2023 Dynasty Baseball RankingsDynasty BaseballGeneral


Continuing with our highlights of the league’s top Relievers, as judged by our collection of industry experts, below are the TOP 25!!!!

Thank you preset generic comment above. We’ll take it from here. I can’t speak for my fellow Gurus Brian Shanks and Drew Klein. But for me, when I originally signed up for the rankings of the Guru’s top twenty-five relief pitcher in fantasy dynasty baseball. I thought it would be a cakewalk. I have my formula down pat. I regurgitate some stats, maybe throw in some random personal information, give them a nickname, joke about one of the Gurus (usually Taylor), and finish it with a hot take I will only take credit for if it is correct. I was about halfway done. Then, Guru Sam Wirsching (@SamFBB1) wrote his take on the Gurus’ top ten starting pitchers. He was not only informative but added an entertaining format to the usual rankings. After I read it, the first thought that comes to my head is I wish I had thought of that.

If you haven’t checked it out. Here is the link. COUGH * The guy who wrote the 41st to 45th spots did alright too. *HACK* It was me. *AHEM* I need to feed my ego* COUGH*

With all the information you can find, every fantasy site has its own rankings. I think writing about the top ten to twenty fantasy players at any position is a challenge. Why? Let’s be honest. There is no way you don’t know a lot about these guys already, so you have already decided on your opinion before you read one word. I guess you could be here to seek validation of your thoughts. Maybe you are the type that lives your life by every ranking you come across. There aren’t many, if any, surprises in the top ten besides someone who is a spot or two higher or lower than you expected. Don’t get me wrong. Some of you are insane and will spend days debating that (insert player) is better than (insert player). Most of the Gurus are like that! My guys Shanks (@Brian59044) and Drew (@DrewSpurling1)) are like that. Almost to the point where I want to slam my head into a wall when I keep getting notifications on my phone about these guys debating on one spot. Up or down. Down or up. It would drive someone crazy! But, sh*t! I’d probably be that way, too, if I knew as much! But as everyone at TDG told me, I don’t. So I’ll keep being a spectator during those debates with a bag of Doritos, praying today isn’t the day I slammed my head into a wall. By the way, my money is on either Shanks or Taylor Case to snap before me. 

Back to why I enjoyed Sam’s top ten rankings so much. He wrote it differently from anywhere else. That is why he got my kudos and kudos from several of our peers. So I will attempt to give my spin on what Sam did. Hopefully, it is half as entertaining and informative. If not, that’s ok. It isn’t like this is a competition. It isn’t like I obsessed over this for weeks. Suppose I don’t get the likes or kudos? It isn’t like I’m going to go crazy. It isn’t like I obsessed over this for weeks. Wait. I said that already. I guess if I don’t get my much-deserved praise and adulation. I can create a burner account on a bunch of platforms and leave negative comments about Sam’s work. I could say something like, “Hey Sam, You suck!” or “Ryan is awesome, and Sam sucks!” That way, I win! I mean….. Just don’t make me go down that route…. again. 


Hey. Yeah, you know who I am. Emmanuel Clase. Clase as in class is in session.  I’m 6’2″ and 206 pounds of ALL-STAR HEAT from the Dominican Republic. I’ve been described as elite, ridiculous, unhittable, and have a golden arm. You might recognize me from my daily highlight clips on the Pitching Ninja’s Twitter feed. Or maybe from the All-Star game.  Yeah, I was the guy who struck out three in only ten pitches for the save. And FYI, none of the pitches were below 98 mph. Ask Schwarbs. I get asked all the time. What makes my cutter so unique? Well, besides the different variations, I throw it. Mine cuts to the glove side, while most fastballs run the arm side. That is why I was in the 100th percentile in chase rate. They should call it Clase rate now. Not impressed? Last season I threw that cutter at an average of 100.2 mph. Again, that was the average.  Of the 703 cutters thrown in all of MLB, they were 98.5 mph or higher. I threw all 703 of those. Again, that was all of them. I have a simple pitch mix. I throw the cutter 68% of the time and a slider that runs in the low 90s. That’s it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a hitter’s eyes widen when they see my slider hanging up there like a giant matzah ball compared to the cutter. They hang in the air just long enough for their knees to buckle or swing and miss when it dives away. Ask them if I need any more pitches.

I have a smoother delivery than my boss Tito’s head with a high leg lift and a ¾ slot to whip it. As you can tell, I’m not big on bragging, but I finished in the 80th percentile or higher in every Statcast pitching category, except for extension; who needs extension when you are in the 100th percentile in fastball velocity and spin? You already know about the chase rate. I’m in the 99th percentile in xERA/xwOBA and Barrel%. And finished in the 98th percentile in BB% and xSLG. I’m a big deal. Impressive, I know.

