Monday, March 12, 2012

2012 CBS Analyst NL-Only Auction: The Relievers

The role of the reliever in 5x5 is always a much debated one.  In fact, just for fun this morning, I went to three different fantasy sites I respect and found three articles about relievers putting forth three different theories.  Mike Gianella posted an excellent piece on NL relievers in 2011.  The conclusion is the one I generally follow: "Getting $16 worth of stats for $4 is a winning play, and you're not going to find this much success across the board on end game starting pitchers or bottom-of-the-barrel hitters. I recommend spending less money - not more - on these pitchers. I bought Marshall and Betancourt in Tout Wars last year. While I didn't hit big on saves, I picked up $24 worth of stats for $2."  I will be looking at relievers in this context.

Closers, Anyone?

I tend to undervalue closers, particularly in CBS.  As Mike pointed out in his article referenced above, CBS gave closers raises every year until 2011, which saw a sharp drop-off.  This year, however, I likely should have been a little more aggressive with this group of pitchers with that in mind.  Of the 16 closers above, half of them went for par on my sheet.  Given I undervalue closers, this is a lost buying opportunity.  Papelbon stands out here; even with the move to Philadelphia, where some fly balls will turn into home runs, he is probably a few dollars low.  Wilson also stands out; even if Wilson misses part of the season, he should earn at least $13.  We know the risk with Street – he is on a new team by June or July.  Nonetheless, $14 is a decent price for a closer in Petco.  Myers is a risk as well…in his one stint as closer, he did okay.  His K/9 should go up (as it did that year), but with the number of home runs he gives up, he could join a committee of poor options quickly.  Madson is dealing with some elbow tenderness, but it sounds relatively non-worrisome.  That ball-park is a tough place to pitch, but that changeup will help cure any mistakes.  Motte could be underrated.  I doubt he will get a quick hook from the job as he did with LaRussa last year.  His interiors suggest “sleeper."

Closers in Waiting? And Waiting? And Waiting?

Jansen is the guy most likely to see saves in this group, and the league paid him as such. Venters at $7 is a bit of a push; with Kimbrell in front of him, it is hard to see the upside at this price, even with last year's crazy peripherals in mind.  Chapman at $4 is a bet on a ton of strikeouts.  I am not sure how I feel about a move to the rotation…it could well be bad for his value, and he would likely miss a portion of the season in the minors while he stretched out.  Betancourt is signed through 2013 (with an option for 2014), but keep an eye on Brothers, assuming he can keep the ball near the plate.  His stuff is truly electric and hitters just seem incapable of picking it up well.  Romo might be the guy most likely to see saves, as Wilson appears a bit fragile still.

Everyone Else

Gregerson lost a ton of strikeouts last year.  Sources say he completely lost his slider, which, even pitching in PETCO, does not bode well.  There are a number of guys that could move ahead of Gregerson in the “close in waiting” line, including Andrew Cashner and Brad Brach (electric stuff, though no one knows where it is going on any given pitch).  Salas is likely closing on several other teams.  His interiors are very good, with a K/9 of 9, a BB/9 under 3, though with a low GB%.  Eduardo Sanchez will likely be the first choice to back up Motte should he fail, but Salas’ numbers warrant a bid of $1 (no the $2 you see here).  Wins are difficult to project; Belisle got 10 of them last year, but I would not count on that again this year.  He does not walk many hitters and keeps the ball on the ground, so he is a good fit for the Rockies.  He also warrants a bid.

The Reserve

There are a couple of guys here who could have an impact on saves by the end of the season: Sanchez, Rauch, Meek and Cashner are the closest to “closers in waiting,” though I do not feel good enough about them to put them in the group above.  Rauch still has Ramirez to contend with if Francisco fails.  I might put Cashner ahead of Gregerson in the Padres’ bullpen.  Meek is a question mark coming of his injury.
The PhilliesBastardo back to the 8th inning...the lack of saves hurts his value significantly.  Lidge is pretty strong so far this spring, though that happened last year and he was lost for half the season by mid-March.  Clippard would also still likely get the first crack at saves.  Do not expect a repeat of O’Flaherty’s ERA from last year.  FIP says 2.54 ERA, and the K/9 and BB/9 are a little bit below the rate stats I like to see from relievers.  The other relievers here are useful, but relievers with good rate stats tend to pop up on the waiver wire (if you read the NL Gearing Up column last year, you know I used to list those free agents with 10K/9IP and K/BB better than 3.00).

In terms of your fantasy auction, keep in mind that it makes more sense to pay a bit more for CIW and rate stats in an “Only” keeper league.  A good example from the American League would be Glenn Perkins.  The Twins signed him to a 3 year contract, so there is a commitment to him in that bullpen.  He is likely next in line for saves, and/or becomes the closer when Matt Capps is gone for good.  Sean Marshall received that type of deal from the Reds, though his rate stats warrant purchase.

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