Five to Watch – RP

FANFOOD_FB2014_5toW_RP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are hundreds of websites where you can get information to help you prepare for your upcoming fantasy baseball draft and season. It seems like every one of them offer rankingscheat sheets and draft guides.

In order to dominate your league you need to be familiar with a few of them. Check them outpick your favorites and have fun with your research. We will help you with our FANFOOD Fantasy Baseball Tools and new features, the FANFOOD 5 to Watch and FANFOOD goes 2 for 2.

During Spring Training, we offer 5 players from each position for you to watch and consider for your FB team. They will be ones that you may be able to find later in your draft or even off the waiver wire as the season progresses.

Once the season begins, FANFOOD goes 2 for 2 and discusses two upcoming starting pitchers scheduled for two starts. They will be our weekly picks for your team to stream (if that is your strategy).

So who are the FANFOOD 5 to Watch? Are they ones to target? Are they sleepers, studs or duds? The answer is yes and the answer is no. Simply put, they are the players that we find interesting at each position, ones you need to keep an eye on this spring before your fantasy baseball draft.

 

That all said, let’s get to it with our next 5, this time it is the closers, followed by some helpful links and a great sauce recipe, Lexington Dip

 

In fantasy baseball relief pitchers are like kickers in fantasy football. It’s a roster spot that has to be filled. Like it or not, the value of relief pitchers in the majority of fantasy baseball leagues is almost exclusively tied to saves. That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of talented relievers out there who can shut down teams an inning at a time, perhaps even earning themselves the occasional victory in the process.

But if you play in a scoring system where saves count for 20 to 25 percent of a pitcher’s value, even guys who manage to get you only half as many saves as the league leaders are going to be far more important to have on your roster than the top “holds” guys and “closers-in-waiting,” provided they don’t completely tank in the categories of ERA and WHIP.

In terms of a fantasy draft, there are 30 jobs out there from which to choose, and while there may be a few Carlos Marmol-type choices in the mix, whose ratios make you want to run for the hills, the general rule of thumb is that security trumps success in the rankings process. Don’t get cute looking to find pitchers who may well end up taking over a closer job at some undefined point later on in the season. Focus your energies on drafting multiple pitchers who have ninth-inning duties in the present, and adjust your roster as changes in role and performance dictate.

There is only 1 RP worth considering before the start of round 6, and you know who that is. After that there will be a run on closers and you need to resist the urge to join in.

Relief pitchers and closers are overall the most inconsistent performers from year to year in fantasy baseball. Looking at the turnover of end game arms in the past three years, it’s hard to imagine that you should or can target anyone on draft day. There were 36 total closer changes last year, not counting moves that were made in spring training. If you’re a seasoned fantasy baseball player, you know what this means — you won’t have all of your eventual saves contributors on draft day. Someone will get hurt, someone will get promoted, someone will get traded.

Your best bet is to focus on the pitcher’s skill set first, and opportunity second. But when it comes down to it, draft the established closer in the present.

A reliever’s life is never an easy one and so the best laid plans during a fantasy draft can go up in smoke half way into the season. Since relief pitching is such a risky proposition, you don’t want to overpay for saves and like fantasy football, save one of your last round picks for an under the radar arm.

There are many places to find Closer rankings and Depth Charts on the internet, we’ll list a few in the update to the FANFOOD Fantasy Baseball Tools for 2014. But now lets take a look at the five end of the game options you want to watch this spring and consider for your fake team.

 

 

5 to Watch quick links:

[C] [1B] [2B] [3B] [SS] [OF] [SP] [RP] [Prospects]

 

FANFOOD 5 to Watch – Relievers

 

1. Steve Cishek

ADP #137

We begin our watch list with a closer that you can get later in your draft after you loaded up on position players and starting pitching. Round 14 may not be where you want to begin to start picking RPs but given the fact that he is guaranteed the closer role in Miami, Cishek is one to watch this spring.

