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THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2021 TOP 200 DYNASTY LEAGUE RELIEF PITCHERS, #21-50

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Without further ado, it’s time to continue our 2021 consensus rankings by continuing our dynasty RP ranks, 21-50.


21. Rafael Montero, Seattle Mariners (Age: 30, Previous rank: NR)

At 30, Montero may not offer a ton of long-term dynasty upside but he is one of the safer closer options entering 2021 after an offseason trade from Texas to Seattle. In his two seasons in Texas spanning only 46 2/3 innings, Montero had a 3.09 ERA and 0.99 WHIP and can hopefully be a less volatile ratios option in Roto leagues. He tallied eight saves in 2020, before giving up runs in three straight appearances in late-September. Montero features a 96 MPH fastball with a changeup around 90 while mixing in an occasional slider, and none of these pitches allowed a batting average north of .200 in 2020. The alternatives in terms of career saves in Seattle are slim-to-none, although some consider Kendall Graveman a dark horse if Montero falters, so Montero seems like a safe bet for your RP2. (Bob Osgood)

22. Hunter Harvey, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 26, Previous rank: NR)

There isn’t a whole lot to go off of regarding major league data with Harvey, who has thrown a total of 15 innings in his two-year career due to arm injuries (biceps in 2019, elbow in 2020). He’s also on a team with a 36% winning percentage in the past two seasons and has a total of zero career saves. The high ranking reflects an electric 98 MPH fastball that touches 100 and is the anticipated closer to start 2021. Harvey is also going outside of the top-350 picks in redraft leagues, which is reserve territory even in 15-teamers. Whether it’s injuries, age, control, an unsafe role, or off the field issues, we’ve reached the point in our rankings where everyone has some sort of risk. (Bob Osgood)

23. Roberto Osuna, Free Agent (Age: 26, Previous rank: 2)

On the field, Osuna has a 2.74 career ERA, 0.90 career WHIP, 155 career saves and he just turned 26. However, Osuna only threw 4 1/3 innings in 2020 due to a forearm injury and the first recommendation he received was for Tommy John surgery. The Astros non-tendered him and, as a result of second opinions, he is no longer planning on getting the surgery … until he inevitably needs the surgery. Add in the domestic violence suspension from 2016 and our ranking doesn’t exactly reflect much optimism after being ranked second entering 2020. It’s hard to imagine Osuna getting much guaranteed money or more than a one-year deal based on his health and bad publicity. (Bob Osgood)

24. Alex Reyes, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 26, Previous rank: SP 105)

Between keeping his rookie eligibility intact far beyond his initial call-up, a few games started, middle relief, and even a couple of saves, you never know which list Alex Reyes is going to show up on. Due to Tommy John surgery, Reyes had only thrown seven innings from 2017-2019 but finally got some momentum last year, throwing 19 2/3 innings with very high walk and strikeout rates, 6.4 and 12.4 per 9, respectively. The most important news is that he got through the season healthy and still averaging 97.6 MPH on the fastball post-Tommy John. Reyes is still 26, has a great curveball when it’s on with a slider and changeup that could become third pitches depending on his role. If he can’t throw strikes, he won’t be a closer, especially with Jordan Hicks finally returning and Giovanny Gallegos around. Don’t rule out the possibility of Reyes moving back into a starter role at some point. (Bob Osgood)

25. Giovanny Gallegos, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 29, Previous rank: 27)

The Cardinals bullpen talk continues with Gallegos, who will likely battle Jordan Hicks for the closer role to open 2021 and they’re both currently going around pick 275 in redraft formats. The good news with Gallegos is that he has plenty of value even if he isn’t the primary closer. He uses his fastball and slider about half of the time each, but the slider has become an elite pitch, allowing a .123 BA against in 2019 and .071 in 2020. As a whole, Gallegos allowed a stunning .170 average in 2019-2020. His 11.5 K/9 over the past two seasons with a 2.0 BB/9 is a very safe ratio stabilizer on any staff and, even if not the closer, Gallegos should pick up 5-10 saves as I would expect Hicks to be eased back into action post-Tommy John. (Bob Osgood)

