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Updated Relief Pitcher Rankings (May) - 2018 Fantasy Baseball

We are a quarter of the way through the regular season for Major League Baseball, so our crack staff at RotoBaller has updated our rest-of-season fantasy baseball rankings. We looked at starting pitchers yesterday, and now we’re ready to hand things off to the bullpen.

Closers are known for their volatility and even the greats have come with their bumps and bruises thus far. We’ve also seen the game embrace middle relievers/firemen in a way that has elevated several non-closers toward fantasy viability. Many of you are fighting tooth-and-nail for saves, but don’t forget about some good ol’ ratio relief with a heavy dose of Ks.

Don't forget to bookmark our famous Rankings Wizard where you can see all of our rankings for mixed leagues, points leagues, AL/NL only leagues, dynasty leagues, top 2018 prospects, dynasty prospects and more. You will also find our tiers, auction values, player news, stats, projections and more. You can easily download everything and it's all free!

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2018 Fantasy Baseball Tiered Rankings: Relief Pitcher (May)

Rank Tier Player Name Pos Overall Rank
1 1 Craig Kimbrel RP 46.33
2 1 Kenley Jansen RP 56.33
3 1 Aroldis Chapman RP 69.67
4 1 Edwin Diaz RP 73.00
5 2 Felipe Vazquez RP 109.00
6 2 Wade Davis RP 116.67
7 2 Cody Allen RP 117.00
8 2 Raisel Iglesias RP 118.00
9 2 Brad Hand RP 122.67
10 2 Sean Doolittle RP 129.67
11 2 Jeurys Familia RP 149.00
12 2 Kenneth Giles RP 152.33
13 2 Brandon Morrow RP 158.33
14 2 Bradley Boxberger RP 163.33
15 3 Corey Knebel RP 164.67
16 3 Josh Hader RP 177.33
17 3 Roberto Osuna RP 178.33
18 3 Kelvin Herrera RP 183.33
19 3 Hector Neris RP 201.00
20 3 Hunter Strickland RP 203.33
21 3 Arodys Vizcaino RP 204.33
22 3 Blake Treinen RP 212.67
23 3 Andrew Miller RP 213.33
24 4 Keone Kela RP 233.33
25 4 Brad Brach RP 234.00
26 4 Shane Greene RP 249.00
27 4 Fernando Rodney RP 264.33
28 4 Chris Devenski RP 274.67
29 4 Joakim Soria RP 294.67
30 4 Zach Britton RP 302.00
31 4 Brad Ziegler RP 305.33
32 4 Greg Holland RP 307.00
33 4 Nate Jones RP 311.33
34 4 Blake Parker RP 314.33
35 4 A.J. Minter RP 314.33
36 5 Jim Johnson RP 320.33
37 5 Archie Bradley RP 328.67
38 5 Dellin Betances RP 330.33
39 5 Tyler Clippard RP 342.67
40 5 Kyle Barraclough RP 345.00
41 5 Chad Green RP 350.67
42 6 Brad Peacock RP 351.00
43 6 Adam Ottavino RP 351.67
44 6 Sam Dyson RP 358.00
45 6 Addison Reed RP 359.33
46 6 Luke Gregerson RP 362.00
47 6 Ryan Madson RP 364.00
48 6 A.J. Ramos RP 369.00
49 6 Dan Winkler RP 374.00
50 6 Pat Neshek RP 376.00
51 6 Cameron Bedrosian RP 376.33
52 6 C.J. Edwards RP 377.67
53 7 Mark Melancon RP 381.33
54 7 Darren O'Day RP 385.00
55 7 Jeremy Jeffress RP 387.50
56 7 Ryan Tepera RP 402.00
57 7 Dominic Leone RP 405.50
58 7 Yoshihisa Hirano RP 410.00
59 7 Mychal Antonio Givens RP 411.50
60 7 Brandon Kintzler RP 411.67
61 7 Drew Steckenrider RP 414.50
62 7 David Robertson RP 418.33
63 7 Tommy Kahnle RP 419.50
64 7 Steve Cishek RP 421.67
65 8 Tyler Lyons RP 423.00
66 8 Pedro Strop RP 425.00
67 8 Mike Montgomery RP 426.00
68 8 Seung-Hwan Oh RP 430.00
69 8 Kirby Yates RP 432.00
70 8 Will Harris RP 433.00
71 9 Tony Watson RP 435.67
72 9 Shawn Kelley RP 437.00
73 9 Brandon Maurer RP 441.00
74 9 Juan Minaya RP 447.00
75 9 Matt Bush RP 454.00
76 9 Matt Albers RP 491.00

Tier 1

Owning one of this quartet means you have an anchor. Even when they seem shaky -- looking at you, Jansen -- they’re still near the top of the class. There’s nothing new to be said about the three up top, but Diaz graduating into Tier One is worth noting. I am the proud owner of zero shares because I was scared off by his inconsistent command and his temporarily losing the job last season...oops. His 47.4% strikeout rate is tied for third highest with Chapman while his 17 saves are tied with Wade Davis for the most in the MLB. These are two very important categories to be good in as a closer, so let’s tip our caps to him and those of you with shares.

