X
Lost password?

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

X

Receive free daily analysis

NFL
NBA
NHL
NASCAR
CFB
MLB
MMA
PGA
ESPORTS
BETTING

Already have an account? Log In

X

Forgot Password


LINEUP RESOURCES

Articles & Tools
Import Your Leagues
Daily Stats & Leaders
All Pitcher Matchups
Compare Any Players
Pickups & Streamers
Rookies & Call-Ups
24x7 News and Alerts

Three Relief Pitchers Set To Breakout In 2022

In fantasy baseball, there is no position more difficult to project than relief pitcher. With most relievers not throwing more than 60-70 innings max, the sample size for them in a given season is very minuscule. Then, you add in a statistic like ERA, which is dependent on a lot of factors, including batted-ball luck, and the flukiness can get blown out of proportion.

As a result, there are plenty of breakout relievers on a yearly basis. Last season, we saw pitchers such as Paul Sewald, Jonathan Loaisiga, Garrett Whitlock, and others emerge as anchors of their teams' respective bullpens. Meanwhile, pitchers like Emmanuel Clase, Jordan Romano, and Alex Reyes accumulate a lot of saves, even if they weren't seen as the team's preferred closer at the beginning of the season. We knew that these relievers were very intriguing, but them fully breaking out into top saves-getters truly was the last step of their fantasy breakout.

We'll be focusing on the latter group for today's article. Sure, there will be relievers who come out of nowhere to become strong options, but we want to focus on the relievers who can emerge as trusted closers for their respective teams. There are some risks associated with taking this profile of a player, but the upside of a saves accumulator outside of the elite options is very enticing. In your fantasy drafts, keep a close eye on these three relievers:

Featured Promo: Get any full-season MLB and DFS Premium Pass for 50% off. Exclusive access to our Team Sync platform, Premium articles, daily Matchup Rating projections, 15 lineup tools, DFS cheat sheets, Research Stations, Lineup Optimizers and much more! Sign Up Now!

 

Camilo Doval, San Francisco Giants

In a lot of ways, Camilo Doval already broke out last season. In 27 innings last season, he posted a 2.75 skill interactive ERA (SIERA) as well as a 33.9% strikeout rate. That being said, since it was a limited sample size, he'll have plenty of skeptics heading into 2022. However, I see this breakout as legitimate.

Doval's story in 2021 is quite incredible. He was initially called up in April but struggled to the tune of a 7.59 ERA in 10.2 innings pitched. Thus, by late May, he was sent back down to the minors, where he would stay (outside of one August MLB appearance) until September. From there, though, he was a changed pitcher.

In 14.2 innings pitched, Doval did not allow a single run, while he posted a 2.00 SIERA in the process. Meanwhile, he posted a 38.5% strikeout rate in addition to a 16% swinging-strike rate. What caused this sudden change? One word: command.

CAMILO DOVAL PRODUCTION GAINS

  • Walk Rate: 5.8%  (-6.2%)
  • Zone Rate: 45.8% (+7.1%)
  • Strikeout Rate: 38.5% (+12.5%)
  • Swinging-Strike Rate: 16% (+6.8%)

As you can see, when Doval was recalled to the majors, he drastically improved his ability to command the ball within the zone. This led to him reaching his overall potential, and we'll now look for him to maintain that command in 2022. After all, the 24-year-old has a very strong two-pitch mix.

Doval's slider, which he featured 58.4% of the time last year, is a true weapon. It induced a 40.3% whiff rate, 32% putaway rate, and rates out strongly by the metrics; it features well-above-average vertical and horizontal movement. Couple that with a fastball that can reach 100 MPH, and it's clear why he was able to miss bats at a high level:

With Jake McGee and Tyler Rogers still in the fold, some might be worried that Doval won't be able to relinquish the role-- his strand rate (81.2%) and BABIP allowed (.259) are likely to regress negatively next season. That being said, the strikeout ability is legitimate, and while the command remains a question, it matters less in high-leverage situations; walks are better than grooving in a home-run hitting pitch in the ninth inning. After all, he induces plenty of ground balls (50%), and the bat-missing ability leads to the exact combination that teams are looking for from their high-leverage reliever. The upside of being a strikeout-heavy closer for a team that just won 107 games is tremendous, and he could easily produce top-10, if not top-five value this year. He's likely too risky to take as your first closer but as your second closer? He's quite the optimal target.

