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2021 Fantasy Baseball Rankings (NL)

Expert Consensus Ranking (57 of 57 Experts) -

Rank Player (Team, Position) Overall Notes
1 Josh Hader (MIL - RP) 26 25.0 -1.0
Hader wasn't quite as dominant as he had been the previous two years, largely due to a spike in walk rate and the slightest of declines in strikeout rate. But he still tallied 13 saves, third-best in baseball, and had a miniscule 0.95 WHIP. If you parse it closely, it was just a bizarre season for Hader, who didn't give up a run through his first nine appearances, but subsequently allowed four runs in an inning. He walked five batters in a game, but didn't allow a single walk in any game after that, a span of 11 appearances. In other words, there seems to be a lot of noise in Hader's "decline," which likely would have been ironed out over the course of a full season. Draft him as the top closer off the board with few concerns.
2 Edwin Diaz (NYM - RP) 35 36.0 +1.0
Diaz's overall numbers bounced back in a monstrous way last season. He dropped his ERA from a bloated 5.59 in 2019 to a 1.75, and upped his strikeout rate to a career-best 45.5%. He was among the league leaders in nearly every expected statistic (batting average, slugging percentage wOBA, and ERA), and he cut his HR/9 rate from 2.33 to just 0.70. Diaz's walk rate actually regressed, however, as he issued free passes to nearly five batters per nine innings. That's not often a recipe for success from a closer, but Diaz can survive at that rate if he continues to keep the strikeouts up and limit the long balls. In the end, Diaz does carry some risk given his history, but he should be drafted as one of the upper echelon closers in the game, if not a touch behind the truly elite options.
3 Corbin Burnes (MIL - SP,RP) 28 26.0 -2.0
Burnes's raw stuff was apparent to anyone who saw him pitch in 2019, but he simply couldn't stop giving up home runs (17 in 49 innings). The culprit was largely his four-seam fastball, which he threw more than half of the time and against which batters hit .425 with an .823 slugging percentage. In 2020, however, Corbin cut his four-seam fastball usage from 52.5% to just 2.5%. In its place, he relied heavily on a sinker and cutter, both of which worked better for the natural action on his pitches and which were highly effective. Considering that his slider, changeup, and curveball are also huge swing and miss pitches, Burnes's 36.7% strikeout rate from last year shouldn't be considered fluky. Even coming off a Cy Young-caliber season, there's still upside for the 26-year-old, and you should ignore entirely his 2019 disaster.
4 Jesus Luzardo (MIA - SP,RP) 43 45.0 +2.0
Luzardo's 2020 campaign wasn't terrible, but it certainly left fantasy managers wanting more. The strikeouts were there, but not quite at the level that was expected. He rarely went deep into games. And he was just more hittable than he ever was in the minors or in his brief time as a reliever in 2019. Luzardo throws four quality pitches and is working to improve his arsenal as we head into the 2021 season, so there's little reason to downgrade your opinion of him too much from where it was prior to the 2020 campaign because of one nine-start stretch. He's an incredibly high-upside pitcher who carries with him plenty of injury risk, and the combination leaves him as a solid SP3 for fantasy leagues.
5 Julio Urias (LAD - SP,RP) 59 54.0 -5.0
Urias had an interesting season (other than his postseason, which was dominant). His numbers overall were very solid, with a 3.27 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. But his strikeout rate dipped dramatically as a full-time starter, and his SIERA (4.88) and xFIP (5.06) suggest he got lucky. But the bottom line is that Urias is excellent at limiting hard contact, and he's allowed just a .257 BABIP over the last two seasons, which should keep his ERA in check. The Dodgers' rotation is overflowing, so it's possible they continue to limit Urias's innings. But for now, he should be considered an SP3, and as his playoffs showed, there's plenty of room for growth with his strikeout numbers.
6 Devin Williams (MIL - RP) 80 71.0 -9.0
You have to hand it to the Brewers - they produce relievers who put up historically great seasons. Williams wasn't just good in 2020 - he was truly beyond belief. A 0.33 ERA. One run and eight hits allowed in 27 innings. A 44% K-BB%. Williams has battled injuries for much of his career, but given what he did last year, he should be drafted among the elite fantasy relievers in the game. Even if he never gets a save chance with Josh Hader in front of him, his ratios make him more than worth it.
7 Will Smith (ATL - RP) 79 73.0 -6.0
Smith had a rough 2020 season, losing several weeks to a bout with COVID-19 and being far less effective than usual when he did pitch. His dominant slider just wasn't the same, as batters hit .263 (after never hitting better than .193) and tallied a .398 wOBA (after never totaling higher than .282) against it. But Brian Snitker appears to be willing to throw out Smith's poor season almost entirely. Although he hasn't named Smith the closer, he has professed his confidence in him, and there's been speculation from beat writers that Smith will ultimately win the role after a battle with Chris Martin and A.J. Minter. Draft Smith as the presumptive closer unless you hear otherwise from Braves camp.
