RELIEVERS: Value for an end game buck

In the days of COVID-19 and MLB's delayed start to the season, we press on with columns, understanding that changing circumstances may alter strategies, leagues and plans. This column looks at the relievers listed on BaseballHQ.com for $1 or less in a 15-team mixed league. They are broken into three categories: (1) five or more projected saves; (2) under five saves, but BPV at or over 140; and (3) under five saves, BPV under 140, but interesting nonetheless.

Here are the relievers projected for five or more saves yet at or under $1 in value (ranked by ADP):

5 saves or more       Sv Hld  IP  xERA WHIP  Dom  Cmd HR/9 G% F% BPV  $ ADP
===================== == === ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== == == === == ===
D.Hudson (WAS)        10  13  73  4.36 1.21  8.8  2.5  1.0 38 41  80  1 336
B.Treinen (LA)         6  11  65  3.88 1.35  9.7  2.3  1.1 49 28  89 -1 406
M.Magill (SEA)         9   9  58  4.23 1.33  9.5  2.9  1.4 37 39  97 -1 423
W.Davis (COL)          9   7  44  4.73 1.48  9.6  2.0  1.2 38 40  56 -8 425
B.Kintzler (MIA)      18   9  58  3.68 1.21  7.5  3.2  1.2 56 24 105  1 454
T.Watson (SF) (L)     15   6  58  4.38 1.34  8.1  2.6  1.1 44 35  84 -2 485
M.Lorenzen (CIN)       6  20  80  4.03 1.24  8.2  2.4  0.9 48 29  83  0 538
H.Harvey (BAL)         5   6  51  4.35 1.33  9.4  2.4  1.2 40 39  82 -7 544
J.Diaz (COL)          11   7  58  4.43 1.43  8.2  2.1  1.2 49 32  70 -3 549
Y.Hirano (SEA)        11   3  51  3.87 1.25  9.7  3.1  1.4 45 36 112 -1 602
Y.Garcia (MIA)         5   8  51  4.56 1.20  9.0  4.3  1.8 29 55 112 -4 714
R.Rodriguez (PIT)      5  15  58  4.36 1.33  9.3  3.3  1.6 38 45 108 -3 721
D.Steckenrider (MIA)   5   4  44  4.30 1.32  9.8  2.5  1.0 37 41  87 -6 731
C.Estevez (COL)        7  10  58  4.24 1.36  9.2  2.8  1.1 41 37  96 -4 735
T.Gott (SF)            5   9  58  4.34 1.36  8.5  2.6  1.4 44 36  88 -4 745

These are mostly relievers who are projected to be in line for saves if the incumbent closer fails or gets hurt. Daniel Hudson (RHP, WAS) is thought to be in line for Washington if something happens to Sean Doolittle (LHP, WAS), for example. But Will Harris (RHP, WAS) also looms as a superior skill set, so you cannot exactly count on Hudson. If he manages 10 saves as projected, he sill would only produce $1 in value, per the projections. This makes a good example of situational awareness. Hudson could get saves, but things have to fall right for it to happen.

Brandon Kintzler (RHP, MIA) is already projected to be the closer for Miami. He has a decent enough projected save total (18), xERA (3.68), WHIP (1.21), GB rate (56%) and BPV (105), but $1 in value and a 454 ADP. This is a solid late buy. You can see Yimi Garcia (RHP, MIA) and Drew Steckenrider (RHP, MIA) are both on this list as well, which shows the Miami saves getting split up. Garcia is far more HR challenged with a 55% flyball rate and matching 1.8 HR/9. Steckenrider has a worse xERA, WHIP, Cmd ratio and BPV. Kintzler looks pretty good for the job at the moment—better than the $1 would suggest.

Seattle is interesting. Matt Magill (RHP, SEA) is the somewhat weak incumbent with Yoshihisa Hirano (RHP, SEA) as a somewhat OK alternative. The saves are split here and there is no announcement from the Mariners to really help us. Hirano has the better xERA and WHIP, and slightly better Dom, Cmd ratio and BPV. But Magill is the incumbent. When faced with a fluid situation with no current favorite, try to roster the best projected skill set. Here, that is Hirano. It helps that Hirano is at a 602 ADP compared to Magill at 423 when speculating like this, as well.

Last guy to point out here is Hunter Harvey (RHP, BAL). The Orioles have mentioned him. But is this skill set really better than Mychal Givens (RHP, BAL)? It is hard to tell right now and the projections more than likely reflect his work as a starter. Even if it is, there may be an even better skill set in this bullpen on the next (140+ BPV) chart: Isaac Mattson (RHP, BAL). So don't overbid trying to chase Harvey until you fully understand how Baltimore is going to deploy its relievers—something that the team itself is not really clear on at this point.

