2018 Relief Pitchers - Early Points League Rankings and Tiers

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It's time to round out our early points league rankings with a look at the bullpen. Relief pitcher values will fluctuate greatly throughout the season, so choosing wisely on draft day can save you a lot of grief.

Here are the first round of RotoBaller’s 2018 fantasy baseball points league rankings for relief pitcher in the month of January. This round of rankings come to you courtesy of Nick Mariano, Chris Zolli, Bill Dubiel and myself, Kyle Richardson.

To view the starting pitcher rankings, simply click here or visit our main rankings page to view all positions.

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2018 Fantasy Baseball Points League Rankings: Relief Pitcher (January)

Ranking Tier Player Name Pos Nick Bill Chris Kyle R.
1 1 Kenley Jansen RP 58 47 42 48
2 1 Craig Kimbrel RP 68 69 72 69
3 1 Aroldis Chapman RP 78 77 77 81
4 2 Corey Knebel RP 87 86 85 88
5 2 Roberto Osuna RP 96 95 89 93
6 2 Felipe Rivero RP 97 111 108 104
7 2 Cody Allen RP 110 105 105 100
8 2 Edwin Diaz RP 131 98 93 105
9 2 Wade Davis RP 99 113 115 108
10 2 Raisel Iglesias RP 156 129 136 124
11 3 Kenneth Giles RP 98 157 157 149
12 3 Alexander Colome RP 138 152 148 153
13 3 Jeurys Familia RP 161 173 162 156
14 3 Zach Britton RP 275 114 117 158
15 3 Sean Doolittle RP 154 195 194 172
16 3 Archie Bradley RP 176 188 183 173
17 4 Andrew Miller RP 202 179 175 177
18 4 Brad Peacock SP/RP 137 215 219 186
19 4 Arodys Vizcaino RP 210 190 189 190
20 4 Hector Neris RP 253 171 169 191
21 4 Brad Hand RP 272 172 159 197
22 4 Kelvin Herrera RP 223 191 190 204
23 4 Mark Melancon RP 178 222 226 216
24 5 Alex Reyes SP/RP #N/A 230 209 220
25 5 Greg Holland RP 290 208 205 243
26 5 Dellin Betances RP 219 247 253 249
27 5 Brad Brach RP 218 342 203 269
28 5 Shane Greene RP 306 262 258 282
29 5 David Robertson RP 243 300 316 289
30 5 Cameron Bedrosian RP 278 304 303 303
31 5 Jeff Hoffman RP 343 296 287 310
32 5 Blake Treinen RP 311 316 327 319
33 5 Chris Devenski SP/RP 322 314 323 322
34 6 Brandon Morrow RP 282 #N/A 359 324
35 6 Fernando Rodney RP 294 336 347 333
36 6 Chad Green RP 304 #N/A 362 337
37 6 Jake Junis SP/RP 312 364 #N/A #N/A
38 6 Kyle Barraclough RP 342 333 340 341
39 6 Adam Ottavino RP 331 341 349 346
40 6 Luke Gregerson RP 324 #N/A 367 352
41 6 C.J. Edwards RP 347 359 344 #N/A
42 6 Jhoulys Chacin SP/RP 327 #N/A 370 355
43 6 Addison Reed RP #N/A 343 378 364
44 6 Ryan Madson RP 375 362 353 368
45 6 Juan Minaya RP 353 #N/A 385 372
46 6 Brad Ziegler RP 354 #N/A 386 373
47 6 Seung-Hwan Oh RP 362 #N/A 389 382
48 6 Matt Bush RP 359 391 410 393
49 6 Andrew Bailey RP #N/A 373 407 398
50 6 Hector Rondon RP #N/A 381 417 405
51 6 Tony Watson RP 391 #N/A 434 426
52 6 Brandon Maurer RP 393 #N/A 436 427
53 6 Huston Street RP #N/A 396 439 430
54 6 Darren O'Day RP 429 #N/A 461 451
55 6 Jim Johnson RP 432 #N/A 463 452

Tier 1

In any given year, there may only be around 30 relief pitchers in major league baseball that carry value in fantasy. If a relief pitcher is not picking up saves, unless you play in a league that counts holds, then he needs to be really special in order to stay on your roster. We have reached an era in baseball like no other. An era that focuses on specialized bullpens. Guys that only face left-handers or guys who you only need for a strikeout or ground ball. With all that being said, a majority of teams still turn to one guy in the ninth inning to close out a win for his team.

Our first tier consists of only three pitchers. You could argue that a couple of other pitchers should be in this category, but injuries and lack of save opportunities hurt their stock. For Kenley Jansen, Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman, there is no shortage of save opportunities or amazing stats. These three guys have it all when it comes to relief pitchers in fantasy baseball. Jansen was tied for second in the majors last season with 41 saves. He will continue to hold down the back end of a good Dodgers bullpen that should win more than 100 games again in 2018.

Kimbrel was the piece the Red Sox needed desperately in the bullpen heading into the 2016 season and had a rough season by his standards. He was back to himself last season however with a 1.43 ERA to go with 126 strikeouts in 69 innings. Kimbrel has finished top 10 in Cy Young voting five times in his career. Pretty impressive for a closer.

Aroldis Chapman continues to be the gold standard for relief pitchers combining appearances, strikeouts and saves. Expect the Yankees bullpen to see quite a bit of work this year. They have a dangerous lineup but the potential for some suspect pitching.

Tier 2

The surprise name of tier two is Cory Knebel of the Brewers. Knebel came out of nowhere last season to record a league leading 76 appearances. He was able to secure 39 saves as well, tied for third in all of baseball. The Brewers were in the NL Central race all season long and after some additions this past week, they should find themselves towards the top again. Knebel will have plenty of chances to lock up saves for the Brewers and fantasy owners. Tread carefully though, Knebel had a career ERA of 4.53 before last season. You should anticipate some regression.

