THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2023 TOP 75 DYNASTY LEAGUE RELIEF PITCHERS, #51-75
Continue along on the road with us as we finish up our 2023 Dynasty Rankings. Below are the Relief Pitchers ranked #51-75 by our industry experts.
51. JONATHAN LOÁISIGA, NEW YORK YANKEES (AGE: 28, PREVIOUS RANK: 43)
The normally solid Yankees middle reliever had an uncharacteristically bad season on the surface; his K rate was a career-worst 6.94 with a high walk rate 3.56/9 en route to a 4.13 ERA over 48 innings in 2022. He did have a 3.57 FIP, but ten holds and only two saves didn’t do much for his fantasy managers either. Back as a top setup man for the 2023 Bronx bombers, are we counting on a return to form for Joey Lasagna, or a downward spiral into oblivion? Well, maybe he is not as good as he breakout 2021; but injuries hindered him last season, as a shoulder injury kept him off the field for seven weeks. Shoulder injuries are worrisome to be sure, but Loáisiga’s price may never be lower, it all depends on your risk tolerance. (Phil Barrington)
52. ADBERT ALZOLAY, CHICAGO (AGE: 27, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
After making his big league debut way back in 2019, the Cubs starter turned reliever really showed off after returning to the majors in September; posting a 3.38 ERA with 19Ks in only 13.1 Innings Pitched. There has always been promise here, but injuries and ineffectiveness has kept Alzolay from reaching his full potential. His days of starting are behind him, so look for him to be an effective bridge to the few saves the woeful Cubs can garner this year, but with good ratios. (Phil Barrington)
53. A.J. PUK, MIAMI MARLINS (AGE: 27, PREVIOUS RANK: 40)
So much promise left unfulfilled in Oakland for Andrew Jacob. Mostly due to injuries, but still, let this be yet another lesson of putting too much faith in a young pitching prospect developing on an upward path. The Marlins were willing to take a chance on Puk this off-season, acquiring him for out-of-favor former top prospect Jeffrey Joseph Bleday. They plan to use him as a setup man and it isn’t hard to see him being the closer, and thus he could be a sneaky source of Ks and Saves (or Holds) on a dark-horse Marlins squad. (Phil Barrington)
54. REYNALDO LÓPEZ, Chicago White Sox (AGE: 29, PREVIOUS RANK: 186 at SP)
The seven-year vet was acquired by to the Sox along with Lucas Giolito back in 2016, and López was mainly used as a starter during his first six seasons in the bigs, starting 96 games, to just below-average results. Last season the Pale Hose deployed him out of the bullpen, and he excelled, posting a 2.76 ERA over 65.1 innings, with a stellar 5.73 K/BB. The White Sox have a lot of options out of the their bullpen, but the cream usually rises to the top, and López has a lot of cream. Expect more holds, few walks, and a passable ERA. Not bad for a guy being drafted after pick 550 in NFC leagues. (Phil Barrington)
55. TANNER SCOTT, MIAMI MARLINS (AGE: 28, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
Scott is here because he is first in line to get saves for the Marlins, as he earned 20 last season. But he’s not very good, with a terrible 6.61 BB/9 and 4,31 ERA in 2022, and that’s coming off an even worse 5.17 ERA and 6.17 BB/9 in 2021. He does have flamethrower stuff, striking out 12 per nine innings in his career. Maybe he figures out how to control the walks, or maybe AJ Puk takes the closer job in Spring and runs with it. As a guy who rostered Tanner Scott on many teams last season, I am betting on the latter. (Phil Barrington)
56. JEREMIAH ESTRADA, CHICAGO CUBS (AGE: 24, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
The former 6th round pick back in 2017, Estrada made his big league debut last season; made all the more impressive by starting the season in Single-A and stopping at High-A, Double-A and Triple-A on the way to making a 5.2 inning big league debut. High Ks, reasonable walk rate and a long leash, the Cubs may have their closer of the future…or not, but he should come at little to no expense in most Dynasty leagues. (Phil Barrington)
