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2014 Relief Pitcher Rankings

April 15, 2014 | by Josh Johnson | Comments Comments Off
Kenley Jansen has become quite the door slammer for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Kenley Jansen heads a bullpen filled with ex-closers. (Mikesciosciastragicillness.com)

By Josh Johnson, Jake Watroba, RotoRob and Tim McLeod

The 2014 RotoRob MLB Draft Kit rolls on today with the release of our final cheat sheet. So while you Matt Moore owners resign yourselves to losing your man for the year, let’s review the top 105 relievers in Fantasy baseball for 2014.

Note that this list is current as of April 15. With closers losing their jobs seemingly daily, this has become the toughest position to rank, just from the standpoint that you are aiming at a constantly moving target.

Modern day bullpens are full of characters. From veteran specialists, to recently failed starters, the pen has many faces. Bullpens also feature wide eyed rookies, that are usually just happy to make the opening day roster. Edgy facial hair is not required, but it certainly adds to the mystique. Long hair is an option, but it’s best to become effective first.

In most pens everybody has a role. Unfortunately for Fantasy owners, many roles are never quite clear. Some of us will chase holds and saves like they gave us up for adoption. What is key with relievers is strikeout totals and appearances. Opportunity is given to those instill confidence. Saves and holds are still very important but when roles are hazy you must be proactive — especially in the current climate of relief pitchers, where very few jobs seem safe for long.

If you’re playing in a league with minimal bench slots, compiling a bullpen becomes even trickier business. The bottom line here is that monitoring the closer carousel requires a ton of maintenance, so — especially early on — you better be paying attention. — JJ

Last year’s rankings are in parentheses.

1. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves (1): One of several key Braves rewarded with a long-term extension this winter, Kimbrel experienced a significant drop in his K rate last year, but don’t sweat it — he’s whiffing batters early on this season at a higher rate than ever. While it’s true that he is human and will occasionally turn a situation sticky, he remains perfect in save chances early on this year. Okay, so if you want to call his ERA rising two-tenths of a run last year alarming, go ahead. You’re probably also a germaphobe. There aren’t many hurlers that can blow hitters away with such ease as Kimbrel can (as you can see in the video below when he finished off the Nats on Saturday). Let’s see… 900 hitters have now faced him since he arrived in the majors and he’s struck out 392 of them (44 per cent). What do you think? Kimbrel has been the clear No. 1 on this list for a couple of years now and considering how tough it is to take him yard, we don’t see him going anywhere as long as he’s healthy. — RR

2. Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers (36): The Dodger bullpen is full of ex-closers, yet young Jansen is the finisher. He has electric stuff which has always been the underwritten rule in closer lore. He mixes a high 90s fastball with a mid 80s slider and a low 80s curveball. That nasty three-pitch arsenal has helped Jansen evolve into his current role. With experienced fireman such as Chris Perez, Brandon League and Brian Wilson (currently on the DL, but set be activated Tuesday) in the same bullpen, Jansen probably realizes a usurper with gritted teeth is ready. He is a respectable teammate and “Donnie Baseball” loves the kid. — JJ

3. Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals (21): What is the true value of a closer on an average team? In Holland’s case many experts think the Royals will be a better team this season therefore Holland’s value is peaking. While we are not sure Kansas City is a 90-win team, we do think he is one of the few closers with job security. After Holland saved 16 games in 20 opportunities in 2012, the Royals decide to give him the gig full time, with impressive results. His K/9 rate has always been an impressive — and improving — stat throughout his career. But in 2013, Holland took it to a new level when he punched out a mind numbing 103 batters in just 67 innings for a career high rate of 13.8 K/9. That domination helped him successfully convert 47-of-50 chances. Holland touches 98 mph often and he has no problem throwing inside to both lefties and righties. He is fearless with his fastball and while it’s great that he has the kind of confidence, as hitters become more accustomed to him, he must make adjustments. Aaron Crow and Kelvin Herrera would be considered for saves should Holland get hurt or lose his touch. — JJ

4. Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals (68): When you think of new Cardinals closer Rosenthal, your mind probably goes immediately to that 100 mph fastball. That kind of smoke does indeed qualify him as a stopper. As baseball fans, we all certainly have to respect the Cardinals as an organization because they grow prospects like few other organizations. Since Rosenthal has never been a closer it’s not as easy to predict how he will fair. He is a Cardinal and that is a very good reason to trust him. Last season as the Cards setup man he struck out in 108 batters in 75 1/3 innings while only walking 20. Rosenthal’s job should be very secure barring a major derailment. Should he falter, Carlos Martinez and his 98 mph gas would be the sexy choice to take over, even though the youngster is a little wild. — JJ

5. Glen Perkins, Minnesota Twins (15): In late-June, we observed how Perkins was building on his excellent 2012 and sure enough, he wound up enjoying a career year in 2013. Like many closers, he’s off to a slow start this season, but he’s got one of the longer ropes in the game. “Perksy” has gotten stingier with the long ball the last couple of years and the southpaw’s career has really taken off since the Twins converted him to relieving full-time in 2011. By 2009, it was clear he was already flaming out as a starter. Last year, Perkins’ walk rate rose slightly, but hardly to the point that we were concerned. This dude’s as dependable as they come. — RR

6. Koji Uehara, Boston Red Sox (55): Don’t get us wrong, we love Uehara, but asking for him to come anywhere near repeating his historic 2013 would be setting yourself up for a fall. Many rank him within the top five, but we just don’t see delivering that kind of value, and frankly, we’re concerned about the workload the normally fragile reliever endured last year. Just look at Uehara’s first outing of the season — he needed 18 pitches to get through an inning. He’s also already required an MRI on his shoulder, narrowly averting a DL stint. We’re not saying the sky is falling, but he’s 39 now and while he was arguably the top reliever in the AL last season, the only other time he faced more batters was as a rookie — when he was a starter. Again, we expect Uehara to continue to excel, but urge you to realize that last year’s pace was unsustainable. — RR

7. Sergio Romo, San Francisco Giants (6): When we slotted Romo sixth in our Relief Pitcher Rankings last year, we mentioned that we were worried about his workload and whether that would lead to a breakdown. Well, he wound up getting slightly fewer appearances, but they tended to last longer and his inning count rose. However, Romo remained healthy, and while his ERA rose for the second straight season, his home run rate bounced back somewhat and he matched his career high in wins. Two years ago, he enjoyed a postseason for the ages, helping the Giants to their second World Series in three years, but in each of the last two seasons his strikeout rate has dropped dramatically. San Francisco has a penchant for making changes to a player’s role when trouble rears its head, but Romo held the job all year and assuming he remains healthy, we like his chances of doing so again this season. — RR

8. Rafael Soriano, Washington Nationals (7): This wily veteran just keeps on ticking. Soriano has never been considered lights out but he always seems to end up around 40 saves annually when given the chance to close. He blew six saves in his first season with the Nats last year and his K/9 rate was just 6.9. What also worries us is that Soriano had an ERA of 6.38 with two strikes. Washington also boasts Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen, both of whom have had success at closer. Soriano is in a contract year but at age 34 we see a swan song being more imminent.– JJ

9. Ernesto Frieri, Los Angeles Angels (27): In early-August, Frieri was struggling to the point we thought he might be replaced as the closer, however, he turned things around and wound up converting his final 12 save chances. Okay, he was more hittable last year, and in the early going this season, his K rate has dipped, but Frieri has established himself as a fairly dependable option. While Alexi Amarista has become a decent player for the Padres, we still favour the Halos side of that 2012 trade. — RR

10. Steve Cishek, Miami Marlins (24): Along with Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez, Cishek was one of the rare Marlins to offer Fantasy value last year. Cishek is a battler who certainly endured some ERA blemishes along the way last season, but in the end the lanky wonder-boy still has an glistening 2.48 career ERA. Cishek has blown only six saves in 58 opportunities as a closer. His fastball hovers around 93 mph and success lies with baiting hitters low and inside. With Mike Dunn tabbed as the lefty specialist and Carlos Marmol consistently checking the air in his own tires, we feel Cishek is a solid option (with strong job security) on a slowly improving team. — JJ