Roberto Osuna has all of the tools to be considered as a tier one pitcher, but save chances may be slim pickings this year in a tough AL East. The Blue Jays have not given up on competing in 2018, but the Yankees and Red Sox will be the kings of the east and Baltimore should still be in decent position. As far as stats go, outside of saves, Osuna will be just as dominant as the tier one pitchers in our rankings. His ERA crept over 3.00 for the first time last season, but he also set a career high in strikeouts while throwing his fewest innings in a season.

Cody Allen lands in tier two, but his perceived value is limited due to the presence of Andrew Miller. In reality though, Miller hasn’t taken many save opportunities from Allen. The Indians will be one of the best teams in baseball again this year, and having such a strong bullpen in front of Allen will mean more leads for Allen to close the door on.

Raisel Iglesias had a good rookie season in 2015, starting 16 games with an ERA of 4.15. In 2016, Iglesias made the move to the bullpen and has been dominate since then. Iglesias only had 28 saves, but with a wide-open NL Central and improved Reds team, he could get closer to 40 saves next season. He will be a solid investment at his ADP.

Tier 3

Ken Giles had a rough first season in Houston. He was expected to be one of the top closers in the game, but held a 4.11 ERA and only notched 15 saves. He bounced back well in 2017 and was back to the dominate reliever we saw during his time in Philadelphia. That all unraveled in the postseason though as Giles almost became the Brad Lidge of 2017. Sorry to bring up old memories Houston fans. The Astros were able to overcome the shaky postseason by their closer however with strong performances by others. Giles will be the closer again for the Astros heading into 2018, but be careful with this pick. He could have a very short leash if he begins the season on a low note.

Alexander Colome led the majors with 47 saves last season and was the topic of many trade conversations, both at the deadline and this offseason. The Rays signaled rebuilding with the Evan Longoria trade and Colome will probably be the next one to go. In-season trades of relief pitchers don’t always help fantasy owners. It’s not a given that Colome could be traded to team that would place him in the closer role. He could end up somewhere just working the seventh or eighth inning instead of racking up saves. For right now, he is in tier three, but if he ends up with a team that will not give him save opportunities he will lose a majority of his value.

Fernando Rodney is out of Arizona and in his stead (hopefully) is former top prospect Archie Bradley. There is no guarantee Bradley will be closing games to start the season, but he appears to be a front runner after an impressive 2017. Bradley was not able to harness his control for seven plus innings while he was a starter. He would flash moments of brilliance after being called to the majors but he wasn’t able to fool hitters like he did in the minors as a starter. Bradley has a chance to be an elite level closer at the major league level and my bold prediction is that he will be in tier one of our rankings come next season.

Tier 4

Brad Peacock is an interesting story. He is in limbo right now. He could end up at the backend of the Astros rotation to start the season or he could have a significant role in the bullpen. For right now, he will have eligibility as a relief pitcher, but if he slots into the rotation he could add eligibility as a starter quickly. Peacock could be a sneaky add in drafts and would offer some flexibility to put into a RP slot. It could also help the other way around, giving you the option to add him in a SP slot. Keep an eye on his status as spring training gets underway.

Like Colome, Brad Hand was a hot name on the trade market last year. The Padres decided to hold onto him though and he was able to tally 21 saves last season. There is a really good chance that Hand will be moved this season, as I don’t see the Padres competing in the tough NL West. If Hand is moved, he will take over a lefty-specialist roll with his new team. Most teams that were looking to add him at the deadline last year did not see him as a closer. That situation could be even worse than Colome as Hand may only see one or two hitters a night. I would only look to add Hand if I was able to secure two top closers early in the draft.

After 38 saves in 2016 for Texas, Sam Dyson was a surprise release last season when he got off to a horrible start. He was picked up by the Giants and was able to finish the season on a high note saving 14 games while Mark Melancon was injured. Dyson may start the year as closer, but I am not counting Melancon out. The Giants are much improved and although I haven’t given them a ton of credit this offseason, whoever is closing games should have a good amount of chances.

Tier 5

Brad Brach is probably ranked a little too low at the moment, but I think we continue to wait and see what the word is on Zach Britton. So far, the news is promising but still unclear. Britton should be throwing by the time Spring Training starts and could be back on a mound by opening day. Brach will be closing games to start, but it’s hard to use a draft pick on someone that will only contribute for half a season. His numbers from last season jump off the page, so owners will be willing to spend that pick on him.

Closer duties are up for grabs with the revamped Angels. They will be much better this season and someone will get a decent amount of opportunities. My choice to win the job last year was Cameron Bedrosian and he will be my pick again this season. Bedrosian had an excellent 2016 but was unable to capitalize last season after dealing with injuries. Bedrosian has the tools to be a dominate late-inning arm. Depending on when your draft takes place, Bedrosian may be a guy you can wait and grab from free agency as the picture becomes more clear.

Tier 6

C.J. Edwards or Brandon Morrow will be in games with the lead for Chicago come April. The Cubs were able to rely on the sure-handed Wade Davis last season, but he now resides in Colorado. The Cubs have added three relief pitchers off the free agent market this offseason. Morrow will come over from the Dodgers and challenge in-house candidate Edwards for the job. Morrow is going to have the experience but Edwards has the makeup and stuff to beat him. It will be a fun spring training.

The ageless wonder Fernando Rodney will get another opportunity to close games at age 41. Rodney was one of two players to finish 2017 with 25 saves or more and an ERA over 4.00. That is risky business as a closer. Rodney hasn’t had an ERA under 4.00 since 2014 and age may be catching up. He is a risky option, but worth a look if you are an owner that doesn’t invest early in saves.


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