57. JOE JIMÉNEZ, ATLANTA BRAVES (AGE: 28, PREVIOUS RANK: 113)
The former Tigers reliever had off-season back surgery, but is expected to be ready to start the season. He was a popular sleeper to be the Detroit closer for years, but earned only 20 career saves in 297 appearances for the Tigers. 2022 was his best season as a pro; in 56.2 innings he struck out 71 with a top-notch 5.92 K/BB and 3.49 ERA, supported by a sparkling 2.00 FIP. Expect a lot of holds as part of a stacked Atlanta bullpen. (Phil Barrington)
58. MICHAEL KING, NEW YORK YANKEES(AGE: 27, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
A top set-up man with three pitches (Sinker, Fastball and Slider) he uses often, King pitched 51 innings in 2023 across 34 appearances, pitching to a 2.29 ERA, 2.23 FIP with a K/BB of 4.13 and amassing 16 holds and 61 Ks. Along with the above-mentioned Jonathan Loáisiga, King will setup closer Clay Holmes. Holmes did falter a bit in the second half, so saves may be in the mix for King if that happens again in 2023. Plan accordingly. (Phil Barrington)
59. JOHN SCHREIBER, BOSTON RED SOX (AGE: 28, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
The former Tiger picked up eight saves last season for the Red Sox while pitching quite well; he also earned 22 holds and had an ERA of 2.22 along with 74 Ks in 65 innings pitched. The Red Sox signed Kenley Jensen to be their closer, but watch out for Schreiber, who should get the first opportunity if Jansen falters or needs a rest. (Phil Barrington)
60. JOE MANTIPLY, ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (AGE: 31, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
He posted the best K rate (9.15) and walk rate (0.90) and ERA (2.85) of his career in 2022 and will be firmly in the mix for saves in Arizona this season. Though if Mantiply pitches well he may find himself out of Arizona as a trade candidate for a team going nowhere (yet). Control is his game, as he maintained a low walk rate throughout his time in the minors, but never had a great K rate. If he is the closer, then he has value, but don’t expect many chances in the desert this season. (Phil Barrington)
61. HECTOR NERIS, HOUSTON ASTROS (AGE: 33, PREVIOUS RANK: 61)
Well, well, well if it isn’t Mr. 61 himself.
Neris hitched his wagon to the Astro`s last year and all he did for them was drop his walk rate from 10.3% in 2021 to 6.5% while maintaining a 30% strikeout rate. Unfortunately, like Gregory Soto below (I wrote about Soto before Neris so sue me) he is stuck behind three other very good relievers and will struggle to gather more than a handful of saves and maybe 10 to 15 holds. He will give you good ratios and should probably be rostered in most formats. (Ryan Epperson)
62. MATT BUSH, MILWAUKEE BREWERS (AGE: 38, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
It’s hard to predict saves in the current landscape of the MLB, but it’s even harder to predict holds. Matt Bush should have a decent chance to provide a good number of holds this year on a Brewers team that figures to be in a lot of ball games. The only reason he is so low on this list is he grew up playing catch with Dizzy Dean (don`t fact-check me please) and at any moment whatever tendon is left in his throwing arm can turn to dust.
If he is on the field, he will produce for you dear reader as he’s carried a K-BB% of 23% the past two years which is in the upper echelon of very good (better than Paul Sewald.) (Ryan Epperson)
63. GREGORY SOTO, PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (AGE: 28, PREVIOUS RANK: 31)
Moving from the relatively friendly confines of Comerica Park to the bandbox that is Citizen’s Bank Park does nothing to help Soto`s value in the stadium itself and the team that plays there. The Philly`s have a smattering of closer-level pitchers so it may be hard for him to carve out a sustained role for them. If you are in an SV+H league he will be much more valuable I believe as he should figure to work in a lot of high-leverage situations.
The Phillies have had a recent penchant for tweaking their pitcher’s stuff to get the most out of it and I am excited to see what they have in store for Soto who has notoriously been an erratic thrower of balls. (Ryan Epperson)
64. JORDAN HICKS, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (AGE: 26, PREVIOUS RANK: 33)
For the love of the almighty Joe Buck please stop the Jordan Hicks as a starter experiment. Last year in his eight starts he had a 3.3 K-BB% which is well, pretty bad. As a reliever, he is able to keep hitters off balance with his fastball/slider combo which can be elite.
Reports have stated that they plan to give him the chance at high-leverage relief situations to start the year, and hopefully, they will just stick with that, and he can steal some saves and holds from Gallegos and Helsley. When Hicks is at his best, he is better than either of those two and he is still only 26 years old. I think Hicks can be a sneaky add as his stock will never be lower and the cost to go out and get him should be relatively cheap. (Ryan Epperson)
65. GRIFFIN JAX, MINNESOTA TWINS (AGE: 28, PREVIOUS RANK: 245 @ SP)
The Minnesota Twins bullpen all of a sudden became very good. They ended middle of the pack by several surface measures, but the underlying performances and projections for this season all bode well. Trades for Jorge López and Emilio Pagán solidified the backend of the relief corps around the emergence of newly minted relief savior Jhoan Duran and a huge step forward from Griffin Jax. From 2021 to 2022, Jax added between 2-4 MPH to all of his pitches. That’s a pretty good recipe to being a better pitcher. And that explains why his entire Statcast page went from blue to red over that timeframe.
Jax is in no danger of being anointed the next closer in Minnesota. He made concrete changes to his repertoire, though, that have earned him a place in leverage spots for a competitive team. In holds leagues, he represents a huge value. In all leagues, he should offer cheap strikeouts and ratio stabilization. (Aaron Cumming)
66. KEVIN GINKEL, ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS(AGE: 29, PREVIOUS RANK: 107)
I think at this point, even I’m considered part of the committee that will be getting save chances in Arizona this season. The Diamondbacks have a history of bringing in relief pitchers and letting them duke it out for the 9th inning. Fernando Rodney, Brad Boxberger, Greg Holland, Tyler Clippard, Joakim Soria, and then Mark Melancon and old friend Ian Kennedy last offseason. They love pretending like they have a plan while never actually knowing what they’re doing. The latest addition of Andrew Chafin, on top of bringing in Miguel Castro and Scott McGough, complicates the already blurry leverage ladder that Melancon, Joe Mantiply and Ginkel were already occupying.
Ginkel’s slider took a step forward last year. He started throwing it harder, and saw a jump swinging strikes, but he also started throwing it in the zone more and saw a huge leap forward in called strikes. His walk rate decreased accordingly, and he had his best season on an MLB mound. There’s a crowded path to a solidified role for Ginkel, but if he maintains last year’s gains (or better yet, improves upon them), he is going to be the first or second option for saves in 2023. (Aaron Cumming)
67. ALEX VESIA, LOS ANGELES DODGERS (AGE: 26, PREVIOUS RANK: 33)
68. TEJAY ANTONE, CINCINNATI REDS (AGE: 26, PREVIOUS RANK: 33)
69. GARRETT CROCHET, CHICAGO WHITE SOX (AGE: 23, PREVIOUS RANK: 18)
Remember this guy? Chris Sale 2.0? Unfortunately last season for Crochet, he wasn’t able to show if he was the second coming of Sale after having Tommy John surgery. But maybe he did that to get that part out of the way. So you want to know if Crochet is going to come back and be the guy fantasy managers were salivating about back when the White Sox drafted him in 2020? I don’t know. Well, I can tell you we won’t find out for at least one more season. With an ETA of returning in mid-May, along with at least a couple of rehab games. Also, White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz was quoted in early February saying that Crochet will be on a strict innings limit this season. All you can do is be patient. Yeah, not what you had hoped to hear. Hey. I never said I’m the Oracle. I you want a BS answer to that question you should ask one of those Twitter experts who will patronize you and tell you the future. No one knows if Crochet or any guy will return when dealing with a serious arm injury. I’ve been waiting twenty years for Mark Prior to come back and pitch for the Cubs. Not until a couple years ago I found out he was on the Dodgers staff as a bullpen coach. While this whole time I thought the poor guy was still rehabbing in Iowa or Myrtle Beach for the Cubs. Every player at the minor and major league level is there because of talent and strong work ethic. They all train endlessly and want to play. You might have a couple of guys who don’t give a sh*t and just want a paycheck. But the other 99% are doing all they can to come back and be the best player possible. Anyone that tells you they know or reports some BS that the player looks great, and some source says he looks like he did before he got injured. Still doesn’t know.
