NL West Relief Preview
Hey guys, this is my first try at something like this, so if I don't make sense or something that I say seems wrong then back off! Seriously though, I want this to be accurate, so if you see something that's wrong or incomplete tell me so that I can fix it. Also, when you hear how some of these bullpens are shaking out tell me.
Arizona Diamondbacks- Most of the pitchers from last year are back, except for Luis Vizcaino... but things are wide open in this bullpen. This is one of a few bullpens where I wouldn't be surprised to see the top 3 setup guys at the end of the year be 3 completely different guys than the ones shown below, not because I’m an idiot, but because a lot of the pitchers in this bullpen are inconsistent, injury-prone or both. So, I wouldn’t draft anyone from this pen early, but there are plenty of potential late-round sleepers to be found.
Closer: Jose Valverde- he is lights out when his mechanics are right, when he fouls up his mechanics you see numbers like the first half of last year... Chances are he will blow up again at some point this year. I predict 25 saves
Setup#1 Jorge Julio- He strikes out a lot, but also walks quite a few and gives up a lot of homers. He probably won't hang onto this job all year, but for now he could get quite a few holds (he just won't help you in ratios).
Setup #2 Tony Pena- A lot of people see him as a future closer, but his numbers weren't that great in the majors last year, but in the minors he was lights out after being converted to relief. I expect his numbers to be better this year, and for him to pass Jorge Julio on the depth chart.
Setup #3 (LOOGY)- Doug Slaten- was called up in September of last year, and appears to be the only lefty that the D-backs will carry. (unless they shift Eveland to the pen).
Sleeper- Brandon Lyon- he has had great success in the bullpen, the question with him has always been health. If he is healthy, then you could see him setting up or closing.
Colorado Rockies- This is a bullpen that I have traditionally avoided, but last year saw 3 relievers who were helpful in either holds or saves (Fuentes, Mesa Ramirez), and this year could be even better.
Closer: Brian Fuentes- he was solid in the closing role for the second year in a row, though his strikeout rate did decline. This makes him a middle tier closer, who is okay in 4 categories but not as dominant as the top tier guys. Also, his relatively low save numbers hold him back. I predict 30-35 saves.
Setup#1: Latroy Hawkins- His return to a setup role didn't go as well as expected in Baltimore, but he's got the same job for Colorado. He's another guy who I would stay away from... his k rate last year was around 4 per 9...He'll probably still get 15-20 holds setting up Fuentes.
Setup #2 Ramon Ramirez- Had a nice debut with the Rockies last year, with a 3.46 ERA 1.26 WHIP and 61 K's in 67IP, sadly he only had 10 holds. Look for him to get 10-15 holds this year.
Setup#3 (LOOGY) Tom Martin should be the designated lefty for the Rockies, he's not very impressive, so I wouldn't take him in any league (unless you're in a 20-team NL-Only league that counts holds... and you're desperate)
Sleeper- Jeremy Affeldt- if he goes into relief for the Rockies (I don't know what they're doing with him) then he could become their top setup man... or continue to tantalize his fans.
Los Angeles Dodgers- The top 2 are set for the Dodgers, and both are certainly useful in fantasy, but beyond that I wouldn’t draft anyone.
Closer Takashi Saito- Had an impressive debut, went from AAA to closer in one year in the United States. I expect a harsh regression to the mean for Saito, and I think that there is a good chance that Broxton is closing by July. (20 saves)
Setup#1 Jonathan Broxton- was converted into a reliever last year, with great results. Had a great debut last year, and as long as he remains a setup man will be one of the top ones in the league. Should get over 20 holds, with great ratios and (possibly) triple digits in strikeouts.
Setup#2 Elmer Dessens- a thoroughly average pitcher, who will only keep this role if no one better comes along. If you’re in a bind and need holds he could help you, but I wouldn’t draft him.
Setup#3 (LOOGY) Joe Beimel- pitched well for the Dodgers last year, and should pitch okay again. Won’t hurt you in ratio categories like Dessens, but also won’t get as many Holds.
Sleeper Kuo/Billingsley- There have been rumors that the loser of the fifth starter competition will stay with the pro club and pitch out of the pen. If that is true either pitcher could be good for 15-20 holds.
San Francisco- This bullpen is also very unpredictable; there are lots of new faces and injury concerns.
Closer: Armando Benitez missed most of the year with a knee injury, and no one is sure if he will be ready for the beginning of the season. If he is ready he may be traded to the Marlins. I predict 20-25 saves, but move him up if he is traded to the warm weather Marlins.
Setup#1 Steve Kline led the Giants in holds last year, and will probably do the same again this year. His other stats won’t be great, but he will get 15-20 holds.
Setup#2 Kevin Correia- A switch to the bullpen last year helped him with his control, and cured him of gopheritis. If he becomes the primary setup man he could be useful.
Setup#3 (LOOGY) Jack Taschner did horribly last year, but I can’t see Misch or Threets being ready, and it would be a waste to stick Sanchez into such a short relief role. He’s worth keeping an eye on (as is much of SF’s pen), but certainly not worth picking up.
Sleeper- I wanted to put Tim Lincecum as a sleeper in SF’s bullpen, but everything that I hear has them either sending him back to the minors (likely) or letting having him start. Brian Wilson is much more likely to pitch in the bullpen, and he has good minor league numbers (much better than those ugly major league ones), so he is someone who I would keep an eye on if I was in need of holds, or even saves for that matter.
San Diego- This is typically one of the better bullpens for fantasy leaguers, and it has a lot of talent, but with a new manager it is hard to tell.
Closer- Trevor Hoffman: It seems like he will continue to be an elite closer until the day he dies. I assume that he’ll retire before then, but until he does you can look for him to have decent ratios and 35-40 saves.
Setup#1 Scott Linebrink is one of the elite holds guys out there. He led the league with 36 holds, but his ratios were not quite as good as the year before, but this was mainly because of a bad September. The only MR’s who I would take before Linebrink are Shields, Zumaya and maybe Broxton. Look for him to log 30+holds this year while contributing in everything else but saves.
Setup#2 Cla Meredith came over to the Padres last year in the deal that also brought Josh Bard from the Red Sox (wonder if they want this one back). Once he reached the majors he proceeded to dominate. I doubt he will duplicate his ERA this year, but should still post good ratios and 15 or so holds.
Setup#3 (LOOGY) Royce Ring came over in one of the trades with the Mets, and should have a spot as the lefty in the Padres’ bullpen. Hopefully he won’t be pigeonholed into just facing lefties, but we’ll see.
Sleeper-Heath Bell has great minor league numbers, and will have a good chance to prove himself in SanDiego. If Cla Meredith falters, then he could become the 2nd setup guy, but barring injury I can’t see him doing any more than that.