26. Brusdar Graterol, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 22, Previous rank: 92)

Graterol has a bit less shine in fantasy now that he’s settled in as a reliever for the Dodgers, and thanks to some recent starting pitching moves, he’s about 12th in line for the rotation, but there could be a ton of upside and a buying opportunity here. At 22 years old, Graterol throws harder than anyone in the league (99.3 MPH) and in watching the playoffs it was clear that he was used in the most high-leverage spots prior to the ninth inning and even recorded a playoff save. He only allowed a run in one of his nine postseason appearances. Graterol had a 96th percentile barrel rate and a 98th percentile BB-rate, albeit with an uncharacteristic low strikeout rate of 5.0 per 9 in 23 regular-season innings. While the Dodgers seem intent on keeping Jansen in the closer role for now, he has begun to show signs of decline. Graterol is a great “now” target in Saves+Holds leagues and a sneaky long-term buy in Saves leagues. (Bob Osgood)

27. Diego Castillo, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 40)

Castillo is similar to Graterol in that he has the potential to be a force in Saves/Holds leagues with great ratios. Through 130 appearances, Castillo has a 3.06 ERA (1.66 in 22 innings in 2020) and a 1.10 WHIP. His slider is filthy, with his usage upped to 65% of the time in 2020 allowing a .087 BA. The fastball dipped from 98 MPH to 96 last year, so keep an eye on that if it drops any further. He’s also contributed 12 saves over the past two seasons and with the way Tampa mixes and matches and varies inning usage, I expect him to continue getting close to ten saves. It’s not out of the question that he gets the largest share of save opportunities depending on how Nick Anderson’s postseason struggles carry over to 2021. He does struggle with walks occasionally, allowing 3.7 per 9 over the past two seasons combined, so he may not be handed the role of the full-time closer but Castillo is a very useful late-round pick to provide some value in three categories. (Bob Osgood)

28. Will Smith, Atlanta Braves (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 18)

Smith had a year to forget in 2020, starting with a positive COVID test in July delaying his season until August 9th and then allowing a whopping seven home runs in 16 innings. Smith had a 7.38 FIP and a 0.94 WHIP … a combination that you don’t see too often. He reeled it back in over seven postseason appearances, only allowing one home run (coincidentally, off the bat of the Dodgers’ Will Smith) and three runs in 7 1/3 innings. The thing to remember is that the Braves are paying Smith $13 million this year and next and with Mark Melancon now in San Diego, Smith should have the job. Smith had allowed 0.99 HRs per 9 in his career prior to 2020, so I’m willing to give him a pass in a season that got off to a bad start health-wise. Smith is the expected closer on a likely playoff team going outside of the Top-250 in redraft formats. (Bob Osgood)

29. Archie Bradley, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 17)

The bullpen is almost certainly what cost the Phillies a playoff spot in 2020 and they’ve invested heavily in fixing that for this season. The biggest name brought in was Archie Bradley, signing a one-year, six-million dollar deal this offseason to be the presumed closer. They also brought in Jose Alvarado from Tampa, and still have Hector Neris in the mix. Bradley suddenly has plenty of experience closing, saving 24 games over the past two seasons in Arizona and Cincinnati. Although walks were a concern in 2019, he only walked three in 18 1/3 in 2020 and allowed a career-low Exit Velocity of 86.7 MPH. Bradley is a good option late in drafts but be wary of the solid arms behind him in case he falters. (Bob Osgood)

