RELIEVERS: Filtering early projections to find skill sets

Happy New Year! This column takes a quick look at the early projections through the following filters: BF/G less than 10.0, IP greater than 35, xERA less than 4.00, WHIP less than or equal to 1.25, DOM greater than 8.0, BB/9 less than 3.5, and BPV greater than or equal to 130. These are arbitrary filters and you can tweak it any way you want in your own spreadsheets. In fact, plenty of great pitchers like Aroldis Chapman (LHP, NYY) and Dellin Betances (RHP, NYM) are out because they miss a filter (walks in both of these cases). The goal here is to generate a shorter list that is easier to examine for groupings of good projected skill sets.

These filters on BaseballHQ.com projections yields a list of 28 relievers. These are now broken into two lists: 13 closers and 15 non-closers, and ranked by ADP for your convenience. Here are the closers (saves greater than or equal to 20):

closers             Sv  IP  xERA WHIP  DOM  CMD HR/9  $ BPV ADP
=================== == ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== == === ===
J.Hader (MIL) (L)   36  80  2.95 0.96 14.5  4.8  1.6 18 183  69
K.Yates (SD)        36  58  2.57 1.00 14.0  6.0  0.9 15 211  83
R.Osuna (HOU)       36  58  3.33 0.93  9.8  6.3  0.8 13 153  94
L.Hendriks (OAK)    28  65  3.34 1.11 11.9  5.4  0.7 11 169 119
B.Hand (CLE) (L)    38  65  3.26 1.12 12.5  3.9  1.1 12 154 120
T.Rogers (MIN) (L)  30  58  3.18 1.09 10.2  5.1  0.9  9 157 131
K.Jansen (LA)       38  58  3.33 1.05 11.8  5.8  1.2 11 170 133
E.Diaz (NYM)        20  65  2.86 1.18 14.5  4.6  1.1  6 194 135
K.Giles (TOR)       28  58  3.14 1.09 12.3  4.6  0.9  9 168 139
W.Smith (ATL) (L)   38  58  3.28 1.17 12.3  3.8  1.2 12 152 141
H.Neris (PHI)       36  73  3.49 1.12 11.5  3.6  1.4 12 137 153
R.Iglesias (CIN)    30  65  3.67 1.14 11.1  4.0  1.4  8 137 157
E.Pagan (TAM)       24  65  3.76 1.00 10.9  4.9  1.5 11 144 170

Thirteen closers hit these filters, which means they are decent bets to hold the closer role. A few of them won't, of course. But this is where the risk is the lowest. The interesting part of this list, besides the fact that the projections are rosy, is the ADP. It is too early to put too much stock in ADPs (we will examine those in detail at the end of January), but there appears to be a range of 130-140 where owners are hunting high-skill closers, with Taylor Rogers (LHP, MIN), Kenley Jansen (RHP, LA), Edwin Diaz (RHP, NYM), Ken Giles (RHP, TOR), and Will Smith (LHP, ATL) all going off the board in rapid succession. If you want one of these closers, you will have to start thinking about it in that range, although it may well be prudent to wait on Hector Neris (RHP, PHI) or Raisel Iglesias (RHP, CIN) ten to fifteen slots later for a skill set that still makes the list.

You will see a dollar amount listed. That is for mixed 15-team leagues. It really has far less meaning with closers. Some leagues pay up for high-skills closers, some don't. Some have a few teams that do, and yet you can wait and get a nice skill set without paying the premium. League history will tell you the price you will pay far more than these value projections. So is Edwin Diaz (RHP, NYM) really just $6? No—not unless your whole league is filled with Mets fans who have lost faith in him and won't give him a second chance.

Last point here—understand the team usage. Emilio Pagan (RHP, TAM) is highly skilled and could get 50 saves if allowed to do it. But you know the Rays have five(!) relievers who make these filters, so the chances that Pagan is going to get all the team saves is low. A majority, yes, but all the saves, no.

