2018 Relief Pitcher Rankings: Top 40

We wrap up each week of positional coverage with our 2018 rankings. In addition to the rankings we will pose a number of questions to our panel covering topics such as reaches and targets, players to avoid and late round impact players.

Taking part in our rankings will be Kevin Jebens, Jim Finch, Kenny Garvey, Josh Coleman, Dan Marcus, Mike Sheehan and Mike (the cop) Levin. Our seven “experts” each ranked their top 40 relief pitchers for the 2018 season.

Players marked N/R were not ranked inside the top 40 by that particular person. If you feel we overlooked someone or would like to debate a player’s ranking, feel free to do so in the comment section below.

Rank Player Team Jim Josh Mike S Dan Kenny Kevin Mike L
1 Kenley Jansen Dodgers 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
2 Craig Kimbrel Red Sox 2 2 2 2 2 3 2
3 Aroldis Chapman Yankees 3 3 3 3 5 2 3
4 Roberto Osuna Blue Jays 6 4 6 4 9 5 6
5 Ken Giles Astros 4 8 5 6 7 6 11
6 Felipe Rivero Pirates 7 6 8 8 4 14 4
7 Corey Knebel Brewers 8 9 4 7 10 11 5
8 Raisel Iglesias Reds 9 7 11 10 8 8 7
9 Edwin Diaz Mariners 12 5 7 5 11 12 9
10 Cody Allen Indians 10 13 9 12 3 7 10
11 Wade Davis Rockies 5 14 15 9 6 9 13
12 Brad Hand Padres 11 17 16 11 16 4 8
13 Sean Doolittle Nationals 18 11 10 18 12 16 16
14 Alex Colome Rays 13 12 12 13 20 19 21
15 Andrew Miller Indians 16 19 17 16 15 24 12
16 Mark Melancon Giants 20 10 13 27 14 10 25
17 Hector Neris Phillies 21 15 18 14 23 18 17
18 Arodys Vizcaino Braves 19 22 22 19 19 15 18
19 Archie Bradle Diamondbacks 14 24 28 17 13 20 23
20 Jeurys Familia Mets 17 18 19 20 17 13 39
21 Brandon Morrow Cubs 27 16 23 15 18 26 20
22 Brad Brach Orioles 15 27 20 24 24 29 15
23 Kelvin Herrera Royals 33 20 14 21 27 22 19
24 Blake Theinen Athletics 29 21 21 22 25 17 24
25 Blake Parker Angels 28 31 30 23 22 21 14
26 Dellin Betances Yankees 26 25 25 28 36 25 33
27 Shane Greene Tigers 30 30 27 36 35 23 22
28 Greg Holland Free Agent 35 26 24 32 21 40 29
29 Brad Peacock Astros 22 N/R 29 29 26 31 27
30 Addison Reed Twins 25 23 40 37 33 38 30
31 Luke Gregerson Cardinals N/R 38 38 26 29 27 36
32 David Robertson Yankees 38 32 N/R 30 31 35 31
33 Brad Ziegler Marlins 32 34 35 35 38 28 N/R
34 Fernando Rodney Twins 40 N/R 32 33 30 32 N/R
35 C.J. Edwards Cubs 34 36 39 N/R 32 30 N/R
36 Zach Britton Orioles N/R 29 36 40 40 N/R 35
37 Alex Claudio Rangers 31 N/R 38 34 28 N/R N/R
38 Kyle Barraclough Marlins 24 40 34 N/R N/R N/R 34
39 A.J. Ramos Mets N/R N/R 33 N/R 34 33 38
40 Chris Devinski Astros 39 N/R N/R 38 37 N/R 26
Honorable Mentions
 Cam Bedrosian Angels 37 N/R 31 39 39 N/R N/R
 Nate Jones White Sox 36 38 N/R N/R N/R 37 N/R

Are there any closers worth reaching 1 or 2 rounds early for outside of Jansen?

Kevin: You still need saves, and there are some nice strikeout closers available. But you should never reach early for closers.

Jim: I do like Giles, Kimbrel and Chapman, but the lack of track record for Giles, metrics decline for Chapman, and similar issues for Kimbrel before his 2017 bounceback – I don’t see the level of dependability from that top-tier as I did three years ago. I’ll reach for Jansen, but let ADP dictate where the rest fall.

Kenny: With the philosophy I tend to use on draft day I don’t think you can ever “reach” for a reliever – Jansen being the obvious exception here. Relievers come and go at such a steady pace, I don’t see the risk of passing up a SP or a position player to nab a RP ahead of their ADP.

Dan: If it’s a shallow league (12 or smaller), no. If it’s deeper I’ll reach for pitchers secure in their in the mid-tiers like Rivero, Davis, or Hand.

Josh: The lone skill set I look for in a Closer is the job. This thought process typically lends me to picking up the scraps. I will reach if the draft dictates, otherwise I’m more than comfortable waiting until the later 3rd of the draft.