But it wasn’t always peaches and cream for me. I experienced heartache at the beginning of my career in 2018 when the Padres traded me for some guy named Brett Nicholas three years after they signed me back in 2015. They thought I was out of control with my 4.3 BB/9 and 19 wild pitches in Rookie and Low-A ball. The last straw was when I had a 2-5 record with a 6.00 ERA in 2017 with a 1.2 HR/9 and 5.1 BB/9. I did strikeout 46 in 39 innings. And yeah, I gave up 49 hits and 26 earned runs, but I thought I showed signs of being elite. There are no hard feelings, but it was obviously their loss. They are a bunch of Haders anyway.

I got a fresh start with the Texas Rangers, and they gave me a new lease on life when they converted me into a closer. I got promoted to the majors in less than two seasons in their system. I had a lot of firsts with the Rangers. But, you never forget first save. I was riding high but lowering my BB/9 to 2.0 during my time there. I thought this was the start of something special after going 2-3 with a 2.31 ERA/1.11 WHIP in 21 games in 2019. But, some old dude Corey Kluber caught their eye. So for the second time in my career, I experienced heartbreak and was discarded. 

I thought I had hit rock bottom, having been traded away a second time and this time to Cleveland, of all places. So I was weak, and I admit I cheated. I got caught taking PEDs and sat out the 2020 season. In 2021, I was a pivotal piece to the bullpen, but after former TDG top 10 RP James Karinchak blew some saves and an injury, I finished the season as the closer, with a 1.29 ERA in 69.2 innings and 24 saves. After that, it was a wrap. As the official closer, I converted 42 out of 46 opportunities and went 3-4 with a 1.36 ERA in 72.2 innings. In the last 32 games, I threw at a 70% strike rate and 16.5:1 K:BB rate. They say Lil’ Wayne calls me the Fireman now when I enter a game at Progressive Field. I only regret signing an extension for only $20 million for the next four years before the season starts. But I can’t complain. Life is good. I’m a millionaire, I got gold twists in my hair, and you’ll see me at the top of these rankings for a while. Book it! I guess one thing I can complain about is that Tito can ease up on my appearances. I mean 71 games in 2021 and 77 in 2022 to lead all MLB. Maybe it was a good thing I signed that extension. (Ryan Felix Fernandes)


Hey! Hey! Hey! I’m Edwin Díaz! Have you seen me and my entrance with Timmy Trumpet? Can you believe just three years ago, those same people who are trying to dance to that song in the stands? Are the same people screaming for some goon Jarred Kelenic to return? Ha! Don’t get me wrong. I was stripped down in 2019 when I gave up 15 home runs in 58 innings. I ended the season 2-7 with a 5.59 ERA. Mr. Met wouldn’t even look me in the eye. No one remembered 2020 when I returned to an elite closer because no one wants to remember 2020. Maybe it helped me that all those crazy New Yorkers couldn’t come to the games. You should have heard what they said about my underoos! 2021 was alright. I got 32 saves with a 3.45 ERA. Also, Jarred Kelenic hit .181 in the majors. But it wasn’t good enough. Even one of the smartest and second most handsome Guru, Bob Osgood (@BobOsgood15), didn’t think so in last year’s rankings. He wrote I walked too many and blew too many saves for his liking. I understood that. I still averaged a walk rate of 3.87 BB/9 in the last three seasons. But when he decided to give Jacob DeGrom a fist pump instead of me. It got me poppin’ in each and every way! 

So I reinvented myself. Well, as much as I could with having only a two-pitch mix. My four-seamer averaged 99.1 mph, and my slider at 90.8. I threw my fastball over 63% of the time, even though I still had the velocity. I switched it up on them and threw the slider 58.1% of the time. The slider gave me a 19.4 value for runs above average and a 55.3% whiff rate. I used the fastball to set up each at-bat by attacking the zone with the first pitch. I threw a strike 71.1% of the time for my first pitch to hitters last season, which was by far the highest of my career. This led to a strikeout rate of 50.1%, again the highest of my career. But, I achieved this by throwing my lowest Zone% for strikes in my career at 40.1%. I let the hitters get themselves out. I had career bests in ERA, AVG against, FIP, and K/BB%. And for Bob, I had my best BB/9% since becoming a Met. I was so happy that I forgot to see how Kelenic did. How did he do? 

