RELIEVERS: 2022 End Game

This week the column looks at end game pitchers. These are the $1 or less value pitchers in BaseballHQ.com projections for a mixed 5x5 league. Sounds simple enough. Filter 5x5 mixed projections for a price tag of $1 to $-2 and at least a 20% K%-BB% and you get a nice first grouping:

K%-BB%>20% (proj)   Sv IP xERA WHIP  K%  K-BB% HR/9 15$ ADP
=================   == == ==== ==== ==== ===== ==== === ===
C.Doval (SF)        7 58 3.30 1.24  31    20   0.8  -1 168
K.Giles (SEA)      12 51 3.22 1.20  34    25   0.9  -1 301
T.Rainey (WAS)     12 65 3.91 1.32  35    20   1.4  -1 409
A.Bender (MIA)      8 65 3.11 1.14  30    21   0.7   1 439
J.Karinchak (CLE)   5 65 3.68 1.32  33    20   1.2  -1 465
J.Alcala (MIN)      4 58 3.24 1.10  29    23   1.2   0 484
P.Fairbanks (TAM)   9 58 3.22 1.19  34    24   0.9   1 547
A.Warren (CIN)      6 58 3.40 1.16  33    24   0.9   0 556
T.May (NYM)         4 73 4.01 1.27  30    20   1.4   1 610
D.Hudson (LA)       6 58 3.45 1.28  33    24   1.1  -0 617
J.Cousins (MIL)     0 58 3.35 1.16  34    21   0.9  -2 719
D.Robertson (CHC)   2 58 3.39 1.14  30    21   1.1  -2 737
M.Wisler (TAM)      2 58 3.55 1.16  31    23   1.2  -1 740
C.Poche (TAM) (L)   2 58 3.71 1.12  36    28   0.9  -1 749
J.Springs (TAM) (L) 0 58 3.54 1.19  32    23   1.4  -2 750

Tampa Bay has the only two lefties on the list, and two right-handers as well for four of the fifteen relievers who hit the criteria. Colin Poche (LHP, TAM) and Jeffrey Springs (LHP, TAM) just underline the ridiculous depth that the Rays have in the relief corps. Both have elite skills, and no one even thinks about them (ADPs 749 and 750) because they are down the depth chart. Matt Wisler (RHP, TAM) is also down the depth chart with strong skills and yes, a 740 ADP. The standout here is Peter Fairbanks (RHP, TAM) and while he is projected for a stronger xERA the 547 ADP is more likely because he pitched in greater leverage in 2021. Fairbanks is well worth your attention in the end game.

We are going to have to see it on the field, but the Cubs may have added someone who could come out of nowhere and close in David Robertson (RHP, CHC). He has to be healthy, and he has to be able to pitch close to these projections. But if he can do those two things, he is the reliever with the best chance to lead the team in saves. Rowan Wick (RHP, CHC) would not be in the way for long. Until he signed with the Cubs, Robertson was languishing in the mid-700s by ADP. But now--this forgotten man is potentially a real find for your end game.

There are others on this list who are far less sleepy who seem primed to get saves for their teams. Giants reliever Camilo Doval (RHP, SF) is at ADP 168. Mariners reliever Ken Giles (RHP, SEA) is at ADP 301. Nationals reliever Tanner Rainey (RHP, WAS) is at ADP 409. Marlins reliever Anthony Bender (RHP, MIA) is at ADP 439. These four relievers are all very solid skill sets--better than the current listed incumbent closers on their teams. It isn't a guaranteed lock. But 80+% of the time, you can make money betting on the higher skill set in a bullpen.

You should like Art Warren (RHP, CIN). The Reds have a lot of young, inexperienced guys behind once-again-injured Lucas Sims (RHP, CIN). Warren proved himself during an extended stay and shows elite skills across the board. He could definitely close games for the Reds at some point in the year. Jorge Alcala (RHP, MIN) is also worth watching for the role he will play in the Twins pen.

What if we go deeper and look at relievers with at least a 20% K%-BB% but worry less about price? You definitely get some flyers:

K%-BB%>20% (proj)   Sv IP xERA WHIP  K%  K-BB% HR/9 15$ ADP
=================   == == ==== ==== ==== ===== ==== === ===
T.Rosenthal (FA)     0 44 3.21 1.14  33    22   0.6  -4 557 
B.Boxberger (MIL)    0 65 3.63 1.20  31    21   1.2  -3 619
E.Pagan (SD)         4 58 4.25 1.16  28    21   2.0  -5 623
K.Yates (ATL)        0 22 3.44 1.14  33    22   0.4  -9 680 [DL] 
D.Coleman (KC)       0 29 3.41 1.14  30    21   0.6  -7 707
B.Raley (TAM) (L)    0 44 3.50 1.23  28    20   1.2  -8 734
A.Adams (SD)         5 58 3.42 1.28  35    22   0.9  -4 738
P.Maton (HOU)        0 58 3.76 1.38  29    20   0.9  -8 741
P.Bickford (LA)      2 58 3.54 1.24  28    20   1.2  -3 742
J.Leclerc (TEX)      5 29 3.84 1.31  34    20   0.6  -8 744 [DL]
N.Sandlin (CLE)      0 51 3.42 1.25  32    23   1.1  -5 748
T.Kahnle (LA)        0 44 3.00 1.14  34    24   1.0  -5 750

With Trevor Rosenthal (RHP, FA), who knows? He is going to have to prove health before anything else and will likely sign a minor league deal and have to work his way up from there and his odds of contributing to your team are going down each day that he spends not in a camp. With Brad Boxberger (RHP, MIL) you have to love the skills, but he is behind two true elite relievers on the Brewers depth chart as is Jake Cousins (RHP, MIL) from the previous list.

There are some opportunities here, though. Dylan Coleman (RHP, KC) is only projected for 29 innings. But if he pitches to this skill set with a 30% K% and 21% K%-BB%, he's going to be in leverage in a hurry in Kansas City. Austin Adams (RHP, SD) proved himself last year in leverage for the Padres who are still casting around for the closer. Adams is better than Emilio Pagán​ (RHP, SD) because Pagán suffers that 2.0 HR/9. Too much, even for pitching in San Diego to provide the necessary consistency.

And then look at the two Dodgers here--Phil Bickford (RHP, LA) and Tommy Kahnle (RHP, LA). It seems almost a lock that both of these relievers will pitch in leverage and provide excellent skills across the board. Blake Treinen (RHP, LA) is great, but if he falters at all, one of these relievers could step up. Both project to have the requisite skill set.

Next week, the column takes a walk around Spring Training camps to see what is news and what is noise. Follow me on Twitter @dougdennis41


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