8 Carlos Carrasco (NYM - SP,RP) 68 52.0 -16.0
Carrasco suffered a serious hamstring strain in mid-March which is likely to keep him out 6-8 weeks. It's a devastating blow to the veteran who returned strong from his battle with leukemia in 2019 to post a 2.91 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 2020. There was plenty to like about Carrasco in New York, including that the Mets will provide him with a better chance at wins, their infield defense should be above average, and Carrasco will play in a more favorable park. But at this point, he's nothing more than a bench starter for your fantasy team given his injury.
9 Richard Rodriguez (ATL - RP) 95 88.0 -7.0
So long as he remains with the Pirates, Rodriguez is likely to be the closer after locking down four saves last year. He's been a quality reliever for a few years in a row now, including last year when he put up a 2.70 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP with plenty of strikeouts. There's been speculation that the Pirates will look to deal Rodriguez before the season begins. But until and unless they do, he's a decent late-round selection who will likely total a handful of saves until he's inevitably dealt mid-season.
10 Amir Garrett (CIN - RP) 92 92.0
Garrett cut way down on his walks in 2020 and had the best season of his career, striking out 37.7% of the batters he faced. He also retired the first batter he faced in every inning, and completely dominated against left-handed hitters. He's in the mix to be the Reds' closer with Lucas Sims and Sean Doolittle, and he's been vocal about wanting the job. He's probably the first reliever to draft out of Cincinnati until there's some clarity, but it's far from a sure thing that he'll be the everyday closer.
11 Dustin May (LAD - SP,RP) 90 86.0 -4.0
May has been named the Dodgers' fifth starter by Dave Roberts, a surprising twist given the presence of David Price and Tony Gonsolin. Given the Dodgers' depth and their history, it's unlikely that he'll remain in the rotation from start to finish, but if you haven't drafted yet, move him significantly higher on your board.
12 Jordan Hicks (STL - RP) 94 87.0 -7.0
Hicks is likely to serve as the Cardinals' closer this year if he can show that he has fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. He totaled 20 saves from 2018-2019 before hurting his elbow, and then opted out of last season, in part because of setbacks in his recovery. Early reports from the spring are promising, and it seems that the Cardinals want him and his 100+ MPH fastball to lead the way in the ninth inning. Monitor his health in the spring, but draft him late for now and expect saves so long as he is healthy.
13 Elieser Hernandez (MIA - SP,RP) 104 111.0 +7.0
Hernandez was excellent in his six starts last season, tallying a 3.16 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP, and a 32.1% strikeout rate. But he allowed a lot of hard contact along the way, including a 91.8 MPH average exit velocity (bottom three percent in the league). He worked on his changeup this offseason in an effort to add a reliable third pitch (he threw his fastball and slider 94% of the time last year), and it has gotten rave reviews in camp. He's fourth in the pecking order of the Marlins starters, but if his changeup can be an effective pitch, he might be the one to provide the most value given his extremely modest ADP.
14 Drew Pomeranz (SD - SP,RP) 118 89.0 -29.0
Pomeranz likely would have, at the very least, factored into the closer's mix for San Diego prior to the Mark Melancon and Keone Kela signings. After finally switching into a full-time reliever role last year, Pomeranz shined, with a 1.45 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP, and a 39.7% strikeout rate. Although he may still be in line for save opportunities, the presence of Melancon, Kela, and Emilio Pagan muddy the waters. That's especially true given that Pomeranz is currently the only healthy and reliable left-hander in the bullpen. Pomeranz is worth a late selection until and unless Jayce Tingler declares that he's not an option for the ninth inning.
15 Freddy Peralta (MIL - SP,RP) 103 113.0 +10.0
16 Emilio Pagan (SD - RP) 106 104.0 -2.0
17 Giovanny Gallegos (STL - RP) 121 124.0 +3.0
Gallegos pitched well last year with the Cardinals despite seeing limited innings because of his difficulty in getting to the states in the middle of a pandemic. But he was effective when he pithed, and owns a career 3.06 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 31.6% strikeout rate. The Cardinals want Jordan Hicks to be their closer, but Gallegos will undoubtedly be in the mix should Hick prove ineffective or suffer a setback in his return from Tommy John surgery.
18 Anthony Bass (MIA - RP) 115 121.0 +6.0
Bass will likely be in the mix for saves with Yimi Garcia (and possibly Dylan Floro) after he signed a two-year deal with the Marlins. He lacks the typical strikeout stuff of most closers, but he's totaled 12 saves, a 3.54 ERA, and a 0.99 WHIP over the past two years. Bass is an extreme ground ball pitcher (62.3% ground ball rate last year), which is how he's able to survive without big time stuff. But Don Mattingly likely won't name a closer until the end of spring training, so draft Bass late for now, but have plenty of other bullpen options.
