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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.

This week we will take a look at potential cheap (under 20% owned on Yahoo) saves options, as it will take some time to weed out the middle relievers jockeying for high-leverage jobs.

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Under-the-Radar Relievers to Watch

Kenyan Middleton (Los Angeles Angels) - 18% owned

Middleton continues to gain traction as a potential closer in L.A. after he cleaned up Blake Parker's mess Sunday afternoon. It's likely Scioscia goes back to Parker as he deserves another chance, but Middleton should still be locked into a prime setup role for the time being. We've seen Scioscia continuously decline to announce his closer before, so there's also the chance that the best case scenario is that Middleton and Parker wind up splitting the ninth inning. Even if that's the case, Middleton can be useful in mixed leagues giving his strikeout upside (16.6 SwStr% in 2017!) and occasional saves. This also isn't the first time Scioscia has leaned on Middleton to close out games. He earned two saves last August before a meltdown led to Blake Parker being inserted into the role. At this point, Middleton needs to be owned in most holds leagues, AL-only and is a worthy speculative add in deeper standard leagues.

Darren O'Day (Baltimore Orioles) - 7% owned

O'Day is by no means your typical closer with an average fastball velocity of 88 MPH and a sidewinder delivery (yes, I know who Brad Ziegler is). With Brad Brach off to a bad start, and working in mop-up duty during Sunday's game, this has led to speculation that Brach may have been booted from the closer's gig. That seems like an overreaction, but at the same time, I can certainly see a situation where Brach loses the job if he falters in his next couple of outings. I personally would rather see Mychal Givens (who also worked in Sunday's loss) get a shot at closing out games, but the tea leaves seem to be pointing to O'Day as the next man up. O'Day won't miss a ton of bats like Givens can, but he will bring you solid ratios, which is just fine for a source of saves you plucked from the waiver wire.

Kevin Jepsen (Texas Rangers) - 0% owned

I was shocked to here that Kevin Jepsen would be the 1B to Keone Kela's 1A on the Rangers initial closer depth chart. I had no idea Jepsen was still hanging around pro ball, as he hasn't really been relevant since 2015 and spending last year struggling for the Nationals AAA team. That's not to say Jepsen is guaranteed to have no value this season, as he was a fairly productive reliever for a long time when he was with the Angels. We saw guys like Brandon Morrow and Joe Smith resurrect their careers last year, so why not Jepsen? However, unless he makes a major change to his repertoire, there really is not enough upside here to warrant an add in most leagues. In deep leagues and AL-only though, he is worth a look as someone who can chip in a cheap save or two here and there. Just don't expect much of a contribution to your ratios or strikeouts.

 

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