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The National League West wraps up our 2018 Bullpen Outlooks series. Check out all of the American League divisions here: AL East, AL Central, AL West, and the rest of the National League here: NL East, NL Central. Stick with Rotoballer all season long for weekly Closer Reports including recaps of the week that passed, outlooks for the week ahead, and any other important bullpen news!

The NL West has several formidable bullpens and features (arguably) the best closer in baseball as well. Most of the NL West bullpens aren't just top-heavy either, with solid relievers ranging from middle relief all the way into the ninth inning. The Rockies spent a ton of money putting together a "super bullpen", and it'll be interesting to see how that turns out for them.

Let's take a look at the National League West and see how these deep bullpens can make a difference in your fantasy league for the coming season.

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Arizona Diamondbacks

Closer: Archie Bradley

Volatility Rating: Questionable

Other Relevant RPs: Brad Boxberger, Yoshihisa Hirano

The Arizona Diamondbacks have quite a few interesting arms in the back end of their bullpen. Archie Bradley is the favorite for the ninth inning as of now, but the team hasn't officially named anyone to the role just yet. There have been rumors that they might want to use Bradley in a more versatile role similar to Andrew Miller's in Cleveland, but as Opening Day approaches, it's seeming more and more likely that Bradley will at least be in the mix for saves. He was great in 2017, pitching 73 innings and posting a 1.73 ERA, 9.74 K/9, and 2.59 BB/9. His first season as a reliever was certainly a break out year, as he set a career high in K/9 and slashed his BB/9 almost in half. He has the upside to be a legitimately great closer, but he'll have to be given the role first.

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo has stated more than once that there will be an open competition between Archie Bradley, Brad Boxberger, and Yoshihisa Hirano for the closer role. Boxberger has the most MLB closing experience of the trio, but has dealt with some arm soreness this spring and barely pitched at all last season due to injury. Hirano has been one of the best relievers in Japan for a while now, but the 33-year-old "rookie" likely won't be thrust immediately into the ninth inning.

Fantasy Must Own: Archie Bradley (all formats if he's named the closer, deeper leagues and all SV+HLD leagues regardless), Brad Boxberger and Yoshihisa Hirano (deeper holds leagues)

 

Colorado Rockies

Closer: Wade Davis

Volatility Rating: Solid

Other Relevant RPs: Jake McGee, Bryan Shaw, Adam Ottavino

Pitching in Colorado is hard and the Rockies know that. Holding a lead, no matter how large, can be a challenge sometimes in the thin air of Denver. So the Rockies went out and created a super bullpen this winter, putting together a group of arms that look great on paper. They went with a top-tier closer in Wade Davis, first of all. Davis saved 32 games for the Chicago Cubs last year, posting a 2.30 ERA, 12.12 K/9, and 4.30 BB/9. It was the highest BB/9 of his career, which was a bit concerning, but it was also the second highest K/9 of his career. Davis' ratios might take a bit of a hit pitching in Colorado, especially since he isn't a strict ground ball pitcher, but he should still put up strong numbers and will absolutely be worth owning in all formats.

Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw figure to be Davis' primary setup men, and both should have solid value in holds leagues this season. McGee struggled a lot in his first year in Colorado in 2016, but he fared much better in 2017, posting a 3.61 ERA, 9.10 K/9, and 2.51 B/9. He's a solid bet to be the primary setup man and should collect plenty of holds. Shaw will be the right handed complement to McGee in the late innings, and he's been a solid reliever for a while now. Shaw won't blow batters away, but he's a guy who gets outs and can still strikeout about a batter per inning. He doesn't quite have McGee's upside in holds leagues, but he's worth a look in deeper leagues or NL-only.

Fantasy Must Own: Wade Davis (all formats), Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw (holds leagues)

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

Closer: Kenley Jansen

Volatility Rating: Solid

Other Relevant RPs: Pedro Baez, Wilmer Font

The Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen is anchored by a man who many (including me) believe to be the best closer in baseball, Kenley Jansen. Behind Jansen, however, the Dodgers don't have much, at least not on paper. Jansen was ridiculous last season, saving 41 games while putting up a 1.32 ERA, 14.36 K/9, and 0.92 BB/9. He's the top of the top-tier of fantasy closers and there's no reason to think he won't finish atop the mountain yet again in 2018. He's worth drafting earlier than most would consider a reliever, just because he's so consistent and really does make a big enough difference compared to his peers. The old, "don't pay for saves" saying rings true most of the time, but Jansen is the exception.