11. John Axford, Cleveland Indians (45): To own Axford is to accept so many imperfections. While we understand that no closer is perfect, he can be as hot and as cold as they come. No matter the length of his hair or the curl of his moustache, Axford is always a tease. He recorded a league-leading 46 saves in 2011 and the following season — even though his ERA jumped by nearly three runs — he recorded 35 saves. Since then, Axford has exactly zero saves. Now he’s in Cleveland and he is back on the closer bike. While they say you never forget how to ride a bike, we ponder if Axford is up for challenge. What does give us some hope for his future is the fact that the Indians elected to go out of the clubhouse to sign Axford. Many thought Cody Allen would get his shot, but the fact that the Tribe invested heavily in Axford means he’ll likely have a decent sized rope. — JJ

12. Joe Nathan, Detroit Tigers (10): In late-June we talked about how Nathan had pretty much made it all the way back from his injuries, and while he was slightly touched in July (2.25 ERA), he continued to dominate down the stretch even as the Texas heat became unbearable. Signed by Detroit this winter to solve its closer issues, Nathan blew his first 2014 save chance, but given his contract, his leash is as long as can be, so there is no reason to panic. It’s early, but his velocity is down this season as he battles through a “dead arm” period, so we definitely need to keep an eye on that. — RR

13. Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies (3): Decreased velocity is already a worry for Papelbon and his owners this season. His early-season ineffectiveness has people talking about a change, but you know that Paps’ leash has to be extremely long given his track record — and salary (a four-year, $50-million deal that we were critical of right from the get-go). He seems to have settled down in the last week, and he still hasn’t served up a dinger, so we’ll cut him some slack and see how this plays out. Still, this dude threw 95 mph in his final season with the BoSox, and since then his average fastball has dipped to 93.8 in 2012; 92 last year; and just 90.8 this season. Papelbon’s K rate has rebounded early on this year, but the plummeting velocity is a huge red flag. — RR

14. Huston Street, San Diego Padres (9): Last year, it was June when the seemingly perpetually hurt Street first went down, prompting us to recommend Luke Gregerson off the wire. This year, the Padres have added Joaquin Benoit to cover those inevitable Street DL stints. And lo and behold, guess who dealt with a groin injury all spring and didn’t make his spring debut until March 15? Yup, it was Street hurting again. We all know he’s a stud when he’s active, hence his ranking here despite the high risk. Last year, Street wasn’t quite as sharp, tying his career high in losses, experiencing a slight decline in WAR and seeing his ERA rise by almost a run per game. The Padres closer since 2012, Street’s job is generally safe (as long as he’s healthy), but there’s a reason the Padres shelled out almost $8 million a year for Benoit, and it wasn’t just so he could set up. Don’t forget how long Street has been rumoured to be on the trade block as well. — RR

15. David Robertson, New York Yankees (42): The shoes that Robertson has to fill are massive, so the pressure and scrutiny will be widespread. What we do like about him is that he has been a Yankee for a while now. Robertson understands how New York functions. He is probably better suited for the task than your average closer. Still, unless Robertson records 40 saves he will deemed a bum by comparison to Mo. Robertson has been a solid set-up guy with a 2.76 ERA in 339 career appearances, pitching in over 60 games in each of the last four seasons. Surprisingly, he has more blown saves (10) than successful ones (eight) in his career. Yet, in 135 save situations, Robertson has 116 holds. Shawn Kelley could be an option if Robertson loses his bearings but we don’t see him as stiff competition. Kelley did flourish in Pinstripes last season with a career high K/9 rate of 12. Robertson’s career K/9 mark is 11.7.– JJ

