Fantasy Baseball Draft Advice: Relief Pitcher Sleepers

Tyler Clippard
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

There are many strategies on how to approach drafting relievers, and just as many on not drafting them at all. The bottom line is, relievers are needed in most fantasy leagues whether it be a requirement for starting lineups or requirements in terms of categories. Some leagues now have holds as an official category, and if your league is one of them be sure to keep that in mind. Here are some relief pitchers who will go a lot later than their value would indicate.

Tyler Clippard, Washington Nationals

At an ADP of 341.8, Clippard can be taken in the last round, or even picked up as an undrafted free agent depending on  your league’s settings. But, in leagues where holds are a category, Clippard should be one of the first guys drafted (after Kimbrel and Chapman). Tyler Clippard is a unique player in fantasy baseball because he is one of the few relievers that can bring fantasy value in addition to holds. Since becoming the go-to reliever for the Nationals, he has 22 wins in four seasons (won 11 games in 2010) and has pitched an average of just over 80 innings per year. Not to mention his ability to strike out over one player per inning, which adds up over the course of a season. In a league where holds matter, be sure to scoop this guy up off the waiver wire, but he is worth a look in the last round of some deeper leagues. Last year Clippard had six wins, a 2.41 ERA, a 0.859 WHIP, and 71 strikeouts in 73 innings.

Tyson Ross, San Diego Padres

Ross is a starting pitcher who is eligible at reliever. For those who do not find that interesting, I suggest you do some research into more of those pitchers. Last year, Kris Medlen, Hisashi Iwakuma, and Shelby Miller were all starting pitchers who were eligible at reliever. Ross’ ADP this year sits at 245 which is among the later rounds of your drafts, and he will be a guy targeted by those who do not draft closers. Ross is slated to start this season and is coming off a good year. With a 3.17 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, Ross is a good option in a reliever slot to pick up some wins (not many), some strikeouts, and a lot of innings pitched.

Drew Smyly, Detroit Tigers

Smyly is in the same situation as Tyson Ross, but should have better results. Smyly is a better pitcher than Ross and is pitching in front of a better lineup. Yet, his ADP is only 10 slots ahead of Ross at 236.5. Smyly will be highly sought after for those who use relief pitchers as starters and for good reason. In 175 career innings, Smyly has a 3.29 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP, and 175 strikeouts. If he can sustain that, and he very well could, Smyly could win 12-15 games and have an ERA under 3.50. Not bad for a relief pitcher taken in the last few rounds.

Others to keep an eye on: Mark Melancon, PITAlex Wood, ATLNeftali Feliz, TEX.

ADP’s are based on data from

Stay tuned for the rest of the “Fantasy Baseball Draft Advice: Sleepers by Position” series.

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