Beyond Jansen, things could get ugly. Dodgers fans are well aware of Pedro Baez, but his penchant for meltdowns at key times masks the fact that he's generally a pretty solid relief pitcher. Last season, he posted a respectable 2.95 ERA, 9.00 K/9, and 4.08 BB/9. The walk rate is a bit high, especially without an elite strikeout rate, but it was also almost twice as high as his previous career high. A bit of regression to the mean with control and you have a solid, slow working, steady reliever. Wilmer Font is an interesting case, and he's been getting some buzz in Spring Training with rumors swirling that L.A. might try using him in the bullpen. He was annihilated to the tune of a 17.18 ERA in just 3 2/3 innings last season, but his minor league numbers were strong: 3.42 ERA, 11.93 K/9, 2.34 BB/9. He misses a lot of bats and could presumably miss even more with the added zip working in relief should give him. He's not someone to draft now, but he's someone to keep an eye on early in the season.

Fantasy Must Own: Kenley Jansen (all formats, should be the first closer drafted), Pedro Baez (deep holds leagues)

 

San Diego Padres

Closer: Brad Hand

Volatility Rating: Solid

Other Relevant RPs: Kirby Yates, Phil Maton, Carter Capps

Everyone expected the San Diego Padres to trade closer Brad Hand last season, but instead they held on and signed him to a three year contract extension. Hand toiled in the Marlins system for years before blowing up in a Padres uniform and becoming one of the better closers in the league. In 2017, he posted a 2.16 ERA, 11.80 K/9, 2.27 BB/9, and 21 saves. Whatever it was that "clicked" for Hand in 2016, he was able to keep it going through 2017. He has enough job security and strong enough ratios to be worth drafting as one of the top-10 relievers in mixed leagues.

Behind Hand in the San Diego bullpen are Kirby Yates and Phil Maton. Yates can rack up the strikeouts (13.98 K/9 in 2017), but his ERA tends to hover around 4.00. Maton also strikes out over a batter per inning (9.63 K/9 last season), but also has an ERA that sticks near 4.00. Neither pitcher would be an excellent closing option if Hand were to go down. The perhaps forgotten gem in the Padres bullpen is Carter Capps. The former fantasy darling hasn't really pitched since 2015 with the Miami Marlins. Since then, he's undergone Tommy John Surgery and thoracic outlet surgery. He's working his way through camp though, and could be ready for Opening Day. In his last somewhat full season, Capps posted a ridiculous 1.16 ERA, 16.84 K/9, and 2.03 BB/9. Those are absolutely elite numbers that would make him worth owning even in standard mixed leagues regardless of his role in the bullpen. Here's the catch though: Capps just hasn't been the same since that 2015 season. That upside is still there, but there's a huge risk involved too.

Fantasy Must Own: Brad Hand (all formats), Kirby Yates and Phil Maton (holds leagues- deep mixed and NL-only), Carter Capps (for the risk-taker who loves to chase upside)

 

San Francisco Giants

Closer: Mark Melancon/Sam Dyson

Volatility Rating: Committee

Other Relevant RPs: Tony Watson, Hunter Strickland

The San Francisco Giants have not yet made it clear if they will go into 2018 with a dedicated closer, or if veterans Mark Melancon and Sam Dyson will split the role. If either pitcher gets the role to himself, he'd be worth owning in all formats, but as parts of a committee, each one has limited fantasy value. Melancon struggled mightily in 2017, both with his health and with his effectiveness. He ended up pitching just 30 innings, posting a 4.50 ERA, 8.70 K/9, and 1.80 BB/9. Once considered one of the league's premiere closers, that reputation is in jeopardy unless he comes out of the gate strong in 2018. Sam Dyson, meanwhile, was the laughing stock of Texas to start out the 2017 season, but with a change of scenery came a huge change in production, as Dyson was effective in a Giants uniform. As a Giant, he tossed 38 innings, saving 14 games and posting a 4.03 ERA. Dyson's a severe ground ball pitcher, never one to rack up the strikeouts (career 7.05 K/9.) He's worth owning as a closer if he holds the job himself, but as a setup guy, he doesn't have the upside of other guys who should be available in most formats.

Behind the two likely closers are Tony Watson and Hunter Strickland. Watson signed an intriguing contract with the Giants this offseason and should serve as the primary lefty setup man in the San Francisco bullpen. Last season, Watson split his time with the Pirates and Dodgers, amassing a total of 66 2/3 innings with a 3.38 ERA, 7.16 K/9, and 2.70 BB/9. He's a solid setup man who should end up with the most holds on the team. He's not worth owning in standard leagues, but owners in holds leagues looking for a solid arm should look his way.

Fantasy Must Own: Mark Melancon/Sam Dyson (all formats if one is named closer over the other, Melancon with much more upside), Tony Watson (holds leagues only)

 

More 2018 Player Outlooks





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