Anyway, at 29, I am at the top of my game, and the trumpets should be blaring for me. I got a new deal that will pay me over $100 million for the next five years. Too-too-too-toooooo-toom! All that is missing is that fist pump, Bob. (Ryan Felix Too-Too-Toot Fernandes)


Josh Hader was unavailable at the time of this piece, so I got the next best thing. The Guru of Gurus and the biggest Padres fan I know. Your friendly neighborhood dynasty dad Taylor Case. (@TCasesLoaded)

Well, Jiminy Cricket! I’m always excited to talk about anyone on my Padres! I have to say I was cautiously optimistic about the Padres trading for Mr. Hader… Golly gee! But don’t get me wrong; I was excited as heck. Even though we traded away Robert Gasser. (who Mr. Drew Klein @AOK_Fan just wrote a fantastic piece about) 

Along with Mr. Ross Jensen’s (@RossJensen12) favorite prospect Esteury Ruiz in the move to get Mr. Hader.  It wasn’t the first time the Padres mortgaged their future by trading away impact prospects for a quick fix. But, Jumping’ Gee Wilikers! We got a four-time All-Star with 525 strikeouts in 259 games with a 2.16 ERA and 0.93 WHIP to lock down the end of games! H-E-double hockey sticks, Bells! We hadn’t had an elite closer like this since Mr. Trevor Hoffman. 

But, at the beginning of his tenure with the Padres, Mr. Hader got Padre’d. Sorry, that is a local term. You might not be familiar with it. Since my Padres always let the fine citizens of San Diego every single Padred year. We don’t like saying the f-word in any way. My bestie Mr. Ross will type the words out because I could never. Hey buddy! Can you type that out for me now?

Ross from his Scout The Statline Lair – This f*ckin’ guy… Fail, failed, or failures all means Padre’d.  

Thank you, Mr. Ross. Such a great guy! I can’t imagine anyone nicer.

See! Padre’d doesn’t sound as bad, and I can never, ever be a bad person. Bless his heart. He tried. That is all you can do. In the 19 appearances for the Padres, he had a 7.31 ERA with two blown saves. In his first seven games as a Padre, he had three games in which he had a rough patch where he gave up 12 runs and eight hits in 0.3 innings. I blame myself.  I didn’t cheer loud enough at home for him. But I’m not a negative Nellie, so I will make sure you know the positives Mr. Hader had. He did convert seven saves and only gave up one home run during those 19 appearances. He still had 37.0% K/9%, which helped him finish in the 97th percentile in Whiff%. He also improved his BB% to 9.6% from 10.7% last season. So he can turn his frown upside down. He still had a lot of positives going on in the 2022 regular season. 

And as they say, good things come to those who wait. He showed many of those good things in the postseason, with a 0.00 ERA with four saves in five appearances. Along with ten strikeouts in 5.1 innings. He only gave up one walk and one hit. We won’t talk about how the season ended for the Padres. I was just happy they made it that far. Who knows. With Hader returning to elite form in the pressure cooker known as the postseason. Maybe next year, if I wish hard enough, maybe, just maybe, we won’t have the term Padre’d anymore and win it all. *You switched to the voice typing option * We better f*ckin’ not! I’m tired of this sh*t!    (Ryan Felix Fernandes, oh sh*t, I mean.. Taylor Case)


Up here, they call me Markham Maniac. Eh. I’m not like the three guys before me. Even though I like to slide around 140.496 km per hour (or 87.3 mph to you), I like to throw the four-seam cheese! (155.945 km per hour or 96.9 mph) Eh. I have a pitch mix formula that has helped me the last four seasons. Want to hear the secret? Eh. I flip-flop back and forth each year on which pitch I primarily throw. That way, I confuse ‘em. Eh. In 2019, I went 64/36 with fastball/slider, and in 2020 was 40/60; in 2021, 63/37; and last season, I went 49/51 with my fastball/slider mix. But, unlike those other fellas. I only have a 28.3 K%. That ranked me 48th among all qualified RELIEF pitchers in that category. So.. Eh? How am I ranked 4th? The Gurus don’t think I’m slow. Eh? 

They must know about my 222.5 centimeters (7.3 feet) extension being in the 99th percentile and how perceived or effective velocity works. Being 198.12 centimeters tall (6’5 feet) and that extension makes my fastball that runs 155.945 km (96.9 mph) look like 158.68 km (or 98.6 mph). That lands me 10th in the effective velocity rankings for relievers. The same goes with my slider, which goes from 140.496 km (87.3 mph) to 142.92 km/per hour (88.8 mph). That jumps me up from the 43rd to 14th place in how hard my effective velocity is for the slider. Not too shabby. Eh?  I also know how to throw my fastball with plenty of backspin. Eh. They helped me only have an 11.2 drop, ranking me 16th out of all MLB pitchers. I also know how to contrast my pitches, with my four-seamer predominantly landing on the upper left zone and my slider landing on the lower right side of the zone. Location. Eh. And finally, since my debut, I have given up fewer home runs each year. Last season I gave up 0.56 HR/9 compared to 1.00 in 2021. That is what you want in a closer. Eh?