30. Pete Fairbanks, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 70)

Now that I’m past my October full of nightmares from Pete Fairbanks’ eyes, I’m able to see just how explosive Fairbanks’ stuff is when he’s throwing strikes. Fairbanks has 67 strikeouts in 47 2/3 career innings, and in 2020 had a 96th percentile Fastball Velocity (97.4 MPH avg.) and 95th percentile Whiff rate. He has had off-and-on issues with walks and when that kind of gas gets put in play, it is hit hard (90.6 MPH career exit velo). Fairbanks does also have a slider of which he cut the usage from 56% to 41% in 2020 and, even though it’s the more effective pitch, allowed both pitches to get better as his fastball went from a .424 BA down to .277. This seems like a better usage split and hopefully carries over into 2021, although he may see limited save opportunities behind Nick Anderson and Diego Castillo. (Bob Osgood)

31. Zack Britton, New York Yankees (Age: 33, Previous rank: 48)

This is a pretty high ranking for an aging RP with a low K-rate and no closing gig, but Britton has a lot going for him. He’s been one of the most dependable relievers in baseball for years, making up for the lack of strikeouts with a sinker that generates groundballs at a nonsensical clip (his 71.7% GB rate last season was actually his lowest mark since 2013). He saved eight games last season while Aroldis Chapman was hurt, making it clear he’s second in line for the Yankees. Should Chapman hit the IL again for any reason, Britton becomes one of the most valuable closers in fantasy. If not, he’ll at least help your ratios. (Ben Sanders)

32. Hector Neris, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 32, Previous rank: 15)

Neris has been the Phillies’ closer more often than not the past four seasons, though inconsistency has kept him from really nailing down the job. With Philadelphia adding Archie Bradley this offseason, his grip on that role is now even more tenuous. He has always posted good strikeout numbers, and his excellent splitter was as effective as ever last season with a 50% whiff rate. Command was what let him down, as his 12.6% walk rate was a big reason for his 4.57 ERA. Neris will have to be better than that if he’s going to hold off Bradley and continue to accumulate saves. (Ben Sanders)

33. Matt Barnes, Boston Red Sox (Age: 31, Previous rank: 51)

Barnes had a career-high nine saves in the shortened 2020 season, but all his other numbers went in the wrong direction. His K-rate, while still a very good 30.4%, was way down from the prior two years. His walk rate rose for a third straight season, and his home run rate was way up. It all added up to a 4.30 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. The Red Sox added Adam Ottavino to the late-inning mix, but Barnes still looks like the favorite to close. If he can keep the job, his contributions in strikeouts and saves should atone for his mediocre ratios. (Ben Sanders)

34. Lucas Sims, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 26, Previous rank: NR)

Sims will be popular among anyone who likes Baseball Savant pages full of dark red circles. His fastball spin, curveball spin and barrel rate ranked in the 98th percentile or better in 2020, as did his expected stats in batting average, slugging percentage, ERA and wOBA. It’s possible this high-spin approach has him on the path to being an elite reliever, but he’s not there yet. His 33% K-rate was impressive, but the 10.7% walk rate not so much. His competition for the Reds’ closer job this spring, Amir Garrett, had slightly better numbers in both categories. Both pitchers had an identical 2.45 ERA. Sims’ spin rates are intriguing, but saves would give him something more tangible in terms of fantasy value. (Ben Sanders)

35. Richard Rodriguez, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 31, Previous rank: NR)

Rodriguez was very good last season, and by the end of it had earned the Pirates’ closer job and notched four saves. With a 36.6% K-rate and 5.4% walk rate, his 2.70 ERA was very much deserved. He threw his fastball 71.9% of the time, but that was just to set up his unhittable slider, which had an excellent 63.6% whiff rate. There are no guarantees he can repeat that level of success, as he’d never been that good before. Rodriguez should have a long leash as the closer, but on a Pirates team that could be historically bad, that may not translate to tons of saves. There’s also a substantial risk he’ll be dealt at the deadline to a better team that won’t have him closing. (Ben Sanders)

