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The Top Fantasy Baseball Relief Pitchers of 2013

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30. Steve Cishek, Miami Marlins

Steve-Cishek-Miami-Marlins.jpg
Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports

As it stands, Steve Cishek is the favorite to close games for the Miami Marlins in 2013 and could provide some late-round value should the team manage to remain somewhat relevant this year.

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29. Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers

Kenley-Jansen-Los-Angeles-Dodgers.jpg
Jayne Kamin - USA Today Sports

Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen has a future as a strikeout machine and will rack up some fantasy points for you in K’s alone throughout the season.

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28. Alexi Ogando, Texas Rangers

Alexi Ogando
Tim Heitman - USA Today Sports

Alexei Ogando looks to be joining the Texas Rangers’ starting rotation once again, but you can’t let him slip too far as long as he retains reliever eligibility.

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27. Ernesto Frieri, Los Angeles Angels

Ernesto Frieri
Tim Heitman - USA Today Sports

The Angels acquired Frieri via trade in 2012, and after finishing out the season with 98 strikeouts in all, the reliever is quietly going to help someone’s fantasy squad in 2013.

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26. Ryan Madson, Los Angeles Angels

Ryan Madson
Howard Smith - USA Today Sports

Ryan Madson is recovering from Tommy John Surgery and could end up being a huge sleeper pick as the closer for the Los Angeles Angels provided he suffers no major setbacks.

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25. Jonathan Broxton, Cincinnati Reds

Jonathan Broxton
Jake Roth - USA Today Sports

Jonathon Broxton’s fantasy value may fluctuate depending on how long he remains the closer for the Cincinnati Reds, but he should still provide value and is basically a lock for 60 innings in 2013.

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24. Casey Janssen, Toronto Blue Jays

Casey Janssen
Kim Klement - USA Today Sports

There are more talented closers available than Casey Janssen, but the Toronto Blue Jays look like they might actually put together a nice season and that means plenty of save opportunities for this guy.

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23. Glen Perkins, Minnesota Twins

Glen Perkins
Peter Aiken - USA Today Sports

Glen Perkins is an underrated relief pitcher and looks to let everyone know it while serving as the closer for the Minnesota Twins in 2013.

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22. Tom Wilhelmsen, Seattle Mariners

Tom Wilhelmsen
Steven Bisig - USA Today Sports

Tom Wilhelmsen will be the Opening Day closer for the Seattle Marlins this season and has a chance to build on an impressive campaign from a year ago.

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21. Jason Grilli, Pittsburgh Pirates

Jason Grilli
Charles LeClaire - USA Today Sports

Jason Grilli has finally developed into a reliable major league reliever and has now posted consecutive seasons with an ERA under 3.00 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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20. Addison Reed, Chicago White Sox

Addison Reed
Jerry Lai - USA Today Sports

Addison Reed displays the potential to be a great closer for the Chicago White Sox, but for now he’s stuck in the middle of the pack and should only be viewed as a mid-to-late round option.

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19. Rafael Betancourt, Colorado Rockies

Rafael Betancourt
Chris Humphreys - USA Today Sports

Rafael Betancourt is getting up there in age (turns 38 in April) but remains a reliable fantasy option as a reliever and piled up 31 saves for the Colorado Rockies a year ago.

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18. Chris Perez, Cleveland Indians

Chris Perez
Rob Grabowski - USA Today Sports

Will Chris Perez be able to duplicate a 2012 season that saw him finish with 39 saves? The Cleveland Indians will give him every chance to do so if they don’t trade him first.

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17. Huston Street, San Diego Padres

Huston Street
Jake Roth - USA Today Sports

If he can stay healthy, Huston Street is a lock to put up heartwarming fantasy numbers for the San Diego Padres. That’s a big if, though.

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16. Grant Balfour, Oakland Athletics

Grant Balfour
Kyle Terada - USA Today Sports

Grant Balfour isn’t going to load you up with strikeouts, but he doesn’t walk many guys and lets very few cross the plate.

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15. Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals

Greg Holland
Jake Roth - USA Today Sports

Greg Holland earned the right to close games for the Kansas City Royals in 2012 and looks primed to make good on the opportunity to be the ninth-inning guy over a full season in 2013.

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14. Joel Hanrahan, Boston Red Sox

Joel Hanrahan
Jerry Lai - USA Today Sports

Joel Hanrahan may warrant a higher ranking at first glance, but the Boston Red Sox closer struggled with control at times in 2012 and failed to reach 60 innings as well. Solid upside, but limited.

