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If you are not able to add one of the top relief pitchers in fantasy baseball drafts, it may be worth waiting until much later in the process to land bullpen help.
Arizona’s Archie Bradley is one of a few closers who could provide value as a late-round pick in 10- or 12-team leagues.
Bradley and Tampa Bay’s Nick Anderson are intriguing targets because of their strikeout ability, but both players come with some concerns that could turn owners away until the final few rounds.
Alex Colome of the Chicago White Sox sits in a similar position due to his low strikeout total and his team’s position in the American League Central.
All three could turn into viable options, but since they aren’t as dominant as Kirby Yates or Josh Hader, they don’t warrant an early selection.
Predictions for Top Sleeper Relievers
Archie Bradley, Arizona
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Bradley has the potential to rise up the reliever rankings if he works on a few issues.
The top concern from a fantasy perspective is the 36 walks he conceded in 71.2 innings in 2019.
Bradley also allowed 28 earned runs, which is a bit too high for a hurler that enters with little margin for error.
If he cleans up those two stat categories, the 27-year-old could be a value pick in the middle-to-late rounds in 12-team leagues.
He is expected to own the closer’s job in Arizona and he struck out 87 batters last season. That was his highest punch out total since shifting to the bullpen in 2017.
If you wait to land a closer later in the draft, Bradley’s punch out power could make him the best selection from the third tier of relievers.
Prediction: 13th round.
Nick Anderson, Tampa Bay
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Anderson is not guaranteed to receive every save opportunity for the Tampa Bay Rays, but his power on the mound makes him a candidate for a middle-to-late-round selection.
Anderson fanned 110 batters in 65 innings during his time with the Miami Marlins and Rays in 2019.
Even if he does not record a high save total, the 29-year-old carries value because of his strikeout ability.
Diego Castillo and Jose Alvarado combined for 15 saves last season, and the two could take save opportunities away from Anderson throughout the campaign.
The right-handed hurler excelled against right-handed batters by holding them to a .183 batting average and .234 on-base percentage.
Left-handed hitters had more success against Anderson with a .250 batting average, but if he can improve those numbers a bit, it may be hard for the Rays to give Castillo and Alvarado more save opportunities.
Anderson’s strikeout total and success rate against right-handed batters make him an intriguing late-round selection, but until he permanently owns the closer role, he can’t be selected higher.
Prediction: 14th round.
Alex Colome, Chicago White Sox
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Colome produced 30 saves in his first year closing for the Chicago White Sox.
That was his highest save total since 2017, when he reeled off 47 saves for the Rays.
His 2.80 ERA is decent for a ninth-inning man, but he only struck out 55 batters in his 61 innings on the mound.
The lack of strikeouts, his 2.39 strikeout-to-walk ratio and the unknown of how much the White Sox will improve limit Colome to a late-round pick.
Chicago’s young core of Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert could make it an exciting team to watch, but it still resides in a division with the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins.
If the White Sox show signs they can improve their 72-89 record from 2019, Colome could become more valuable as the season progresses.
Even then he may limited from a fantasy perspective because he has not been overpowering in the strikeout department.
Prediction: 15th round.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference.