Lost password?

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


Receive free daily analysis


Already have an account? Log In


Forgot Password


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

Relief Pitchers Set To Bust In 2021

Projecting relievers is notoriously tricky, and that’s especially true after an irregular 2020 season. As is prone to happen in small samples of performance, otherwise strong relievers sometimes have down seasons that are not entirely in their control.

Still, some relievers are more likely to bust than others, and fantasy managers would do well to avoid those relievers on draft day. That doesn’t mean that these pitchers should be avoided at all costs -- at low enough ADPs, even the riskiest player can be tolerated -- but the pitchers listed below are exceptionally risky given their draft prices.

“Bust” can be a fairly subjective term, so here are a few ground rules before getting into the list: a pitcher would be a bust if they perform at a level that could plausibly be replaced by a player with an ADP around or above 100 picks later than their own, and a pitcher must have an ADP more expensive than 250 to be considered a true bust for fantasy purposes. With that in mind, below are three relief pitchers with relatively high chances of being busts in 2021.

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!


Brad Hand, Washington Nationals

ADP: 135.17

Hand enjoyed an excellent 2020 season that saw him lead the league in saves while posting a sparkling 1.37 FIP, but some under-the-hood concerns make the 30-year-old a bust candidate for 2021. Most concerningly, Hand’s fastball velocity fell for the second consecutive season, taking the pitch's swinging-strike rate down with it.

Before 2020, Hand’s fastball hadn’t posted a swinging-strike rate below 9% since 2015, a season before his breakout as an elite reliever. And Hand’s diminished fastball performance contributed to his lackluster 10.5% overall swinging-strike rate, making his 33.7% strikeout rate unusually reliant on called strikes and likely to regress significantly in 2021.

Without a functional four-seam fastball (and barring any significant pitch-arsenal changes), Hand will effectively be a one-pitch pitcher (slider) with a couple of mediocre but not ideal secondary offerings. In that scenario, Hand would likely post an ERA around 4.00 without a steady hold on the closer role in Washington. That’s a lot of risk for a reliever with a top-150 ADP, and fantasy managers should be wary of drafting Hand that early as a result.


Dustin May, Los Angeles Dodgers

ADP: 162.65

May placed fifth in NL Rookie of the Year voting following 56 productive innings with a 2.57 ERA, but the 23-year-old isn’t even guaranteed a spot on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster in 2021. After signing Trevor Bauer this offseason, the Dodgers boast a loaded pitching staff that includes a talented and crowded bullpen.

With three minor-league options left, the Dodgers may elect to start May off in the minor leagues this season. That would put a significant dent in his fantasy value on its own, but May’s major league innings aren’t likely to be particularly valuable either. Likely to pitch mostly as a long reliever or opener in the major leagues given the state of the Los Angeles rotation, May will likely be a non-contributor for most fantasy categories (except for in leagues that value holds). That makes May one of the more obvious bust candidates at reliever for 2021, and fantasy managers should avoid him in drafts as a result.


James Karinchak, Cleveland Indians

ADP: 102.96

Karinchak is one of the league’s most exciting pitchers, but his high walk rate makes him a bust candidate for the 2021 season. After walking 5.5 batters per nine innings over his minor league career, Karinchak posted an ugly 14.7% walk rate in the major leagues last season that was supported by a low 38% zone rate and a mediocre 31.4% chase rate. 

Only one pitcher (Aroldis Chapman in 2018) collected more than 20 saves with a walk rate higher than 14% since the start of 2015, and no other reliever in that sample picked up more than 16. To be fair, most relievers don’t also post a 17% swinging-strike rate as Karinchak did in 2020 (and could plausibly do again in 2021), but those numbers underscore the risk involved in investing an early-round pick on a walk-happy closer.

Pitching for a depleted Indians team doesn’t help matters. Cleveland is projected to be decent in 2021 with Pecota expecting roughly a .500 season, but more wins would likely be a boon for Karinchak’s fantasy value (Chapman’s Yankees had 100 wins in 2018, for reference). Save opportunities and wins don’t correlate particularly strongly, and there have been some notable low-win, high-save-opportunity teams in recent history (like the 2019 Tigers, who won 47 games but provided their relievers with 67 save opportunities), but a stronger Indians team would likely only help Karinchak.

Overall, Karinchak is a high-risk, high-reward option for fantasy managers in 2021. Given his relatively expensive 107 ADP, that risk level makes Karinchak a bust candidate in 2021. 