36. Tyler Duffey, Minnesota Twins (Age: 30, Previous rank: NR)

Just as I was thinking Duffey might be too low on this list, the Twins signed Alex Colome. Now he might be too high. He looked like he might be in line to share ninth-inning duties with Taylor Rogers, but the arrival of established closer Colome almost certainly changes that. Too bad, because Duffey has been one of the best relief pitchers in baseball over the past two seasons, with a 34.2% K-rate, 2.31 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 2.91 FIP. He keeps throwing his dominant curveball more and more, including a whopping 56.3% of the time last season, and it only seems to help his numbers. All his numbers except saves, anyway – he had one in 2018 and that’s it for his career, and it looks like he’ll have to settle for a non-closing role again. (Ben Sanders)

37. Amir Garrett, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 28, Previous rank: 56)

Garrett has already declared himself the new closer in Cincinnati, claiming the job is “mine to lose”. It sure seems like he’s got the right mentality for role. Lucas Sims may have other ideas, and since he’s a righty and Garrett’s a lefty, they could share save chances situationally. Garrett has the stuff to close, especially his dominant slider. His usage of it and its whiff rate have both been over 50% the past two seasons. Walks have been an issue for him, although he cut his BB rate from 14.2% in 2019 to a less-painful 10.3% last season. If Garrett can back up his bravado, he has the potential to be a very good closer. Even if he can’t, strikeouts will give him some fantasy value. (Ben Sanders)

38. Trevor Rosenthal, Free agent (Age: 31, Previous rank: NR)

Rosenthal rode his triple-digit fastball back to elite closing form in 2020. He had 38 strikeouts, 11 saves and a 1.90 ERA in 23.2 IP split between the Royals and Padres. Teams might be hesitant to pay for those numbers, because he hadn’t been that good since 2015. He struggled badly with control in 2016, then a better 2017 was cut short by Tommy John surgery. He missed all of 2018, and his 2019 return was an absolute disaster. Staying in San Diego would be great for his fantasy value, as he’d have a good chance to close for one of MLB’s best teams. For a less-ideal scenario, see Craig Kimbrel, who stayed on the market until June in 2019 and has struggled ever since. Rosenthal’s upside is high, but so is the risk, especially while he remains unsigned. (Ben Sanders)

39. Tanner Rainey, Washington Nationals (Age: 28, Previous rank: 74)

Rainey’s chances of closing games for the Nationals this season took a big hit with the signing of Brad Hand. However, if he keeps pitching like he did last season, he’s still one to watch in dynasty leagues. He struck out 42.7% of the batters he faced, and his slider produced an absurd 72.1% whiff rate. Despite those eye-popping numbers, his most encouraging statistic was a boring one: a 9.3% walk rate. Even though that number was slightly worse than the league average, it was the best mark of his professional career at any level, and he cut his 2019 rate of 17.8% almost in half. It was a small 20.1 IP sample, but if Rainey can maintain even that mediocre level of control, his stuff is impressive enough that he could be a good closer in the near future. (Ben Sanders)

40. Jonathan Hernandez, Texas Rangers (Age: 24, Previous rank: NR)

Hernandez has an interesting arsenal- it includes a high-90s sinker, a plus slider and a developing changeup. His minor league statistics as a starter weren’t always impressive, but he looked good as an MLB reliever last season, with a 24.8% K-rate, 6.4% walk rate, and 2.90 ERA. The quality of his stuff, coupled with a 13.9% swinging-strike rate, has me thinking there’s more strikeout upside. He could be next-in-line for the Rangers’ closer job after Jose Leclerc, who is coming off a shoulder injury and has some control issues. It’s also possible Texas would prefer him a multi-inning role. Either way, he’s an exciting young arm that should be able to help dynasty teams in some form. (Ben Sanders)