19 Tony Gonsolin (LAD - SP,RP) 111 110.0 -1.0
Gonsolin doesn't have a guaranteed spot in the Dodgers' rotation to start the season, and with the team signing Trevor Bauer, it's unclear just how much he'll start this season. His stuff doesn't blow you away, but he's got a 2.60 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP in 86.2 big league innings. And there were gains last year, as he cut his walk rate down and upped his strikeout rate. Gonsolin is an ideal candidate to have on your bench, because if he does get a spot in the rotation, he'll be a popular waiver wire add, and he can add value as a reliever in the meantime. So draft him late, and likely reap the rewards.
20 Daniel Bard (COL - RP) 127 109.0 -18.0
Bard comes into 2021 as the Rockies' presumptive closer, after he came out of a two-year retirement to pitch in the majors for the first time since 2013. Bard's control problems, which derailed his career, were largely solved, and his 3.65 ERA and 1.30 WHIP were more than passable for a Colorado closer. Mychal Givens remains, and Scott Oberg will try to pitch effectively after undergoing thoracic outlet surgery, but if Bard can maintain his control, he'll likely earn and hold the closer's job.
21 Jake McGee (SF - RP) 109 114.0 +5.0
22 Tejay Antone (CIN - SP,RP) 125 149.0 +24.0
Antone's role wasn't entirely clear at the outset of spring training, but he now looks destined for a starter's job, if he can stay healthy. With Sonny Gray and Wade Miley likely to begin the year on the IL, Antone should begin the year in the rotation, assuming he is healthy enough to do so. He's currently battling a groin strain, and his status is uncertain. When healthy, he's got a wipeout slider, enough to pile on the strikeouts, and has enough upside to be worth a late-round dart throw. Monitor his, Gray's, and Miley's health status closely heading into your drafts.
23 Lucas Sims (CIN - SP,RP) 139 181.0 +42.0
Sims had a fine 2020, going 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA a 0.94 WHIP, and plenty of strikeouts. He'll be in the mix for the Reds' closer job with Amir Garrett and Sean Doolittle, though his early bout with elbow soreness this spring doesn't help him. Monitor the reports out of spring training, but he's a late-round speculative draft pick at best at the moment.
24 Stefan Crichton (ARI - RP) MiLB 160 129.0 -31.0
Crichton filled in admirably for Archie Bradley after Bradley was traded last season. His strikeout numbers weren't particularly impressive, but he had a 2.42 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP, and tallied five saves. He doesn't have prototypical "closer's stuff," but he's more than capable of getting major league hitters out. The Diamondbacks signed Joakim Soria to a one-year deal (and added Tyler Clippard, too), so Crichton seems unlikely to begin the year as the closer, even though it's an open competition at the moment. He's not worth anything other than an extremely late-round pick as a speculative ninth-inning option.
25 Seth Lugo (NYM - SP,RP) 144 130.0 -14.0
26 Tanner Rainey (WSH - RP) 172 199.0 +27.0
27 Trevor May (NYM - RP) 137 147.0 +10.0
28 Alex Reyes (STL - RP) 142 166.0 +24.0
29 Jose Quintana (PIT - SP,RP) 162 163.0 +1.0
30 Jose Alvarado (PHI - RP) 156 203.0 +47.0
31 Brent Suter (MIL - SP,RP) 165 157.0 -8.0
32 Blake Treinen (LAD - RP) 191 153.0 -38.0
33 Adrian Morejon (SD - SP,RP) 194 223.0 +29.0
34 Alex Wood (SF - SP,RP) 195 230.0 +35.0
35 A.J. Minter (ATL - RP) 184 227.0 +43.0
36 Victor Gonzalez (LAD - RP) 166 123.0 -43.0
37 Kyle Gibson (PHI - SP,RP) 179 143.0 -36.0
38 Brusdar Graterol (LAD - RP) 158 126.0 -32.0
39 Adrian Houser (MIL - SP,RP) 187 213.0 +26.0
40 Alec Mills (CHC - SP,RP) 212 137.0 -75.0
41 Tyler Rogers (SF - RP) 226 254.0 +28.0
42 David Bednar (PIT - RP) 232 276.0 +44.0
43 Dylan Floro (MIA - RP) 215 294.0 +79.0
44 Austin Adams (SD - RP) 257    
45 Rowan Wick (CHC - RP) 205 242.0 +37.0
46 Tyler Matzek (ATL - RP) 148 151.0 +3.0
47 Matt Strahm (SD - SP,RP) 222 297.0 +75.0
48 Hunter Harvey (SF - RP) 188 171.0 -17.0
Harvey strained his oblique in spring training and was placed on the 60-day IL, meaning he's unlikely to contribute as the Orioles' designated closer, which was unlikely anyway with Brandon Hyde as the manager. Harvey had a ton of buzz heading into last season, but a strained forearm ultimately limited him to just 8 2/3 innings. He's got a dominant fastball that can reach triple digits, but his injury history has been a roadblock to him becoming a regular and reliable reliever. Hyde likes to go by committee anyway, and Harvey's injury should give him the chance to do just that again. Perhaps spend a last-round pick on Harvey, but better yet, leave him undrafted.
