Fantasy Baseball Middle Reliever Targets: Week 19

by Andrew Gould | @andrewgould4 | Featured Writer
Aug 9, 2018

The trade deadline dust has settled, and no team has yet to shuffle its bullpen through a major waiver deal. With relief units taking form for the summer, holds-leagues participants must think outside the box.

Like many relievers, the following players have taken long, arduous journeys to the majors. Two older rookies have finally cracked the code while another needed a change of scenery to get noticed. An already stacked bullpen has one more healthy arm, and last year’s holds leader has resurfaced under the radar. He’s probably the most recognizable name with the highest probability of instantly helping fantasy managers seeking holds.

Import your team to My Playbook for instant Lineup & Trade advice >>

Taylor Rogers (MIN): 1 Percent Owned
A year after recording a 3.07 ERA and 30 holds, Taylor Rogers has registered a 3.88 ERA and eight holds. He’s much better this season.

The bottom line is worse for the 30-year-old, who fell down Minnesota’s totem pole after relinquishing 10 runs through April. He has since sported a 2.45 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 35.2 innings. The disastrous start has shrouded his progress in most significant categories:

Year IP K% BB% GB% FIP WHIP
2017 55.2 20.7 8.9 45.0 4.09 1.31
2018 46.1 29.0 7.0 47.8 2.58 1.17

 
The southpaw has not yielded a baserunner in his last five outings, a stretch in which he has struck out eight of 13 batters faced. Also hurting his overall cause, last year’s surprising AL Wild Card Game participant has fallen back to earth. Yet he has tallied a hold in each of his last three outings for the Twins, who once again have allotted Rogers seventh- and eighth-inning opportunities. Allowing a .202 wOBA to fellow lefties, he can again compile holds in a specialist role while offering better supporting stats than last year.

Luis Garcia (PHI): 0 Percent Owned
Philadelphia’s bullpen was plenty deep before welcoming Luis Garcia back from a wrist injury. He has convincingly offset any risk of getting lost in the shuffle.

Since returning on July 23, the 31-year-old righty has tossed 6.1 scoreless frames with 11 strikeouts. Only five relievers have netted a higher strikeout percentage in the second half, and just three have bested his 20.6 swinging-strike percentage.

Gabe Kapler has quickly fed Garcia meaty roles despite his immense relief depth. He shielded a 1-0 lead in the seventh on Tuesday, a day after replacing Seranthony Dominquez following a ninth-inning blown save. While the peripherals weren’t as pretty last year, he still posted a 2.65 ERA and 56.3 ground-ball percentage. He’s a valuable, hard-throwing hurler rolling for a playoff contender, so give Garcia a look.

Jesse Biddle (ATL): 1 Percent Owned
Unlike the other guys listed here, Jesse Biddle once boasted significant prospect pedigree. The Phillies drafted him out of high school at pick No. 27 eight years ago. Command woes stunted his maturation, and Tommy John surgery removed him from the franchise and starting rotation in 2016.

Now pitching in Atlanta’s bullpen, Biddle brandishes a 2.22 ERA, 46 strikeouts, and a 56.0 ground-ball rate in 44.2 innings. Even though he continues to walk too many batters (19), the 26-year-old has emerged as a high-leverage hurler who has accrued three holds, a save, and a win in his past five outings.

The save occurred in extra innings after the Braves already utilized Johnny Venters, Brad Brach, Dan Winkler, and A.J. Minter, who squandered the save opportunity. Don’t start plotting his path to a closing gig. Simply appreciate his long road to the majors materializing in setup chances for a playoff hopeful. After Rogers, Biddle is the most likely to attain mainstream recognition during the final two months.

Dylan Floro (LAD): 0 Percent Owned
Where do the Dodgers keep finding these guys? Dylan Floro marks their fourth reliever highlighted in three weeks. Although he can’t match Scott Alexander’s ground-ball mastery, a 55.9 percentage has fueled his 2.57 ERA in 49 innings.

A 20.3 strikeout and 9.8 swinging-strike percentage are nothing special out of the bullpen, but the 27-year-old righty has fanned 14 batters over 12.2 innings since getting acquired from the Reds. He has already accrued five holds in 11 outings for his new squad, four more than he collected in Cincinnati. While his current employer is obviously better, the NL champs also trust him enough to handle narrow leads in the sixth and/or seventh.

What’s different beyond Floro’s uniform? He is throwing fewer sinkers-which opponents have batted .316 against during his career-in favor of a four-seamer yet to yield a hit this season. The heater has also induced a far higher whiff rate (15.6 %) than his sinker’s meager 6.3. Los Angeles likely attained him envisioning a fix, and those tweaks have paid immediate dividends. Far from a star-studded cast, this new-look bullpen can immensely aid holds players down the stretch.

Ray Black (SF): 0 Percent Owned
The Pitching Ninja, Rob Friedman, brought my attention to Ray Black via a GIF of him baffling Jon Jay with 99-mph fire at the knees. NBC’s Ahmed Fareed called the San Francisco righty “one of the most dominant relievers in baseball.” Well, let’s figure out who this guy is.