41. Andres Munoz, Seattle Mariners (Age: 22, Previous rank: 28)

Andres Munoz is currently rehabbing after undergoing Tommy John surgery last March. Reports are he is recovering well and should be set to rejoin the Mariners bullpen in June. Typically the last part to come back for a pitcher post-TJ is their command, which Munoz already struggled with throughout his career. There is no questioning his one-two punch of a triple-digit fastball and upper-eighties slider that can induce plenty of swings and misses, but his walk rate needs to come down for him to become an elite reliever. He should have his opportunity with Seattle once he returns in 2021 and beyond, with the potential to become their closer in the near future. (Bob Cyphers)

42. Mark Melancon, Free Agent (Age: 36, Previous rank: 29)

Mark Melancon appeared to have a good 2020 season, sporting a 2.78 ERA and 1.28 WHIP while locking down 11 saves for the Braves. The underlying numbers are much less appealing though as his FIP and xFIP were significantly higher at 3.72 and 4.42 respectively. He also averaged 5.56 K/9, his lowest mark since his first year in the majors in 2009. His strikeout percentage was in the sixth percentile in the league and his Whiff% was in the eighth percentile. Melancon still manages to limit damage and be an effective pitcher by keeping the ball on the ground, but stats like these become more worrisome as he enters his age-36 season. He is also still currently a free agent and is not guaranteed a high-leverage role with save opportunities going forward. (Bob Cyphers)

43. Emilio Pagan, San Diego Padres (Age: 30, Previous rank: 16)

Emilio Pagan saw a steep decrease in his performance last season compared to his dominant 2019. His strikeout percentage dropped 9.6% and his walk rate jumped by 5.4% Some of this overall regression was expected as even in 2019 his FIP and xFIP were about one run higher than his actual ERA, but 2020 saw his it jump by over two runs. The expected stats were much more in line with these results, and a .196 BABIP suggests that he was not simply unlucky either. Pagan is a solid reliever who will find himself with plenty of holds and possibly even some save opportunities on a talented Padres team, but he should no longer be viewed as a top-tier RP like he was after his 2019 season. (Bob Cyphers)

44. Josh Staumont, Kansas City Royals (Age: 27, Previous rank: NR)

Josh Staumont is another hard-throwing reliever who had a breakout season in 2020. He added over 2.0 mph to his fastball and increased his strikeout percentage by 16% to a whopping 33%. His curveball is elite with a top-tier spin rate and vertical movement inducing a whiff-rate of over 55%. As with many relievers of this profile, Staumont struggles with command, posting an ugly 14.3% walk rate in 2020, but he does limit the long ball, and therefore his overall runs given up. He will continue to be deployed in high leverage situations out of the Royals bullpen and can challenge for save opportunities in 2021. (Bob Cyphers)

45. Darwinzon Hernandez, Boston Red Sox (Age: 24, Previous rank: 37)

See Josh Staumont comments above, just from the left side. Darwinzon Hernandez is a lefty reliever with a plus fastball/slider combo coming off of a breakout season in 2020. With a ridiculous 37.4 strikeout percentage so far in his big league career, it’s hard to argue against his potential going forward. The main knock on him is a career 18.2% walk rate that could prevent him from realizing his potential as an elite high leverage reliever. Hernandez does a good job limiting hard contact and kept the ball on the ground at a 50% rate in 2020 helping keep his overall ERA down. His path to saves is less clear than some of the other pitchers around him in the ranks, but he may have some of the best raw stuff of the group. (Bob Cyphers)

46. Trevor May, New York Mets (Age: 31, Previous rank: 53)

Trevor May recently signed with the New York Mets to be one of the main setup men in their bullpen. He has continued to add velocity over the past two seasons since undergoing Tommy John surgery, averaging 96.3 mph on his fastball in 2020. Along with the uptick in velocity, his fastball spin rate has also continued to increase over the past seasons. In 2020 his strikeout percentage and Whiff% were among the best in the majors, both jumping double-digit percentage points in 2020. May will need to limit the number of flyballs he allows, over 45% in 2020, or at least limit the number that leaves the yard to become a truly elite reliever, but he certainly has the ability to make the jump even at this stage of his career. (Bob Cyphers)

