2023 fantasy baseball relief pitcher rankings: Is an elite closer worth drafting?

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New York Mets relief pitcher Edwin Diaz (39) reacts as he walks off the field during the eighth inning of Game 2 of a National League wild-card baseball playoff series against the San Diego Padres, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The Home Field Sports fantasy baseball rankings conclude with relief pitchers, a position that’s become tricky to navigate with fewer teams having a set closer.

It’s important to note that designated closers aren’t the only relief pitchers worth drafting, as oftentimes it’s better to draft the reliever with the most upside on their team since they usually work their way up to pitching in the ninth inning.

That’s why it’s usually best to wait until the middle rounds or later to draft relievers, especially with save opportunities being hit-or-miss even for the elite closing options.

We’ve got the top 20 relief pitchers ranked, including the position’s No. 1 option, the top breakout candidate, the top bust candidate and a deep sleeper.

RELIEF PITCHERS

No. 1 option

Emmanuel Clase, Guardians

Edwin Diaz was the No. 1 option before suffering a season-ending knee injury during the World Baseball Classic, but Clase wasn’t far behind as far as being a dominant closer option. Clase delivered a second-straight season with a sub-1.50 ERA and led MLB in saves to where he’s worth a selection in the first five rounds like Diaz was, but it’s still somewhat pricey since save opportunities can be volatile even for the most reliable ninth-inning options.

Breakout Candidate

Felix Bautista, Orioles

The Orioles have had one of the worst groups of relief pitchers in recent seasons, but they appear to have found a closer for years to come in Bautista, who thrived when asked to take over ninth-inning duties in the second half of last season. While the sample size is small, Bautista was dominant enough to where he should break out with a full season’s worth of save chances for an improved Orioles team.

Bust Candidate

Daniel Bard, Rockies

Bard’s comeback story is nothing short of remarkable, and he’s made the most of it by becoming the Rockies’ undisputed closer. The issue here though is that Bard’s numbers from last season appear unsustainable considering his home park is a hitter’s haven and that the Rockies likely won’t win enough games for him to accumulate the saves needed to make him fantasy viable.

Deep sleeper

Evan Phillips, Dodgers

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has declined to name a closer for 2023, but the answer seems clear and obvious given how unhittable Phillips was last season in a high-leverage relief role. While he lacks closing experience, Phillips clearly has the stuff needed to shut the door on teams in the ninth inning and should see plenty of opportunities with his main competition being journeyman Daniel Hudson.

TOP 20 RELIEF PITCHERS

1. Emmanuel Clase, Guardians

2. Devin Williams, Brewers

3. Jordan Romano, Blue Jays

4. Josh Hader, Padres

5. Ryan Pressly, Astros

6. Ryan Helsley, Cardinals

7. Raisel Iglesias, Braves

8. Felix Bautista, Orioles

9. Camilo Doval, Giants

10. Kenley Jansen, Red Sox

11. Clay Holmes, Yankees

12. David Bednar, Pirates

13. David Robertson, Mets*

14. Alexis Diaz, Reds

15. Evan Phillips, Dodgers

16. Daniel Bard, Rockies

17. Jhoan Duran, Twins

18. Jose Leclerc, Rangers

19. Andres Munoz, Mariners

20. Scott Barlow, Royals

*- Robertson is now the Mets closer after Edwin Diaz suffered a season-ending knee injury during the WBC

OTHER POSITIONAL RANKINGS

Corner Infielders (1B/3B)

Middle Infielders (2B/SS)

Catchers/DH

Outfielders

 

Starting Pitchers

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