We have finally made it to the final position, relief pitcher. The relief pitcher can be quite a weird and volatile position. There are many ways to attack the position and we will give you our thoughts this season. There are some elite options, mid-tier options and some wait and see options. Let’s see how the guys want to attack the position with the 2020 Fantasy Baseball Relief Pitcher Primer. Also, don’t forget to check out the other positional primers.

Positional Primers- C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP PT1 | SP PT2

Overall Rankings- Positional Rankings

Lucas (@BieryPlox33)Bubba (@bdentrek)
1- Aroldis Chapman1- Aroldis Chapman
2- Roberto Osuna2- Josh Hader
3- Josh Hader3- Roberto Osuna
4- Kirby Yates4- Kirby Yates
5- Liam Hendriks5- Liam Hendriks
6- Edwin Diaz6- Ken Giles
7- Taylor Rogers7- Edwin Diaz
8- Kenley Jansen8- Kenley Jansen
9- Ken Giles9- Craig Kimbrel
10- Brad Hand10- Brandon Workman
11- Brandon Workman11-Taylor Rogers
12- Craig Kimbrel12- Brad Hand
13- Hansel Robles13- Raisel Iglesias
14- Raisel Iglesias14- Hector Neris
15- Hector Neris15- Alex Colome
16- Will Smith16- Sean Doolittle
17- Archie Bradley17- Archie Bradley
18- Ian Kennedy18- Nick Anderson
19- Nick Anderson19- Joe Jimenez
20- Alex Colome20- Mark Melancon

Overall Thoughts on the Position-

Lucas- Relief pitcher is the most volatile position in the game, a spot that caused mayhem for owners who invested in Edwin Diaz or Blake Treinan, but let me tell you, go back to the top of the well again for closers. Aroldis Chapman is unbelievably consistent and will be a good player to own due to his incredibly consistent performance and relatively low IP per year (hasn’t crossed 60 IP in a season since 2015.) Similarly, I feel great about Roberto Osuna and Josh Hader as well, they should rack up incredible ratios and plenty of saves this year. If you miss out on these top guys, don’t fret, there are lots of highly skilled RP available further on down. 

Bubba- The relief pitcher position has some upper end options, then some pretty solid options, and then a lot of question marks. It is a position that you can attack early with some of the upper end targets, grab a few of the mid-tier options, or gamble on the back-end. If you choose to gamble there is a good chance you will have to chase saves on the waiver wire during the season. That isn’t the end of the world as saves do become available throughout the season, but it takes more of your FAAB and you have to be on your toes. I would prefer to get at least one of the studs and go from there, but if you do not it is not the end of the world. The most important thing is do not chase saves if you don’t get an elite option. Make sure your pick of a closer is at the right time and does not hurt the rest of your team during the draft.

Potential 2020 Busts-

Lucas- Brad Hand is a guy I’m steering clear of for workload concerns, given the amount of miles put on his arms, as well as the fact Cleveland has other threats to his job in Karinchak and Clase. I like the pitcher some, but there’s a bit of downside based on the high IP totals he has logged. Kirby Yates is another guy that concerns me, as he heads into his age 33 season he may end up falling back as there isn’t much place to go but down after his stellar 2019 and his track record is unappealing besides his 2 years in SD. I’d feel far more comfortable with the other options around him for a cheaper price. 

Bubba- There will always be busts at the reliever position. This year my reliever bust will be Brad Hand. Sure, he has back to back 30+ save seasons, but he also was not as lights out by the end of last season. Last year Hand had his highest ERA and xFIP since 2015. His AVG against and BABIP soared last season. His groundball rate dropped tremendously last season while his line drive and fly ball rates jumped. He’s fortunate the bouncy ball did not get him. The Indians also acquired Emmanuel Clase this offseason and the flame throwing righty will be ready to give the 9th inning a shot when called upon.

Top Relief Pitcher Targets for 2020-

Lucas- My top targets are either Osuna or Chapman, as both are 2 of the best RP in the game, both are clearly locked into their jobs and closers are now going cheaper than they have before in quite some time. Paying a 6th round pick for Chapman is much more palatable than sinking a 4th rounder in a reliever in prior years (thanks Edwin and Blake!) The recency bias of being burned by RP is pushing our 2020 closers’ ADP down further than it should and you should take advantage of that while you can!

Bubba- I am trying to get one of Chapman or Hader if the price is right and nail down at least one elite closing option. After the big 2 I really like the range of Ken Giles (who many don’t appreciate) and Edwin Diaz who is going to have a huge bounce back season. Brandon Workman is a major target of mine as well as he should anchor the Red Sox bullpen and brings pure filth into the game when he pitches.

Top Relief Pitcher Sleeper Targets for 2020-

Lucas- Brandon Workman is coming off an incredible 2019 where he racked up 104 K’s in 71 IP and delivered a sub 2 ERA. He also didn’t allow a HR, yet he is being drafted after pick 170 in many drafts. Do with that what you will. Another name I like is Giovanni Gallegos. The guy is a pure bat misser, racking up a 16.4 SwStr %, although he may not be the closer in STL. Even so, he’s a good guy to gamble on to balance out your ratios (for this purpose see Adam Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle.)

Bubba- When talking sleepers I am thinking of targets if you want on closers. Joe Jimenez of the Tigers is a really nice one. The hard throwing righty should get a shot at 30-40 saves even on a bad Tigers team. I have no problem waiting and taking Ian Kennedy coming off a great closer season. Keona Kela, Mychal Givens and Matt McGill are some really late targets.