The next list is the higher BPV (140 or over) list:

140 BPV               Sv Hld  IP  xERA WHIP  Dom  Cmd HR/9 G% F% BPV  $ ADP
===================== == === ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== == == === == ===
M.Barnes (BOS)         4  26  58  3.05 1.24 13.7  2.8  0.8 48 33 142  1 560
M.Strahm (SD) (L)      0   8  65  3.71 1.15 10.0  5.1  1.4 37 41 142 -1 639
C.Poche (TAM) (L)      4  15  51  3.80 1.10 12.9  4.1  1.1 20 63 144  0 684
T.Kahnle (NYY)         0  11  58  2.97 1.10 12.0  4.1  1.1 46 31 159  1 704
C.Martin (ATL)         0  17  65  3.09 1.05  9.8  8.9  1.1 46 31 171  1 709
A.Kittredge (TAM)      0   0  44  3.21 1.16  9.6  4.7  1.0 50 26 146 -3 746
J.Castillo (SD) (L)    0   0  29  3.10 1.00 12.1  4.3  0.6 42 41 162 -4 750
C.Stashak (MIN)        0   4  36  3.56 1.25 10.0  5.7  1.0 44 36 155 -5 751
J.Springs (BOS) (L)    2   8  36  3.40 1.44 12.5  3.9  0.3 44 36 159 -8 --
I.Mattson (BAL)        0   0  29  3.28 1.10 11.2  4.0  0.6 44 36 148 -4 --

Let's start with Mattson. That skill set will play as a closer. But you can tell from the projected 29 innings that there is risk that he won't make the team, or that he will have to jump a lot of others in the pecking order to get to the closer role. Sometimes, it takes a few months for a skill set like this to bubble up to the top. It is very likely that he will bubble up unless someone like Harvey (above) takes and runs with the role. Even then, Mattson will get into leverage and be effective, if he can pitch to these projections. Best of all, he doesn't even rate an ADP so you can stash him for free, or watch and see and grab him later in-season.

Matt Barnes (RHP, BOS) is a great potential grab. He has a huge skill set and his profile is fairly similar to incumbent closer Brandon Workman (RHP, BOS). That 13.7 Dom says "closer" but he has to reduce the walks. This is a skill set to own, though, and if you can roster him cheap, it is easy to see him outperform $1 and a 560 ADP for Boston.

There are two San Diego lefties on this list. Neither are in line to close games and, in fact, there is another lefty in that stable who can deliver, too—Drew Pomeranz (LHP, SD). But Matt Strahm (LHP, SD) and Jose Castillo (LHP, SD) are skills mavens who may deliver some ERA/WHIP relief and, in Castillo's case, more innings than projected. If you are looking for saves, though, this is not the place to hunt—the Padres pen is stacked and three strong lefties doesn't bode well for any of them vulturing saves in any meaningful way.

The last list is for relievers who are not projected for five or more saves or for a 140 or better BPV, but remain interesting:

Interesting           Sv Hld  IP  xERA WHIP  Dom  Cmd HR/9 G% F% BPV  $ ADP
===================== == === ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== ==== == == === == ===
J.Karinchak (CLE)      2  26  65  3.60 1.34 12.9  2.3  1.0 44 36 104 -5 530
C.Knebel (MIL)         4  19  51  3.33 1.25 12.5  3.1  0.9 44 36 138 -2 551
E.Clase (CLE)          0  11  44  3.20 1.16  8.2  4.0  0.4 61 20 131 -3 569
A.Miller (STL) (L)     2  13  36  3.66 1.33 12.3  2.7  1.3 41 38 118 -5 577
T.May (MIN)            2  19  58  3.78 1.19 11.0  3.6  1.2 33 43 126  0 598
T.Buttrey (LAA)        2  18  65  3.57 1.28 10.1  3.3  1.1 48 31 126 -2 623
R.Montero (TEX)        4  20  58  3.77 1.17  9.8  3.0  1.2 43 35 109  1 642
K.Middleton (LAA)      4  18  58  3.94 1.34 10.7  3.5  1.7 38 41 125  0 648
L.Jackson (ATL)        0  12  58  3.29 1.29 11.0  3.1  1.1 52 27 132 -2 676
J.Kelly (LA)           2  11  58  3.24 1.22 10.2  2.9  0.8 54 22 120 -1 737
A.Adams (SEA) (IL)     0   6  36  3.15 1.28 12.3  2.9  1.0 53 29 137 -6 748
C.Allen (TEX)          2   7  29  3.89 1.21 11.5  3.1  1.2 34 47 118 -6 748
P.Fairbanks (TAM)      0   0  44  3.84 1.41 10.6  3.3  1.4 44 36 125 -9 750
D.Robertson (PHI)      0   1  15  3.53 1.07 10.8  3.0  0.6 44 38 119 -7 751

If things happen to incumbent closers—injury, ineffectiveness, trade—this list of plan B relievers is not a bad one. One can easily see scenarios where any of them could fall into saves and jump up the value list. Given Seattle's weaker pen, don't forget Austin Adams (RHP, SEA), who is currently on the IL but has the superior projected skill set, for when he does return to action. Other favorites on this list include Corey Knebel (RHP, MIL) getting chances for Milwaukee; Rafael Montero (RHP, TEX) getting chances for Texas; and what may be a quick rise, even in a stacked Tampa Bay bullpen, by Peter Fairbanks (RHP, TAM).

Next column will be a look at reliever stats from spring training. Follow me @dougdennis41


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