47. Mike Mayers, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 29, Previous rank: NR)

Mike Mayers ended the 2020 season as the Angels closer, but with the off-season acquisition of Raisel Iglesias he now finds himself as the setup man going into 2021. He honestly would have deserved the first shot at the job after an incredible breakout campaign in 2020. Mayers was cut by the Cardinals after posting a 7.03 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, and 18.7% strikeout rate in four seasons. 2020 brought a change of scenery to Los Angeles (of Anaheim) and a change of pitch mix in which he reduced his fastball usage to 34.0% (down from 54.3%) and increased his slider usage to 39.6% (up from 36.7%). He also scrapped his changeup completely and added a cutter he threw 23.8% of the time after claiming to have seen a social media post showing the great Mariano Rivera’s hall of fame grip. These changes led to career-best numbers including a 2.10 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 35.5 strikeout percentage. If these trends continue Mayers will be a strong contributor of ratios moving forward and will be the next man up in the Angels bullpen. (Bob Cyphers)

48. Blake Treinen, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 33, Previous rank: 38)

Blake Treinen had a strong 2020 with the Dodgers serving as a set-up man in their bullpen and will continue to do so after signing a new two-year deal. He will most likely never repeat his extreme outlier 2018 season in which he carried a 0.78 ERA and 31.7 strikeout percentage, but his high-nineties fastball with heavy sink remains effective at limiting opposing batters. Last season he induced ground balls 65.3 percent of the time with an average exit velocity that ranked among the top in the league. Treinen will not fill the stat columns at any extraordinary rates, but he should continue to carry strong ratios on the early World Series favorite Dodgers. (Bob Cyphers)

49. Gregory Soto, Detroit Tigers (Age: 26, Previous rank: NR)

The young southpaw has everything you like to see in a late-innings reliever: upper-90s on his heater and a slider to match in the upper-80s. He can look absolutely dominant at times such as the beginning of the 2020 season when he started the season with 10.1 scoreless innings, 14 strikeouts, and only two walks. Unfortunately, it didn’t last as over his next 12.2 innings he gave up 11 earned runs, with 15 strikeouts, and 11 walks. His fastball has good movement to it which induces groundballs about half of the time and he has spent this off-season working on consistently commanding his slider. The Tigers seem to like Soto’s ability to miss bats as they gave him save opportunities last year when they shook up their bullpen. He should start the 2021 season in a similar role and still has the potential to develop into a very good, if not elite, relief pitcher. (Bob Cyphers)

50. Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals (Age: 35, Previous rank: NR)

It’s safe to say that entering his age-35 season Greg Holland will not regain his elite reliever status from his pre-Tommy John years. With that said, last year he put together one of his best statistical seasons since 2014. His average fastball velocity was 93.3 mph, significantly lower than pre-TJ, but 1.5 mph up from his 2019 average. He also revamped his pitch mix in 2020, reducing his fastball usage by almost ten percent and increased his slider usage by over seven percent. This new pitch mix was quite effective and lead to a career-high in induced ground balls. Also contributing to his successful 2020 was a career-low walk percentage and second-best HR/9 rate. Holland re-signed with the Royals for the 2021 season and seems primed to receive the first shot at save chances, but he may lose that role with any signs of regression in a surprisingly talented KC bullpen. (Bob Cyphers)

The Author

Keaton O. DeRocher

Keaton O. DeRocher

Keaton O. DeRocher is a Data and Tech Consultant in Chicago, Senior Baseball Writer for The Dynasty Guru and writer for Over The Monster. A voice on Dynasty's Child podcast and on the Over The Monster podcast network. Lover of bat flips, brunch, and Bombay Sapphire. His High School batting average was .179 and he lead the team in strikeouts. Follow him on Twitter @TheSpokenKeats

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