16. Grant Balfour, Tampa Bay Rays (17): It may surprise you to hear that Balfour is 36. Do not let that scare you, though. He is a journeyman and a bit of late bloomer if you will. We do realize Balfour (especially if you slightly tweak the pronunciation) is the most unfortunate name for a pitcher since the days of Bob Walk, but he gets the job done. Australian-born Balfour has gone from Oakland to Tampa Bay and both organizations have a recent history of analytically setting up their players to succeed. So, we see no reason why Balfour will not be a good fit with the Rays — especially considering some of the efforts Pitching Coach Jim Hickey has extracted out of his relievers in recent years. Balfour actually spent four seasons with Tampa before his three-year stint in Oakland. Last year, he blew just three saves and his 2.59 ERA was nothing to sneeze at. Balfour set an A’s record by recording 44 consecutive saves over the 2012 and 2013. He can no longer hit 95 on the gun, so his success lies in his ability to pound both lefties and righties inside. The Tampa pen also features former closer Heath Bell and the holds machine Joel Peralta, so that can be perceived as healthy competition or reinforcement. — JJ

17. Jason Grilli, Pittsburgh Pirates (16): The Pirates opened a true treasure chest when they named Grilli their closer last season. He completed 33-of-35 save opportunities, while striking out 74 batters in 50 innings. What we find interesting about Grilli’s success last year is that his velocity was down slightly and he routinely challenged hitters up in the strike zone. As a result, we perceive Grilli as a potentially problematic option. With righty Mark Melancon and lefty Tony Watson in the same pen, a committee seems possible at some point. If you draft Grilli, considering handcuffing him with Melancon. — JJ

18. Addison Reed, Arizona Diamondbacks (13): Reed joins a talented pen in Arizona. That’s why it’s easy to believe he could be on shaky ground, although the loss of veteran David Hernandez for the season takes away one of the top competitors for the crown. J.J. Putz, Brad Ziegler and Oliver Perez could all factor into the mix should Reed struggle. Reed comes to the desert via an offseason trade with the White Sox after recording 69 saves in 81 opportunities over the last two seasons in Chicago. Though he is just a strikeout per inning guy, he does have youth on his side (25). Reed will also be under team control until 2018, so the D-backs have the incentive to keep Reed as their fireman.– JJ

19. Joakim Soria, Texas Rangers (72): In late-June, we identified Soria as a candidate to replace Nathan, and sure enough, he swooped in and took the job. Soria got roughed up early this year in one non-save situation, but he has yet to surrender a homer and looks like he is safe in the role for Texas for the time being. The Mexican righty — a fine fielder for a reliever — took advantage of the fact that Neftali Feliz didn’t seem like himself this spring. Soria’s K rate early on is up again this year as he continues to remind us what a dominating closer he was before getting hurt a couple of years ago. — RR

20. Tommy Hunter, Baltimore Orioles (NR): In late-August, we recommended Hunter as a waiver wire pickup and it was a decent call. While his ERA rose in September, he did win three games while averaging well over a strikeout per inning with phenomenal command. Now that the O’s have dealt Jim Johnson and threw Balfour back into the pond after almost signing him, Hunter is closing despite Manager Buck Showalter humming and hawing all spring about who will close. The converted starter looked splendid in his first full season as a reliever last year, improving his record and enjoying his best overall campaign since 2010, earning the arbitration-eligible hurler a raise to $3 million. Hunter isn’t going to be a blow-them-away closer, but his command improvements have made him a much better pitcher overall and we love the fact that he dealt with his gopheritis in impressive fashion last year. — RR

21. Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds (2): While he is not quite Sidd Finch, Chapman can hit triple digits on the radar gun often. So, yeah, Chapman broke his face and with that comes trigger shyness. We still very much believe in Chapman and Reds fans can agree that the J.J. Hoover/Manny Parra/Jonathan Broxton carousel is the worst ride ever. What we don’t like about Chapman is his herky-jerky delivery. While we all love the dominance Dontrelle Willis possessed, we now realize some bodies can’t hold up. We are not saying Chapman will be next Willis (a footnote missing many cleats), we just feel Chapman could work on his fluidity. Watching fellow lefties like Madison Bumgarner and Chris Sale could help. Also, maybe Randy Johnson should give him a call. The Big Unit could help Chapman developer a slider like his — that seemingly came from shallow right field on his eight-foot frame. We won’t bore you with statistics to prove that Chapman is a strikeout pitcher. We will caution you that his talent needs some fine tuning. Chapman is gifted and that has gotten him this far. Broxton is the only true threat to Chapman, since he has been a closer before and he just returned from forearm surgery. But once Chapman returns, he should slide back into his closer role. — JJ

