Fantasy

2010 Relief Pitching Rankings

Mariano Rivera still looks like the best closer in baseball.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In the final installment of an eight-part series, we will look at the 2010 TSN Fantasy Rankings for relief pitchers.

I tried to stall sending this out piece until we got the complete story on Minnesota Twins star closer Joe Nathan, but that might not happen for a week or more. So for now, we'll assume that he won't pitch this season, although he is listed as a late-round bargain for those willing to take a flyer at the end of the draft.

Top-10

1) Mariano Rivera, NYY (ADP 85.1)
- People keep telling me how he used to be unhittable and now he's much less so, but all I see is a 1.76 ERA, a 0.90 WHIP and 44 saves. He still looks like the best closer in baseball.

2) Jonathan Papelbon, BOS (ADP 85) - He's definitely regressed from his 2007 season, but he's still very good as are the Red Sox so he'll get plenty of opportunities.

3) Jonathan Broxton, LAD (ADP 86.6) - He raised his game to a new level with 13.5 strikeouts/nine innings, a 2.61 ERA and a minuscule WHIP of 0.96. He's the best closer in the National League.

4) Heath Bell, SD (ADP 112.5) - Hall-of-Fame closer Trevor Hoffman moved on and Bell took full advantage of the opportunity to close with 42 saves. The question is whether he will get enough chances in 2010, particularly if the Padres eventually trade Adrian Gonzalez.

5) Joakim Soria, KC (ADP 99.5) - He can be dominant when healthy, but suffers from being the Royals' closer...just not enough chances.

6) Andrew Bailey, OAK (ADP 110.6) - Unhittable last year with an ERA of 1.84 and a WHIP of 0.88. Will the A's win enough games?

7) Francisco Rodriguez, NYM (ADP 128.2) - Not only did the Mets not win enough, but even when he got in there, Rodriguez didn't pitch well (3-6, 35 saves, 3.71 ERA, 1.31 WHIP). He and the team can only go up from here.

8) Jose Valverde, DET (ADP 139.8) - He goes from a hitter's ballpark to a more pitcher-friendly park in Comerica. If he stays healthy he should get 40+ saves although last year his strikeout/nine innings ratio (9.33) fell to its lowest level in seven seasons.

9) Trevor Hoffman, MIL (ADP 207.4) - He went from the best pitchers ballpark in baseball (PETCO Park) to one of the worst (Miller Park), yet his numbers got better in 2009 (ERA 1.83, WHIP 0.91, 48 saves). At 42-years-old will we finally start to see a decline?

10) Brian Fuentes, ANA (ADP 152.9) - The Angels closer led the majors in saves with 48, but also had an ERA of 3.93 and an ugly WHIP of 1.40. Will he get the same number of opportunities on a team without Chone Figgins and Vladimir Guerrero?

Just Missed - Brian Wilson, SF (ADP 131.7); Rafael Soriano, TB (ADP 146.0); Francisco Cordero, CIN (ADP 156.9); Huston Street, COL (ADP 154.1); Chad Qualls, AZ (ADP 179).

Late Round Bargain; Joe Nathan, MIN (ADP 213.8).

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