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Non-Closer Relievers Who Can Help Your Team (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

by Jason Friedman
Mar 28, 2022
Chad Green

Don’t overlook the help non-closers like Chad Green can provide to your pitching staff.

When building a fantasy baseball team, maximizing value on draft day is vital. With that in mind, let’s look at some non-closer relievers who can help your team in 2022.

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Take the following blind resumes as an example, using 2021 statistics:

IP Wins Ks ERA Whip
Player A 181.1 16 243 3.23 1.06
Player B 212.2 16 241 2.16 0.93

Player A is Yankees ace Gerrit Cole (SP – NYY), with an ADP of 7.0.  Player B is a combination of three relievers who were drafted late or not at all in 2021: Chad Green (RP – NYY), Blake Treinen (RP – LAD), and Aaron Loup (RP – LAA).

While Treinen is the frontrunner to close for the Dodgers this season (bringing his current ADP up to 135.2), Green is still going outside the top 300 and Loup outside the top 500 picks.  While no one would advocate for drafting these three relievers over Cole, this exercise demonstrates that a reliever doesn’t need to accumulate saves to add value to your team.

This is especially true in leagues with deep benches and daily transactions, where you can fill out your pitching lineup with high-end relievers and keep your starting pitchers benched on their off days.  Implementing this strategy will help your team’s ratios, provide additional strikeouts, and may even vulture your team a few wins.  With this in mind, here are some high-end non-closers going after pick 300 in ADP to target late in drafts:

Chad Green, ADP 305

2021 Stats 83.2 99 6 3.12 0.88 10
2022 Projections 72.9 89 2 3.56 1.06 5

Chad Green is the poster child for the non-closer RP strategy, as he contributed in four of five pitching categories last year and is projected to do so again in 2022. Green’s fastball sat at 95.7 MPH last year but just as importantly, his fastball spin rate was in the 94th percentile, giving opposing hitters fits and leading to an impressive season-long K percentage of 31.43%.  And while we can’t expect him to duplicate his 10 relief wins of a year ago, pitching high-leverage innings for a team that is projected to win a lot of games and has an offense built to score runs (and break late-game ties), Green is as reliable a source of wins as it gets for relievers.

FantasyPros projects Green to have a better ERA than Kenley Jansen (RP – ATL), a better WHIP than Edwin Diaz (RP – NYM), more Ks than Ryan Pressly (RP – HOU) or Giovanny Gallegos (RP – STL), and more Wins than all the top closers.  Even with only six saves in 2021, he still ranked ahead of closers Edwin Diaz, Mark Melancon (RP – ARI), and Aroldis Chapman (RP – NYY) last season, according to Yahoo.  Going after pick 300, Green is poised to return value on draft day and help your pitching staff across the board.

Paul Sewald (RP – SEA), ADP 298.4

2021 Stats 63.2 101 11 2.69 0.99 9
2022 Projections 66.2 88 8 3.60 1.14 4

While Sewald is technically going inside the top 300 and still vying for potential saves in Seattle’s bullpen, he was too good in 2021 not to include him here. Sewald set the AL West on fire in 2021, ranking in the 99th percentile in K%, 97th percentile in whiff rate, and 92nd percentile or better in xBA, xOBP, and xERA.

The key? Sewald’s 4-seam fastball registered as a more valuable pitch by Run Value than vaunted offerings such as Craig Kimbrel’s (RP – CWS) curveball or Ryan Pressly’s slider. Pairing that fastball with an above-average slider, Sewald found himself pitching in high-leverage situations (helping to rack up wins) and pitching well enough to contribute in both Ks and ratios. Sewald will continue to contribute to your team’s ratios and Ks this season, with the upside for much more depending on how the Seattle bullpen sorts itself out.

Aaron Bummer (RP – CWS), ADP 615.5

2021 Stats 56.1 75 2 3.51 1.26 5
2022 Projections 61.5 72 1 3.04 1.22 4

Though Bummer took a step back from his excellent 2019 season last year, the underlying numbers all point to a strong bounce back in 2022. And I mean STRONG.

Last season, Bummer was in the 100th percentile in xSLG and xISO, 99th percentile in Barrel percentage, and 96th percentile in xBA, xwBA, and xERA.  Couple that performance with an expected high leverage role as the late-inning bridge to the White Sox duo of Kimbrel and Liam Hendriks, plus a cushy division schedule in the AL Central, and Bummer has all the ingredients to help your team in 4 of 5 pitching categories.

Art Warren (RP – CIN), ADP 445.3

2021 Stats 21 34 0 1.29 0.90 3
2022 Projections 54.6 73 3 3.56 1.19 4

Warren caught the attention of fantasy managers in 2021 due in large part to his slider, which on its own generated a whiff rate of 46.6% and a K rate of 54%.  FantasyPros projects a 12.03 k/9 for Warren, more than Jordan Romano (RP – TOR), Emmanuel Clase (RP – CLE), and Blake Treinen, among many others. In 15+ team and AL and NL only leagues, Warren makes a great investment at the end of drafts to bolster strikeouts and help with ratios.

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