Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

2018 Bullpen Outlooks - National League East


The National League East kicks off the first of our National League bullpen outlooks. Check out all of the American League divisions here: AL East, AL Central, AL West.

The NL East doesn't feature any of the big name closers that casual baseball fans would recognize, but there are some solid relief arms on each team and a few guys who should provide nice fantasy value in 2018. The Washington Nationals are the only NL East team almost certain to finish above .500, while a couple of other teams have some upside but aren't sure. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves will need a lot to go right to sniff a winning record and the Miami Marlins will likely have to fight to avoid a 100-loss season.

Let's take a look at the National League East and see what teams are employing relief pitchers that could have fantasy relevance this season.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!

 

Atlanta Braves

Closer: Arodys Vizcaino

Volatility Rating: Solid

Other Relevant RPs: Jose Ramirez, Peter Moylan, A.J. Minter

The Atlanta Braves are still rebuilding, but they seem to be on the upswing and 2018 could be a nice stepping stone toward near-future success. Still, it's unlikely they'll compete in 2018, but their bullpen will feature a few interesting arms that will have fantasy relevance.

Closer Arodys Vizcaino has some nice upside and put up solid numbers in 2017, but his previous control issues keep him from being an elite relief arm. In 2017, Vizcaino saved 14 games and posted a 2.83 ERA, striking out 10.05 per nine innings while walking 3.30 in that span. He was unable to control his fastball almost at all in the season before, however, struggling to a 6.05 BB/9 in 2016. If he can maintain his control like he did last season, he should be able to do a solid enough job to keep the ninth inning gig. If his control struggles rear their ugly faces again though, young lefty A.J. Minter could be coming for his job.

Minter is a 24-year-old that was drafted in the second round in 2015. He has the upside to be a top-tier closer if he can control his pitches just a bit more. He made his Major League debut last season, pitching 15 innings, posting a 3.00 ERA with elite rate stats: 15.60 K/9 and 1.20 BB/9, good for a sparkling 0.96 FIP. His minor league numbers show the potential for that kind of strikeout rate, but they show a much more concerning walk rate. If his 2017 big league performance was an indicator of things to come, it won't be long until Minter grabs the closer role and runs away with it as a top-shelf reliever. He's a risky choice because he does not yet have the job and because he could ultimately bust, but he could make the risk more than worth it, especially since he can almost certainly be grabbed off the waiver wire after leagues draft.

Fantasy Must Own: Arodys Vizcaino (all formats, later rounds), A.J. Minter (all dynasty/keeper leagues, worth a spec add in deeper redraft leagues)

 

Miami Marlins

Closer: Brad Ziegler

Volatility Rating: Solid

Other Relevant RPs: Kyle Barraclough, Drew Steckenrider

The 2018 Miami Marlins aren't going to look anything like the 2017 Miami Marlins. No, they didn't get new uniforms or a new stadium, but they did trade away almost all of their recognizable faces. The entire starting outfield is gone, the second baseman is gone, and the starting rotation is basically a bunch of people no one has ever heard of. (Jose Urena is in competition to start on Opening Day. Jose Urena.) All that being said, the bullpen still has some interesting right arms, with a mix of veterans and young guys making up what could end up being the most average part of the team in 2018.

Brad Ziegler is locked into the closer's role to start the season. The 38-year-old veteran struggled last season, but he was dealing with some injury issues almost all season which are reportedly now taken care of. In 47 innings last year, he posted a 4.79 ERA, 10 saves, a minuscule 4.98 K/9, and a 3.06 BB/9. Ziegler's never been a big strikeout guy, instead relying on ground balls to get outs, but that of course limits his fantasy value. Still, he's a guy with a solid ninth-inning job on a team that, when it wins, will win games by only a few runs. He's worth a late-round stab for owners who need saves, but don't mind not getting much else.

Kyle Barraclough might be the best arm in the Marlins bullpen, and may ultimately end up working in the ninth inning. Barraclough recorded his first big league save last season, but was never officially the team's closer. He tossed 66 innings, putting up a 3.00 ERA with 10.36 K/9 but a concerning 5.18 BB/9. Even more concerning, that 5.18 BB/9 was the lowest of his career. "Bear Claw" has elite swing-and-miss stuff, but he falls into traps at times where he has no idea where his pitches are going. If he can work on that control, he can develop into a very valuable mixed league reliever even if he doesn't take over the ninth inning immediately.

