2009 Relief Pitchers Review

Mariano Rivera won the award for best fantasy relief pitcher by virtue of solid production.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Evaluating relief pitching, which primarily means saves, is different from any other position.

In any fantasy hitting category, such as home runs, even a light-hitting catcher or shortstop can contribute to your team's total. Any pitcher on your roster can get you a win. But saves, the only reason you keep a relief pitcher on your team, is the purview of the "closer."

Therefore, evaluating fantasy relief pitchers puts a premium on saves above all other categories.

Still, this year's save leader, Brian Fuentes with 48, didn't make the fantasy top-10 because he was SO poor in every other categories.

New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, in my opinion the best closer of all- time and certainly a sure Hall-of-Famer, won the award for best fantasy relief pitcher by virtue of solid production across the board. Forty-four saves was just four off the leader, better than one strikeout-per-inning and a great ERA and WHIP made him the best of 2009.

Jonathan Broxton led all relief pitchers in Ks with 114 and wins with seven, a nice bonus from your closer. But a mediocre ERA and eight less saves than Rivera left Broxton in the runner-up role.

Joe Nathan was the second closer selected on Draft Day (behind Jonathan Papelbon) and did what was expected with 47 saves and solid numbers across all five categories.

Heath Bell got off to a great start (eight saves in April) as did his Padres, but a mediocre ERA left him just behind the leaders.

The biggest surprise among the leading closers was 25-year-old Oakland closer Andrew Bailey. His numbers were stunning and his only downfall was too few opportunities which meant he could only accumulate 26 saves. If he pitched for a winning team, he'd have been a top-three closer. He likely wasn't selected in your draft, but he certainly will be next year.

Top-15 Relief Pitchers
Player Team W L Sv IP K ERA WHIP ADP
Mariano Rivera NYY 3 3 44 66.1 72 1.76 0.90 74
Jonathan Broxton LAD 7 2 36 76.0 114 2.61 0.96 111
Joe Nathan MIN 2 2 47 68.2 89 2.10 0.93 72
Heath Bell SD 6 4 42 69.2 79 2.71 1.12 205
Andrew Bailey OAK 6 3 26 83.1 91 1.84 0.88 301
Trevor Hoffman MIL 3 2 37 54.0 48 1.83 0.91 217
Huston Street COL 4 1 35 61.2 70 3.06 0.91 181
Brain Wilson SF 5 6 38 72.1 83 2.74 1.20 173
David Aardsma SEA 3 6 38 71.1 80 2.52 1.16 309
Jonathan Papelbon BOS 1 1 38 68.0 76 1.85 1.15 52
Ryan Franklin STL 4 3 38 61.0 44 1.92 1.20 306
Joakim Soria KC 3 2 30 53.0 69 2.21 1.13 99
Brian Fuentes LAA 1 5 48 55.0 46 3.93 1.40 152
Francisco Cordero CIN 2 6 39 66.2 58 2.16 1.32 143
Rafael Soriano ATL 1 6 27 75.2 102 2.97 1.06 314


Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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