That all helped me ascend the rankings and gave me my first All-Star nod. The only issue you might need to worry about. I get too excited sometimes. And I can’t contain myself. Eh. I do my little jig before I set and have my little hitches. It is a way to calm me down, but it sometimes gets me amped. I had six blown saves and four losses. Maybe I should lay off the maple syrup before a game. Eh? Wait. Romano played for Italy in the WBC in 2017!?! Mama Mia! (Ryan Eh Felix Eh Fernandes)


So you might be asking, where did I come from? I get it. Not many people knew me. Hell! These supposed Gurus had three Cardinal relievers in the top 35 of these rankings a year ago, and none of them are me!!! Idiots! Well, except for that Ryan Felix kid. He is so entertaining and witty. He has a great name too. And a better writer than that Sam Wirsching guy. (@SamFBB1) But, back to me. You might be asking how a 27-year-old who has been in the majors since 2019 and coming off a 2021 season that ended with a 4.56 ERA/1.42 WHIP with 47 strikeouts in 47 ⅓ innings (8.94 K/9) start 2022 with the most dominant start to a season ever?  Flaxseed oil. I’d bathe in it before every game. That is how I pitched 10 innings, giving up 0 runs, 1 hit (a**hole), 0 BBs, and 20 strikeouts. That was a 64.5% K rate during that span with a 0.17 xERA and -0.90 FIP.   

Ok. It wasn’t flaxseed oil. Before the 2020 season, I tweaked my left knee, which threw off my mechanics. I had been fighting for a roster spot, so I dealt with the pain. The bad mechanics led to an elbow fracture which cut my 2021 season short. After a procedure and some rest. 2022 was the first season that I wasn’t in pain and was fully healthy for the first time in my major league career. I had been pitching as a starter since being drafted in 2015. So unlike most of these guys, I have more pitches in my mix. I throw a four-seamer about 57% of the time, averaging 99.6 mph (100th percentile), with a 2,643 rpm spin rate (99th percentile) as my set-up and show pitch like most relievers. And use my slider (32.1%), which runs slightly above 89 mph, and my 80 mph curve (10.3%) as my putaway pitches. Opponents hit .111 against my slider and .000 against my curve. Yeah, you read that correctly. I do have a change (0.8%) that I barely used in my repertoire. I used to throw a sinker but ditched that this season. I think that worked out well. When the regular season was over, I was the closer for the Cardinals and finished with a 1.25 ERA and 0.74 WHIP, along with a record of 9-1 with 19 saves, 7 holds, and 4.7 BB/K in 54 appearances. The question might be why I’m so low on this list after you read all of that. You will have to ask somebody else about that.

Disgruntled Cardinals Fan (Patrick Earth) – Wild Card game vs. the Phillies on October 7th, 2023!

Helsley – Oh yeah! That was not a fun day. I hurt my finger a few games before, but there was no flaxseed oil. Ah. Huck. Huck. Huck. But, seriously, that injury was the cause of my control issues. No excuse. I coughed up that game after we were up 2-0 by giving up four runs with two walks and one hit. I had to leave that game because I couldn’t find the strike zone. I know that is what almost everyone will remember about my season. But I am fully healthy and am the closer for the Cardinals this coming season. Some may question my durability, and lack of pitching back-to-back games like my own team did during my arbitration case this off-season. I’m not bitter. I understand. 😬 (Ryan Felix Flaxseed Fernandes)


Have you ever been in someone’s shadow? Even though you felt you were just as good or, dare I say, better, but weren’t given the same recognition. (No, I’m not talking about Sam this time. This is Devin) Just because they are a little bit flashier, got a mullet, look like he hasn’t taken a shower for a couple of weeks, and throw triple digits! Damn! I Hader that guy! No. No. not Josh. He is great. I learned a lot from him. I can’t say a bad thing about him. Well, except for a couple of tweets, he made a while back. But now it’s Devin’s time! Yeah, that is my first name. You know me! The 2020 Rookie of the Year? Oh. You didn’t know that? Yeah, that was a messed-up year, so I also tried to forget what happened. Even though I had a 4-1 record with 8 holds, compiling a 17.67 K/9 in 27 innings with a 0.33 ERA, 1.42 xERA, and 0.86 FIP. Ring a bell? I finished 8th in the Cy Young race as set up, man! Ok. I am sure you know me from my 3000+ RPM 80 grade change-up, the Air Bender, which has a drop of 42.7 inches and breaks 19.0 inches. Nothing? That pitch had a 43.9% whiff rate and 36.6% K% when I threw that last season. Those numbers were even better than the previous two seasons! C’mon, you had to have seen it all over Twitter over the last two-plus years. It made Rob Friedman, aka the Pitching Ninja, tear up. He said my change in a class by itself. I don’t know what else I can bring up, and no, I don’t feel it is necessary to bring up breaking my hand when I punched that wall in 2021. I guess you will discover who I am when I break out this year with the nastiest pitch in the majors. Wait. The MLB website said my change isn’t even the best pitch on the Brewers. Burnes’ cutter? I got a cutter now. I need to grow a mullet or something.  (Ryan Felix Fernandes)


Hola. Mi nombre es Felix Bautista pero me puedes llamar la montana. Soy el cerrador de los Orioles y soy el rey del splitter. Y tengo la mejor entrada en el beisbol hoy. El silbato de Omar.