Fantasy Must Own: Brad Ziegler (deeper leagues, owners needing saves only), Kyle Barraclough (NL-only and deep mixed leagues)

 

New York Mets

Closer: Jeurys Familia/A.J. Ramos

Volatility Rating: Committee

Other Relevant RPs: Jerry Blevins, Anthony Swarzak

The New York Mets are going into the 2018 season with a closer-by-committee, but that committee is only two men: Jeurys Familia and A.J. Ramos. There have been varying rumors that the two will "battle it out" in Spring Training to see who wins the job, and pitching coach Dave Eiland already said that Familia, "will probably get the majority of the saves." It doesn't bode well for Ramos, but Ramos is likely the better pitcher and should be able to work his way into the ninth inning sooner rather than later.

Last season, Familia tossed just 24 2/3 innings, posting a disappointing 4.38 ERA. He struck out 9.12 per nine, but allowed 5.47 walks in that span. He's also reportedly begun concentrating on inducing more ground balls instead of trying for strikeouts, which will of course reduce his fantasy value. Meanwhile, splitting 2017 between the Marlins and the Mets, A.J. Ramos saved 27 games while posting a 3.99 ERA. He came up with a strong 11.05 K/9 but had control issues, posting a 5.22 BB/9. Ramos went through stretches where he looked like he had his control figured out, but then would fall back into stretches where he could not throw strikes. If he puts together a strong spring and starts the season off showing better control, it shouldn't be long until he takes the closer role for himself.

Ramos and Familia are both worth owning at this point, although neither will have great value until one proves himself the better option and takes the ninth innings reins for himself. Familia may have the upper hand right now, but Ramos could be the better bet for 30 saves.

Fantasy Must Own: Jeurys Familia and A.J. Ramos (in deep leagues, try owning both so that you're guaranteed a solid closer once things sort themselves out)

 

Philadelphia Phillies

Closer: Hector Neris

Volatility Rating: Solid

Other Relevant RPs: Pat Neshek, Tommy Hunter

The Philadelphia Phillies are a very young team in general, but their bullpen is filled with veterans who should put together some solid seasons in relief. Closer Hector Neris relies strongly on his splitter, and it can be an absolute nightmare for hitters. He can occasionally lose control of his signature pitch though, and then he becomes a nightmare for himself. Still, when he's on, he's on. Last season, Neris saved 26 games and put up a 3.01 ERA, 10.37 K/9, and 3.13 BB/9. He'll face some competition from other solid bullpen arms, but his job seems pretty safe for now.

Pat Neshek has been a solid late-inning reliever since 2006 and should be just the same in 2018. Splitting last season between the Phillies and the Colorado Rockies, Neshek posted a dazzling 1.59 ERA. He added a solid 9.96 K/9 and an elite 0.87 BB/9. Neshek has had good control for a few years now, but the 0.87 was a career best. He's a strike-thrower who induces a lot of weak contact with his unique delivery. He could fill in at closer if Neris struggles or gets hurt, but Neshek is best used as a setup man, where he'll begin the season.

Fantasy Must Own: Hector Neris (all formats), Pat Neshek (holds leagues)

 

Washington Nationals

Closer: Sean Doolittle

Volatility Rating: Solid

Other Relevant RPs: Ryan Madson, Brandon Kintzler

The Washington Nationals will go into the 2018 season with three experienced closers as their top three bullpen arms. Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, and Brandon Kintzler have all had success closing out games in the past. Madson and Kintzler have been more of the "solid" type of closer, while Doolittle is the one with the elite potential.

Splitting last season between the Oakland A's and the Nationals, Doolittle saved 24 games, putting up a 2.81 ERA, 10.87 K/9, and 1.75 BB/9. He's struggled a lot with injuries in his career, pitching only 283 innings despite debuting in 2012. When he's on the mound, he's an elite closer who should be among the first 10 relief pitchers drafted in fantasy leagues. The risk with Doolittle does not come with his pitching, but with his health. Owners in deeper leagues should handcuff him with either Madson or Kintzler just to be safe.

Fantasy Must Own: Sean Doolittle (all formats), Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler (as Doolittle's handcuff in deep leagues)

 

More 2018 Player Outlooks




More Recent Articles

 

Week 15 Panic Room: Outlooks for Slumping and Injured Players

As you set your Week 15 fantasy football playoff lineups, there may be some players who make you feel very uncomfortable about starting them. Based on recent lackluster performances, injuries, or just an intangible bad vibe, it's a struggle to insert them into your lineup in a do-or-die week. But you may also nervous be... Read More


Drew Lock: Is He Ready For Fantasy Football Playoff Consideration?