49 J.B. Wendelken (ARI - RP) 197 160.0 -37.0
50 Kevin Ginkel (ARI - RP) MiLB 221 272.0 +51.0
51 Will Harris (WSH - RP) 207    
52 Austin Gomber (COL - SP,RP) 274 209.0 -65.0
53 Pierce Johnson (SD - RP) 218 281.0 +63.0
54 Tommy Kahnle (LAD - RP) 236    
55 Jason Adam (CHC - RP) 224    
56 Wander Suero (WSH - RP) 255    
57 Codi Heuer (CHC - RP) 216 275.0 +59.0
58 Duane Underwood Jr. (PIT - RP) 204 306.0 +102.0
59 Miguel Castro (NYM - RP) 223 318.0 +95.0
60 Craig Stammen (SD - RP,SP) 234    
61 Genesis Cabrera (STL - RP) 211 279.0 +68.0
62 Connor Brogdon (PHI - RP) 219 274.0 +55.0
63 Robert Stephenson (COL - RP) 263    
64 Jeff Hoffman (CIN - SP,RP) 217 282.0 +65.0
65 Scott Oberg (COL - RP) 251 250.0 -1.0
66 Justin Topa (MIL - RP) 230    
67 Chris Stratton (PIT - SP,RP) 228 283.0 +55.0
68 John Curtiss (MIL - SP,RP) 237 158.0 -79.0
69 Brailyn Marquez (CHC - RP)   277.0  
70 Edward Cabrera (MIA - SP,RP) 275 248.0 -27.0
71 Tim Hill (SD - RP) 242    
72 Jarlin Garcia (SF - RP) 262    
73 Jacob Webb (ATL - RP) 264    
74 Steven Brault (PIT - SP,RP) 268 229.0 -39.0
75 Tyler Kinley (COL - 2B,RP) 308    
76 Justin Wilson (CIN - RP) 259    
77 Ryan Weathers (SD - SP,RP)   299.0  
78 Ryan Helsley (STL - RP) 249 293.0 +44.0
79 Noe Ramirez (ARI - SP,RP) 273    
80 Taylor Clarke (ARI - SP,RP) 281 309.0 +28.0
81 Richard Bleier (MIA - RP) 265    
82 Sean Newcomb (ATL - SP,RP) 276    
83 JoJo Romero (PHI - RP)      
84 Luke Jackson (ATL - RP) 269 234.0 -35.0
85 Nick Nelson (PHI - RP) MiLB 250 289.0 +39.0
86 Miguel Yajure (PIT - RP,SP) 312 307.0 -5.0
87 Seranthony Dominguez (PHI - RP) 295    
88 Ray Black (MIL - RP) MiLB 252    
89 Heath Fillmyer (SD - SP,RP) MiLB 310    
90 Sam Howard (PIT - RP) 272    
91 Kyle Finnegan (WSH - RP) 253    
92 Angel Perdomo (MIL - RP)      
93 Ranger Suarez (PHI - RP,SP) 284    
94 Joe Ross (WSH - SP,RP) 316 241.0 -75.0
95 Chris Devenski (ARI - RP) MiLB 280    
96 Luis Cessa (CIN - RP) 289    
97 Ryan Sherriff (PHI - RP) 294    
98 Yoan Lopez (ATL - RP) DFA 304    
99 Erick Fedde (WSH - SP,RP) 306 316.0 +10.0
100 Kodi Whitley (STL - RP) 303    
101 Jhoulys Chacin (COL - SP,RP) 321    
102 Brad Wieck (CHC - RP)      
103 Taylor Widener (ARI - SP,RP) 322    
104 Sam Coonrod (PHI - RP) 326    
105 Mitch White (LAD - RP,SP) 277    
106 Riley Smith (ARI - RP,SP) MiLB 318    
107 Carlos Estevez (COL - RP) 290    
108 Kyle Ryan (STL - RP) NRI 323    
109 Joe Palumbo (SF - SP,RP) 325    
110 Anthony Banda (PIT - RP) 335    
111 Nick Neidert (MIA - RP,SP) 339    
112 Evan Phillips (LAD - RP) 341