Hello. My name is Felix Bautista, but you can call me the Mountain. I am the Orioles’ closer and am the king of the splitter. And I have the best entrance in baseball today. Omar’s whistle.

So now that you know, I got a B in Conversational Spanish Dos back in the day and knew how to use Google translate. Felix Bautista only speaks Spanish and used an interpreter in every video I came across, so I like to keep it authentic as possible, so now I will interpret for him. It has been a tough road to get to this point. I have played professional baseball for eight years and finally have an opportunity to play in the majors. I was signed by the Marlins back in 2013 at the age of 18 out of the Dominican Republic. But after two years, I was released after pitching in only 38.2 innings with an 0-4 record and an ERA over 9.00. I returned to professional baseball with the Orioles in 2016, and not till 2021 did I make it past High-A Ball. When minor league baseball returned in 2021, I had a growth spurt during that time. I was about 6’3 or 6’4 and 180 pounds the last time I pitched in 2019 to a mountainous 6’8 and between 240 to 250 pounds when I threw my first pitch in 2021. That season I jumped up three levels because my ERA was below 2.00 that year, and my strikeout rate per 9 jumped from 12.22 to a shade under 16.0. I was on the 40-man roster at the beginning of 2022 and earned a spot in the bullpen. Because I started my career as a starter, I have four pitches in my repertoire. My mix last year consisted of my four-seamer, split-finger, and slider. I didn’t use my change-up. My splitter is what I’m known for that drops off the table, and hitters hit only .084 against it. Compared to my fastball, it makes one of the nastiest overlays in baseball today. My fastball hits triple digits, but the movement got me in the top ten of these rankings. It drops 8.4 inches compared to the league average of 1.3. While the movement has a 7.3-inch break compared to a 1.4 league average.  I racked up 13 holds as a setup man till the Orioles traded Jorge Lopez to the Twins at the deadline. I was named the closer and converted 13 of 15 saves with a 2.19 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 65.2 innings. (12.06 K/9) I have improved my control significantly in the last two years in the minors and was even better last season with the Orioles. I still have a 3.15 BB/9 that is below league average, and I had a couple of games at the end of the season that magnified my control issues. It could possibly be fatigue because I eclipsed my most innings pitched in one season for my career. My knee soreness and arm fatigue could also have caused those control issues because, before those six games, I was trending below 3.00. After a bullpen session (Feb 20, 2023), I told reporters I was at 80% without discomfort. I expect to pitch in spring training by mid-March, so I’ll be full go at the beginning of the season. Till then, The farmer in the dell, the farmer in the dell, Hi-ho, the derry-o, the farmer in the dell. (Ryan Felix the Hill Fernandes)


You can call me Senor Smoke or El Bombero, as they do in the Emerald City. How does my hair look? I am sure you have seen my 103 mph four-seam smoke, or maybe you haven’t because it is 103 mph. Ha. ha. Ha. But that did land me in the 100th percentile. Hitters could only muster a 2.0 Solid% (Solid contact), which placed me in the 86th percentile, and a 24.0 SS% (Sweet Spot), which was in the 93rd percentile. My hair was also in the 100th percentile, as for my 88 mph slider, which looks identical to a hitter at my release point, which keeps a hitter guessing. With this hair and deception, my slider landed in the 95th percentile or higher from a 45.9% O-Sw%, 29.5% SwStr%, and 51.0% Whiff% against hitters. It had a Run-Value of -20 and ranked first in xBA and xwOBA. I am not the closer quite yet, but there is a slight possibility of beating out Paul (Sewald). I had a procedure on my foot right after the season, but my foot and hair feel great. I have been a bit of a fantasy darling the last couple of years since my debut, especially at The Dynasty Guru. But, one particular writer believed in me so much that! He pointed out quite eloquently how dumb a particular team was in trading me away even though I was recovering from Tommy John surgery at that time from a piece that you can see if you click the link below. 


Do I dare say Ryan is the reason for my success? As well as my favorite Mariners fan…. and writer?  Yes, much more than fellow Guru Sam Wirsching (@SamFBB1). Just kidding, Sam…. about the Mariners part.