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13. John Axford, Milwaukee Brewers

John Axford
Benny Sieu - USA Today Sports

John Axford’s 2012 season was terrible in comparison to the one that came before it, but the Milwaukee Brewers’ ninth-inning guy should settle somewhere in between his 2011 greatness and 2012 mediocrity this time around.

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12. Jim Johnson, Baltimore Orioles

Jim Johnson
Debby Wong - USA Today Sports

Don’t expect another 51 saves from Baltimore Orioles closer Jim Johnson in 2013, but his 2012 campaign doesn’t exactly seem like it was just a fluke year, either.

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11. Sergio Romo, San Francisco Giants

Sergio Romo
Kyle Terada - USA Today Sports

The San Francisco Giants appear to be in good hands with Sergio Romo, the heir to Brian Wilson at the closer spot. At least he should be after dominating the 2012 postseason in effortless fashion.

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10. J.J. Putz, Arizona Diamondbacks

J.J. Putz
Jennifer Stewart - USA Today Sports

J.J. Putz strikes out a ton of batters and walks very few. The only issue for the Arizona Diamondbacks closing pitcher is durability. He hasn’t thrown 60 or more innings in any season since 2007.

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9. Joe Nathan, Texas Rangers

Joe Nathan
Jim Cowsert - USA Today Sports

Joe Nathan returned to full health in 2012 and made a major impact for the Texas Rangers. All signs point to more of the same in 2013.

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8. Rafael Soriano, Washington Nationals

Rafael Soriano
Debby Wong - USA Today Sports

Rafael Soriano proved his worth as a closer once again in 2012 and will likely put together another fine season with his new team, the Washington Nationals.

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7. Kris Medlen, Atlanta Braves

Kris Medlen
Daniel Shirey - USA Today Sports

Kris Medlen will start games for the Atlanta Braves in 2013 after doing a little of everything a season ago, and doing it all amazingly well.

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6. Fernando Rodney, Tampa Rays

Fernando Rodney
Kim Klement - USA Today Sports

Fernando Rodney put together a career season and then some for the Tampa Rays in 2012. If he works magic again this year, shame on me for not having him higher on this list.

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5. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees

Mariano Rivera
The Star Ledger - USA Today Sports

Even at age 43, how do you doubt a healthy Mariano Rivera? You just don’t.

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4. Jason Motte, St. Louis Cardinals

Jason Motte
Jeff Curry - USA Today Sports

Jason Motte has been extremely consistent for the St. Louis Cardinals over the past three seasons and racked up 42 saves in 2012, his first season as a full-time closer.

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3. Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia Phillies

Jon Papelbon
Howard Smith - USA Today Sports

When You draft Jonathan Papelbon, you know exactly what you’re getting. Between 35-40 saves and absolute consistency in all other categories.

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2. Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds

Aroldis Chapman
Jake Roth - USA Today Sports

Aroldis Chapman was dynamite as a closer in 2012 and the Cincinnati Reds are going to try him in the starting rotation this season. Whether a starter or a closer, this guy is going to be gone in a hurry.

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1. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves

Craig Kimbrel
Charles LeClaire - USA Today Sports

The only reason Craig Kimbrel is ahead of Chapman is that the guy is literally unhittable. Statistically speaking, he’s almost like having two closers in one. Seriously.

Aroldis Chapman Cincinnati Reds

Kelley L Cox

The painfully long wait for Fantasy Baseball to return is nearly over as the 2013 MLB season lies just around the corner. Pitchers and catchers reported in early February and anyone not playing in this year’s World Baseball Classic has now arrived for Spring Training as well.

The WBC will serve as a nice way of holding baseball fans over until April, but for fantasy baseball players around the world, the month of March is all about research. Which players signed with new squads over the off-season? How does every team’s revamped batting order and pitching rotation look heading into 2013 and which fantasy studs will benefit the most?

The turnover among relief pitchers in Major League Baseball is perhaps greater than any other position. Only the elite closers remain ninth-inning warriors for the duration of their careers, and the teams without one of them are usually left searching for a serviceable option capable of getting them those last three outs, sometimes well into the regular season.

There is, however, a wave of young closers and relievers invading the league. Strikeout machines, if you will. Youngsters like Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel are bringing the heat and bringing it every time they toe the slab. Those are a couple of well-known names, but following those phenoms are even more talented late-inning hurlers you may or may not be familiar with.

Well, it’s been awhile since fantasy baseball was here to occupy our time, so if you need a little refresher course, I completely understand. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. The following slides will bring you, in order, the Top 30 fantasy baseball relief pitchers of 2013.

 

Note: There are a handful of pitchers on this list whom are expected to begin the season as starters, but currently have reliever eligibility from the 2012 season and should retain that status on most fantasy sites.