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Giovanny Gallegos, Edwin Diaz Among Best Relief Pitchers by Fantasy ADP

Breaking down relief pitchers based on their average draft position to find value and opportunity.

In a long baseball season in the high-stakes market, saves have a cost-benefit. If a fantasy manager can land two secure arms that keep their jobs all year, they will avoid wasting bench spots for closers-in-waiting and free-agent dollars to pick them up. The cost comes from their draft price to get this accomplished.

MORE: 2022 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

Each year the inventory and opportunity for relievers change. As a result, many saves will be bought off the waiver wire, requiring foresight and timing for a drafter willing to cheat saves.

Here’s a look at my projections for the first 12 closers projections in 2022:


The average of the best 12 closers would have a 2.90 ERA, 1.108 WHIP, 83 strikeouts, and 27 saves. The goal is to find at least one closer to beat these stats.

For reference, here’s a list of the 12 best relievers in 2021 ranked by SIscore:


Below is the list of possible closers ranked by their ADPs in the NFBC in mid-March:


Liam Hendriks has been the top closer drafted over the past two seasons. Over his last 168 games, he has a 2.08 ERA over 181.1 innings with 15 wins, 274 strikeouts, and 77 saves. His best asset in 2020 and 2021 has been his command (10 walks over 96.1 innings). Hendriks looks poised to post another elite season, but the White Sox still have a proven closer on their roster (Craig Kimbrel).

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Last year the Brewers didn't allow Josh Hader to pitch more than one inning in any game, leading to a step back in his innings pitched (58.2). However, he finished with 102 strikeouts while converting 34 of his 35 saves. Hader has had a WHIP below 1.000 in every season with Milwaukee, with batters only hitting .141 against him in his career. I would draft Hader as my top closer if given a choice despite Hendriks being the better arm over the previous two years.

The next four closers have high ADPs while offering upside (LAA Raisel Iglesias, CLE Emmanuel Clase, HOU Ryan Pressly and NYM Edwin Diaz). Each drafter will have a varying opinion of who they like the best. This tier of arms would typically get selected around the six-round in 15 team leagues in previous fantasy seasons. The drop-off in starting pitching talent and the uncertainty of the backend of the closing pool have led to more fantasy managers willing to secure saves in the early draft season.

Kenley Jansen jumped up draft boards after signing with the Braves at the expense of undefined. However, I don’t believe one option will dominate the save chances in Atlanta despite Jansen having the better career record.

In his first season with the full-time closing job for the Blue Jays, Jordan Romano converted 23 of his 24 save chances. His success should lead to more opportunities in 2022, but he does need to throw more strikes. Romano also started last year on the injured list with a right elbow injury, so he is far from a slam dunk.

With Alex Reyes out of action with a right shoulder issue, Giovanny Gallegos should push higher up the closer rankings. He looks the part of a top-tier reliever with a cleaner path for saves. Based on his ADP (95), Gallegos may be the best value of the top 12 closers.


Surfing the second grouping of closers in 2022 is going to be treacherous. Almost every option has a question mark.

Corey Knebel appeared to be a rising second-tier closer, but Philly added Brad Hand after the lockout to cloud the situation. Knebel had a dominating ninth-inning season in 2017 (1.78 ERA and 126 saves over 76 innings), but TJ surgery in 2019 derailed his path over the past two years. Nevertheless, Knebel is the right kind of flier for saves.

Blake Treinen failed to gain draft momentum in the early draft season as many drafters expected Jansen to return to the Dodgers. Last year, Treinen regained his form, pointing to a clean ride for saves in 2022. However, his arm can be up and down if Treinen starts to lose his command. Based on his situation with Los Angeles, I rank him as a top-five closer before the start of the year.

After a strong finish last season, Camilo Doval has the feel of a breakout closer. His path in the majors hasn’t been smooth, and he did need a trip back to AAA last year after getting hammered early in the year with the Giants. I’d like to see his ADP closer to 195 than 150 due to his potential failure risk.

Despite being the Pirates’ best reliever last season, they only gave David Bednar five save chances. Nevertheless, he checks the boxed in command and strikeout ability, pointing to a clear path for saves. Bednar’s next step is proving he can handle the full ninth-inning workload.

Due to back and elbow injuries, the Reds expect Lucas Sims to start the year on the injured list. Art Warren has some closing experience (27 saves in the minors), and he pitched well over 21 innings for the Reds last season (1.29 ERA and 34 strikeouts). However, Dauri Moreta is the dark horse based on his high 90s fastball. Over his previous 111.1 innings in the minors, he has 1.70 ERA with 123 strikeouts and 10 saves. 

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