Tier 2

The second tier runs deep, with 10 closers standing tall. This also helps illustrate the struggles of relievers (and baseball in general), as Raisel Iglesias hit the DL after we submitted our ranks. Still, a non-throwing biceps injury shouldn’t sideline him for long, knocks on wood. Anyway, I think we know and respect most of these folks appropriately except for one Sean Doolittle.

Doolittle does a lot when on the mound, with the obvious caveat being his durability concerns. His 1.36 SIERA is the best out of any closer, with only Josh Hader (0.78) and Richard Rodriguez (1.19) beating him thus far. Those that know and love SIERA won’t be surprised that the same pecking order can be found when sorting by K-BB%, with Hader, Rodriguez and Doolittle standing as the only qualified RPs with marks north of 39%. I would not fight it if someone put him in their first tier.

Tier 3

Let’s just address the elephant in the room here: Roberto Osuna’s status with Major League Baseball is all the way up in the air and his pitching anytime soon seems far-fetched. Legal stances and personal feelings aside, I’d be worried about him in redrafts and would see if anyone is bullish on his return by packaging him in a trade. In keeper/dynasty formats, I’d be terrified given his history with anxiety and now this, but we’ve seen people turn it around before and we know the youngster’s talent is real.

Others dealing with some thinning ice for other reasons are Kelvin Herrera, who is a strong trade candidate and may not close in a new uniform, Hector Neris, who has Seranthony Dominguez and Edubray Ramos crowding him in Philly’s ‘pen, Hunter Strickland, who should retain the ninth no matter how healthy Mark Melancon is but SF may try to give MM some value before the deadline, and Arodys Vizcaino, who has A.J. Minter and Dan Winkler creeping into the ninth. Those guys are all still talented and worth owning, of course, but I think Neris and Vizcaino have earned their thin ice.

Tier 4

Speaking of guys who (at least seem to have) turned it around, how about Keone Kela? The 25-year-old fireballer struck out the side against the Yankees for his 10th save of the season and has a crispy 3.07 SIERA underneath that 4.50 ERA. If any owner out there still thinks of him as a middling guy with some heat then please take advantage of them.

And a bit of a programming note, I’d venture to guess that Greg Holland being this high up is a mistake on one of (or all of) us on the back-end. Let’s just forget you saw him because he is a hot mess right now.

Tier 5

While we have Blake Parker appropriately higher, there’s no doubting that Proven Closer Jim Johnson could easily find himself back in the ninth if Parker falters. I like Justin Anderson too, but Mike Scioscia is Mike Scioscia and JJ has that veteran grit to him, so we need to keep him on our radars.

I’m not a fan of rostering Tyler Clippard under any circumstances, but he’s still the frontrunner in Toronto and that begrudgingly means something. Those speculating for saves down the line can pivot to Kyle Barraclough for when Brad Ziegler is inevitably dealt by the rebuilding Marlins. Drew Steckenrider has disappointed lately while BearClaw has turned it up, so he seems like the clear choice at the moment.

Tier 6

The sixth tier brings on plenty of dart throws and ratio helpers, with folks such as Brad Peacock and Adam Ottavino making it rain profits with strong whiffs and ratios. Then you have some speculation with Addison Reed, C.J. Edwards, A.J. Ramos, Ryan Madson and Pat Neshek. The latter two are injured, but still carry value down the road once healthy. This can get extremely nitpicky at this point in the rankings game, so don’t be afraid to reach for your guy and make the add if you see someone you like in Tier Six or beyond.

Tiers 7+8+9

This is “beyond” alright. The most exciting arms in Tier Seven are Jeremy Jeffress, Ryan Tepera, Mychal Givens and David Robertson. The first three have been pitching well all season and could reasonably vulture a save here and there (though Jeffress has steeper competition), whereas Robertson hasn’t been as sharp as we’re used to seeing from him but is still the heir to the ninth should Chapman get hurt.

Tiers Eight and Nine are your scraps but are still folks with some relevancy in deeper circles who are within shouting distance of the ninth. Pedro Strop and Kirby Yates both have three victories, ERAs under 1.50 and WHIPs south of 1.00, making them good enough to roster in 14-teamers where your fringe starters and streamers may jeopardize your ratios.


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