Over the last few weeks, we introduced Paul Mammino's new metric for measure closer upside and risk, and he used it to analyze five closer battles and identify Fantasy targets. Now, he's look at six more. To get the full results of Paul's research, head to SportsLine.com now and use promo code "PITCH" to get your first month for $1.
Kansas City Royals: Brad Boxberger vs. Wily Peralta
Even before the injury to Salvador Perez, the Royals were expected to be rebuilding in 2019. Typically, closers on rebuilding teams are not the most exciting of options and the Royals are no different. However, someone needs to get the saves and that means this battle matters for Fantasy.
Peralta performed decently in the role in 2018, converting all his save chances. Boxberger was elite back in his Rays' days but was not the same guy in 2018 with Arizona following a number of injury-plagued seasons. Looking at the numbers this is one of the more evenly matched battles I have looked at. Which isn't necessarily a good thing for Fantasy players or Royals fans.
Both guys have extreme bust chances with very little upside. This is a situation to avoid in Fantasy but based on the closeness of the two pitchers, though I expect Boxberger to get the job in 2019. His walk rates are slightly better and he is not that far removed from being an above average reliever. The swing and miss that he had several years ago is gone, but if he can control the walk issues, he should be able to perform well enough for the team to flip him for a prospect at the deadline. Winner: Boxberger
San Francisco Giants: Will Smith vs. Mark Melancon
Two years ago, the Giants added Melancon on a free agent deal and he has been a disappointment ever since. From 2013-2016 Melancon was one of the best relievers in the game. Since the signing he has thrown only 69 innings for the Giants. His results have faltered; his swinging strike rate drop slightly and in 2018 his walk numbers ballooned.
Smith was added via trade in 2016 and promptly missed 2017 with injury. His 2018 results, however, were elite. His chart shows his extreme upside and what makes him the clear favorite for this job. His K numbers were well above average and he paired them with the best walk numbers of his career since 2013. Smith had one of the best seasons among relievers in 2018 and barring a trade to a closer needy team should be finishing games for the Giants in 2019. Winner: Smith
Miami Marlins: Sergio Romo vs. Drew Steckenrider
Much like the Royals, this is a closely contested battle that provides little in the way of excitement. Romo was very good in 2018 both opening and closing games for the Rays. He still has his above average swing and miss stuff paired with better than expected control. Steckenrider won the battle of closers-in-waiting for the Marlins when they shipped off enigmatic former closer Kyle Barraclough.
Romo was slightly better than Steckenrider in 2018, with better swinging strike and walk rates, and despite the Steckenrider profile having a slightly higher chance of an above average season, Romo likely opens the year with the job. Romo is more likely to be traded at midseason and for this reason and the fact that saves may increase Steckenrider's value in arbitration, Romo should open the year with the job. Winner: Romo
Seattle Mariners: Hunter Strickland vs. Anthony Swarzak
Like most of the scenarios discussed here this is not one fans should be particularly excited about. Strickland is expected to be the closer and likely will end up with the job but he might not be the most exciting option they have. He throws extremely hard but the strikeouts rates haven't followed. He also has had a below average walk rate for the entirety of his career. He is a perfectly fine option but the upside is minimal.
The chart for Swarzak looks bad but this is based off his injury-marred 2018 season. Swarzak was incredible in 2017, though that is the career outlier. He still has the chance to regain that level of dominance and if he does, he is easily the best option the team has. Winner: Strickland
St. Louis Cardinals: Jordan Hicks vs. Andrew Miller
Like Strickland, Hicks is expected the open the year as the closer. He is a Statcast darling with velocity that makes even Aroldis Chapman look like a soft-tosser. However, his results profile does not really match with the velocity. His has poor swinging strike rates and poor control, albeit elite groundball rates. The chart is more favorable towards Hicks but Miller is coming off an injury-plagued 2018. If Hicks can lower his walk rates to a more acceptable level, he has the ability to step into the elite tier of closers.
Miller is still very much the same pitcher as he was with New York, though he saw some slight regression in his swinging strike rates in 2018. Until his levels regress in a fully healthy season I will continue to believe Miller is one of the 15 best relievers in the game. However, he is best used in a fireman role, especially on a team where there is a viable closer option. Hick has elite upside and should be treated that way by Fantasy owners. Winner: Hicks
Arizona Diamondbacks: Archie Bradley vs. Greg Holland
Bradley was once a hyped starter prospect who struggled in the majors and was relegated to relief duty. He was extremely successful becoming of the best multi-inning relievers in the game in 2017. However, his skills did not match the results. His swinging strike rates are pedestrian and while he has good control, he did not have any standout trait. 2018 was a different story as the skills held true and the results fell more in line.
Holland, on the other hand, had a disastrous 2018 with his control regressing significantly, however his swinging strike rates are still average to above average. The chart shows significant downside for Holland, with minimally more upside. If he can show that he has reversed the control regression he showed in 2018, he could easily return to being an above average reliever and by extension and better option than Bradley. Winner: Holland
So which Fantasy Baseball sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which undervalued pitchers can help you win a championship? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy Baseball rankings for every single position, all from the model that called Scooter Gennett's huge breakout last season, and find out.