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

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:


Already have an account? Log in here.


Forgot Password


2020 Early Bullpen Outlooks - A.L. Central

Welcome to 2020, fantasy friends. There are four football teams still playing and basketball and hockey are in full swing, so it's time to start thinking about the 2020 baseball season.

Free agency has been a little more front-loaded this season, leaving fewer questions about rosters heading into Spring Training. Still, there will be changes between now and Opening Day, so keep an eye on our Fantasy Baseball Bullpen Depth Charts throughout the year.

Let's continue with the American League Central, where it looks like closers might remain the same as in 2019, but some things may have changed in the seventh and eighth innings, and some leashes may have been shortened. Let's sneak out of this collar like my cat did in an airport once and rush through security into the AL Central.

Editor's Note: Get our 2020 MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our draft kit, premium rankings, player projections and outlooks, our top sleepers, dynasty and prospect rankings, 20 preseason and in-season lineup tools, and over 200 days of expert DFS research and tools. Sign Up Now!


Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers were bad last year. The Detroit Tigers will be bad again this year. But that doesn't mean the Detroit Tigers won't have some valuable fantasy contributors on the squad. One of them could be in the bullpen in the shape of closer Joe Jimenez. Jimenez had been the "closer of the future" for the Tigers for what seemed like forever before finally getting his chance after the team traded Shane Greene to the Atlanta Braves. Jimenez was okay overall in 2019, saving nine games in 14 chances. He posted a mediocre-if-we're-feeling-generous 4.37 ERA/4.19 xFIP in 59 2/3 innings, but he was able to post a strong 31.9 K% along with a decent 9.0 BB%. He had definite issues with the home run ball but showed enough upside to be worth a late-round selection in most formats.

Elsewhere in the Tigers bullpen reside even more question marks, with Buck Farmer looking like the best bet for the main setup role. Farmer posted a 3.72 ERA/4.11 xFIP in 67 2/3 innings in 2019, along with a 25.4 K% and 8.3 BB%. He's a solid reliever in real life, but not much of a fantasy asset, especially on a team unlikely to provide a ton of opportunities for holds. Gregory Soto and Jose Cisnero wrap up the likely end-of-bullpen arms for Detroit, and neither belongs on too many fantasy rosters.


Chicago White Sox

The Chicago White Sox have improved their team in almost every aspect this offseason, including a somewhat under-the-radar bullpen addition that could pay off in 2020. At the end of their bullpen remains Alex Colome, who was decent in 2019 but outperformed his peripherals and leaves some cause for concern. Colome converted 30 of his 33 save opportunities and posted a 2.80 ERA, but a 4.61 xFIP and pedestrian strikeout (22.1 K%) and walk (9.2 BB%) rates show possible signs of regression in 2020. He's still worth rostering in most formats, but he's likely to be overdrafted in some leagues.

Aaron Bummer should return as the key lefty and setup man in the White Sox bullpen. Somewhat similar to Colome in that he outperformed many peripherals, Bummer put up a sparkling 2.13 ERA but a 3.49 xFIP, partly thanks to his .228 BABIP against. He struck out 22.9% and walked 9.2% of the batters he faced. Solid enough numbers on a real mound, but not much to be excited about in fantasy. Steve Cishek joined the White Sox recently on a one-year contract. He was great in the first half last year before hitting an extended second-half slump, but should be a valuable part of the bullpen if he can find his first-half form again. For the season, he ended up with a 2.95 ERA/4.95 xFIP, 21.4 K% and 10.9 BB%. At this point in his career, he's another arm that is better on the mound than on your screen.


Cleveland Indians

The Cleveland Indians traded their ace Corey Kluber and have been rumored to be looking to trade their best player Francisco Lindor (although more recent reports expect Lindor to stay for 2020). One place they did improve was in their bullpen. Brad Hand will be back to close things out, but Emmanuel Clase could put some heat on Brad's seat. Hand was excellent for some stretches in 2019 and awful for some stretches as well. He was so good when he was good that his season numbers don't show how bad he was when he was bad. Overall, he ended up with 34 saves in 39 chances, posting a 3.30 ERA/3.41 xFIP and a 34.7 K% with a 7.4 BB%. Those are potentially elite numbers, and bad luck may have played a role in Hand's struggles (.362 BABIP compared to his career .288 number, for example.) Hand should be back to his 2019-good self for most of 2020 and is worth being one of the first few closers drafted in most formats.

