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Today and every Tuesday moving forward throughout the 2018 MLB season, we will take a deep dive into some of the lesser-owned relief pitchers on the market that are worth keeping tabs on.

This can be a good tool for those in deeper holds leagues, although any pitcher in a position to make a move on their respective team's closer job will get priority.

Today we'll take a look at four relievers with some potential closer opportunity this season.

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Under-the-Radar Relievers to Watch - Week 11

Anthony Swarzak, New York Mets - 16% owned

Finally activated from the DL last Tuesday, Swarzak jumped right into the save discussion with Jeurys Familia being placed on the DL just a few days later. He got the first crack at a save Sunday, converting the save fairly easily and extended his grip on the role until Familia returns. Swarzak came from out of nowhere last season and wound up being one of the leagues more dominant relievers, posting a 2.33 ERA and 1.03 WHIP to go with a 91/22 K/BB ratio with the White Sox and Brewers. Those numbers certainly scream potential closer ability, and while Familia may only miss a small amount of time, Swarzak is certainly worth a look for the time being.

Jordan Hicks, St. Louis Cardinals - 12% owned

Since committing to throwing his slider more often about a month ago, Hicks has finally begun to put up "normal" strikeout numbers (17 in his last 15 innings) and is no longer last in MLB in K/BB ratio. It's encouraging sign and it comes at a particularly beneficial time for himself and his owners, as Bud Norris's struggles may be opening the door for the young flamethrower to get into the saves mix. He was able to earn his first career save Saturday after Norris coughed up the day before and makes for an intriguing stash in deeper leagues.

Kirby Yates, San Diego Padres - 10% owned

Similar to a strategy the Mets were toying with prior to Jeurys Familia's injury, it looks like the Padres are open to using Brad Hand in the 8th inning if that's where the middle of the opposing team's lineup will be hitting late in the game. That has left Yates as the primary beneficiary for saves, as he now has two thanks to this move. Yates has picked up where he left off last season and has actually improved upon his ratios, thanks to a new splitter that has been inducing groundballs at a high clip. Yates is certainly capable of closing out games, and while he can help now with ratios, strikeouts and an occasional save, the strong possibility of a Brad Hand trade could jolt his value even higher in the coming months.

Steve Cishek, Chicago Cubs - 7% owned

Not all that long ago, Cishek was a pretty solid closer for fantasy purposes, and while he has settled into a setup role, it's important to remember that he was brought into Chicago primarily to be Brandon Morrow insurance. Morrow has held together just fine so far, but we can't just dismiss his extensive injury history, so those in deeper leagues could be wise to stash/handcuff Cishek. He's also been pretty phenomenal this season, with an ERA of 1.88 and WHIP of 1.o1 to go along with 34 strikeouts in 28.1 innings.

 

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