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More Later-Round Closer Candidates - Targets and Avoids

Once you reach the later rounds of drafts, you start thinking about upside fliers that can provide a great return on value. These are the rounds to take risks on more unknown commodities like prospects, forgotten-about veterans, players returning from injuries or players that have previously showed promise but haven't put it all together yet. Knowing about the deeper player pool can help you be more flexible throughout the draft, especially if you can identify someone you like and plan your earlier picks around that.

Last week we looked at five closer candidates to target late. Today we are looking at even more late-round potential closers who need to be considered. Do we think they are draft targets, or players to avoid? Are their ADPs undervalued? Will they make significant fantasy contributions and be one of your later-round draft sleepers? Read on to see our take.

Our editors have hand-picked these specific MLB players for your draft prep enjoyment. Normally only available to Premium subscribers, the five outlooks below are meant to give you a taste of the in-depth analysis you receive with our industry-leading 2019 Draft Guide. Be sure to subscribe today and start reading all 400+ of our 2019 player outlooks, and many other premium articles and tools, available exclusively in our 2019 Draft Guide.

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Arodys Vizcaino - RP, Atlanta Braves

Arodys Vizcaino started the 2018 season as the Braves’ closer, hit the DL, came back, lost the job, hit the DL again, and then seemingly finished the season strong. The final line for Vizcaino’s season actually looks quite good with a 2.11 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and a 9.39 K/9. However, managers suffered through the injuries and insecurity, especially if they were unable to snag A.J. Minter when he filled in as the closer.

Vizcaino offers all the hallmarks of a traditional closer: a modest WHIP and ERA, strikeouts, and saves. He throws a high-nineties fastball and a curve that is regarded as one of the best in the league. If Vizcaino’s issue in 2018 was simply a shoulder that needed more time to heel, then he’ll offer real value. However, if his shoulder is still a problem or he struggles with other effectiveness issues, there are a series of closer options behind him.

To some extent, Vizcaino comes with the same risks as most closers going after pick 150. However, Vizcaino’s ADP of 206 builds his injury history into his price and it may account for his job instability. If Vizcaino can limit himself to one modest trip to the DL, he should keep his job as closer, provide 30-plus saves, 70 Ks, and strong ratio stats.

--David Emerick - RotoBaller


Drew Steckenrider - RP, Miami Marlins

Miami Marlins closer Drew Steckenrider surfaced from the reliever group to take over the closing duties. He finished the year with a 3.90 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 64 innings. Aside from terrible performances in May (10.24 ERA) and August (7.84 ERA), Steckenrider had a good season.

Steckenrider also had 19 holds but was definitely far from perfect as he only lockup up five games out of 10 save chances. Steckenrider also had career-lows in strikeout (27%) and ground-ball (33%) rates. There isn’t much promise for a much different outcome in 2019.

He plays for one of the most offensively inept teams but even still, he should still accrue a few saves. The opportunities will just be sparse. Steckenrider is currently the 34th-ranked reliever. He currently has an ADP of 267, which might be late enough to provide a little value for some save speculation.

--Ellis Canady - RotoBaller


Hunter Strickland - RP, Seattle Mariners

Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Hunter Strickland is looking for a better year in 2019. His 2018 season started out decently enough, but a broken hand after a blown save landed him on the disabled list and he wasn't nearly as effective upon his return. Strickland gives up a lot of hard contact and doesn't have particularly good control (10.5 BB%) which can lead to some big innings.

He's slotted in as the closer for the Mariners right now, but there are other capable arms in the bullpen that should make Strickland's leash somewhat short. He's okay to draft at the end of AL-only drafts, but should be left on the waiver wire for now in most deeper formats.

--David A Marcillo - RotoBaller


Wily Peralta - RP, Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Wily Peralta finally found a role in which he could succeed last season, posting 14 saves after working his way into the ninth inning in the second half of the season. While some of his numbers were solid (the 14 saves, a 3.67 ERA, and a 23.5 K%), others were quite concerning (15.4 BB%, 4.73 FIP).

Peralta should be in line for early season saves, but manager Ned Yost has already said he might not name a closer and instead mix Peralta, Brad Boxberger, and Tim Hill. That all makes for a situation better avoided, at least for now. Peralta can be grabbed in the late rounds of AL-only leagues for his upside, but he should be left on the wire in most deeper formats.

--David A Marcillo - RotoBaller


Shane Greene - RP, Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Shane Greene will look to build on his 32 saves from last season while trying to lower his unsightly 5.12 ERA. Greene has already been handed the ninth inning by manager Ron Gardenhire, but he'll need to pitch better than he did last year if he wants to keep his job, especially with Joe Jimenez in the bullpen with him.

Greene had some solid numbers besides the 32 saves last season, striking out 65 while walking just 19 in 63 1/3 innings of work. He'll need to limit home runs, and will likely only be in the closer's role until the trade deadline, but he's still likely to be a solid enough reliever to be worth owning in AL-only leagues and some deeper mixed leagues.

--David A Marcillo - RotoBaller


Bonus: Pedro Strop - RP, Chicago Cubs

Pedro Strop is coming off of another terrific season for the Cubs, posting a 2.26 ERA over 59.2 innings while collecting 13 saves, a career-high. He'll turn 34 during the 2019 season, but there is no real reason to expect any age-related regression. Instead, I'd point out his career-high 4.08 xFIP from 2018.

Between a .222 BABIP and a career-high 83.9% LOB, we can infer that Strop got fairly lucky last season. However, he'll continue to be used in high-leverage situations, and should be a decent asset in saves+holds leagues. He currently has an ADP of 259 as he is the leading candidate to start the year as the closer. Take advantage of this value.

--Bill Dubiel - RotoBaller

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