2021 Dynasty Baseball Rankings

The Dynasty Guru’s Relief Pitchers to Target in 2021

Relievers are a unique class in saves-only dynasty leagues. Unlike other positions, where value is primarily determined by talent, their value is strongly tied to contextual factors, mainly managerial preferences and team. The importance of contextual factors suggests fantasy managers ought to have more of a short-term outlook on relievers in comparison to other positions, where a longer-term outlook makes sense.

For this “RP to target,” exercise, I wanted to focus on who is likely to get saves in 2021. I’ve reviewed Roster Resource, Closer Monkey, and FanGraphs’ Bullpen Reports, supplementing with additional outside sources, to formulate a prediction for each team’s closer. The first number in parentheses is NFBC “high stakes” RP ADP rank from the last two weeks. The second number is The Dynasty Guru’s own dynasty RP rank. I’ve also included some short commentary.

Super talented + super job security + early ADP = obvious super studs:

  • Brewers – Josh Hader (1, 1)
  • White Sox – Liam Hendriks (2, 2)
  • Mets – Edwin Diaz (5,3)
  • Indians – James Karinchak (6, 4)
  • Yankees – Aroldis Chapman (3, 5)
  • Angels – Raisel Iglesias (4, 6)
  • Astros – Ryan Pressly (9, 7)
  • Dodgers – Kenley Jansen (11, 9)
  • Nationals – Brad Hand (7, 8)

Everyone else:

  • Rays – Nick Anderson (14, 10).
    • Anderson is one of baseball’s best relievers, but the Rays will use him in the highest leverage situation—which often enough isn’t a saves situation. Castillo and Fairbanks should pick up most of the remaining opportunities.
  • Brewers – Devin Williams (20, 11).
    • Super good but these are pretty early ADPs considering he’s not a closer, and 2nd in line to Hader.
  • Padres – Drew Pomeranz (18, 12).
    • Super good but his value could crash in an instant if the Padres re-sign Trevor Rosenthal. I would guess they do not re-sign Rosenthal given they added Keone Kela and Mark Melancon this week–both are likely to slot beneath Pomeranz and Emilio Pagan in the bullpen pecking order.
  • Twins – Taylor Rogers (8, 13) / Alex Colome (17, 18) .
    • Twins like to mix and match at the end of games, and will likely platoon these guys. This limits their value, but both are still solid options that should exceed 10 saves. Rogers is more talented and has a better chance to run away with the role, if I had to pick one.
  • Cardinals – Jordan Hicks (23, 15) / Giovanny Gallegos (25, 25) .
    • Hicks was successful at closer for the Cardinals in 2019, suggesting they prefer him in the role. I much prefer Gallegos’ talent, as his historical strikeout minus walk rates are far better. One of the tougher situations to analyze, but as much as I like Gallegos’ talent, I would bet on Hicks getting the first shot in 2021.
  • Cubs – Craig Kimbrel (13, 17).
    • Superstud, severely underrated after small sample “struggles” in 2020, characterized by a 3.57 SIERA, and typical elite velocity. Last year’s competition for the job, Jeremy Jeffress, is gone.
  • Athletics – Jake Diekman (37, 20).
    • Discount talent. Not much competition for the role with Joakim Soria and Liam Hendriks gone.
  • Red Sox – Matt Barnes (19, 33).
    • Discount talent. Sub-3.50 SIERA from 2017-2019, declined slightly to 3.99 in small 2020 sample. By far the best Red Sox RP, but midseason trade risk.
  • Blue Jays – Kirby Yates (12, 14).
    • Super stud. Only question is health, and off-season indications are positive.
  • Rangers – Jose Leclerc (22, 19).
    • Solid talent. Shoulder health risk. If he shows he’s healthy, midseason trade risk.
  • Mariners – Rafael Montero (10, 21).
    • Good job certainty. Inconsistent performer, talent risk. Midseason trade risk.
  • Atlanta – Will Smith (24, 28)/ Chris Martin (38, 80).
    • Likely lefty-righty closer platoon limits the value of either. Solid talents.
  • Phillies – Archie Bradley (27, 29).
    • Not a certainty to win the job, but the Phillies have always seemed to use Hector Neris at closer more out of desperation rather than an actual desire to use him. They probably didn’t sign Bradley to not give him a shot at closing.
  • Pirates – Richard Rodriguez (21, 35).
    • Surefire closer for the worst team in baseball…until they trade him, which is all but a certainty.
  • Reds – Amir Garrett (29, 37).
    • ADP surprisingly low, a good bet to close with Raisel Iglesias gone, good talent.
  • Free agent: Trevor Rosenthal (16, 38).
    • Volatile, he could sign to be an elite setup man somewhere, or he could sign and supplant one of these other names. Not a bad flier, but don’t overpay for this level of role uncertainty.
  • Royals – Greg Holland (15, 50).
    • Talent risk. Well past his prime, up and down the last couple seasons.
  • Rockies – Daniel Bard (30, 54).
    • Talent risk. Midseason trade risk.
  • Marlins – Anthony Bass (49, 102).
    • Major talent risk. Midseason trade risk. Will likely start out with the role, but Yimi Garcia is better and could seize it.
  • Tigers – Bryan Garcia (NR, 114).
    • Major talent risk. Midseason trade risk.
  • Diamondbacks – Joakim Soria (NR, 130).
    • Probably will beat out Stefan Crichton for the role considering his longer track record. Still solid, but getting up there in age, career-worst 4.36 SIERA in 2020. Midseason trade risk.
  • Giants – Jake McGee (NR, 135).
    • Cheap, lights out in 2020, Giants could be surprisingly competitive. Will have to beat out Reyes Moronta and Matt Wisler, which I think he will do.
  • Orioles – Cesar Valdez (NR, NR).
    • Orioles will use a committee, limiting his value. Talent risk. Some risk they try him as a starter after a good winter ball performance. Midseason trade risk. Hunter Harvey and Tanner Scott could steal the role, though they are also trade risks.

The Author

Jordan Rosenblum

Jordan Rosenblum

Jordan is an American living in Finland. In addition to writing for The Dynasty Guru, he's a doctoral candidate at Åbo Akademi researching explanations of income inequality, and a Workforce Strategist at OnWork Oy. His favorite baseball area is quantitative analysis of prospects.

Fun fact about Finland: they play pesäpallo here, which is like a soft-toss version of American baseball, except home runs are somehow outs.

4 Comments

  1. The Itch
    February 16, 2021 at 3:07 pm — Reply

    Great work, Jordan!

  2. Dave Jordan
    February 16, 2021 at 4:33 pm — Reply

    Superb job. Thanks a million.

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