We're less than a week away from Opening Day and on the verge of a huge fantasy draft weekend. It's finally time for baseball season to be in (don't say "full swing" don't say "full swing") full effect!
Many fantasy leagues have already drafted, but there is still a waiver wire to scour and buy-low/sell-high trades to make. No position is more unpredictable than RP, where relievers in prominent roles come and go on a regular basis.
Here are some recent bits of bullpen news that could make a big difference in this season's fantasy landscape.Editor's note: Get 50% off any MLB Premium Pass. Draft guide, cheat sheets, 200 days of DFS access, and over 20 premium tools. Dominate your leagues all year long! Sign Up Now!
The Latest Bullpen Updates
New York Mets
The biggest baseball news recently is that Mets' closer Jeurys Familia will serve a 15-game suspension stemming from his domestic violence incident this past offseason. This is actually good news for Familia, the Mets, and his fantasy owners, but bad for Major League baseball from a PR standpoint.
Without the requisite ten-foot pole to touch this with, let's stick with just the fantasy implications. Addison Reed will begin the season as the Mets' closer, but 15 games later, Familia should step right back into the ninth inning role. Before the official suspension was announced, there was a thought that Familia could miss enough games to give Reed a chance to really cement himself in the ninth inning, leaving Familia as the setup man upon his return. Fifteen games doesn't seem like enough for that to happen, so Familia should be closing and picking up saves before April ends. It's a boost to Familia's fantasy value and a huge hit to Reed's. Still, Reed is worth consideration in deep leagues and NL-only as a strong handcuff. He'll put up good enough numbers as a setup man to be worth a roster spot, and the 15 days of potential saves won't hurt either.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels were stubbornly going to stick with Huston Street as their closer even though Cam Bedrosian will almost certainly be their best reliever by a rather large margin. The injury bug bit Street, as it often has, so Bedrosian will start the year as the team's closer. Street is expected to return sometime in April though, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Angels hand him back the closer role regardless of how well Bedrosian has done. Still, it's unlikely Street will fare better than Bedrosian in the role, leaving the door open for him step right back in. Bedrosian projects as an excellent reliever after last season's breakout, and while him keeping the job all season would be ideal for his fantasy outlook, he should still end up with the most saves on the Angels by a significant margin.
A's manager Bob Melvin has repeatedly stated that he expects his ninth inning to be a "fluid" situation this season. At the same time, he also admitted that he sees Ryan Madson as the primary closer to start the season. In a bullpen with Sean Doolittle, Santiago Casilla, John Axford, Ryan Dull, and Frankie Montas, Madson is perhaps the most boring, lowest-upside choice. Players in holds leagues can look into any of these relievers, with Doolittle and Montas having the highest potential. However, both have their issues as well, as Doolittle is a huge injury risk and Montas likely won't start off pitching significant innings due to the presence of more veteran arms. Madson is really only worth consideration in deep mixed leagues and AL-only. Even then, he'd need to be one of the last closers taken. He's unlikely to keep his job very long, and he's not going to put up the other stats to be worth holding onto if he's not collecting saves. Steer clear of the Oakland bullpen if at all possible.
Similar to the A's, the Reds have "decided" to go without a strict closer role, instead choosing to mix and match as game situation dictates. Still, they have Raisel Iglesias as part of that bullpen, and despite an adventurous shower injury causing him to miss time, he should be ready for Opening Day. He is one of the better relief pitchers in the National League and shouldn't be overlooked despite not having the closer designation. He's worth a spot on a fantasy roster as this certainly seems like one of those situation where a pitcher can run away with the closer role. If anyone in a Reds uniform is going to run away with anything, it'll be Billy Hamilton, but if we're specifically talking about the ninth inning, it will be Raisel Iglesias.
The Rockies signed Greg Holland knowing that he was coming back from Tommy John Surgery and hoping he could be the player that used to slam the door on Royals opponents. They also knew they had Adam Ottavino to start the year in the role and to fall back on. After most of spring training though, Holland has looked great and Ottavino hasn't. It may still end up being Ottavino as the Opening Day closer, but it's looking like Holland will take over the ninth inning much sooner than originally expected. Both should have value, but Holland seems like the better choice here for fantasy.