There is much excitement in Denver after Drew Lock put on an air display at Houston last week. In just his second NFL start, the rookie threw for 309 yards and three TD passes, all in the first half, as the Broncos stunned the AFC South leaders, 38-24. The final score doesn’t indicate what type... Read More


Survive and Advance: The King's Guide to Fantasy Football Playoff Sanity and Success

As the playoffs progress in the NFL every season, media coverage ramps up. By the time we get to Super Bowl week, it's become a full-blown circus. There are microphones and recorders being shoved in players' faces at every waking moment, and the questions never stop. As the fantasy football playoffs move ahead, there is... Read More


Red Zone Sleepers and Busts - Week 15

We are at a crucial point in the season. Hopefully, your team is still alive, but there is always an opportunity to get your team in shape before that final push! As fantasy owners, we know that not all touches are equal. A touch in the red zone has an increased chance of scoring a... Read More


QB vs Pass Rush Matchups To Watch - Week 15

Week 15 is here, and the fantasy playoffs are rolling. Some head into the fantasy semifinals as big favorites but others are scrapping to keep their season alive. Real teams start at quarterback, and the position is pretty important for fantasy as well. Quarterbacks have changed the game for fantasy football this year with guys... Read More


Wide Receiver Matchups To Target In Week 15

In Week 14, DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Thomas were the high-end options that came through with solid performances, both finishing in the top-five even though they had fairly tough matchups. A.J. Brown finished as the No. 1 receiver on the week, scoring two touchdowns off of just seven targets, while Darius Slayton and Emmanuel Sanders... Read More


Woos and Boos - Starts and Sits for Week 15 Lineups

The trend of fresh faces being among the tops of the fantasy scoring leaderboard continued in Week 14. Across the skill positions, we saw players that took advantage of plus matchups and excelled for fantasy owners during the first week of the playoffs. Mitchell Trubisky and Drew Lock came out of nowhere to finish inside... Read More


Inside the Tent - Week 15 NFL Injury Insight

At RotoBaller, we can't stress enough the importance of keeping up with injuries and playing your best lineup week after week. Players are going to get injured, that's an unavoidable fact. What's avoidable though is making the wrong roster decisions based on the injuries surrounding your fantasy squad. If you want to dominate your leagues... Read More


NFL Matchup Ratings Tool - Weekly Player Projections

  If you see the red "Upgrade" button below, then you are not a Premium subscriber, or have not yet logged in. Learn more about our NFL Matchup Ratings and projections system. Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of... Read More


Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 15

Welcome to our Week 15 matchup analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every single contest from the Sunday slate in one convenient location, helping you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. Be sure to check back regularly because this article will be updated as news comes in regarding injuries and other... Read More


Week 15 Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

Below you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football weekly rankings, tiers, player news and stats for the 2019 NFL season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Weekly PPR Rankings Weekly Half-PPR Rankings Weekly Standard Rankings Dynasty League Rankings     Fantasy... Read More


Fantasy Football News and Injuries - Running Updates

Below is a quick-hit list of running notes on relevant injuries and player news, including pre-game reports and live in-game updates. Stay tuned for updates all throughout the week and on Sunday morning game day:   Week 15 Jared Cook (concussion) practiced in full. D.J. Chark has officially been ruled out for Week 15. Adam Thielen... Read More


All-Day For the Win: Why Adrian Peterson Matters Again

I don't think anyone could ever be happy at any sports player getting injured. It just makes no sense, so please leave the hatred out now and forever when it comes to that. That being said, though, we're talking about just a branch of sports here with fantasy football, and we all know what is... Read More


Fantasy Football IDP Rankings for Week 15 (Top 100)

One of the great things about implementing IDP in fantasy football is that it balances out some of the insanity that the offensive players produce in some weeks. If you started a lineup with Jimmy Garoppolo, Raheem Mostert, Boston Scott, A.J. Brown, Darius Slayton, and Noah Fant then you undoubtedly crushed your opponent while a... Read More


Fantasy Football Booms, Busts - Kenny Golladay, Kenyan Drake, James White

If there was ever a week to have more booms than busts in your fantasy football lineup, it’s this week. The playoffs are either underway or about to start in fantasy football leagues across the nation and around the world. If you are lucky enough to be the proud owner of a playoff team, then... Read More