Here are the non-closers (projected saves under 20):

non-closers         Sv  IP  xERA WHIP  DOM  CMD HR/9  $ BPV ADP
=================== == ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== == === ===
G.Gallegos (STL)     2  73  3.74 0.95 10.1  4.8  1.0  8 137 216
N.Anderson (TAM)     8  58  3.22 1.10 13.0  4.9  1.2  5 170 230
S.Lugo (NYM)        16  73  3.42 1.03  9.9  5.0  0.9 10 147 313
R.Pressly (HOU)      0  58  2.78 1.10 12.3  4.4  0.9  2 172 422
D.Castillo (TAM)     4  65  3.34 1.12 10.4  3.6  0.8  3 139 458
E.Clase (CLE)        2  65  3.24 1.17  8.3  4.0  0.4  1 132 502
M.Strahm (SD) (L)    0  73  3.83 1.15  9.7  4.9  1.4  0 137 524
W.Harris (WAS)       4  58  3.07 1.03  9.8  4.8  0.9  4 152 582
C.Green (NYY)        0  73  3.47 1.08 11.6  5.0  1.1  4 156 588
T.Duffey (MIN)       0  44  3.63 1.16  9.8  4.0  1.0 -3 132 639
C.Poche (TAM) (L)    0  51  3.86 1.10 12.9  4.1  1.1 -1 144 650
C.Martin (ATL)       2  65  3.14 1.05  9.8  8.9  1.1  1 171 665
T.Kahnle (NYY)       0  58  3.02 1.10 12.0  4.0  1.1  1 159 694
J.Soria (OAK)        2  58  3.57 1.10 10.6  4.0  0.9 -1 137 741
A.Kittredge (TAM)    0  44  3.27 1.16  9.6  4.7  1.0 -3 146 747

This is a very interesting list, because it gives you the nice projected skill sets without the added cost for saves. When you are speculating late on who might get a saves role in-season, this list is pretty good. Of course there are other high DOM names (James Karinchak (RHP, CLE), anyone?) that you could look at who miss these filters. Someone will emerge. It is January, though, so let's currently just focus on some names who could have a shot and hit the filters above.

So let's look at a few of these guys. Giovanny Gallegos (RHP, STL) was really good last year for the Cardinals. Not so many saves, but he really boosted ERA/WHIP in NL-only leagues and he was cheap, mostly going for a small amount in FAAB. With an ADP at 216, that might be a tad high. On the other hand, who exactly is the Cardinals closer? Carlos Martinez (RHP, STL) wants into the rotation. The jury is out on that, of course, for now. Andrew Miller (LHP, STL) is the main lefty and is projected for half the saves with Martinez. None of that seems right, really. The Cardinals closer role is something of a wait-and-see at the moment, and of all the skill sets in that pen, Gallegos has the best one. The 216 ADP seems high for now, but it might be ok if he gets the closer role instead of high-leverage multiple-innings.

Seth Lugo (RHP, NYM) is projected for 16 saves for the Mets right now. After his 2019, he deserves it. But Dellin Betances (RHP, NYM) could be huge and Edwin Diaz (RHP, NYM) really should reclaim the role and run with it, given his projection. If the Mets have average luck with the pen, Lugo will be a bulk reliever like last year, only without being pressed into emergency closer duties. Lugo is good enough to close, of course. But if you are looking at that 313 ADP and thinking you will steal 16 saves, that might seem ok now, but it could change in a hurry once spring training begins.

The Rays have four arms behind Pagan who all meet the filters: Nick Anderson (RHP, TAM), Diego Castillo (RHP, TAM), Colin Poche (LHP, TAM), and Andrew Kittredge (RHP, TAM). It is an embarrassment of riches. The most likely challenger to Pagan, if any, is Anderson with his 13.0 DOM, and that is why he is at an early 230 ADP. Poche is the lefty and could steal some saves away, but it will likely only be a handful. He is a good bet for holds, however. Castillo was great in 2019, but his place on the depth chart may shut him out of saves, or keep the total down in the 1-5 range, as projected. Kittredge looks like an opener.

From an NL-only standpoint, the fact that Atlanta middle-man Christopher Martin (RHP, ATL) is at a 665 ADP may make him a great bargain. He is the quintessential LIMA reliever with a huge skill set and viewed as a nothing by the general population of owners. This is exactly the type of skill set I want for $1-2 at the end of my NL-only auctions and on my DC roster in NFBC reserve rounds.

Emmanuel Clase (RHP, CLE) was higher on my list of wants when he was with Texas, but now he is stuck behind Brad Hand (LHP, CLE) in Cleveland for save chances. But he still makes a nice AL-only buy with a 502 ADP, and he will be a guy owners try to jump the queue to get on DC rosters in NFBC as well. These kinds of relievers are great names for use in AL-only/NL-only leagues as LIMA relievers. They will vary in price, of course—but you can get the cheaper ones and use the incremental dollars saved elsewhere.

Next bullpen column is at the end of January and at that time we will look at coalescing ADP bargains. Follow me @dougdennis41


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