Clase came from the Texas Rangers in the Kluber deal and should immediately slot into the eighth inning. He will be just 22 on Opening Day and has only thrown 23 1/3 innings at the big league level, all in 2019. In those innings, he pitched to a 2.31 ERA/3.42 xFIP. He showed strong control with a 6.4 BB% and should improve upon his so-so 22.3 K%. He has an unquestionably elite fastball (often given an 80 grade on the 20-80 scale) and could become an elite bullpen arm if he can develop a decent enough secondary offering. Clase is the closer-in-waiting in Cleveland and was the prize of the Kluber deal, so Hand could end up on the trading block at the deadline if Cleveland struggles. Other relievers to keep an eye on are James Karinchak and Nick Wittgren. Wittgren is one of those guys who has more value to his real team than to any fantasy team, but Karinchak has had almost unheard of strikeout numbers in the minors (66.7 K% in Double-A and 53.9% in Triple-A!) He struggles with control quite a bit though, however he was excellent in his 5 1/3 cup-of-coffee innings in 2019.


Kansas City Royals

The Kansas City Royals are bringing back most of the same relievers in 2020, although roles may be a little more solidified at least to kick off spring training. Ian Kennedy's career renaissance as a closer was a sight to see in 2019, as he saved 30 games in 34 tries while putting up a 3.41 ERA/3.77 xFIP. He enjoyed the best strikeout rate of his career (27.4% compared to a previous high of 24.5%) and the lowest walk rate (6.4%) since 2012. He'll be the unquestioned closer in KC at least until the trade deadline and should make for a solid value pick in the later rounds of fantasy drafts.

Kevin McCarthy will be one of the main setup guys in Kansas City, but he shouldn't be a factor in any but the deepest of AL Central-only fantasy leagues. McCarthy somehow posted a 4.48 ERA/4.55 xFIP despite striking out only 14.2% of the batters he faced and walking 7.8%. He's fine on a Royals team not expected to do much in 2020, but you won't want him on your fantasy team that you're expecting good things from. Elsewhere in the Royals bullpen will be the similarly uninspiring Scott Barlow (lots of strikeouts but too many walks) and Jake Newberry (lots of walks, not enough strikeouts). Kennedy is the only one in KC right now worth considering for your fantasy bullpens.


Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins are set up for another good season in 2020. They won 101 games in 2019 and still went out and improved the team for 2020, adding some starting pitching and Josh Donaldson. Their bullpen was solid last year and should be again in 2020, with most of the same arms in there. Taylor Rogers will enter the season as the unquestioned closer after posting 30 saves in 36 chances and pitching to a 2.61 ERA/2.84 xFIP. He struck out 32.4% and walked only 4.0% of the batters he faced, both very strong numbers. Rogers should be one of the better, more consistent fantasy closers in 2020 and can likely be had for a good value because of a lack of name recognition.

Sergio Romo will return for the Twins, re-signing for 2020 after being acquired from the Miami Marlins at the 2019 trade deadline. Romo's slider was still sliding throughout 2019, when he put up 20 saves (17 with the Marlins) and a 3.43 ERA/4.68 xFIP. His strikeout and walk rates (24.1 K%, 6.8 BB%) don't make for an elite fantasy reliever, but those in holds leagues looking for consistency can likely draft Romo in one of the last rounds and be satisfied with their choice. Trevor May has more upside but also a bit more risk. He came up with a 2.94 ERA/4.15 xFIP in 2019, striking out 29.7% and walking 9.8% of opposing batters. May and Romo will be the main setup arms ahead of Rogers, and both should have mixed league hold value. Romo for consistency, May for upside.

