2023 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Closer tiers show chase for saves has changed

Chasing saves is, frankly, a big headache. But it’s part of the 5×5 fantasy baseball world we live in, so pitchers spend their day at the car wash like everyone else.

A few rules and caveats before we move on to tiered pitcher ratings:

• The more competitive your league is, the more important it is to get at least a basic save on draft day. The less competitive your league is, the more believable the plan will be to keep your saves from falling into the trap. Don’t Pay for Savings is not a +EV plan if you are in a group of sharks; if it’s a casual league, you can probably handle it.

• More than any other position, current form matters most to relief pitchers. In about six weeks, you’ll find several opt-out options that have brilliant K/BB ratios and stats-enhanced profiles, and may be on the heels of a nondescript resume until 2023. Trust what is in front of you. Lifeguards are constantly reinventing and reinventing themselves, warming up and burning out.

• Salvation anxiety can vary from person to person, but I find growing up on the MLB committee somewhat liberating. This means more MLB saves will be dropped in the fantasy league, which means we need fewer saves to be competitive than previous seasons. Theoretically, this reduces some of the stress.

• This is the only position where I listed players with $0. This group is meant to illustrate players that I don’t want to acquire now at any notable price, but would be good speculative pickups in deeper leagues or when substitutions are allowed on the injured lists.

• There are a few starting pitchers who also qualify for RP but probably won’t be in the save race. I feel like they don’t belong on this list; look for them in the pitcher’s starting shuffle. I made an exception for Hunter Brown, whose role with the Astros is not yet clear. I want you to bring Hunter Brown.

• If you’re going to be a strong player in a competitive league, you’ll learn to identify skills and potential neighbors before they become obvious to everyone else. This is a big part of the game. If you have to wait for proof in this fantasy world, you are the deadliest money.

• At the bottom of this list, I’ve focused on pitchers who could be the second or third shutdown for their teams. I didn’t necessarily try to identify dragons, flattening, mid-relief heroes that could also be of mixed league value, although a player could belong to both groups. Again, look at the season’s K/BB ratio and you can easily smooth out your ratios if your team needs it.

Now about your leads. Below are my recommended salaries if you are playing in the Fantasy Salary Cap Draft format. Remember, this list is constantly changing, plotting against us. It is very liquid and volatile.

[Tiered rankings: C | Middle Infield | Corner Infield | OF | Starters | Relievers]

Big Tickets

$24 Edwin Diaz

$23 Emmanuelle Klass

$21 Jordan Romano

$21 Devin Williams

$20 Ryan Pressley

I’m surprised Diaz isn’t overwhelmingly number one on all boards given that his out rate is superior to everyone else. It also has neat controls and winning infrastructure in New York. I’m not likely to pay ADP for closers, but if I did, Diaz would be the guy. … Clayse’s K/9 is only 9.5, not a melee elite, but his control is amazing and Guardians are generally well defended.

Romano is receiving support from a competitive Toronto team and a new schedule that will give all teams fewer games in the division than in recent years. Even with the Red Sox in recovery, I still prefer to work outside of the AL East. … Pressly will probably get tickets to the closer tier 2 but could finish inside the top tier, which is one of my goals when attacking this position. Raisel Iglesias, who I put in the next group, also has this.

Legal building blocks

$19 Josh Hader

$19 Raizel Iglesias

$19 Ryan Helsley

$16 Camilo Doval

$14 Kenley Jansen

$15 Clay Holmes

$14 Felix Batista

$13 David Bednar

$12 Joan Duran

$12 Alexis Diaz

$11 Scott Barlow

Last year, Hader was such a badass mess that I was frankly scared. If he doesn’t get at least a small discount on my rooms, I’ll let someone else take the plunge. … Bednar will probably be discussing a trade midway through the season, but the Pirates also want to bring something to market, so his ninth-inning job needs to be defended for three months. And, hell, it might not be traded—certainly not last year. And a full-time closer is generally an unnecessary waste for a non-competitive club.

Bautista is expected to be healthy by the opening, but the current news flow is lowering his price by a few dollars. … Jansen is a tough bet at 30, but the Red Sox paid him to be ninth and he’s going to get a lot of safety with the job.

What will Josh Hader offer fantasy managers after the decline of 2022?  (Photo by Daniel Sheary/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
What will Josh Hader offer fantasy managers after the decline of 2022? (Photo by Daniel Sheary/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Talk to them, talk to them

$10 Paul Sewald

$9 Andres Munoz

$9 Pete Fairbanks

$8 Hunter Brown

$8 Daniel Bard

7 dollars Jose Leclerc

$6 Kendall Graveman

6 dollars Carlos Estevez

$6 Evan Phillips

$5 *Liam Hendrix

$5 Gregory Soto

4 dollars Jorge Lopez

$4 Craig Kimbrel

$4 Alex Lange

$4 Brandon Hughes

4 dollars Trevor May

$3 Serantoni Dominguez

$3 Kyle Finnegan

Sewald and Munoz overlap, but since Seattle is expected to struggle again, it also gives both of these pitchers a sneaky and solid floor and some of a solid fantasy bullpen, provided you have at least one ace running in front of them. . . … Fairbanks is another player you pick for skill and reasonable gender, but you have to admit, Tampa Bay usually distributes saves.

Perhaps I should be a bit taller than Phillips, who looks like the leader of the club at the Dodgers’ coveted final gig. Daniel Hudson is an apprentice, about 30 years old, with a torn ACL. I don’t see him as an immediate threat. … The Bard has security under his contract, but the Rockies have made a curious investment in a so-so veteran who enters the season at age 38. Closers from Colorado often had trouble keeping up for years on end. It’s a clear fake to me.

[Batter up: Join or create a Sportzshala Fantasy Baseball league for free today]

Basket for trades/speculations

$2 Dylan Flower

2 dollar tanner hawk

$3 Mark Melancon

$2 Giovanni Gallegos

1 dollar Daniel Hudson

$1 Garrett Whitlock

1 dollar Aroldis Chapman

1 dollar Rafael Montero

$1 AJ Volume

$1 Brousdard Graterol

$1 A.J. Minter

1 dollar Dinelson Lamet

$1 Jason Foley

1 dollar Lucas Sims

1 dollar Matt Barnes

1 dollar Michael Fulmer

1 dollar Scott McGough

$0 Taylor Rogers

$0 James Karinchak

$0 Adam Piccolo

$0 Brian Baker

$0 Carl Edwards

$0 Sionel Perez

$0 David Robertson

$0 Garrett Clevinger

$0 Hunter Harvey

$0 Jason Adam

$0 Jimmy Herget

$0 Jonathan Hernandez

$0 Matt Bush

$0 Robert Suarez

$0 Trevor Stefan

$0 Will Crow

$0 Will Smith


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