22. Fernando Rodney, Seattle Mariners (5): After struggling during the first half of last season, Rodney rebounded in the second half, showing that he is still capable of closing. After the All-Star break, he saved 15 games in 18 opportunities, posting an ERA of 2.73 over 26 1/3 innings. The move to Seattle may hurt how many save opportunities Rodney gets, but we’d expect to see a lower ERA as he gets out AL East. — JW

23. Francisco Rodriguez, Milwaukee Brewers (84): In our season debut of the Wire Troll, We identified Rodriguez as someone that needs to be picked up, given Jim Henderson’s struggles this spring. After trading him away at the deadline last year, Milwaukee opted to bring K-Rod back this winter, and so far, it was a wise decision as he’s converted all four of his save chances. Hell, he didn’t even issue his first walk until his sixth appearance of the season and the reason they call him K-Rod is more evident than ever. If you drafted Henderson, you sure received a very nasty late-spring surprise.

24. Casey Janssen, Toronto Blue Jays (18): A shoulder woe slowed Janssen down this spring, and a bacl injury forced him to the DL to begin the season, but he’s expected back this weekend. His ERA rose ever so slightly last year, but his K rate dropped by almost one per nine innings, and that’s a significant concern. Should questions about Janssen’s health continue, bump Sergio Santos up your cheat sheet. Janssen will be a free agent after the season, so if the Jays aren’t competing, be aware that he could be moved at the trade deadline, assuming he’s healthy. — RR

25. Matt Lindstrom, Chicago White Sox (83): Lindstrom is a hurler we recommended early this season as he managed to sneak into the closer role late enough in the spring that he likely wasn’t drafted in many leagues. He has yet to surrender a dinger this season, and while the ERA and WHIP are tough to look at, he’s got the job right now. Lindstrom’s main competition this spring — Nate Jones — is hurting now, so that helps him build some job security. It’s pretty clear most White Sox followers are expecting the worst here (see below). — RR

26. Jose Valverde, New York Mets (44): Yet another early-season Wire Troll recommendation, Valverde is known for surrendering ill-timed dingers, but his new home park should help him in that regard (although we’ve already seen him burned in this fashion early this season). The Tigers grew tiresome of his act in late-June last year; let’s see how long the Mets stick with him as their closer as he’s already blown one of his three save chances. Meltdown is thy name, Valverde. Now, in fairness, he’s actually pitched better than his bottom line results suggest so far this season, so perhaps there is hope. And as long as he’s earning saves, Papa Grande will have value. — RR

27. Jim Johnson, Oakland A’s (8): Anyone else feel like this was the reverse of the kind of trade Oakland’s Billy Beane is infamous for? Granted, giving up Jemile Weeks for an established closer seems logical. However, Beane is a known advocate of the theory that any average starting pitcher can be a top-notch closer. It doesn’t help that the costly Johnson does not have electric, classic closer stuff. Still, he does have 101 saves in the last two seasons, even though he has only struck out 97 batters in 139 innings over this span. It’s never very pretty with Johnson, but who can argue with back-to-back 50-save seasons? He did blow 12 saves during that time and nine of those came last year alone. With more opportunities comes more of a chance at failure. Sure enough, JJ lost the gig early this season, and the A’s have gone to the dreaded “closer by committee” approach. We believe that given his bloated salary, Johnson will ultimately get the job back. — JJ

28. LaTroy Hawkins, Colorado Rockies (NR): The aging Hawkins thought that taking his talents to Colorado was a good idea. Sure, we guess as a 41-year old any team that offers you $2.25 million with a club option for the following year isn’t a bad gig. However, Hawkins showed last year with the Mets that he still had it as he posted a 2.93 ERA with K/9 of seven over 70 2/3 innings. Pitching at Coors figures to hurt his ERA some, but barring some injuries in the bullpen, Hawkins may have a few opportunities to save some games this season. — JW