 

Notes from around the web:

 

At one point during 2013, Cishek was in danger of losing his grip on the Marlins’ ninth-inning job as his ERA climbed to 5.40 on May 16. The right-hander was nearly automatic from that date forward, however, posting a 1.36 ERA and converting 29 of his final 30 saves chances to finish with the sixth-highest saves total in the National League (34). As a result, the 27-year-old will enter 2014 with a secure lock on the closer’s role with Miami.

source | MLB.com
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It doesn’t sound like a major concern at this time, but the Marlins obviously don’t want to push it this early in camp. Cishek posted a 2.34 ERA and 33 saves last season and is an underrated option at closer in fantasy leagues.

source | rotoworld
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Marlins closer Steve Cishek finished the the 2013 regular season with 34 saves, a 4-6 record, a 2.33 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP and 74 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings. Cishek seemed destined for a demotion when he took three losses and posted a 5.25 ERA in 12 April innings. However, to say he righted the ship would be an understatement. Cishek only got stronger as the season wore on, ultimately going a perfect 17-for-17 in save opportunities with a microscopic 0.96 ERA in 28 frames after the All-Star break. He may be easy to overlook as the closer for a struggling Marlins team, but the 27-year-old will be a prime candidate to break out in 2014 and should be targeted in all formats.

source | MLB.com
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With only 36 save chances, Cishek did not distinguish himself among Fantasy closers last season, but with improved control and continued strong ground ball tendencies (and a home park that further squelches homers), he did what he could to help owners. Cishek appears to be a safe bet to post another low 2.00s ERA with a WHIP not too far above 1.00, and the Marlins’ offense may be just improved enough to give their closer more save opportunities. In fact, they could be in enough close games that he gets a lot of save opportunities. Cishek likely won’t be drafted among the top 15 closers in many leagues, but he could easily deliver better production than more popular closers, such as Rafael Soriano, Grant Balfour and Jim Johnson.

source | CBSsports.com
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Cishek now has three full seasons under his belt and they’ve all been impressive – his ERA has topped out at 2.69, his FIP at 3.22, and his strikeout rate has climbed each season to reach 26.3 percent in 2013. He’s 52 for 58 in career save opportunities and has 66 shutdowns to just 19 meltdowns. Sure, the 92 MPH fastball maybe doesn’t jump out at you and scream lights-out closer, but he gets enough strikeouts to matter, keeps the ball on the ground and has a friendly home park when neither of those work out.

source | fangraphs
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Projections

WSVIPHERBBKERAWHIP
43265532123672.911.17

source | KFFL
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 2. Addison Reed

ADP #149

 

Later in that round or into the 15th round of your draft you will see Addison staring you in the face.  Watch him closely this spring to see if he in fact has the closing gig wrapped up in Arizona and if he does this is a perfect time to draft him. He has what you need in a closer with a high KO rate and plenty of upside. If you decide to wait on relief pitching, he would make a nice RP1 for your fake team.

 

Notes from around the web:

 

Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers isn’t ready to hand the 25-year-old the ninth inning job just yet. “(He) will be pitching in meaningful role, one way or the other,” Towers said. Ultimately, Reed figures to beat out J.J. Putz for the gig.

source | rotoworld
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In just his second full big league season in 2013, Reed earned the opportunity to serve as the White Sox’s exclusive closer from the outset. The right-hander was impressive in the role, shaving nearly an entire run off his ERA from 2012 while converting 40 of 48 saves chances. The owner of a stellar strikeout rate in his young career (9.3 K/9), Reed was traded to the D-backs in December. The 25-year-old should not be affected by the change of address in 2014, but he will not be completely guaranteed the ninth-inning role, either. With J.J. Putz, Addison Reed, Brad Ziegler and David Hernandez apparently candidates to close, manager Kirk Gibson said Thursday that he wanted them to take their time getting their arms in shape before the evaluation process begins. Putz has been the team’s primary closer since 2011, but during an injury-plagued 2013 season he was replaced by Ziegler, who did a nice job in the role. Hernandez struggled last season after posting outstanding seasons in 2011 and 2012, during which time he was looked at as the closer of the future. Reed came over from the White Sox — where he was 40-for-48 in converting saves — in a surprise trade this offseason.

source | MLB.com
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Addison Reed is poised to take over the ninth for Arizona. Although J.J. Putz will be trying to take his old job back, Reed should persevere and enter Opening Day as the Dbacks closer. With 69 saves over the last two seasons and a career 9.3 K/9, Reed should be consistent enough to keep Putz at bay.