Ryan’s Low Ranking Rant.
The best part of writing about guys this low is that the Gurus Taylor Case and Ross Jensen allow me to rant. In my opinion, if a pitcher has under one season of major league experience and gets a severe injury like Tommy John. You can’t rely on the numbers from two years ago. Look at what you have to wait on. First, you wait a season or maybe more till that player recovers from their procedure and is cleared to pitch. Then that pitcher has to start back at the minors with a number of rehab starts with strict pitch counts. If that pitcher does do well, you can’t rely on those numbers. It is still against minor-league hitters. So you keep waiting. You are a minimum of two years invested, and best case scenario the guy is back in the majors. You see what he does after a couple of appearance on another limit. At this point you still really don’t know if he is truly ready to take on a full season. And now we are into year three, and that pitcher gets his role on the major league roster before spring training. He is still a young guy who will take you through the ups and downs most young pitchers do. He ended up having a good season and it paid off. Now you are in year four. That is when you find out if hitters have adjusted to him or if he is ahead of the curve and can perform. That is four years waiting to see what you got. Don’t get me wrong. It can go well but I rather roster a guy who can contribute to my team right away or roster a young guy who you will be able to figure out if he is worth rostering a lot earlier. Ok back to Crochet.
What I am looking for when Crochet is hopefully good to go to pitch in the majors besides the obvious eye test. How are the White Sox doing and if they are going to compete for the playoffs. With huge expectations three years ago. Where many of their obnoxious fans talked about a dynasty before they made the playoffs. Yeah. I’m a Cubs fan. But, seriously this franchise is in a very pivotal year. Some of their core players will be free agents after this season. The guys that pertain to Crochet’s future that I am referring to are Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Liam Hendriks, Josh Kelly, Reynaldo Lopez, and Jake Diekman. I won’t mention the asshole who they signed to be in their rotation earlier this off-season who is now suspended. So technically that is three starters and four relievers who are all going to be 29 or older. If the White Sox fall flat this year and miss the playoffs. I can see a total rebuild with all of those players being traded before the deadline or not being signed next off-season. Thus giving the team a couple of years to develop a guy like Crochet to be a starter to pair with Dylan Cease. Both will still be young after the rebuild and will be a great 1-2 punch on the top of that rotation. But, if the White Sox find some success this season. The window will probably stay open for this core and the White Sox will probably sign Giolito to stay with Cease to be in the 1-2 spots of the rotation but with four key relief guys in free agency and one being their closer. Crochet might be pushed into the pen out of necessity. He could end up being the closer if he rebounds back this season. Or he could have the unfortunate luck of being in that injury limbo I talked about. The kid had two 70-graded pitches in his fastball and slider. He was playing around with a change and sinker before he got hurt. He has the ability and the stuff to be either a starter or closer if he comes back healthy. Suppose you are a fan of his and have the roster space. Again all you can do is be patient. I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it. (Ryan Felix Fernandes)
70. JONATHAN HERNÁNDEZ, TEXAS RANGERS (AGE: 25, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
Here is a prime example of what I just talked about when rostering a younger pitcher coming off of a severe injury (like Tommy John). Hernández popped up in the scene back in 2020 with a breakout season in the Rangers bullpen. One of the very few bright spots for the last-place Rangers that season. He put up a 5-1 record with five holds in 27 appearance with a 2.90 ERA and 2.64 xERA in 31 innings. After making his major league debut with a couple of spot starts with a 60-graded four-seam fastball to go with his 60-graded slider, and change as his pitch mix. He didn’t fare well and ended up in the bullpen with a 4.32 ERA and 1.62 WHIP. In 2020 he reinvented himself with a mid-90s sinker (topped at 99.2 mph) that he threw 47.1% of the time and continued to use his slider at 36.2% and change 20.5% of the time. With the numbers he put up and a new pitch mix, he was anointed to be the future closer for the team.
