2020 Rankings: Top 15 Relief Pitchers IN SV+HLD Formats

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Spring Training is upon us, and that means it’s time to ramp up our preparation for our 2020 Fantasy Baseball Drafts. Let’s keep our “official” rankings on the site rolling, with even deeper rankings and more in-depth analysis available via our draft guide (click here for information on ordering the guide for just $8.25), with the Top 15 Relief Pitchers in SV + HLD formats. Whose value rises in this type of format? Who are the relievers we expect to see pile up HLD? Let’s take a look:

Let’s answer all of these questions and more as we get to the rankings:

RankPlayerTeamQuick Thoughts
1)Josh HaderMilwaukee BrewersThe surprising trade rumors have finally subsided, meaning Hader will again open 2020 as the Brewers' closer. Home runs have become a question, but you have to make contact for that to be an issue and how often does that happen against Hader?
2) Kirby YatesSan Diego PadresHe's continued to lean on his split-finger fastball more and more (41.9% in '19), and that has led to tremendous improvements. Maybe he can't replicate his 1.93 BB/9 or 0.30 HR/9, and the acquisition of Emilio Pagan provides a safety net, but Yates should remain one of the elite.
3) Roberto OsunaHouston AstrosOff-the-field questions aside, Osuna returned to being an elite closer in '19. The Astros helped him adjust his repertoire to increase his changeup usage, so don't be surprised if that continues in 2020.
4) Edwin DiazNew York MetsHome runs were a significant issue in 2019, with speculation being that his struggles were tied to the seams on the baseball hurting his grip (and in turn his slider's productivity). He's a good bet to rebound, especially with the strikeouts and control remaining solid throughout the struggles. Don't be surprised to see him return to Top 3 status.
5) Brad HandCleveland IndiansThe trade rumors surrounding Hand aren't going to disappear, and after the team dealt Corey Kluber it's easy to imagine it coming to fruition at some point in 2020. Hand's drop in groundball rate is something to watch, especially if a trade to a less pitcher friendly environment happens.
6)Ryan PresslyHouston AstrosPressly isn't your typical reliever, seemingly throwing his fastball as little as possible, and while that could be why he hasn't emerged as a SV option he'll be the primary setup man. He leans on his curveball and slider, a combination that's turned him into one of the elite relievers in the game (he's coming off a year that he posted an 11.93 K/9, 1.99 BB/9 and 50.8% groundball rate).
7)Nick AndersonTampa Bay RaysWhether he's closing or setting up (or a combination of the two), Anderson should be among the elite relievers in the game. Home runs could be an issue (28.8% groundball rate), but with elite swing and miss stuff (19.3% SwStr%) opposing hitters may not make enough contact for it to matter.
8)Liam HendriksOakland A'sHendriks took advantage of Blake Treinen's demise to seize the Oakland closer's role. While some may want to believe that he could follow suit and melt down in Year #2 in the role, that's not likely the case. There was a change in his repertoire (shelving his sinker for a fourseam fastball) and that helps to justify his success.
9)Will SmithAtlanta BravesWhile he's going to operate in a setup role (Mark Melancon & Shane Greene are ahead of him), the southpaw is arguably the team's best reliever. He did see his control waiver in the second half (4.03 BB/9), but he can get both RHH (.212 BAA) and LHH (.157 BAA) out and is armed with impressive stuff (15.5% SwStr%, 36.2% O-Swing%). Whether it's SV or HLD, he should help tremendously.
10)Dellin BetancesNew York MetsWhile 2019 was a completely lost season, if he's healthy is there any doubt that Betances is among the elite relievers in the game? Moving out of the AL East and into a more favorable home ballpark only helps add to the appeal, as he's among the elite strikeout artists coming out of the bullpen.
11)Seth LugoNew York MetsIt's no secret that Lugo wants to start, but he's going to remain a reliever and an important cog in the Mets' bullpen. You could make the argument that he's the team's best reliever, coming off an impressive 2019 (2.70 ERA, 11.70 K/9, 1.80 BB/9). The Mets do take a cautious approach to his usage, which could impact his value, and there have been rumblings that he could be deployed as an "opener" on occasion (which would eliminate an opportunity for a SV or HLD).
12)Emilio PaganSan Diego PadresHe's going to operate as a setup man ahead of Kirby Yates, so in traditional formats he lost a lot of his value. In SV + HLD formats it's irrelevant, as he should pile up the HLD. Granted he's going to regress from '19, considering his .228 BABIP and 94.8% strand rate, but he still has the stuff and will be in position to thrive.
13)Giovany GallegosSt. Louis CardinalsWith Carlos Martinez likely shifting to the rotation, could Gallegos emerge as the team's closer? Even if he "settles" for a primary setup role, after posting an impressive 11.30 K/9 (courtesy of a 16.3% SwStr%) and 1.95 BB/9 in his first full season in the Majors there's obviously a lot to like.
14)Taylor RogersMinnesota TwinsHe's long been a solid reliever, but he took advantage of his opportunity to close (30-for-36 in SV chances). He needs to prove that his strikeout rate is for real, but the upside is there.
15)Will HarrisWashington NationalsHarris has long been among the elite setup men in baseball. He may not be "traditional", as he leans on more groundballs (54.6% in '19), but he showed strikeout stuff in the second half (11.71 K/9). He now moves to Washington, where he should share setup duties and could step in when Sean Doolittle inevitably misses time.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

Make sure to check out all of our 2020 preseason rankings:

PositionLast Updated
Catchers02/10/20
First Basemen02/13/20
Second Basemen02/18/20
Third Basemen02/21/20
Shortstops02/24/20
Outfielders03/06/20
Starting Pitchers03/09/20
Relief Pitchers03/03/20

8 COMMENTS

  1. Trade offer on the table

    My A. Bradley and Eovaldi for his D. Price and Daniel Hudson.

    I also have Giles and Harvey as possible closers.

    Would you make this trade.

    Thanks

    • I don’t love any of them honestly, but I guess I’d say Price has the highest upside at this point so I’d pull the trigger

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