Dan Harris’s 2021 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Relief Pitcher
The old mantra of “never pay for saves” doesn’t really hold true in 2021. Sure, as usual, we don’t even know who most teams will use as their closer this year. Even if we did, half of Opening Day closers lose their job at some point because of injury or ineffectiveness anyway.
But because the closer landscape is cloudier than ever this year, locking in at least one reliable bullpen arm is almost a necessity that gives you a huge leg up on the competition. In addition, a reliever’s 60-70 innings this year should have a bigger impact than usual, given that most starters are going to have hard innings caps after the shortened 2020 campaign.
For the first time in years, I would not shy away from being the first fantasy manager in your league to draft a closer if the price is right. But you’ll still need to make sure that you add depth to your fantasy bullpen and hit on your late-round options. Before getting into my rankings, here are a few of the relief pitchers I find myself drafting most often:
Trevor Rosenthal (RP – OAK) – ADP: 132.6
Rosenthal’s low ADP is probably due to both his late signing and a minor groin injury he suffered in the spring. But he’s back in action now and will be the undisputed closer for the A’s. Rosenthal was better than ever last year. Now that he’s fully recovered and several seasons removed from Tommy John surgery, he should be fine as an RP1.
Amir Garrett (RP – CIN) – ADP: 256.6
Garrett hadn’t pitched this spring because of a forearm injury until Saturday (an outing a which he struck out the side), but I still expect him to be the closer in Cincinnati. Lucas Sims has his own injuries to deal with, and Sean Doolittle just isn’t effective enough to hold down the role at this stage of his career.
Garrett wants the job and has the strikeout chops to hold it. I’m drafting him late as often as I can.
Anthony Bass (RP – MIA) – ADP: 309.2
Bass doesn’t have the typical strikeout stuff you like to see in a closer, but all reports from those in the “know” suggest he’ll be the guy over Yimi Garcia. He has been effective with the Blue Jays in recent years as the stopper when he’s been called upon. With an ADP that basically makes him free, there’s every reason to scoop him up.
ADP – Average Draft Position
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