 

Tyler Wells, Baltimore Orioles

When the Orioles selected Tyler Wells in the rule-five draft, they likely did so hoping for him to become a useful big-league arm for them. With a 4.11 ERA last season in 57 innings pitched, he more than held his own. However, little can you tell from the ERA what he might be on the precipice of-- becoming the team's top high-leverage reliever for years to come. That's exactly the type of potential he has heading into 2022.

Sure, the 4.11 ERA doesn't look overly impressive. That being said, this is why, especially for relievers, you have to look past the ERA. With a 29% strikeout rate and a 5.4% walk rate, his K-BB numbers were quite impressive, leading to him generating a 3.37 SIERA last season. The 0.91 WHIP is going to regress with a higher BABIP allowed (.226), but it still likely is going to be quite low given his ability to consistently not walk batters.

As a starting pitcher between High-A and Double-A, Wells posted a strong 19.6% K-BB ratio. He didn't pitch in 2019 due to injury, but he certainly has a track record of strong K-BB numbers. Plus, due to his experience as a starting pitcher, he has a deeper arsenal than most relievers. At the same time, though, this can work against him.

See, Wells spent the beginning of the season trying to figure out how to best use his arsenal as a reliever. Through the course of the season, though, the utilization got much better:

Wells' curveball was largely ineffective when he did throw it last year, as was his sinker. By June, he was barely throwing either pitch. In 2022, I'd like to see Wells continue to lean less on his fastball, as he did towards to end of the season. His slider and changeup each induced whiffs 31.6% of the swings against it, as well as xwOBAs of .222 and .252, respectively. That being said, he has a strong three-pitch foundation to build upon.

Though Wells' BABIP allowed was very low, so was his 64.4% left-on-base rate. That should improve this season, while his batted-ball metrics (11% barrel rate) could improve with better command and simply better luck. The change in ballpark dimensions at Oriole Park is going to do wonders for him in terms of surprising home runs, and there isn't much competition on the active roster in terms of saves- Cole Sulser (eight saves) is the top competitor. The Orioles might not be the type of team to chase saves from, but when he has an average draft position (ADP) of 432.32, 15-20 saves could be extremely beneficial. As a late-round pick, you can't do much better.

 

Codi Heuer, Chicago Cubs

Now, it's time for a DEEP sleeper! Codi Heuer isn't currently in line to be the Cubs' closer, nor is he a household name. That being said, by the end of the season, I don't see any reason why he can't be Chicago's top option in their bullpen.

Traded from the White Sox to the Cubs alongside Nick Madrigal in the Craig Kimbrel trade, Heuer's 19.9% strikeout rate from last season doesn't stand out. However, there is no reason to expect the strikeout rate to be that low again. While his strikeout rate ranked in the 24th percentile, his 27.9% whiff rate ranked in the 65th percentile, per Baseball Savant. Meanwhile, his 13.5% swinging-strike rate was also impressive, pointing to positive regression in terms of the strikeout rate.

Plus, his track record is impressive. In his rookie year in 2020, he posted a 27.2% strikeout rate, 33.9% whiff rate, and 14.4% swinging-strike rate in 23.2 innings pitched. Meanwhile, the arsenal is impressive. Both his slider and changeup had whiff rates of 45% or higher in addition to a wOBA allowed under .200. The changeup, in particular, is a true weapon:

With an extremely horizontal (seven inches more than average) fastball and changeup (two inches more than average), Heuer should be able to suppress barrels and induce ground balls at a high level. Thus, I believe his 4.5% barrel rate allowed and 0.94 HR/9 can be sustainable, even if they are quite low numbers. Meanwhile, thanks to his elite off-speed pitches, he'll get hitters to reach outside the zone, as they did constantly in 2021- his 31.4% chase rate allowed ranked in the 82nd percentile.