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 Busts and Avoids


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


Jack Suwinski20 mins ago

Absent From Sunday's Lineup
Jon Berti32 mins ago

Getting A Day Off Sunday
Zach Neto40 mins ago

Off On Sunday
Hunter Renfroe47 mins ago

Getting A Rest Sunday
Kyle Tucker1 hour ago

Not Playing Sunday
Dinelson Lamet1 hour ago

Likely Starting Wednesday
Max Muncy1 hour ago

Left Early With A Hamstring Cramp
Jeff McNeil2 hours ago

Not In The Lineup On Sunday Against Colorado
Jesse Winker2 hours ago

Scratched With Neck Discomfort
Juan Soto2 hours ago

Scratched With Back Tightness On Sunday
Kyle Tucker2 hours ago

Scratched From Sunday's Lineup
Matt Moore2 hours ago

Lands On The 15-Day Injured List
Brenton Doyle2 hours ago

Still Absent From The Lineup On Sunday
Esteury Ruiz2 hours ago

Sitting Out On Sunday
New York Jets2 hours ago

Quinnen Williams, Jets May Be Nearing A Deal
Josh Donaldson2 hours ago

Could See Another Rehab Game On Tuesday
Anthony Santander2 hours ago

Back In The Lineup On Sunday
Jimmy Garoppolo3 hours ago

Contract Has Waiver Included
Max Muncy3 hours ago

Leaves Game Early Sunday
Jose Trevino3 hours ago

Could Return Tuesday
Giancarlo Stanton3 hours ago

Could Begin Rehab Assignment Tuesday
Xander Bogaerts3 hours ago

Back In Sunday's Lineup
Carlos Rodón3 hours ago

Carlos Rodon To Throw Bullpen On Monday
Jonathan Marchessault4 hours ago

Posts Two Assists Saturday Night
Thomas Harley4 hours ago

Tallies Two Assists In Game 6 Win
Ty Dellandrea4 hours ago

Keeps Dallas Alive With Late Goals
Duncan Robinson5 hours ago

Has 13 Points In Game 6 Against Boston
Max Strus5 hours ago

Scores 10 Points In Game 6 Loss
Chase Elliott5 hours ago

Believes He’s Got A Good Shot To Win Coca-Cola 600
Alex Bowman5 hours ago

Facing Uphill Battle In Coca-Cola 600 Return
Ryan Preece5 hours ago

Hopeful To Start Putting Pieces Together For Good Runs
Gabe Vincent5 hours ago

Returns With 15 Points
Bam Adebayo5 hours ago

Posts Sixth Postseason Double-Double
Corey Lajoie5 hours ago

Looking To Continue Career-Best Season At Charlotte
NASCAR5 hours ago

Bubba Wallace Hoping For First-Ever Top 10 Finish At Charlotte
Caleb Martin5 hours ago

Produces Impressive Double-Double In Game 6
AJ Allmendinger5 hours ago

A DFS Sleeper Pick For The Coca-Cola 600
Jimmie Johnson5 hours ago

Doesn't Feel Prepared For Coca-Cola 600
Jimmy Butler5 hours ago

Flirts With Triple-Double Saturday
Zane Smith5 hours ago

Hoping To Learn & Get Better At Charlotte
Todd Gilliland6 hours ago

Facing Significant Equipment Downgrade At Charlotte
John Collins13 hours ago

Still Available
Marcus Smart14 hours ago

Has Solid Showing In Game 6
Jaylen Brown14 hours ago

Has 26 Points In Win Over Miami
Robert Williams14 hours ago

III Finishes With 10 Points Saturday
Derrick White14 hours ago

Forces A Game 7
Jayson Tatum14 hours ago

Scores 31 Points In Game 6
DeAndre Hopkins18 hours ago

Bills, Chiefs Had "Substantive" Talks About Trading For DeAndre Hopkins
Travis Etienne Jr.18 hours ago

