Fantasy Baseball: Top non-closer relief pitchers

Every fantasy baseball owner knows that the most valuable relief pitcher is the closer. In 12-team and deeper leagues, typically every closing pitcher is owned. When a team makes a change to the closing role, fantasy owners turn into hawks trying to be the first to pick the new closer up.

But what about relief pitchers that aren’t in the closing role? Are they still valuable in fantasy baseball? The answer is yes, but of course to varying degrees depending on the league.

In a roto league, especially one that has either K/9 or holds as categories, non-closer relief pitchers can be very helpful. The good relief pitchers are usually consistent producers of holds – depending on when they are used throughout the course of the ballgame – and typically put up a high K/9 rate; both of these can help a fantasy team win matchups and can make a difference in the standings.

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In points leagues, non-closing relief pitchers are also good additions; they can be surprisingly beneficial to a fantasy team. If the league rewards points for a hold, they will be even more helpful. Even if the league does not reward points for a hold, a relief pitcher can contribute meaningfully through strikeouts and pitching often.

Here are two of the top non-closer relief pitchers.

Dellin Betances – New York Yankees

Dellin Betances has been stellar coming out of the New York Yankee’s bullpen thus far into the 2014 season. The biggest upside to owning Betances in fantasy formats has to be his high strikeout rate. After appearing in 20 games and pitching a total of 28.3 innings, Betances has posted a K/9 of 15.56 and a K/BB ratio of 5.44.

Almost equally impressive has been Betances’ ability to limit base runners; he’s allowed just 24 men on base resulting in a WHIP of 0.85. Even better is that when he has allowed batters to reach base, he hasn’t allowed them to score – Betances’ Strand % is 82.6% on the year.

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Betances is a great option to help any fantasy baseball team. Better yet, he’s owned in 12.7% of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues. Pick him up now before someone else does.

Wade Davis – Kansas City Royals

Wade Davis has very similar numbers to the previously mentioned Dellin Betances, but he does have double the holds – eight as of May 26. Davis has been on fire after a few rough outings to start his 2014 campaign. Since April 5, Davis has only given up one run and six hits over 18 innings pitched.

Davis has appeared in 20 of the Kansas City Royals first 49 games and has left his mark posting a 1.61 ERA as well as a 0.85 WHIP. He has also struck out his fair share of batters; since May 6, Davis has struck out at least two batters per inning in which he has pitched, and on the season, he has a 16.12 K/9.

Davis should continue to dominate out of the Kansas City bullpen. He struggled during the 2013 season, but since then he has raised the velocity of his fastball by 2.6 MPH. Wade Davis is owned in just 1.9% of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues. Add Davis now before other fantasy owners learn about this hidden gem.

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