Lastly, I like to play a little Devil’s Advocate or, as said out here in Seattle, a little A-Rod’s Advocate. I am the second young, exciting, and elite ex-Padre that has landed in this top ten ranking. Now to be fair. My hair wasn’t as luscious, and my control was all over the place, with a 4.30 BB/9 in 2019. But I did have an elite 80-grade fastball and, at the time, a slider that could also be a plus pitch. And even though I looked like a third grader back then. I still had success in 22 major league appearances by putting up an 11.74 K/9 in your bullpen at the age of twenty. And no offense, but all the Padres have to show for trading away the #1 ranked Emmanuel Clase (and his blonde twists) and myself (and this hair) are two “seasoned” catchers in Brett Nicholas and Austin Nola. When I was in San Diego, I heard this term all the time, but it slipped my mind. If the Guru of Gurus Taylor Case (@TCasesLoaded) happens to remember what that term is, can he please add that?  “Padre’d”

(Ryan Felix, I wish I had Munoz’s hair, Fernandes)


I know most of you don’t know me (ayy). I don’t have a flashy nickname or entrance, and if you look for me on YouTube, you are more likely to find the song Havana by Camila Cabello. That song haunts my dreams. It is way too catchy. Make sure you type an O at the end, and you will see that there is a reason why I am here in the top ten of the TDG rankings (ayy, ayy). Last season I was a bit of a surprise to some when the Giants announced I would be their closer-na-na-na. But, if you paid attention to the rankings last season, you would have read from Guru Brett Cook that I was a name to watch for my ability to pitch out of jams. The most significant difference between me and many of the other relievers in the top ten besides my hot as Havana 104 mph four-seamer cutter (ayy). I added a 100 mph sinker to my pitch mix last season. As you’d assume, having a three-pitch mix (which also has a slider) makes hitters more susceptible to swings and misses. I primarily used my slider (43.6%) as my show pitch and netted a 17 Run-Value. I used my cutter (30.5%) and sinker (25.9%) as my putaway pitches. My sinker became the game-changer I  needed as I used it more as the season progressed. Hitters started to sit on my cutter in 2021 and the beginning of ‘22, resulting in a .340 BA against me even with being in the 99th percentile in velocity and 96th in spin rate. Now that I have more confidence in my sinker, I should be even higher than the 83rd percentile in Whiff%. 

But, moving forward, I know I had some troubling numbers that I need to work on to be placed higher in these rankings (uh-huh). First is my issue with my control, which has plagued me my entire career and was a 20 grade before 2021. I threw for 30 walks in the 67.2 innings I pitched, resulting in a 3.99 BB/9.  Not ideal for a closer (uh). I also fell in the 44th percentile in Chase Rate and the 62nd percentile in Hard Hit%. Not many closers in the top ten are that low. Maybe if I have a cool entrance song, do you think that will help? Havana, ohh-na-na (uh)?      (Ryan Felix Fernandes oh,na-na-na) 


As the elder statesman in the top ten, sustaining this kind of longevity as an “effective” reliever for ten years. I don’t want to go by my nickname Press anymore. You can call me the King… King Pressly (Presley close enough) has a nice ring to it. These kids ahead of me don’t know how it was back in my day when the Colorado Rockies were not a bunch of hound dogs or not having to pitch to batters who were on flaxseed oil. It took a burning love to pitch back then! I couldn’t look at my highlights on YouTube like these kids. It wasn’t even created yet! I didn’t have a cool entrance back then. Well, I wasn’t closing back then. But, if I had to pick a song, I’d have to go with that “Crank That” song by Souljah Boy. Didn’t expect that. Did you? That’s alright. I could do that Superman move. But, yeah, the King is still in the top ten after converting 33 of 37 save opportunities and closing the door for another championship for the Astros. We didn’t cheat……. this time! 

Even though I wasn’t more than a relief guy in that jailhouse rock of a Twins bullpen before I got to the Astros in 2018, the coaches saw something when they told me they couldn’t (can’t) help falling in love with my high-spin slider and curveball a lot more with my pitch mix. That led me to an All-Star appearance in 2019 as the primary setup man with 31 holds and a 2.32 ERA. If I could (can) dream, I couldn’t have dreamt of a better renaissance in my career. I moved to the closer spot in shortened 2020 season. For the last two seasons, I’ve been one of the elite closers in the game. Combining those two seasons, I have accumulated 59 saves, ranking me sixth among all relievers. 146 strikeouts which land me seventh. And a 161 ERA+, better than Kenley Jansen, Liam Hendricks (all the best and a speedy recovery!!!), and Josh Hader. And when the lights are the brightest, I am one of the best as well. In the postseason, I only gave up one earned run in 20 ⅔ innings with seven saves and 27 strikeouts. 

