Early 2015 Rankings: Top 15 Relief Pitchers

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

We all know the old fantasy baseball adage, “Don’t pay for saves!”  Not everyone subscribes to that theory, though, and even if you do it doesn’t mean that one of the better options may not come at a value on draft/auction day.  While we can debate the strategy another day, let’s take a look at how our early rankings shake out:


1. Aroldis Chapman – Cincinnati Reds
2. Kenley Jansen – Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Craig Kimbrel – Atlanta Braves
4. Greg Holland – Kansas City Royals
5. Sean Doolittle – Oakland A’s
6. Mark Melancon – Pittsburgh Pirates
7. Delin Betances – New York Yankees
8. Koji Uehara – Boston Red Sox
9. David Robertson – Chicago White Sox
10. Trevor Rosenthal – St. Louis Cardinals
11. Glen Perkins – Minnesota Twins
12. Joaquin Benoit – San Diego Padres
13. Zach Britton – Baltimore Orioles
14. Huston Street – Los Angeles Angels
15. Steve Cishek – Miami Marlins


  • The top three options are completely interchangeable, depending on your opinions on them, but given their track record and upside they do remain a tier over the rest of the field.  That said, the next four players are right on the cusp of joining them so overpaying (as is often the strategy with closers) for one of the “elite” simply may not be prudent.
  • As of right now the assumption is that Betances is going to be the closer for the Yankees, but that’s hardly a given.  While he would have value in a setup role, we have to keep in mind that there’s a very real possibility that he shares ninth inning duties with Andrew Miller.  We’ll have to see how things progress as we near Spring Training/Opening Day, but just keep that in mind and consider his spot on the rankings shaky.
  • With the Padres seemingly going for it this season, the assumption should be that Joaquin Benoit is not going to be traded (though that’s hardly a given).  Of course, Kevin Quackenbush is breathing down his neck so even if he stays any struggles could lead to him being replaced.  Benoit brings strikeouts, control and calls a favorable ballpark home and has also proven that he can thrive in the role (35 saves over the past two seasons).
  • Zach Britton may not be your prototypical closer, using elite control to thrive in the role.  However with a 13.1% SwStr% there’s actually significantly more strikeout upside (7.31 K/9).  If that happens, he’s going to be one of the elite.
  • The name that just missed the rankings was Cody Allen, and he was definitely a tough “cut”.

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  1. Bbboston says:

    Picked up Feliz at end of the year and expected a disaster. Started to research his velocity and was surprised to learn he was it ting mid-upper 90s at very end of the year…… If he comes back with that velocity, he seems to be an intriguing but low candidate… Thoughts?

  2. ChiCitySOX says:

    In a dynasty league and picked up Aaron Sanchez, any chance he has a shot to close next year?

  3. Rotoprofessor says:

    Bbboston – I’m not the biggest fan of Feliz. Sure, there is upside, but there was a lot of luck in his performance last season. I’d prefer him as my CL3 more than anything.

    ChiCitySOX – It all depends on what the team does. There’s a good chance they add a closer or give Sanchez a shot at the #5 spot in the rotation. If they don’t go outside the organization, Sanchez has as good of a shot as anyone (though I wouldn’t count on that0

  4. Ritch says:

    I am keeping Betances for $6.00 as one of my keepers from last years team.
    Mistake ?

    I play in a points league. Saves are worth 13 points, holds 9 points.


    • Rotoprofessor says:

      It’s not a mistake in a vacuum, but it also depends on your alternatives. That said, he’s going to be one of the better RP regardless given that setup.

  5. JJ says:

    Should I drop Henrry Mieija for Doolittle? I see he’s high on your ranks, but he out the first month.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      It all depends on your situation like your alternatives and keeper rules (if applicable). I personally don’t believe Mejia is going to be able to hold the job, though.

      Ideally I’d like to have both, so Mejia gets saves early and then you utilize Doolittle when he returns.

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