Mike S: Chapman feels a bit like Kimbrel did last year.  He still throws as hard as ever and yes he took his lumps for a bit but was back to his other-worldly ways in the playoffs.  Champan’s ADP is 20-30 spots behind Kimbrel and Jansen and he’s still likely in the same tier.  This is potentially a huge value.

Which closer(s) do you plan on avoiding in the draft?

Kevin: There are always closers whose jobs seem less secure than others: Gregerson, Morrow, Parker, Doolittle, Claudio aren’t sure things. If you’re in standard 5×5 leagues, they take a hit.

Jim: Corey Knebel and his walk issues can go elsewhere, as can the ageless wild wonder Fernando Rodney. I will not be drafting closers from Oakland, Texas or San Francisco, and you can probably add St Louis if a decision isn’t made on Lyon/Gregerson by draft time. As for the Angels, Marlins and Cubs, I’ll target the setup man for each team.

Kenny: Corey Knebel seems like the obvious regression candidate heading into this season, based on his one season of success and his whopping 76 appearances last year, but I’m avoiding Roberto Osuna this year. If not for what the Rays have been doing lately the Blue Jays could be the worst team in the AL East and that won’t equal a lot of save chances. With a save percentage of less than 85% in his career he’s not a guy I want to rely on in any RP situation.

Dan: Blake Treinen, Sean Doolittle, and Mark Melancon. Basically guys that have little to no jub security, questionable numbers, or health issues.

Josh: I’m typically out of the Top level talent to begin with, but Corey Knebel. 40 IP jump from 2016 makes me take a second look. The 4.7 BB/9 makes him very easy to pass on as the 3rd Closer overall in ADP.

Mike S: I’ll be avoiding Alex Colome.  I was high on him coming into last year and he was terrible.  He got decent results because of a high save total but he pitched poorly and the underlying numbers were bad as well.  This is a solid stay away for me.

Which closer (if any) do you plan on owning the most stock of?

Kevin: I’m a fan of Hand this year. And if everyone wants to avoid Davis simply because he’s in Colorado, I could end up with a lot of his stock.

Jim: Jansen will be a top priority in roto leagues. After that I see Archie Bradley and Brad Hand being on a lot of my teams based on early rankings – I see both as being incredibly undervalued.

Kenny: As I mentioned under the first question, I don’t put too much stock into my RP core. There are so many injuries during the year, poor performances, hot hands in the ‘pen that the closing duties can be shuffled a handful of times throughout the course of the season on any given team. If I had eight different RP slots across two or three teams, there’s a real chance I own eight different guys.

Dan: Osuna and Diaz reasonable ADP for closers ranked just below the top tier.

Josh: With my bargain bin approach I’ve found Mark Melancon to be a desirable target. Currently the 18th RP in ADP, Melancon offers a certain level of security that few have. Good SP and middle of the road offense provides the perfect recipe for 40 Saves.

Mike S: I actually like quite a few relievers this year and tend to take whichever value falls to me during the draft.  Two names seem to end up on lots of my mock and early teams though.  Mark Melancon and Kelvin Herrera.  I’m not high on Melancon but his cost has been close to free.  I’m actually excited about and targeting Herrera as I still think there’s near elite potential there.

Top reliever that could be closing by midseason? (or sooner)

Kevin: With Britton out, Brach seems the likely choice to fill in. But don’t forget about Mychal Givens. Brach’s in his last year and could be traded. Givens still makes my sleeper list for one more season.

Jim: For future saves, I’m looking at Kyle Barraclough (Miami), Addison Reed (Minnesota), C.J. Edwards (Cubs), and Cam Bedrosian (Angels). Juan Nicasio (Seattle) is my dark horse to watch.

Kenny: AJ Ramos is going to be in a closer role for the Mets at some fashion prior to midseason. That could be caused by injury to Familia, but I wouldn’t’ be shocked if once he took the reigns as closer that Ramos would relinquish them. They each have some control issues, but I think Ramos is the better arm. I think we also see Tyler Lyons closing in St. Louis prior to midseason if the Cardinals decide to roll with Gregerson as their 9th inning option.

Dan: Addison Reed is the obvious answer for me (not a Rodney fan). Tyler Lyons is another to watch provided he doesn’t break camp with the closer gig.. 

Josh: There’s a greater than 50% chance that half of this Top 25 List will lose their jobs. For a full breakdown of potential pitfalls I will be covering this in a future article.

Mike S: I don’t have as many guys like this as I normally do.  I suppose I still like Kyle Barraclough best for this.  He lost a bit on his velocity and K rate in 2017 but he still profiles much more like a traditional closer than Brad Ziegler does.


For those in deeper and larger leagues, there were a dozen players that were ranked that did not appear in the above table. Chad Green, Keone Kela and Brad Boxberger appeared on 2 of 7 rankings. Tyler Lyons, Josh Hader, Liam Hendricks, Joakim Soria, Seung-Hwan Oh, Ryan Madson, Mychal Givens and Pat Neshek all appeared on one set of rankings.

CatcherFirst BaseSecond BaseThird BaseShortstopOutfieldStarting PitcherTop 250


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