Sleepers & Busts: Relief Pitcher
Searching for the ever-elusive fantasy baseball gold and kryptonite, we continue a series on sleepers and busts with relief pitchers.
Besides identifying who we feel is being under- or overrated in drafts, we are going beyond our own projection system and rankings to find a favorite and least favorite to tweak their stat prediction.
SLEEPER: Brett Cecil
Hiding in the bullpen of a closer situation in Toronto that’s remained unresolved all off-season is 28-year-old lefty who has put up dazzling numbers the past two years as a reliever. After four seasons of mixed results as a starter, Cecil became a full-time reliever in 2012 and posted a 2.82 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and followed it up with a 2.70 ERA and 12.8 K/9 last season. Besides the high strikeout rates, Cecil has become a premier ground-ball pitcher, garnering 51.3% and 53.8% GB rates the past two seasons. The only problem with his peripherals is a walk rate that soared to 4.6 BB/9 last year. Then there’s the issue of his being a lefty, but the Blue Jays have Aaron Loup who can serve as the situational southpaw. We’re betting the Blue Jays break camp with Cecil as the closer and Aaron Sanchez in the rotation, then if that isn’t working then they could move Sanchez to closer or trade for Jonathan Papelbon. Cecil is now dealing with a sore shoulder that will keep him out for 10 days, opening the door possibly for Sanchez, who himself is a sleeper since he will likely either be the Toronto closer or fifth starter. If we knew Cecil was going to be the closer, we’d move him up even higher in our rankings, but for now he’s No. 27 on our list while his ADP is 36th.
BUST: Andrew Miller
We love the 29-year-old lefty and think the Yankees made a brilliant signing here, but we expect Delin Betances will be given the keys to the closer role in New York. We have Miller projected to get seven saves and a 2.18 ERA, good enough to rank No. 37 on our relief pitcher list but well below his ADP of 27th.
Koji Uehara: A poor September has vanquished the 39-year-old Red Sox closer to 11th in ADP, but we expect Uehara will be able to hold it together and post a fantastic season, ranking him No. 5 on our list.
Sean Doolittle: The A’s 28-year-old lefty is recovering from a partially torn rotator cuff, avoiding surgery with PRP injections, which has dropped his ADP all the way down to 20th while we have him ranked No. 11.
Joakim Soria: We don’t trust Joe Nathan can hold the Tigers closer job and think that Soria is likely to get a shot at it sooner than later, so we have the 30-year-old former All-Star ranked No. 32 while his ADP is 46th.
Kenley Jansen: Foot surgery has the Dodgers closer likely sidelined until sometime in May, which has dropped him down to 10th in our rankings while his ADP has remained strong at No. 4.
Drew Storen: We can’t get the visions of his postseason failures in 2012 and 2014 out of our heads and the Nationals can’t afford to let him ruin their season yet again. We still have him ranked No. 19, but his ADP is 15th.
Wade Davis: Coming off one of the all-time great seasons by a reliever, Davis is likely to come back to earth a bit and is unlikely to unseat Greg Holland as Royals closer barring a trade. We have Davis ranked No. 38 while his ADP is 32nd.