source | Roto Authority
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The Diamondbacks made a big acquisition this offseason by picking up reliever Addison Reed in a trade with the White Sox. However, his arrival hasn’t deterred J.J. Putz from entering camp with hopes of regaining the closer’s role after he posted a 1.27 ERA in his final 27 appearances last season. “I definitely want to close,” Putz told The Arizona Republic. “Other than the beginning of my year last year, I thought I threw the ball really well when I came back (following stints on the disabled list for elbow and finger injuries). I feel good. I’ve been throwing more bullpens before spring started than I ever have. I’ve been working with (pitching coach Mike Harkey) on some things. Everything feels good.” According to the Republic, Putz is regarded as the leader for the closer’s job, particularly among the pitching staff. “I think KT (General Manager Kevin Towers) and Gibby (manager Kirk Gibson) are both extremely loyal people,” Putz said, when asked about the chance he’s being given to win the job. “I’m glad that they are at least giving me the opportunity, and I’m going to do everything I can to win that job when the time is appropriate to win that job. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. The bottom line is just getting to the playoffs and seeing what happens.”

source | CBSsports.com
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Projections

WSVIPHERBBKERAWHIP
43169542724713.521.13

source | KFFL
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3.  Neftali Feliz

ADP #187

 

There is no doubt that FB players will be watching him this spring to see if he in fact gets the ninth inning duties in Texas. If the Rangers give him the role, he won’t make it to pick #187. He has the swing and miss stuff you are looking for in a closer. Watch him closely and draft accordingly.

 

Notes from around the web:

 

 

Neftali Feliz had a scheduled live batting practice session pushed from Wednesday to Friday so that the reliever could work on his mechanics instead. The club was concerned that Feliz’s mechanics were leading to some shoulder soreness. The good news is that he appears back on track, so it should be of no concern. Feliz is the leading candidate to be the Rangers’ closer this season.

source | rotoworld
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After establishing himself as a top-tier closer in 2011, Feliz was limited to just eight games (seven starts) in 2012 before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery. He returned to action late last year, tossing 4 2/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Feliz will likely resume a relief role at the outset of 2014, and there is a good chance he will do so as the Rangers’ ninth-inning man. Manager Ron Washington isn’t ready to just give Neftali Feliz his old job back, but he didn’t hesitate to make one observation about his once and possibly future closer. “I see him in the best shape I’ve ever seen him in,” Washington said on Monday morning before the Rangers’ first official workout. If that proves to be the case, the drama about who will be the closer could be settled quickly. If not, Tanner Scheppers or Joakim Soria could pitch his way into the job. Washington said that the Rangers haven’t decided who will replace Joe Nathan, but the biggest factor is if Feliz is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery and throwing the ball the way he did during the World Series years in 2010 and 2011. If he is, the Rangers could have an easy decision. “I’m 100 percent, physically and mentally,” Feliz said. “I’m ready for this job. I’ve done it in the past, and I think I’m ready.”

source | MLB.com
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There will be a three man competition between Neftali Feliz, Tanner Scheppers, and Joakim Soria during Rangers Spring Training Camp to declare the team’s closer, and my money is on Feliz. Now a year-plus removed from Tommy John surgery, which shortened his 2012 season, Feliz has thrown well in the Dominican Winter League this off-season. In his few innings pitched at the end of last year in Texas, Feliz’s fastball was sitting in the low 90s. This winter, he was consistently clocked at 98 mph while pitching on consecutive days. All signs point to him being capable of reverting back to his 2010 and 2011 form at the end of the game for the Rangers, just monitor his performance during spring training to see that he maintains his health.

source | baseball press
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Rangers reliever Neftali Feliz, who will be competing for the closer’s role this spring, said he hit 97-98 mph on the radar gun during winter ball, according to FOX Sports Southwest. Feliz still thinks he hasn’t topped out on velocity. Rangers pitcher Neftali Feliz said his arm is “perfect,” according to the Star-Telegram. Feliz has been pitching in winter ball, and has been quite happy with his performance. “My arm is perfect,” Feliz said. “When I threw in winter ball, my command was perfect.” He added that he’s trying to prepare to be the closer, and wants to take the team to the postseason next year. Feliz was limited after recovering from Tommy John surgery last season. He pitched just 4 2/3 innings in the majors last year.