Unfortunately, the next spring training, Hernández had an elbow injury that led to Tommy John surgery, and he missed the next 15 months. Fast forward and he joined the Rangers bullpen in mid-July with the same velocity but not the same command as he did before. Jumping up to 5.04 BB/9 compared to 2.32 back in 2020. He finished last season with 2-3 with a 2.97 ERA, along with four saves, three holds, and two blown saves. That was enough for him to be in the discussion for the Rangers’ closer role in 2023. As I said, last season was a good starting point, but we still don’t know if Hernández is the same guy he was back in 2020. He has the same velocity and movement on his pitches. It is a great story, but the question is will he have his command under control like he did in 2020, or is what we saw in 2022 what he will be for the foreseeable future? He, John Barlow, and Jose LeClerc (who also came back in 2022) will be battling for the closer spot this spring. Whoever comes out as the closer will be closing for one of the most improved rotations in MLB, along with a pretty potent offense. You will want to keep an eye to see who wins that battle. It can be a prime position to get your fantasy team some points and saves. (Ryan Felix Fernandes)
71. PIERCE JOHNSON, COLORADO ROCKIES TEAM (AGE: XX, PREVIOUS RANK: XX)
72. BROCK BURKE, TEXAS RANGERS (AGE: 26, PREVIOUS RANK: XX)
73. DILLON TATE, COLORADO ROCKIES TEAM (AGE: XX, PREVIOUS RANK: XX)
74. NATE PEARSON, TORONTO BLUE JAYS(AGE: 26, PREVIOUS RANK: 89 SP)
My man Nate was sidelined most of the year due to freaking Mono, stop kissing people Nate it’s not that hard. He is now probably firmly in a bullpen role, but boy can he flourish there if he can stay healthy. I know, I know, I know, they have Jordan Romano closing games for them with a bevy of other established players behind him if he falters or gets injured. But Pearson can be ELITE and jump to the top of the line if he can just stop those stupid injuries (again stop smooching, Nate.)
Like Hicks, his stock may never be lower and may not cost a bunch to go out and get a potentially elite closer as the prospect fatigue has set and the sheen is off the new toy. Go get him, just don’t share a drink or anything. (Ryan Epperson)
75. ELI MORGAN, CLEVELAND GUARDIANS (AGE: 26, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)
Listen, this is the end of our positional rankings here at The Dynasty Guru after a taxing few months of research, ranking, and debates. So please forgive me if I don’t wax poetic about our 75th-ranked relief pitcher Eli Morgan. I’m sure he’s a very nice fellow (don’t quote me on that) but there are only so many ways you can repeat the same phrases over and over again about relief pitchers.
Morgan primarily leans on his 92mph four-seamer throwing it 55% of the time with a good arm-side run. He has refined his changeup (you can check out an in-depth analysis of it by Ben Clemens over at Fangraphs if you’re so inclined) to where it may be an elite pitch but it’s already very good. He’s like most of the pitchers that are in the bottom half of these rankings, he`s good and will provide decent rates (K-BB% of 23% last year) but he`s a middle reliever. (Ryan Epperson)