Dan Otero played an integral role in the bullpen for the World Series runner-ups, quietly posting his best season as a major leaguer in the process. He logged an impressive 1.53 ERA in 70.2 innings, the third best number among relief pitchers who threw over 60 innings this season. Otero also posted a ridiculous 1.3 BB/9 ratio, an elite number that is routine for Otero, who has posted a 1.6 BB/9 or lower in each of his first five MLB seasons. Despite his impressive ERA and walk rate, the righty produced a predictably low strikeout rate. Although his 7.3 K/9 rate is the highest of his career thus far, this is a below-average number that should be expected from Otero, a finesse right-hander whose fastball tops out at 92 mph. Otero should be a regular setup man for Cleveland in 2017 if he can keep his ERA and walks in the elite range they were at in 2016. Although he will figure into the bullpen regularly, he is still a long shot at closing games.
Otero appeared in back-to-back games over the weekend for the first time this spring, allowing one run on two hits with a walk and a strikeout in 1.2 innings combined. One of the final spring tests for relievers is pitching in consecutive games, and Otero completed that last hurdle Sunday against Arizona despite allowing his first Cactus League run. The 32-year-old right-hander owns a 0.96 ERA and an identical WHIP through nine exhibition appearances (9.1 innings). After being rolled out slowly this spring, Otero looks ready to build on his strong 2016 campaign, in which he posted a career-best 0.91 WHIP over 70.2 innings.
Otero pitched one inning and walked one in Monday's Cactus League game against the Rangers. Following a disastrous 2015 with the A's (6.75 ERA over 46.2 innings), Otero's 1.53 ERA in 70.2 innings of work last season made him a contender for AL Comeback Player of the Year. Discounting his nauseating 2015 campaign, Otero has been one of the better middle relievers since becoming a full-time big leaguer in 2013. The right-hander has managed to keep his ERA below 2.30 in three of his four seasons while limiting walks and preventing the deep fly. He'll serve in a mid-to-late-inning role for the Tribe, and with Andrew Miller and Cody Allen behind him eating up holds and saves, the 32-year-old doesn't offer much fantasy value.
Otero signed a one-year, $1.055 million deal with the Indians on Thursday, avoiding arbitration, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. The Indians will bring back one of the key pieces of their World Series run in re-signing Otero. The veteran reliever notched a 1.53 ERA to go with a 0.91 WHIP during the regular season and he was almost as dominant in the postseason with a 2.70 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. While Cody Allen and Andrew Miller will remain the headliners of the Indians' bullpen, Otero should still be a viable middle relief option.
Otero has allowed two runs over 13.2 innings, with a 0.66 WHIP, during August. It's another great month for Otero as he continues to lead Indians pitchers, with a minimum of five innings, in ERA (1.31) and is behind only Andrew Miller in season-long WHIP (0.95). Batters only have a .545 OPS against him this year, too. With all that, Otero has just one hold and one save, sitting behind Miller and Cody Allen in the Indians' bullpen.
Otero has allowed two runs with 10 strikeouts over nine innings of work during July. In his first year with the Indians, Otero has a team-best 1.18 ERA and has seen his strikeout rate skyrocket to 8.53 per nine innings. He had 5.26 K/9 in his previous three seasons and continues to be a force in middle relief, but has had just two save chances this year.