29. Cody Allen, Cleveland Indians (NR): One of our favourite sleepers heading into the season, Allen has the stuff to be a dominant closer, and even though he’s currently a set-up dude, there is no more valuable such a hurler in the bigs. He’s racking up the Ks and the holds and has even won twice already. Allen is a key cog in an improved Indian pen and at the first sign of trouble for Axford, this kid is going to become extremely valuable, so he makes for a superb stash now. It’s not as if he’s not going to help you in his current role. — RR

30. Sergio Santos, Toronto Blue Jays (41): Last year, Santos really fell in the pecking order of the Toronto pen thanks to injuries. Now, the tables have turned, and with Janssen out, it is Santos that has done some job poaching — with very impressive results. He has dominated early on, keeping the ball in the park and racking up the Ks, so he should hold nice value even after Janssen returns. — RR

Others to Consider

31. Luke Gregerson, Oakland A’s (38)
32. Pedro Strop, Chicago Cubs (52)
33. Jonathan Broxton, Cincinnati Reds (57): We recommended Broxton early this season given Chapman’s scary spring injury. Activated off the DL himself just recently, Broxton stepped right into Chapman’s closer job on a temporary basis (since Hoover failed to run with the job). Broxton looked good in tossing a hitless inning in his debut, fanning a couple. — RR
34. Rex Brothers, Colorado Rockies (60)
35. Shawn Kelley, New York Yankees (NR)
36. Joaquin Benoit, San Diego Padres (23)
37. Anthony Bass, Houston Astros (NR)
38. Sean Doolittle, Oakland A’s (78)
39. Chad Qualls, Houston Astros (NR)
40. Danny Farquhar, Seattle Mariners (NR)
41. Tyler Clippard, Washington Nationals (64)
42. Jim Henderson, Milwaukee Brewers (22): It seems like the Brewers have not had a consistent closer since the days of Rollie Fingers. Yes, Derrick Turnbow and Axford had their moments in recent years but they could never make it two or three straight seasons without hitting a wall. Henderson has already imploded, as a poor spring cost him his job — before Opening Day. He is serviceable and his career K/9 is a stopper worthy 11.9. The 31-year old Canadian spent roughly 10 years as a minor league reliever, then got his chance in 2012. As the Brewers primary closer last year, he converted 28-of-32 save opportunities. This came after blowing four of seven in 2012. — JJ
43. Edward Mujica, Boston Red Sox (28)
44. Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals (NR): Martinez is also listed in our Starting Pitcher Rankings.
45. Ryan Cook, Oakland A’s (49)
46. Joel Peralta, Tampa Bay Rays (87)
47. Hector Rondon, Chicago Cubs (NR)
48. Nate Jones, Chicago White Sox (NR): Jones is a big kid who has been pretty solid thus far for the Pale Hose. Though his ERA rose by nearly two runs from 2012 to 2013, the White Sox seemed set to give him a chance to close, but he wound up losing the job in spring to Lindstrom and then getting hurt. Jones’ K/9 climbed from 8.2 in 2012 to 10.3 last year and with an increase like that we feel that Jones was figuring things out by challenging hitters. He lives above 95 mph and he enjoys pounding guys up and in. It’s a risky strategy but it’s also a fearless one. Jones could very easily get the job back as we know the aging Lindstrom will implode in time. — JJ
49. Joe Smith, Los Angeles Angels (104)
50. Daniel Webb, Chicago White Sox (NR)
51. Jesse Crain, Houston Astros (69): After being named to his first ever All-Star game, Crain’s 2013 season was derailed by injury. The hard-throwing righty was one of the best set-up men in baseball last year as pitched to the tune of a 0.74 ERA over 36.2 innings pitched. What was also remarkable about Crain’s season was his 86.1 per cent LOB (which suggests some luck) and 11.3K/9. With young and unproven arms in the Astros’ bullpen, Crain could see some time as the team’s closer. Note that he started the season on the DL with a biceps injury, but is expected back in May. — JW
