RELIEVERS: 20 LIMA options for 2020

Last year, this column provided 20 LIMA targets just by filtering projections as follows: a 100 BPV or better, a 3.50 xERA or better, a 9.0 Dom, 3.0 Cmd ratio and 1.0 HR/9 or better, a mixed league $15 amount under $10, and an ADP higher than 250. This year, these filters yield 10 relievers:

LIMA filters          Sv Hld  IP  xERA WHIP  Dom  Cmd HR/9 G% F% BPV  $ ADP
===================== == === ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== == == === == ===
D.Betances (NYM)       2  14  58  2.88 1.17 14.0  3.1  0.6 46 33 154  2 432
R.Pressly (HOU)        4  19  58  2.75 1.10 12.3  4.4  0.9 49 27 172  3 449
D.Castillo (TAM)       8  19  65  3.29 1.12 10.4  3.6  0.8 53 32 139  4 506
C.Knebel (MIL)         4  19  58  3.33 1.26 12.6  3.1  0.9 44 36 139 -2 518
W.Harris (WAS)         6  21  65  3.14 1.09  9.7  4.4  1.0 52 26 144  3 583
A.Kittredge (TAM)      0   0  44  3.22 1.16  9.6  4.7  1.0 50 26 146 -3 744
J.Castillo (SD) (L)    0   0  29  3.11 1.00 12.1  4.3  0.6 42 41 162 -4 749
A.Chafin (ARI) (L)     0  18  58  3.40 1.26 10.7  3.0  0.9 48 27 122 -3 750
I.Mattson (BAL)        0   0  29  3.29 1.10 11.2  4.0  0.6 44 36 148 -4 --
J.Springs (BOS) (L)    2   8  36  3.41 1.44 12.5  3.9  0.3 44 36 159 -8 --

Dellin Betances (RHP, NYM) is at the top of this list with a 432 ADP. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Except Betances is now a Met and 2019 was a lost season. Can he return to his typical skill set? The projections think so, but in fewer innings. Betances could always close games and all it takes is a continuation of the blip that was Edwin Diaz's (RHP, NYM) 2019 nightmare. Diaz kept his skills in 2019, though, so Betances is more likely to be that super-set-up that he was in the Bronx. Betances gets less volume, too, because Seth Lugo (RHP, NYM) is expected to take the multiple-inning stints. It is a nice set-up and Betances should return a profit with this 2.88 xERA skill set.

The best skill set on this list belongs to Houston's Ryan Pressly (RHP, HOU). Pressly boasts a 172 BPV and 2.75 xERA. That's as good as anyone. His 449 ADP means that there is profit to be taken here, even without the saves. And given the pressure that the Astros will face from the fans, there are no guarantees that Roberto Osuna (RHP, HOU) will close all season, great skills notwithstanding. Pressly is a terrific ERA/WHIP play, with saves upside on a strong team. What more could you want from a LIMA reliever?

Diego Castillo (RHP, TAM) returns to this list for the Rays. He returned a tidy profit in 2019 and is ready to do so again in 2020. Nick Anderson (RHP, TAM) gets the top billing, which is why Castillo has a 506 ADP. But that's a great price point for a guy who is projected for eight saves on top of his skill set. Joining him on this list is Andrew Kittredge (RHP, TAM). Kittredge could be a bulk reliever and should beat that 44-inning projection with this skill set. In fact, Kittredge has the best Cmd ratio on this high-skills list and he is at a 744 ADP. You should take him sooner than that.

Corey Knebel (RHP, MIL) returns after a lost 2019 to help Josh Hader (LHP, MIL) win games for the Brewers. Knebel is expected to only get four saves in the projections. If he can return to this skills level, he will get more than that and Hader will be free to wreak havoc on offenses any time there is high leverage. At a 518 ADP, the bet is that he will produce a profit pretty easily, making him a terrific LIMA buy.

The same can be said for Nationals newcomer Will Harris (RHP, WAS). Harris is the best projected skill set in this bullpen, even over Sean Doolittle (LHP, WAS), who usually misses time each season with some injury or another. Daniel Hudson (RHP, WAS) added stability during the World Series push, but his skills are nowhere near as complete as Harris'. The upside for Harris to get saves and hold the projections skill set are as good as anyone else on this list. It makes Harris the best LIMA buy in this article, at a 583 ADP. Do what you can to get him.

The bottom four names on this list will need some help to get into leverage situations. But the skills are good for each of them. Jose Castillo (LHP, SD) was on this list last year for San Diego but then got hurt right away in March and barely contributed. Now that he is back, he is in a stacked pen that was highlighted last week. Andrew Chafin (LHP, ARI) is an elite lefty who handled tough lefties in leverage for Arizona last season. 2020 brings the three-batter minimum, which could cut into Chafin's effectiveness and alter his usage. Issac Mattson (RHP, BAL) should work his way into the mix at some point for Baltimore. He may not make the roster initially, though, so temper expectations. He has better projected skills than anyone in that pen, but the question is whether he can reach them. If he can, he can become relevant quickly, so keep him on your short lists. Jeffrey Springs (LHP, BOS) is a Red Sox lefty with skills, but he has a ways to go just to make the roster. The skills will play when he does, though. Like with Mattson, put Springs on a watch list.

