The only thing harder to find than a catcher who won’t blow up your fantasy numbers is a solid reliever you can count on game after game. Real teams that have scouting report books and a committee of trained bodies have their fair share of problems; it’s even harder when all you have is a computer and some stats. That’s why it’s always important to keep an eye on who’s hot in bullpens right now for your Daily Fantasy Baseball League.
Jose Valverde, Detroit. Valverde has been the definition of lights out this season. What’s not to like? He has a .42 ERA, with 11 saves and just one home run allowed in 21 innings. He throws in no-save situations more than most closers, but if you have him and another reliable closer, you should be in good shape.
Jonathan Broxton, Los Angeles. LA does a lot of things right; the movies are hits, the women are beautiful, and the closers rule. So it’s no surprise the Dodgers have another great closer in Jonathan Broxton. He has the fifth-most strikeouts of any reliever in the majors (actually, a shockingly low number for him) and a microscopic 1.07 ERA. Oh, and he’s playing on one of the most popular teams in baseball, one that regularly pulls off final wins. If Joe Torre keeps getting him in the ninth inning in any close game, he’ll start to add some useful win totals to his overall value. The Dodgers didn’t perform well early on, but now they’re ramping up; expect his numbers to only improve along with the team… he led the MLB with 12 saves in the month of May.
Matt Belisle, Colo. People who continue to walk away from Colorado pitchers are straight out of the loop right now. It’s not 1998: Balls aren’t flying out of parks anymore (how many perfect games and no-hitters have we had this year?), and Colorado has taken several steps to keep balls in the yard. So owners who have the stones to put reliever Matt Belisle on their roster have been rewarded with some impressive stats. His ERA for the season is just over 2.00, and it was half that in May. He’s not the official closer, but Manny Corpas hasn’t been from another world this year, so he’s a definite possibility. Whether he needs holds or just a smaller ERA, Belisle is as good as anyone in baseball and is ideal for your daily fantasy baseball league.
Heath Bell, San Diego. Bell is the model for closers in today’s game. He is big, he shoots hard and nobody marks him. I mean, nobody. His ERA is among the lowest in baseball (1.13) and he has 14 saves in 24 appearances. He strikes out a lot of people, he plays for a division-leading club, he even has a big name in baseball. You can’t go wrong with Heath Bell, and you won’t have to pay Mariano Rivera or Jonathan Papelbon prices to get it.
Brian Wilson, San Francisco. What about these relievers from the NL West? Maybe it’s something in the water in the west, but it’s hard to find a bad apple in the group (oh wait, except for everyone in the Arizona corral. We’ll just ignore them). Wilson’s personality is as strange as his breaking pitches. and hitters just haven’t been able to get a good feel for him. He is one of the brightest young stars of San Francisco’s post-Bonds era and has several good years ahead of him. His numbers are very comparable to Broxton’s, and you can likely include him on your roster without giving up your left leg. Wilson is a solid addition to any bullpen. And finally…
Mariano Rivera, New York. Look, you know he’s good, he knows he’s good, hitters know he’s good, everybody knows he’s good. Sure, he’s getting on in years, but his cutter is still impressive and he still plays for the Yankees. You’ll pay top dollar for a near-the-top production, but at the end of the day, he’s Mariano Maldito Rivera. If you’re in a one-day league, play him against any light-hitting team and it’ll probably be worth it. In longer leagues, pair him with another top 10 closer and you’ll rarely lose your saves or ERA stat. Just do it.