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Five Relief Pitchers To Avoid In 2023 Fantasy Baseball Drafts

Andres Munoz fantasy baseball rankings draft sleepers closers saves relief pitchers waiver wire

The relief pitchers are the trickiest part of constructing your fantasy baseball roster. Having a superstar reliever on your fantasy baseball team can be the key to a winning season.

The problem is superstar relievers don’t just grow on trees. Among the select group of elite relief pitchers, it’s hard to find the one that’ll put your team over the top.

Previously, there was an exploration of 5 relievers who could put your team over the top, but now the focus is on relievers you should be avoiding in 2023 fantasy baseball drafts. Make sure to avoid drafting these five guys.

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Evan Phillips, Los Angeles Dodgers

Evan Phillips has become one of the fantasy baseball community’s favorite under-the-radar relief picks. As the early favorite for the Dodgers’ closing job, Phillips ADP has ballooned to 204.

Phillips being on this list isn’t a detraction of him but a recognition of the incredibly stacked Dodgers bullpen.

The Dodgers are set on a committee approach to start the season in 2023. Daniel Hudson, Brusdar Graterol, Alex Vesia, and new signee Alex Reyes will be the likely members of that committee, and I assure you all of them can run away with the job if given a chance.

To prove it, a quick statistical side-by-side.

Evan Phillips: Two saves, 2.34 SIERA, 33% strikeout (K) rate
Alex Vesia: One save, 2.68 SIERA, 34.8% K rate
Daniel Hudson: Five saves, 2.23 SIERA, 30.9% K rate
Brusdar Graterol: Four saves, 2.75 SIERA, 21.8% K rate
Alex Reyes (In All-Star 2021 season): 29 saves, 4.33 SIERA, 30% K rate

With that much talent surrounding him, picking Phillips turns into a legitimate gamble. But maybe that’s why you’re so interested in drafting him; we all desire the occasional adrenaline rush.


Daniel Bard, Colorado Rockies

Daniel Bard wasn’t supposed to be on the Rockies' roster this year. Every soul on the planet had expected the Rockies to cash in and trade the 37-year-old closer to a contender in the final year of his contract.

The Rockies shocked the baseball world last summer by instead handing Bard a two-year/$19 million extension a mere two days before the trade deadline.

Is that deal a sign to confidently draft Bard at his ADP of 163?


If there is an entity I would trust the least as a fantasy baseball player, it’s the Colorado Rockies' front office. It seems that they always make the worst possible decisions. Honestly, it is impressive how regularly they make the absolute worst decisions.

I seriously recommend fading the Rockies' front office on every betting and fantasy-related decision. They sign Kris Bryant; you trade Kris Bryant. When the Rockies' front office zigs, you zag.

But back to Bard. Bard had a great 2022 with 34 saves and an ERA of 1.79. This was largely due to a pitch mix change as Bard saw improvement after going cold turkey on his fastball usage and completely replacing it with his sinker. While that pitch mix change seems concrete proof of the sustainability of his 2022 season, there are still plenty of other reasons to worry about Bard.

Bard couldn’t keep control in 2022. While his 10.2% walk rate was an improvement from his 2021 walk rate of 11.8, a 10% walk rate and Bard’s 45% zone percentage can put him in danger. If a few pitches miss in Coors Field, Bard’s ERA can suddenly balloon back to the 5.00s.

Bard is just not worth it at his current ADP.


Aroldis Chapman, Kansas City Royals

Here to firmly nip any nostalgia bias in the bud. Aroldis Chapman is not the pitcher he used to be, and he likely won’t return to the version of him we all remember.

Chapman has regressed significantly in the past three years: losing two MPH off his fastball, losing control of his pitches (walk rate of 17.5% in 2022, percentage of pitches in the zone has decreased by seven points since 2019), and getting walloped when hitters make contact (40% hard-hit rate in 2021, doubling of HR per nine innings since 2019).

Chapman consequently lost control of the Yankees’ closer spot and was relegated to a sixth inning role for parts of the 2022 season.

Chapman could rehab his career in Kansas City, but he no longer has the electricity and control to threaten Scott Barlow for save opportunities.


Clay Holmes, New York Yankees

It was Clay Holmes who snatched away the aforementioned Yankees closing job from Aroldis Chapman. However, it’s Holmes’ job that may now be in peril.

After a stellar first half, Holmes stumbled with a 4.84 ERA after the 2022 All-Star break.

These things tend to carry over. Just look at the second half of Holmes’ 2021 season.

The Yankees picked up a struggling Clay Holmes at the deadline from the Pittsburgh Pirates and were rewarded with a three-month tear. Holmes appeared in 25 games in that span and allowed only five earned runs with a 33% K rate. Holmes continued that tear with 16 saves in the first half of 2022 before his second-half slip-up.

Holmes cannot again afford to slip up with talented pitchers like Wandy Peralta (30.9% K rate, four saves) and Michael King (2.44 SIERA, 16 holds) nipping at his heels.

Holmes’ inexplicable second-half tank should cause a loss of confidence. While his proven elite upside could make him enticing at his ADP of 149, Holmes needs to prove that the last four months of the 2022 season were an aberration.


Andres Munoz, Seattle Mariners

The fantasy baseball community is salivating over the talent of Andres Munoz, and for good reason. Munoz had a SIERA of 1.74, 22 holds, four saves, and a 38.7% K rate for the Seattle Mariners. However, that hype has gone too far, and his ADP of 167 is much too high.

The main obstacle on his path to fantasy success is Paul Sewald. Another big name in fantasy baseball (175 ADP), Paul Sewald has more than proven his worth to the Mariners brass with 20 saves in 2022. While Munoz will likely force a committee, Sewald is talented enough in his own right to survive the threat.

Munoz is one of the league’s most talented relievers, but talent doesn’t always equal opportunity. You can bet on talent like Jhoan Duran to beat a struggling Jorge Lopez, but it is much more difficult for Munoz to beat out a proven closer like Paul Sewald.

Munoz is tantalizing, but he’s too expensive for someone who will likely see only a minority share of save opportunities in 2023.

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