
2Craig Kimbrel, Boston Red Sox46632
3Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees63793
4Roberto Osuna, Toronto Blue Jays81864
5Kenneth Giles, Houston Astros90966
6Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners891148
7Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians931139
8Felipe Rivero, Pittsburgh Pirates921117
9Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers74905
10Brad Hand, San Diego Padres12013212
11Raisel Iglesias, Cincinnati Reds10311710
12Wade Davis, Colorado Rockies9912011
13Sean Doolittle, Washington Nationals12813713
14Alexander Colome, Tampa Bay Rays12114214
15Andrew Miller, Cleveland Indians19117116
16Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals18718119
17Jeurys Familia, New York Mets16518721
18Brandon Morrow, Chicago Cubs17817918
19Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta Braves15118220
20Mark Melancon, San Francisco Giants16617315
21Blake Parker, Los Angeles Angeles20023226
22Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies15817517
23Archie Bradley, Arizona Diamondbacks18421523
24Brad Brach, Baltimore Orioles20520922
25Luke Gregerson, St. Louis Cardinals33626130
26Dellin Betances, New York Yankees22924328
27Blake Treinen, Oakland Athletics20321424
28David Robertson, New York Yankees23727132
29Fernando Rodney, Minnesota Twins21524829
30Chris Devenski, Houston Astros26928534


  • Kenley Jansen is legitimately worth a second- or third-round pick in my book. Over the past four seasons, Jansen has 168 saves, 394 strikeouts with an ERA just a smidge above 2.00. Some even think he’s worthy of a Round 1 pick.
  • My goal in a redraft format is to get at least 3 of the Top 14 on these relief pitcher rankings. In my 8-team league, I will try to definitely get four of them.
  • This is definitely the most malleable of all the positions’ rankings. I would not be shocked if a few of these closers are switched by Opening Day.
  • Archie Bradley gets a huge bump in leagues with holds. It looks like he might get saves this year, but he was dominant last season and he would probably be a Top-5 option in holds-formats.
  • Don’t sleep on old man Fernando Rodney. He had 39 saves last season. His other numbers were not as strong, but he will get you saves for sure.
  • Brad Ziegler, Juan Minaya, and Shane Greene are a few other guys that are just on the edge of these relief pitcher rankings. All three are set to get the ball in ninth for their respective teams on Opening Day.

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