At the age of 34, suspicious minds want to know how long I can keep this up. I am seven years older than anyone else in this top ten. And don’t get me wrong, I run into some aches and pains. I missed some time last season with neck spasms, and at the beginning of the year, I had some knee inflammation. Nothing major. I just needed some love me tender. but the King can’t perform every night. We got this 32-year-old kid Rafael Montero who did great in my place the last time I was in the IL. Five saves in six appearances and only gave up one run. Really great… He finished the season with a 5-2 record and a 2.37 ERA with 73 Ks in 68.1 innings. Really, really great. He even came up big in the playoffs. He pitched in 10 games and had a 1.93 ERA with 10 Ks in 9.1 innings. Yeah. Great. I can’t hurt again. Good thing I signed that two-year extension. Viva Las Vegas? Give me a break. You try to figure out a way to add all these songs and have it still make some sense.  (Ryan King Felix Fernandes)

11. Jhoan Duran, Minnesota Twins (AGE: 25, PREVIOUS RANK: NR)

Armed with Rocket Launcher for a right arm, Jhoan Duran is insisting that he will hit 105 on the radar gun this year.  It may not be far off either since he averaged 100.8 mph with his four-seamer and topped out at 103.3 last year. Only Ryan Helsley threw harder when he clocked in at 104 mph. Jhoan couples his four-seamer with a curve, sinker, slider and splitter. All of which generate extreme swing and miss, good luck finding your swing when you see the 100 mph fastball followed by an 88 mph curve. I think the Twins are gonna be tough this year and he should have ample opportunities for save chances.  Look for Duran to break the top 10 next year.  (Brian Shanks)

12. Raisel Iglesias, Atlanta Braves (AGE: 33, PREVIOUS RANK: 7)

Raisel Iglesias was really good for the Cincinnati Reds and lets be honest, being able to compile 106 saves for the Reds is no easy feat considering the ball clubs lack of wins. Atlanta’s bull-pen was already dominate and then they landed Iglesias at the trade deadline last season from the Los Angeles Angels. Once Iglesias made it to Atlanta he gave up 1 run over 26 1/3 innings or a 0.34 ERA. With Kenley Jansen moving on to the Red Sox there is nothing in the way of Iglesias to be the full time closer. Gurus we may be very low on Raisel Iglesias and I think he is going to be a top 5 closer by the end of 2023. (Brian Shanks)

13. David Bednar, Pittsburg Pirates (AGE: 28, PREVIOUS RANK: 37)

Another case of a reliever putting up great numbers but is just stuck on an awful team. David Bednar was Pittsburg’s only All-star and it was well deserved. David complied 19 saves and a 2.61 ERA over 51.2 innings. He did struggle mid-season and wound up on the Injury List but when he came back he was lights out. I think the Pirates just flat out overused him but how can we blame them when the roster was that bleak. The future for the pirates is getting better but Bednar wont see that come to fruition and I think he probably gets traded to a contender which will only help his value. (Brian Shanks)

14. Clay Holmes, New York Yankees (AGE: 30, PREVIOUS RANK:116)

Speaking of a Pirate that got traded to a contender and flourished. Next up is Clay Holmes and he was traded to New York Yankees from the Pirates during the 2021 season. With the Pirates there wasn’t much to speak of because honestly he was really bad.  Since being with the Yankees though he has been pretty darn good. 2021 he had a 1.61 era over 28 innings and 10.9 strikeouts per nine. 2022 he was able to get lock down 20 saves with a 2.54 era. Yankees Manager Aaron Boone has come out to say that “I would expect [Holmes] to close a lot of games for us. Probably most games, and hopefully a lot of games. But I do see a number of guys getting saves.” Good enough for me to think there is more saves coming Mr. Holmes’ way. (Brian Shanks)

15.Kenley Jansen, Boston Red Sox (AGE: 35, PREVIOUS RANK: 10)

Kenley Jansen has been a dominant closer since 2012. Coming into his 14th season I have no reason to think he won’t continue that. Jansen led the league in saves last year with 41 and had a 3.38 ERA with 12 strikeouts per 9 and a 1.047 WHIP. The biggest knock for 2023 has to be moving over to the Boston Red Sox as I don’t think he will have an opportunity to get as many saves as in the past. Fun fact, Kenley Jansen converted from a catcher to a relief pitcher in the minor leagues and holds a .333 batting average in the pros (only 9 at-bats). (Brian Shanks)

16. Pete Fairbanks, Tampa Bay Rays (AGE: 29, PREVIOUS RANK: 63)

Recently signed 3-year,12 million dollar contract that could be worth 24.6 million dollars to stay with the Rays. Pete Fairbanks has shown signs of brilliant dominance but the one huge hurdle has been health. Two Tommy John surgeries, a plethora of shoulder issues, and most recently last year a torn lat muscle. While on the field last year he put up a 1.13 ERA in 24 innings with 14 K/9 (!) and a 0.667 WHIP while compiling 8 saves. I can’t hammer this home enough, IF he can stay healthy he is gonna be among the best relievers in baseball. I just don’t know if I am patient enough to wait for health. (Brian Shanks)

17. Scott Barlow, Kansas City Royals (AGE: 30, PREVIOUS RANK: 20)

Scott Barlow is one of my favorite relievers in baseball. 2021 and 2022 were good to the Kansas City Royals closer. Last year he had a 2.18 ERA, 24 saves, a WHIP of 0.996, and struck out 9.3 per nine. The biggest reason for my fandom is that the Royals have finally built the roster back up, he will have ample save opportunities and he has already shown he can shine.  Look for him to be in the top 10 next year.