Working On "Fine-Tuning" Skills
Arizona Cardinals18 hours ago

Budda Baker Will Be At Training Camp
Austin Dillon19 hours ago

Could Be Place Differential King At Charlotte
Erik Jones19 hours ago

Could Be Good Early At Charlotte
Daniel Suarez19 hours ago

Has Upside At Coca-Cola 600
Aric Almirola19 hours ago

Stuck In Middle Of The Pack For Charlotte
Chase Briscoe19 hours ago

Tries To Turn Back Clock At Charlotte
Ty Gibbs19 hours ago

Could Provide DFS Value At Charlotte
Joey Logano19 hours ago

Tries To Bounce Back From Charlotte Mishap
Martin Truex Jr19 hours ago

. Wants To Turn Back Clock At Charlotte
Justin Haley19 hours ago

Might Have Challenge At Charlotte
Tyler Reddick20 hours ago

Aims To Move Up At Charlotte
Ross Chastain22 hours ago

Looking For A Win At Charlotte
Harrison Burton22 hours ago

On The Hot Seat For Results
Jerome Kapp1 day ago

Jets Sign Jerome Kapp
San Francisco 49ers1 day ago

Dre Greenlaw Recovering From Finger Surgery
Chris Moore1 day ago

Willing To Play Any Role
Gary Brightwell1 day ago

Could Be Buried On Depth Chart
Dallas Cowboys1 day ago

Terence Steele Limited At OTAs
Marquise Brown1 day ago

Becomes Cardinals' No. 1 Receiver
Deshaun Watson1 day ago

Jordan Akins Eager To Work With Deshaun Watson Again
Deshaun Watson1 day ago

Elijah Moore Building Chemistry With Deshaun Watson
Gabe Vincent2 days ago

Questionable On Saturday
Tyler Herro2 days ago

Remains Out For Game 6
Bam Adebayo2 days ago

Good To Go For Game 6
Malcolm Brogdon2 days ago

Questionable For Game 6
DeAndre Hopkins2 days ago

Bills "Lurking" As A Favorite To Land DeAndre Hopkins
Davante Adams2 days ago

Josh McDaniels Has No Issues With Davante Adams Venting
Tampa Bay Buccaneers2 days ago

Bucs Expect Devin White At Minicamp
Darren Waller2 days ago

Enjoying Time In New York
Dalvin Cook2 days ago

Now Considering A Pay Cut?
DeAndre Hopkins2 days ago

Chiefs A Potential Landing Spot For DeAndre Hopkins?
Detroit Pistons2 days ago

Detroit Brings Kevin Ollie And Charles Lee In For Second Interviews
Atlanta Hawks2 days ago

Hawks Hire Igor Kokoskov As Lead Assistant Coach
Joel Embiid2 days ago

Still Considered Untouchable
D'Angelo Russell2 days ago

Lakers Won't Pursue The Max For D'Angelo Russell
Fred VanVleet2 days ago

Raptors Unsure If They Want To Re-Sign Fred VanVleet
Tyler Allgeier2 days ago

Not Concerned About Usage
Hendon Hooker2 days ago

Preparing Himself Mentally
Jack Eichel2 days ago

Keeps The Assists Coming
William Karlsson2 days ago

Matches Vegas Record With Eighth Postseason Goal
Miro Heiskanen2 days ago

Delivers Two Power-Play Assists
Jason Robertson3 days ago

Scores Two Goals In Game 4 Victory
Joe Pavelski3 days ago

Scores Overtime Winner In Game 4
Jake Oettinger3 days ago

The Confirmed Starter For Game 4
Evgenii Dadonov3 days ago

Will Be Out Of The Lineup For Dallas
Adin Hill3 days ago

Will Mind The Vegas Crease In Game 4
Jamie Benn3 days ago

Suspended For Two Games
Sergei Bobrovsky3 days ago

Remains Sharp In Series-Clincher
Aleksander Barkov3 days ago

Hands Out Two Assists In Game 4 Victory
Matthew Tkachuk4 days ago

Late Goal Sends Panthers To Stanley Cup Final
Michael Block4 days ago

A Fade At Charles Schwab
Emiliano Grillo4 days ago

Looks To Regain Form
Viktor Hovland4 days ago

Teeing It Up After Close Call At PGA Championship
PGA4 days ago

J.T. Poston Tough To Include In Fantasy Lineups
Beau Hossler4 days ago

Worth Fantasy Consideration Heading To Colonial
Billy Horschel4 days ago

Inconsistency Makes Him A Tough Choice
Ryan Fox4 days ago

An Intriguing Pick For Fantasy Lineups
Alex Smalley4 days ago

A Risky Option For Fantasy Lineups
Christiaan Bezuidenhout4 days ago

To Bounce Back After Missed Cut
Brendon Todd4 days ago

A Risky Fantasy Play At Colonial
PGA4 days ago

Byeong Hun An's Impressive Play Makes Him Strong Fantasy Option
PGA4 days ago

K.H. Lee Looks To Continue Playing Well
Tom Hoge4 days ago

A Viable Fantasy Option At Colonial
PGA4 days ago

Cameron Davis Playing Well Heading To Colonial
Max Homa4 days ago

A Reliable Fantasy Option At Colonial
Will Gordon4 days ago

A Solid Option In Texas
Cameron Champ4 days ago

Worth A Look At Colonial
Stephan Jaeger4 days ago

A Solid Sleeper At Colonial
Sam Stevens4 days ago

Worth A Shot At Charles Schwab
Ryan Palmer4 days ago

Is It Safe To Start Ryan Palmer In Texas?
Maverick McNealy4 days ago

In A Major Slump
Aleksander Barkov5 days ago

Expected To Play In Game 4
Mark Stone5 days ago

Jamie Benn Ejected For Cross-Checking Mark Stone In Game 3
Ivan Barbashev5 days ago

Collects Three Points In Game 3 Victory
Adin Hill5 days ago

Posts First Career Playoff Shutout In Game 3
Sergei Bobrovsky6 days ago

Posts First Career Playoff Shutout In Game 3
Aleksander Barkov6 days ago

Suffers Lower-Body Injury In Game 3