Fantasy Baseball 2013: Reviewing Relievers
One of the most unpredictable positions in all of fantasy baseball is relief pitching. It only takes a few poor outings for someone else to grab the closing job right out from under another player, which often makes the position a hot commodity on the waiver wire. Two veteran guys should be on the majority of waiver wires out there and may become fantasy relevant once again if given the opportunity to do so.
Jose Valverde, Detroit Tigers: With a closing situation similar to that of a circus, the Tigers signed familiar face Valverde to a minor league deal on April 4. The 35-year old pitcher posted a solid outing on Thursday, tossing a scoreless inning. Detroit appears to continue flip-flopping back and forth between Phil Coke and Joaquin Benoit, but if neither can establish themselves as the lead guy, perhaps the Tigers will give their long time closer another shot. The Tigers have until May 8 to make a decision, or else Valverde can choose to opt out. He has 277 career saves. The fact that skipper Jim Leyland has yet to commit to a closer yet provides Valverde with a chance to win a job, but he has to impress in single and Triple-A.
Francisco Rodriguez, Milwaukee Brewers: K-Rod must have missed his home away from home because he’s back in Milwaukee. The Brewers and Rodriguez agreed to a minor league contract of their own on Wednesday and he will report to the team’s extended Spring Training program until he is ready to get on the hill for actual games. If all goes well during his eventual minor league stint, there is a very good chance that Rodriguez could be inserted into the Brewers’ closing role. John Axford has been awful, posting an ERA over 12, having already lost his job. Newly appointed closer Jim Henderson has been a heck of a lot better, recording two saves and an ERA of 1.29 during his seven appearances. If he can return to a little more than half of his previous, elite self, I don’t see any reason why the Brewers wouldn’t give him a shot.
Andrew Bailey, Boston Red Sox: With original closer Joel Hanrahan on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring, the Red Sox turned to Bailey, who struck out two batters while receiving his first save of the season on Wednesday. Bailey will undoubtedly be Boston’s ninth inning guy while Hanrahan is out, but he also has a terrific shot at keeping the job once he returns. Bailey is reliable, striking out 11 batters and allowing just a single run through 6.1 innings thus far in 2013. Keep an eye on this situation for the next few weeks.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.