18. Alexis Diaz, Cincinnati Reds (AGE: 26, PREVIOUS RANK: UR)

Younger brother to Edwin Diaz of the New York Mets. Gosh, I wish he was on a different ball club because I would be crowning him as the next-best closer. Alas, he is with the Cincinnati Reds and he just won’t have the opportunities he would with a contender. Last year he had a 1.84 ERA over 63.2 innings but only compiled 10 saves. His 11.7 K/9 and 0.958 WHIP tell me he could close for any team. I want to acquire Diaz on all my teams in hopes he gets traded to a contender.  (Brian Shanks)

19. Paul Sewald, Seattle Mariners (AGE: 32, PREVIOUS RANK:21)

Great case of a player just figuring out what he is. Paul Sewald has not had a great storied career in the professional ranks. He doesn’t have lights out stuff. He doesn’t blow you away with triple-digit speed. He has an odd delivery. He does, however, get you to screw up. He is the closer for an up-and-coming Mariners squad albeit it may be a comity. He is beloved in the area. And he can win you fantasy baseball championships.  (Brian Shanks)

20. Jose Leclerc, Texas Rangers (AGE: 29, PREVIOUS RANK:96)

Jose Leclerc was on pace to become the next big reliever until 2020 struck and then the dreaded TJ surgery happened in 2021. He came back in 2022 and put up a 2.83 ERA with a 10.2 K/9 and 1.133 WHIP. I have long been a believer to avoid guys the year after TJ surgery. I want to acquire them 2 years removed.  He showed last year that he was coming back and he proved that he can move past it. Now is the time to go get him before the dominance occurs. He is going to be the closer for the Rangers and they have a sneaky good roster. Take the dive before it becomes to expensive. (Brian Shanks)


The Phillies will open this year with a crowded bullpen, and likely a closer by committee approach, with names like Kimbrell, Soto, and Alvarado joining Dominguez in the mix.  This will sort itself out, and over time I believe that with his 29% strikeout rate, 50% ground ball rate, and 0.71 HR/9, Dominguez will emerge as the primary closer.  For dynasty purposes, he’s the one I most want on my roster from the Phillies bullpen. (Drew Klein)


Alex Lange will receive the majority of save opportunities for the Tigers for the foreseeable future. Nobody on the current roster will challenge him for the closer role, and this isn’t a team that will be signing a free agent closer anytime soon.  He has a high strikeout rate (30.3%) but needs to get his walks under control (11.4% BB rate last year) and keep the ball on the ground if he’s going to become an elite closer. And the Tigers will need to win a few more games, but they tell us that’s coming.  (Drew Klein)


Last year, after reading one prediction that Evan Phillips would lead the Dodgers in saves in 2022, I picked him up in a few of my leagues.  For a small investment, I received 63 innings of 1.14 ERA, 11 K/9, 2.14 BB/9, a 0.76 WHIP, and two saves.  Needless to say, two saves did not lead the Dodgers.

It is extremely difficult to predict breakout closers for several reasons, not the least of which is that major league managers do not choose closers based solely on statistics; there are game situational factors, the intangibles of closing, and even contracts and egos that may come into play.  And a contending team like the Dodgers will most likely depend on veterans who have been successful as closers.  That said, Phillips should be entering this year right behind veteran Daniel Hudson, will receive a number of save opportunities, and may be given the opportunity to show he’s their closer of the future.   If not, those are still great ratios to have on your roster until his time comes. (Drew Klein)


Jorge López has not taken a traditional path to the closer role, if there even is such a thing.  After several years as a swing man, spot starter, and middle reliever, he settled into a closer role with Baltimore in 2022 and had good results, amassing 19 saves before being traded to Minnesota in August.  His results with Minnesota were not as strong, with just three saves, one hold, and an ERA over 4.5.  Jhoan Duran appears to be ready to take over the closing role for the Twins making Lopez a high risk for dynasty rosters. (Drew Klein)


Chicago White Sox reliever Liam Hendriks has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  Hendriks is a battler and an inspiration; he and his wife have already begun a campaign to promote awareness and the fight for a cure.  Our projections for Liam Hendriks: he will kick cancer’s ass. (Drew Klein)

The Author

Ryan Felix Fernandes

Ryan Felix Fernandes

I don't know why they let me write here either...

1 Comment

  1. Jason
    February 24, 2023 at 9:48 pm

    Ehhhhhh Romero is my favorite. Funny

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