source | CBSsports.com
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It was only a couple years ago that Feliz was poised to join the upper echelon of closers. Unfortunately, Texas could not help messing with a good thing. Their experimentation with Feliz as a starter quickly sent him to DL with various arm issues and finally resulted in Tommy John surgery. The good news for Feliz and the Rangers is that most pitchers with TJS comeback to full strength and in some cases even stronger. Couple that with positive reports on his elbow rehabilitation to this point, and his winter work has him looking prepared for the spring. Pay attention to the velocity, because if Feliz is lighting up the gun in the mid 90’s range this spring you should make sure he is part of your draft plan.

source | rotoballer
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Projections

WSVIPHERBBKERAWHIP
33055411921553.111.13

source | KFFL
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4. Bobby Parnell

ADP #184

 

He is the guy to close out games for the other team in New York. That alone is reason to draft him. It will be hard to see him going past the 16th round of your snake draft and this is about where you would expect to see him selected. He makes for a great RP2 draft with confidence.

 

Notes from around the web:

 

Mets reliever Bobby Parnell isn’t upset the team flirted with other late-inning options during the offseason, according to the New York Daily News. The Mets reportedly made an offer to closer Grant Balfour, but he decided to go to Tampa Bay. At the time, the team was unsure how Parnell would recover from a neck issue, and was willing to consider other options. Parnell didn’t seem fazed by the team’s willingness to explore the market.”I never really paid attention to all that stuff,” Parnell said. “I know they’re in my corner and they’ve given me a lot of support.” He added that he just has to stay healthy, and he will be fine. Parnell posted a 2.16 ERA in 50 innings last year.

source | CBSsports.com
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New York Mets RP Bobby Parnell (neck) is taking things slow this spring as he recovers from surgery to fix a herniated disc in his neck. He threw a 35-pitch bullpen Tuesday, Feb. 18, and will throw again Thursday, Feb. 20. “The velocity is probably at 80 percent right now, but the delivery is sound,” pitching coach Dan Warthen said. The team is hoping Parnell can pitch in a spring game around March 10.

source | ESPN New York
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Bobby Parnell suffered a minor quad injury while covering first base during a drill Thursday. It sounds like it’s no big deal, but the Mets understandably want to be cautious at this point in camp. “Everyone thinks it’s very, very mild,” pitching coach Dan Warthen said Friday. “He wanted to throw today.” Parnell has looked good to this point as he works his way back from surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck.

source | rotoworld
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Before a herniated neck disc ended his 2013 season early, Parnell served as a quality closer for the Mets during his first year alone in the role. The 29-year-old converted 22 of his 26 save chances while registering personal bests in ERA (2.16) and WHIP (1.00). And having regained his health after undergoing surgery in September, the right-hander appears poised to serve as the Mets’ undisputed ninth-inning man from the outset of 2014. Parnell, who underwent surgery in September to replace a herniated disc in his neck, discussed the plan with Mets trainers and pitching coach Dan Warthen before climbing atop a mound for the first time this spring. Shortly after watching Parnell throw, Collins reiterated that he is in line to be the Mets’ closer. The manager indicated that recent acquisitions Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth are near-locks to make the Opening Day bullpen, but that neither — barring re-injury — will supplant Parnell from ninth-inning duties.

source | MLB.com
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Projections

WSVIPHERBBKERAWHIP
32955481717492.781.18

source | KFFL
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5. Cody Allen

ADP #223

 

I feel it’s always a good idea to use one of your last picks on a potential closer. Sure you could draft a prospect, or take on flier on a player coming back from injury, but every year players that are selected in the last rounds end up on the waiver wire and on another team come the end of the year.  Depending on your league settings, how deep your bench is, you need to keep an eye on Cody this spring. If he wins the job, he may not make it to the end of your draft, if he doesn’t win the job, he may have to sit on waivers until Axford loses his job again, and he will. I say draft him and look like a genius.