Right now, Roman Wick is set to be the Cubs' closing pitcher. That being said, he has a limited track record and comes with warts in terms of his command. Should there be any blowup, Heuer could be the next man up, especially since we're projecting a strong season from him in 2022. If that happens, I don't think he loses the job. His pitching arsenal is absolutely tremendous, and everything is pointing to a lot of improvement in his second full season. At the end of your draft and holds, make sure to come away with the Cubs' true best reliever.



Download Our Free News & Alerts Mobile App

Like what you see? Download our updated fantasy baseball app for iPhone and Android with 24x7 player news, injury alerts, sleepers, prospects & more. All free!



More Fantasy Baseball Sleepers




LINEUP RESOURCES

Articles & Tools
Import Your Leagues
Daily Stats & Leaders
All Pitcher Matchups
Compare Any Players
Pickups & Streamers
Rookies & Call-Ups
24x7 News and Alerts

ROTOBALLER PLAYER NEWS

Evan Bouchard4 mins ago

Nets Two Goals In Saturday's Win
Mario Ferraro19 mins ago

Lands On Injured Reserve
Maxx Williams20 mins ago

Elevated To Active Roster
Evan Rodrigues29 mins ago

Will Miss 2-4 Weeks
Jonas Brodin38 mins ago

On Track To Return Sunday
Ryan Lindgren45 mins ago

Ends Productive Outing With Injury
Marquise Brown1 hour ago

Activated From Injured Reserve
Justise Winslow1 hour ago

Expected To Play On Sunday
Mike Conley2 hours ago

Will Miss Another One On Saturday
Dalano Banton2 hours ago

Remains Out Versus Dallas
Fred VanVleet2 hours ago

Returning Against Mavs
Yuta Watanabe2 hours ago

Won't Play On Sunday
Chris Paul2 hours ago

Out Again On Saturday Evening
Alperen Sengun2 hours ago

Upgraded For Meeting With OKC
Logan Thompson2 hours ago

Expected To Start Saturday
Bruno Fernando2 hours ago

Out On Saturday
Josh Richardson3 hours ago

Remains Out Versus The Lakers
Keita Bates-Diop3 hours ago

Out On Saturday Night
Aleksander Barkov3 hours ago

Will Be A Game Time Saturday Due To Illness
Anthony Davis3 hours ago

Questionable Versus San Antonio
LeBron James3 hours ago

Probable For Rematch With Spurs
Alexandar Georgiev3 hours ago

Likely To Start Saturday
Justin Fields4 hours ago

Bears Could Hold Justin Fields Out To Avoid Long-Term Damage
Green Bay Packers5 hours ago