More 2020 Fantasy Baseball Advice

More Recent Articles


Biggest Breakouts Of 2019: Wide Receivers

As we enter the initial phase of offseason activities you have recently completed a painstaking process of creating and managing rosters, with the goal of winning fantasy championships in 2019. Now, many of you have already shifted your focus toward planning your drafts in Best Ball and redraft leagues, while others are contemplating how you... Read More

Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Conference Championships Matchups Analysis

Welcome to our NFL Conference Championships matchups analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. We'll be covering both of the AFC and NFC contests from the Sunday slate, helping you make the best decisions for your DFS contests this weekend. Be sure to check back regularly because this article will be updated as news comes in regarding injuries... Read More

Conference Championships 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

Tight End ADP Winners and Losers: 2019 Season Review

I've always believed that it is easier to lose a fantasy championship than to win it on draft day. It makes sense, as sure-fire players are expected to reward their owners with a lower risk-factor than the other way around and thus they're always drafter earlier. If they put up a season-long dud, though, you'll... Read More

Running Back ADP Winners and Losers: 2019 Season Review

I've always believed that it is easier to lose a fantasy championship than to win it on draft day. It makes sense, a sure-fire player is expected to reward his owners with a lower risk-factor than the other way around and thus they're always drafter earlier. If they end up as a season-long dud, though,... Read More

Dynasty Players to Sell in 2020

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano share their top sell candidates for dynasty football leagues in the 2020 fantasy football preseason. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210,... Read More

Biggest Surprises of 2019: Tight End

The 2019 NFL season was anything but predictable. I mean, the Tennessee Titans made the AFC title game! Andrew Luck retired right before the season! [Insert one of many, many other things here, because all lists need three items but I couldn't decide between all the possible third options.] One position where things at the... Read More

Wide Receiver ADP Winners and Losers: 2019 Season Review

I've always believed that it is easier to lose a fantasy championship than to win it on draft day. It makes sense, as sure-fire players are expected to reward his owners with a lower risk-factor than the other way around and thus they're always drafter earlier. If they put up a season-long dud, though, you'll... Read More

Biggest Busts of 2019: Quarterback

The 2019 NFL season is over, and it's time to look back on what happened. 2019 was a year where some quarterbacks -- Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen -- leaped up to the top of the fantasy charts, while other guys faded from where they were expected to perform. Today, I want to talk about three... Read More

Four and Out: Fantasy Outlooks for Divisional Round Losers

For the four teams that were eliminated in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs, the offseason has begun. For many fantasy football owners, the days have already started counting down to next season. Owners in dynasty leagues have started to mull over their decisions.  How some guys perform in the playoffs can certainly alter... Read More

Quarterback ADP Winners and Losers: 2019 Season Review

I've always believed that it is easier to lose a fantasy championship than to win it on draft day. It makes sense, as sure-fire players are expected to reward their owners with a lower risk-factor than the other way around and thus they're always drafter earlier. If they put up a season-long dud, though, you'll... Read More

Biggest Busts of 2019: Wide Receivers

After a very interesting season of fantasy football action, many owners were left with a bitter taste in their mouth from a few of the “elite” NFL wide receivers. While Michael Thomas dominated and Julio Jones was his usual reliable self, not all was good if you played it safe by taking a receiver early.... Read More

Quarterback Risers and Fallers: 2019 Season Review

This article will examine the biggest risers and fallers at the quarterback position, which proved to be the most impactful in fantasy leagues as is often the case. Of the top-25 players in fantasy this season, 18 of them played the QB position and none of the 18 scored less than 280 fantasy points on... Read More

XFL Fantasy Football Rankings (Preseason)

As of this writing, there is exactly one month until XFL regular-season action begins. On February 8, the latest upstart professional league will kickoff (again) with spring football. It goes without saying that we hope it goes better than the first time, back in 2001, and lasts longer than the AAF. Before you settle in... Read More

Wide Receiver Risers and Fallers: 2019 Season Review

We continue our series covering the biggest risers and fallers of 2019 with the wide receiver position. I'll look at both 2018 and 2019 statistical outcomes from every player, contrast their performances, calculate differences in each category and come up with the most prominent names going forward. This past season, receivers didn't dominate in fantasy,... Read More