It will now feel like a letdown to learn Black is a 28-year-old rookie carrying a 3.86 ERA in spite of a .095 BABIP. He has surrendered four hits (all in his first and last outing), but five runs and walks apiece in 11.2 innings. FanGraphs classifies seventeen of his 23 batted balls as fly balls.

Black also boasts a 15.1 percent swinging-strike rate and 65.9 contact percentage, so he’ll be tough to hit even with worse batted-ball fortune. In addition to a heater inducing a .184 wOBA, his slider and curveball have yet to permit a hit in 51 pitches. Before blowing a lead on Tuesday, he began August by earning a win and a hold with spotless seventh-inning appearances. He’s still comfortably behind Mark Melancon, Sam Dyson, Tony Watson, Reyes Moronta, and Will Smith in San Francisco’s pecking order, but he’s nevertheless gaining more prominence by making opponents fade to black.

Import your team to My Playbook for custom advice all season >>

Andrew Gould is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive and follow him @andrewgould4.

What's your take? Leave a comment

Fantasy Games
DRAFT photo
Get a FREE FantasyPros upgrade with first deposit
Get our Mobile App!

Enter your phone number below, and we'll text you a link to download the app.

1Todd Gurley (LAR)RB
2Le'Veon Bell (PIT)RB
3Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)RB
4David Johnson (ARI)RB
5Antonio Brown (PIT)WR
6DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)WR
7Alvin Kamara (NO)RB
8Saquon Barkley (NYG)RB
9Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG)WR
10Melvin Gordon (LAC)RB
 View All Rankings 
11Kareem Hunt (KC)RB
12Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
13Julio Jones (ATL)WR
14Michael Thomas (NO)WR
15Dalvin Cook (MIN)RB
16Keenan Allen (LAC)WR
17A.J. Green (CIN)WR
18Davante Adams (GB)WR
19Devonta Freeman (ATL)RB
20Jordan Howard (CHI)RB
21Rob Gronkowski (NE)TE
22Mike Evans (TB)WR
23Christian McCaffrey (CAR)RB
24Joe Mixon (CIN)RB
25T.Y. Hilton (IND)WR
26Jerick McKinnon (SF)RB
27Doug Baldwin (SEA)WR
28Stefon Diggs (MIN)WR
29Travis Kelce (KC)TE
30Adam Thielen (MIN)WR
1Mookie Betts (BOS)CF,RF
2Mike Trout (LAA)CF,DH
3Jose Ramirez (CLE)2B,3B
4Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
5J.D. Martinez (BOS)LF,RF
6Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
7Manny Machado (LAD)3B,SS
8Max Scherzer (WSH)SP
9Giancarlo Stanton (NYY)LF,RF
10Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B,3B
 View All Rankings 
11Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
12Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)1B
13Corey Kluber (CLE)SP
14Andrew Benintendi (BOS)LF,CF
15Trea Turner (WSH)SS
16Chris Sale (BOS)SP
17Bryce Harper (WSH)CF,RF
18Clayton Kershaw (LAD)SP
19Jose Altuve (HOU)2B
20Matt Carpenter (STL)1B,2B
21Jacob deGrom (NYM)SP
22Alex Bregman (HOU)3B,SS
23Justin Verlander (HOU)SP
24Christian Yelich (MIL)LF,CF
25Javier Baez (CHC)2B,3B
26Starling Marte (PIT)LF,CF
27A.J. Pollock (ARI)CF
28Aaron Nola (PHI)SP
29Rhys Hoskins (PHI)1B,LF
30Anthony Rizzo (CHC)1B,2B
1Kevin Durant (GSW)SF,PF
2Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)SF,PF
3James Harden (HOU)PG,SG
4Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
5Russell Westbrook (OKC)PG
6Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)C
7Anthony Davis (NOR)PF,C
8Kawhi Leonard (TOR)SG,SF
9LeBron James (LAL)SF,PF
10Nikola Jokic (DEN)PF,C
 View All Rankings 
11John Wall (WAS)PG
12DeMarcus Cousins (GSW)PF,C
13Chris Paul (HOU)PG
14Damian Lillard (POR)PG
15Jimmy Butler (MIN)SG,SF
16Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
17Kyrie Irving (BOS)PG,SG
18Hassan Whiteside (MIA)C,PF
19Myles Turner (IND)PF,C
20Paul George (OKC)SG,SF
21Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
22Draymond Green (GSW)SF,PF
23Kristaps Porzingis (NYK)PF,C
24Kemba Walker (CHA)PG
25CJ McCollum (POR)PG,SG
26Mike Conley (MEM)PG
27Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
28Klay Thompson (GSW)SG,SF
29Marc Gasol (MEM)C
30Gordon Hayward (BOS)SG,SF
Follow the Pros!

Follow us on Twitter @FantasyPros for exclusive advice and contests