David Bakhtiari Questionable For Week 12
Odell Beckham Jr.5 hours ago

Not Expected To Play Until Late December
Ja'Marr Chase5 hours ago

Officially Out On Sunday
Deebo Samuel5 hours ago

Dealing With "Different" Hamstring Issue
David Krejci7 hours ago

Scores Twice In Bruins Win
Kirill Kaprizov7 hours ago

Extends Scoring Run With Two Points
Darcy Kuemper7 hours ago

Shuts Out Calgary
Lucas Raymond7 hours ago

Posts Two Assists In Friday's Win
Nikita Kucherov7 hours ago

Racks Up Three Assists
Shea Theodore7 hours ago

Logs Two Assists Versus Seattle
Jason Robertson7 hours ago

Takes Over League Lead In Goals
Shake Milton10 hours ago

Goes Close To A Triple-Double
Jerami Grant10 hours ago

Explodes For Career-High 44 Points
Kevin Durant10 hours ago

Finishes A Losing Effort With 36 Points
Bam Adebayo10 hours ago

Scores Season-High 38 Points
Trae Young10 hours ago

Goes Off For Season-High 44 Points
Giannis Antetokounmpo10 hours ago

Can't Be Stopped By Cavs
Josh Giddey10 hours ago

Flirts With A Triple-Double
Brandon Ingram10 hours ago

Suffers A Toe Injury
Anthony Davis16 hours ago

Posts Double-Double On Friday
Carlos Santana21 hours ago

Pirates Agree With Carlos Santana On Friday
Demarcus Robinson23 hours ago

Devin Duvernay, Demarcus Robinson Questionable
Rondale Moore24 hours ago

Officially Out In Week 12
Raheem Mostert24 hours ago

Listed As Doubtful Against Texans
Deebo Samuel24 hours ago

Questionable To Face The Saints
Josh Jacobs24 hours ago

Questionable To Play In Week 12
Mike Williams24 hours ago

Ruled Out Against Cardinals
John Klingberg24 hours ago

Considered Day-To-Day
TB1 day ago

Alex Barre-Boulet Gets A Look After Impressing In The AHL
Ross Colton1 day ago

Ready For Action Again
Kyle Okposo1 day ago

Returns From A Six-Game Absence
Yegor Chinakhov1 day ago

Returns For Columbus
Kyle Palmieri1 day ago

Remains Out Friday
Narciso Crook1 day ago

Red Sox Sign Narciso Crook To Minor-League Deal
Denyi Reyes1 day ago

Mets Sign Denyi Reyes
Kyle Allen1 day ago

Confirmed As Week 12 Starter
Kadarius Toney1 day ago

Chiefs Rule Out Kadarius Toney
Leonard Fournette1 day ago

Listed As Doubtful
Jerry Jeudy1 day ago

KJ Hamler Ruled Out For Week 12
Marquise Brown1 day ago

Cardinals Optimistic About Marquise Brown's Return
Kyler Murray1 day ago

Ready To Return Against Chargers
Greg Dortch1 day ago

A Game-Time Decision For Week 12
Lamar Jackson1 day ago

Should Play In Week 12
Milwaukee Brewers1 day ago

Blake Perkins Signs With Brewers
Elliot Soto1 day ago

Twins Re-Sign Elliot Soto
Los Angeles Angels1 day ago

Angels Sign Jacob Webb
Xander Bogaerts1 day ago

Padres Looking At Xander Bogaerts?
Brandon Nimmo1 day ago

Rays Among Teams Interested In Brandon Nimmo
Michael Conforto1 day ago

Cubs Considering Michael Conforto
Hoy Park2 days ago

Red Sox Acquire Hoy Park From Pirates
Chad Wallach3 days ago

Angels Re-Sign Chad Wallach
Cody Bellinger3 days ago

Rockies Interested In Cody Bellinger
Carlos Rodón3 days ago

Rangers Have Serious Interest In Carlos Rodon
Aaron Judge3 days ago

Giants Expected To Make Formal Offer To Aaron Judge
Bryce Harper3 days ago

Undergoes Tommy John Surgery
Hoy Park3 days ago

Pirates Designate Hoy Park For Assignment
Joely Rodríguez3 days ago

Red Sox Sign Joely Rodriguez
Hunter Renfroe3 days ago

Brewers Acquire Janson Junk In Hunter Renfroe Trade
Brandon Nimmo4 days ago

Giants Interested In Brandon Nimmo, Cody Bellinger
Trea Turner4 days ago

"Likely" Phillies' Top SS Target
Hunter Renfroe4 days ago

Angels Trade For Hunter Renfroe Tuesday
Ion Cutelaba5 days ago

Suffers Second-Round TKO Loss In Main Event
Kennedy Nzechukwu5 days ago

Shines In Main Event Spotlight
Chase Sherman5 days ago

Escapes Finishing Loss And Makes It To Decision
Waldo Cortes-Acosta5 days ago

Remains Undefeated In The UFC
Andre Fialho5 days ago

Takes Second Loses In As Many Contests
Muslim Salikhov5 days ago

Returns To Winning Ways With TKO Stoppage
Danny Roberts5 days ago

Continues To Slide With First Round Loss

RANKINGS

QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
RANKINGS
C
1B
2B
3B
SS
OF
SP
RP