52. A.J. Ramos, Miami Marlins (81)
53. Darren O’Day, Baltimore Orioles (103)
54. Gonzalez Germen, New York Mets (NR)
55. Mark Melancon, Pittsburgh Pirates (50)
56. Drew Storen, Washington Nationals (54)
57. Antonio Bastardo, Philadelphia Phillies (71)
58. Junichi Tazawa, Boston Red Sox (47)
59. Al Alburquerque, Detroit Tigers (53)
60. Jared Burton, Minnesota Twins (59)
61. Jose Veras, Chicago Cubs (30): Veras is a true journeyman — the Cubs are his eighth team in nine seasons. We are not exactly sure why nobody likes this guy enough to keep him around. Over 394 career appearances, his K/9 rate is 9.3 and his ERA is 3.84. Veras started the season as the closer for Cubs, but apparently has lost the job already. He did record 19 saves for the lowly Astros last season before being traded to Detroit. Veras also held righties to a .165 BAA. The underrated and inconsistent Strop remains the understudy and set-up man. Both have shown flashes of dominance, but only Veras has proven himself as a door slammer. — JJ
62. Sam LeCure, Cincinnati Reds (NR)
63. Heath Bell, Tampa Bay Rays (96)
64. Josh Fields, Houston Astros (NR)
65. Kelvin Herrera, Kansas City Royals (34)
66. Santiago Casilla, San Francisco Giants (31)
67. David Carpenter, Atlanta Braves (NR)
68. Jason Motte, St. Louis Cardinals (61)
69. Yoervis Medina, Seattle Mariners (NR)
70. Alexi Ogando, Texas Rangers (NR): Ogando is also listed in our Starting Pitcher Rankings.
71. Brian Wilson, Los Angeles Dodgers (66)
72. Sean Marshall, Cincinnati Reds (62)
73. Chris Withrow, Los Angeles Dodgers (NR)
74. Neftali Feliz, Texas Rangers (NR): Feliz only pitched 4 2/3 innings last year as he spent nearly the whole season recovering from Tommy John surgery in August 2012. With Nathan gone, Feliz had a great chance to reclaim the Rangers closer role, but he was so ineffective that he not only didn’t get the gig, he had to start the year at Triple-A. With his velocity lacking this spring, Feliz will have to show that he’s able to pitch like he did before having surgery before he makes it back to the Show. At the start of the season, he may only qualify as a starter depending on your league rules. Regardless, Feliz will achieve RP eligibility within a month or so once he’s back in Texas. — JW
75. Luis Avilan, Atlanta Braves (NR)
76. J.J. Putz, Arizona Diamondbacks (11)
77. Jordan Walden, Atlanta Braves (92)
78. Javier Lopez, San Francisco Giants (82)
79. Mike Dunn, Miami Marlins (NR)
80. Jake McGee, Tampa Bay Rays (43)
81. Matt Albers, Houston Astros (NR)
82. Kevin Siegrist, St. Louis Cardinals (NR)
83. Joba Chamberlain, Detroit Tigers (NR)
84. Neal Cotts, Texas Rangers (NR)
85. Brandon Kintzler, Milwaukee Brewers (NR)
86. Chris Perez, Los Angeles Dodgers (14)
87. Bryan Shaw, Cleveland Indians (NR)
88. Brad Ziegler, Arizona Diamondbacks (90)
89. Tom Wilhelmsen, Seattle Mariners (12)
90. Dale Thayer, San Diego Padres (88)
91. Mike Adams, Philadelphia Phillies (63)
92. Steve Delabar, Toronto Blue Jays (86)
93. Brett Cecil, Toronto Blue Jays (NR)
94. J.P. Howell, Los Angeles Dodgers (NR)
95. Sean Burnett, Los Angeles Angels (77)
96. Matt Belisle, Colorado Rockies (105)
97. Tony Watson, Pittsburgh Pirates (97)
98. Joel Hanrahan, Free agent (26)
99. Tyler Thornburg, Milwaukee Brewers (NR)
100. J.J. Hoover, Cincinnati Reds (99)
101. Tim Collins, Kansas City Royals (94)
102. Matt Thornton, New York Yankees (98)
103. Justin Wilson, Pittsburgh Pirates (NR)
104. Brian Matusz, Baltimore Orioles (NR): Matusz is also listed in our Starting Pitcher Rankings.
105. Jeurys Familia, New York Mets (NR)

Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below whether you agree or disagree with our rankings.