So now to make up the other 10 LIMA targets, let's hand pick some high skills relievers who just need a break to go their way to become the closer:

LIMA hand picks       Sv Hld  IP  xERA WHIP  Dom  Cmd HR/9 G% F% BPV  $ ADP
===================== == === ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== == == === == ===
S.Lugo (NYM)          16  18  73  3.37 1.03  9.9  5.0  0.9 45 36 147 10 344
E.Clase (CLE)          2  19  65  3.19 1.17  8.3  4.0  0.4 61 20 132  1 538
A.Miller (STL) (L)    16  15  73  3.64 1.30 12.1  2.8  1.2 41 38 120  3 559
M.Barnes (BOS)         4  26  58  3.06 1.24 13.7  2.8  0.8 48 33 142  1 560
K.Ginkel (ARI)         2   6  44  3.63 1.11 10.8  3.8  1.2 34 41 130  1 571
A.Bummer (CHW) (L)     0   8  58  3.34 1.22  8.1  2.4  0.6 68 17  99 -3 578
R.Montero (TEX)        2  13  58  3.78 1.17  9.8  3.0  1.2 43 35 109  0 635  
L.Jackson (ATL)        0  12  58  3.29 1.29 11.0  3.1  1.1 52 27 132 -2 658
C.Martin (ATL)         2  17  65  3.10 1.05  9.8  8.9  1.1 46 31 171  1 705
C.Allen (TEX)          2   3  15  3.89 1.20 11.4  3.2  1.2 34 47 120 -8 748

Just as with the filters list, this list starts with a Met. Seth Lugo (RHP, NYM) had a terrific 2019 and could be in line for an encore. His skills and innings will likely repeat. The 16 projected saves are likely too much with Edwin Diaz (RHP, NYM) and Betances in the stable, so temper that $10 value some. But at a 344 ADP, Lugo is going to get volume, in leverage, and should deliver value. Lugo is as good a multiple-inning reliever as there is currently in baseball.

Emmanuel Clase (RHP, CLE) has been a favorite in this column this offseason. The best description is that he throws "bowling balls" with velocity and command. That 61% groundball rate is one of the very few 60+ rates, his walk rate is very low, his HR rate is almost non-existent. The Dom shows that there is work to do, but this is what Cleveland traded Corey Kluber (RHP, TEX) to get. With elite lefty Brad Hand (LHP, CLE) in front of him, Clase has a 538 ADP. He should generate a tidy profit at that pricepoint.

Buyers seem to have already decided that the Cardinals closer is Giovanny Gallegos (RHP, STL). Gallegos is terrific and had a banner 2019. But not even the Cardinals have decided who their closer is quite yet. It might be Gallegos. It might be Carlos Martinez (RHP, STL), the 2019 closer who is trying to get back into the rotation. And it might be uber-lefty Andrew Miller (LHP, STL). Miller has the skills, including a 12.1 Dom, and he is expected to earn 16 saves. Whether he will depends on how the closer role shakes out. But at a 559 ADP, Miller will return a profit even if he doesn't get 16 saves. And if it works out in his favor, he could get more than 16 saves.

You can buy a 13.7 Dom at a 560 ADP. That is the pricepoint for Matt Barnes (RHP, BOS) who could never quite grab the closer role in Boston in 2019. The walk rate hurt him. But that 13.7 Dom drives a superb skill set (15.4 Dom in 2019), and it is not all that far-fetched to imagine Barnes passing Brandon Workman (RHP, BOS) to close games at some point in 2020. Workman also has walk issues and projections expect Workman's HR rate to get worse and Barnes's HR rate to get better. At ADP 560, Barnes should be on your short list of LIMA relievers to get.

Keith Ginkel (RHP, ARI) makes this list with a 571 ADP. Ginkel is behind closer Archie Bradley (RHP, ARI) for Arizona but Bradley has some slumps at times. If Arizona needs a Plan B, it is likely Ginkel, due to the projected skills. You could certainly do worse, from a LIMA perspective. The main thing to watch and worry about here is innings and usage. Make sure he is getting a leverage role before you roster him. Otherwise, watch and wait.

Lefty Aaron Bummer (LHP, CHW) is a better skill set than Alexander Colome (RHP, CHW) right now. The real kicker here is the absurd 68% groundball rate. Bummer is not going to get handed the role, he only has a 99 BPV otherwise, due to a 8.1 Dom/2.4 Cmd ratio combination. Colome would have to fail. But with a 578 ADP for Bummer, you really could luck into some White Sox saves if Colome did fail. And the skills are otherwise playable.

Texas has two names on the list: Rafael Montero (RHP, TEX) at a 635 ADP and Cody Allen (RHP, TEX) at a 748 ADP. Allen is a non-roster invitee after washing out with the Angels in 2019. He was a closer for Cleveland before that. Allen is projected to have a better skill set than Montero. But Allen may struggle to meet this projection; he certainly did not meet it in 2019. At a 748 ADP, though, this kind of flyer is what you are hunting. Montero is currently second-in-line for saves behind closer Jose Leclerc (RHP, TEX). That is the same Jose Leclerc who coughed up the role for a significant chunk of 2019. Montero has a solid enough skill set and won't set the league on fire. But he will get saves if Leclerc fails again, nice upside at a 635 ADP.

Atlanta also has two with Christopher Martin (RHP, ATL) and Luke Jackson (RHP, ATL). Jackson saved some games in 2019. Martin has the crazy good skill set, as evidenced with a 171 BPV. Both are closer capable, but in a pen with lots of closer-capable relievers. Here, you are likely just rostering ERA/WHIP help and high skills, hence the 658 ADP (Jackson) and 705 ADP (Martin). But if things break right, you could have a high-skills reliever who grabs a few saves as well.

That's 20 LIMA relievers you should consider according to your own league's format. Next pen column goes after some sleepers. Follow me @dougdennis41


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.