 

Notes from around the web:

 

After receiving a taste of the Majors in 2012, Allen completed his first full big league campaign last year. The right-hander proved he was ready, registering an 11.3 K/9 rate to go along with a quality ERA (2.43). In fact, last July marked the only month during which he posted an ERA above 2.38. The Indians’ offseason signing of John Axford will likely relegate Allen to setup duty at the outset of 2014, but a number of realistic scenarios exist in which Allen could ascend into the closer’s role. Indians right-hander Cody Allen ended the 2013 regular season with two saves, a 6-1 record, 2.43 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 88 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings. Allen broke out as a member of the Cleveland bullpen in 2013, establishing himself as a useful reliever in his second Major League season. The 24-year-old was not relied on for saves, but if he continues to pitch this well he could find himself in the mix before too long, depending on the inevitable departure of Chris Perez. Unless any changes are made in the offseason, Allen will not be a viable option in mixed leagues, but fantasy owners in deeper formats may want to consider taking a flier on him in later rounds in case he eventually works his way into the closer role.

source | MLB.com
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Now that Indians have moved on from the 9th inning rollercoaster ride (aka Chris Perez), Cody Allen could and should be an upgrade as a replacement. Nothing is assured, asAllen will still have win the job this spring possibly having to fend of the veteran John Axford. Drafting Allen in the later rounds could yield big returns especially considering a dominate 11.3 K/9 in 2013. Success is not new to Allen – he posted a career minor league WHIP of .84 and a K/BB of 5.57, both elite numbers that are indicators of a successful relief pitcher. Look for the Indians to hang around the wildcard race again and provide plenty of save opportunities for their new closer.

source | rotoballer
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After the Indians released incumbent closer Chris Perez at the end of last season, the team was without a stopper heading into the offseason. The team decided to cross that off their shopping list by signing former Brewers closer John Axford. After three seasons of saving games in Milwaukee, Axford lost his job so early in 2013 that he failed to record even one save. Now, Cleveland is hoping that he rebounds and that the mechanical changes he made while in St. Louis not only sticks, but was actually the root cause of his struggles in the first place. While the “tipping his pitches” explanation has become tiring as an excuse, perhaps it’s valid this time. The sample size is tiny if just evaluating whether the changes impacted his performance by looking at his batters faced-based metrics (K%, BB%, etc), but we could instead look at his per-pitch rates and come away with a more accurate picture. His strike percentage skyrocketed, and his percentage of strikes swinging jumped. So perhaps the mechanical fix not only helped him not give away what pitch was coming, but also improved his control. If Axford is indeed fixed, then the Indians bullpen will be pretty good and the organization gets great value given his salary. If not, they have another man chomping at the bit to get his opportunity. His name is Cody Allen and he posted a 2.81 SIERA last year backed by a 29%+ K%. He throws hard (95+ mph heat) and complements his fastball with a curve. Both pitches induced swinging strikes at an above average clip. He should be next in line if Axford falters again and should be one of the better setup guys in the league.

source | fangraphs
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Projections

WSVIPHERBBKERAWHIP
4365572126752.911.28

source | KFFL
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5 to Watch quick links:

[C] [1B] [2B] [3B] [SS] [OF] [SP] [RP] [Prospects]

 

 

 

FB2014 Player Links:

 

 

Top of Page

 

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Lexington Dip

 

This is fairly thin and liquid, like all mopping sauces – much like the mopping sauce from the east part of North Carolina. It’s designed to be thin so that the meat – i.e. invariably pork, most likely a whole hog roast soaks it up – after repeated basting, and along with hickory smoke, takes on the strong and tangy flavor. This is in contrast to say, Kansas City BBQ sauce which is so viscous it doesn’t really pour without the assistance of a spoon. It has a strong tomato base and includes a whole range of other flavors.

 

INGREDIENTS

1 cup ketchup
1 cup water
1/2 cup cider vinegar (I like cider vinegar, but opinion is divided on whether it should be plain old distilled vinegar)
1 medium onion finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp vegetable oil
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp brown or molasses sugar
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp Tabasco Sauce. or some other hot sauce
1/2 tsp ground black pepper(or more)
2 teaspoons salt

 

PREPARATION

 

Heat the oil over a medium heat.
Add onion, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until the onion becomes translucent.
Stir in everything else.
Reduce heat to a low simmer and continue cooking for 20 minutes or so until it thickens slightly.
Adjust the seasoning or Tabasco as you see fit.

 

 

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