RotoRob’s Fantasy Baseball Weekly Podcast

Crave more in-depth Fantasy analysis? Then join us every Thursday at 9 p.m. EST for RotoRob’s Fantasy Baseball Weekly Podcast on Blogtalkradio as we entertain and edify you for an hour or more each week. We’re off this week because of the NHL Playoffs, but will return on April 24. Tune in here.

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2014 RotoRob MLB Draft Kit: Outfield Rankings

March 28, 2014 | by RotoRob | Comments (3)
If not for injuries, CarGo looked to be on pace for year similar to 2010 when he finished third in the NL MVP race. Injuries have always seemed to plague Gonzalez since being traded to the Rockies in 2008. During his tenure with Colorado, he has only managed to play in over 140 games once (2010) which isn’t very good when you consider you’ll likely have to use a first or second round pick on him. Gonzalez possesses all the talent in the world. He has the ability to hit for a high average, hit for power, steal a fair amount of bases, and drive in a ton of runs. Gonzalez is entering the prime of his career. He’s a 30-30 candidate… if he’s able to stay healthy.
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2014 RotoRob MLB Draft Kit: Third Base Rankings

March 5, 2014 | by RotoRob | Comments (1)
Still, the normally injury prone player was able to set a career high by playing in 160 games. That’s the good news. The bad news is his overall work at the plate regressed. Longoria’s walk rate dipped for the second straight season and he never runs anymore. This former college star has enjoyed a fine career to date, but you can’t shake the feeling that he hasn’t had that true breakthrough yet. Is a 40-homer season coming one of these years? Well, he’ll need to stop the two-year trend of regressing extra-base pop first. Longoria is a no-nonsense player that will do whatever he can to be the best. Is 2014 the season he finally puts it all together?
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2014 RotoRob MLB Draft Kit: Shortstop Rankings

February 21, 2014 | by RotoRob | Comments (2)
Tulowitzki is easily the most dangerous hitting shortstop in the game today. Despite the Coors Field stigma (which is somewhat true) Tulo is better than the field. His major issue is health. If you have owned him in the past, you know what we are saying. If Tulowitzki can actually stay on the field, 30 homers and 100 RBI are easily within his grasp. (Take a look at his mechanics in the video below to get an idea of his power.) His career OPS of 877 should be higher but health issues over the years has likely put a dent in it. While we don’t have the foresight to see that he will appear in 150+ games, we do know that if he does you will be a proud and contending owner. Tulowitzki is annually a slow starter but don’t lose faith because remember you drafted him high. After all, this dude’s career BABIP and OBP numbers would be great for a first baseman — never mind a middle infielder. Gamblers roll the dice and they don’t fear what hasn’t already happened.
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2014 RotoRob MLB Draft Kit: Second Base Rankings

February 16, 2014 | by RotoRob | Comments (9)
Kipnis was one of the main reasons why the Indians went from AL Central basement dwellers to finishing a game behind the Tigers for the division title. The 26-year-old quietly had a good year, showing the ability to hit for average and power, drive in some runs, get on base at a good clip, and steal 30 bags. Some owners might find Kipnis to be a better bang for their buck than Cano as you won’t need to use a first round pick on him. As Kipnis enters his fourth big league season, he could be sitting on a breakout year. His ability to steal bases and his power potential make him one of the elite keystone corner dudes in the game. If Kipnis is able to hit over 20 long balls this year, and it’s very possible, come next year, we could see him at the top of this list.
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