February 20, 2023, 2:39 pm
Welcome to the first edition of the Bullpen Call. This running segment will highlight some hot adds on the reliever end. In this piece, we’ll review some relief pitchers to target after pick 100 in 2023 drafts. You’ll see a pattern with this column, we target RPs with the potential to have a sub 2.50 ERA, sub 1.10 WHIP and more Ks than innings pitched. This model will help stabilize your statistics.
The bullpen is an area of fantasy baseball that is intricate and can be strategized in many ways. In the 2023 fantasy environment, there are simply less linear bullpens. Less linear bullpens mean that elite closers are starting to come at a premium price in drafts. The “don’t pay for saves” mentality is slowing down in modern fantasy, especially in head-to-head formats where grabbing a Jordan Romano or a Ryan Pressly seems prudent.
Luckily, we are here to guide you on some lesser-cost reliever arms to target in your upcoming 2023 drafts. These options will include some non-closing relievers that we feel may have value or be next in line for a closer role.
In fantasy baseball, we love the concept of not ruling out rostering non-closing “ratio reducer” relievers in saves only formats. Ratio Reducers have consistent low WHIP, ERA, more Ks than innings pitched, and solid bullpen usage. If they’re in a role where they grab some wins, then it’s even better (think prime Chad Green). Andres Munoz was a top ratio reducer of 2022. Non-closers can often have rankings at the end of the season in the top-100, and many managers still choose to avoid “set and forget” ratio reducer options. In many builds, I’d rather roster some solid non-closing RPs than cycle through the streaming wasteland of starters. In roto, this ratio reduction strategy with relievers with high K rates can boost your category coverage, I.E.- A.J. Minter in 2022. Often times, “ratio reducers” are next in line for saves, or can vulture saves when the main closer is resting.
Closers to target after pick 100:
Alexis Diaz, Cincinnati Reds, ADP Yahoo 2023- 129th
The brother of Edwin Diaz has electrifying stuff and 2023 may be the last season to get this stud at a lower price than true value. Alexis had a 1.84 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 10 saves and 83 Ks in 63 innings for the Reds as a rookie in 2022. Alexis had an XBA in the 99th best percentile, a K% in the 93rd percentile and fastball spin rate in the top 100th percentile in 2022. His statcast page is bloody red, which is a great omen for 2023 managers. Alexis didn’t run with the closer gig until the second half of the season, so 20-plus saves in 2023 is a legitimate proposition. If I draft Diaz, I am feeling great to grab a guy with elite three-category coverage out of the pen. Alexis also grabbed seven wins in 2022, which was a nice bonus. Diaz did have a BB% in the worst 3%, so that’s something to keep an eye on.
Paul Sewald, Seattle Mariners, ADP Yahoo 2023- 176th
Paul Sewald GMs in 2021 and 2022 know this man is a dependable season-long asset. Sewald often acts as the “fireman” for Seattle, meaning he comes in during the most high-leverage situations for the Mariners. This role often correlates with wins out of the pen for Paul. Sewald had 15 wins combined over the last two seasons. In 2023, Andres Munoz may push Sewald for saves, but Sewald has the ratios and usage to demand being rostered. In 2022, Sewald had a 2.67 ERA, a stellar 0.77 whip, 72 Ks (64 innings) and 20 saves. In 2021, Sewald had a 3.06 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 104 Ks (64 innings), and 11 saves. Sewald is roto gold, and he plays as an asset in head-to-head formats. His average exit velocity, xBA, xSLG, K%, whiff % and fastball spin are all in the top 15%. However, Sewald’s Barrel % and chase rate are in the bottom 20%. Sewald has had some issues giving up the long ball. Overall, I’d feel comfortable reaching for Sewald a little bit in drafts and I like him in all builds.
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David Bednar, Pittsburgh Pirates, ADP Yahoo 2023 116th
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