Sleeper is one of those nebulous fantasy baseball terms, so you’ll have to give us wiggle room as we whisper that word here. Below, the Yahoo fantasy crew offers three 2018 relief options that could be nifty values. Season to taste. And buckle up for seven months of relief-pitcher angst and good ratio hunting. It’s not your fault.
• Brandon Morrow is coming off a terrific season of relief work for the Dodgers (0.92 WHIP, 10.3 K/9) and he’s going to close for a team that should cruise to 90-plus wins. This is a 35-save setup, you guys. Morrow has a clear shot to rank among the ten or so most valuable relievers for fantasy purposes, yet he’s selected outside the top 150 picks in an average Yahoo draft. Even if he wasn’t in line for saves, his stellar ratios would make him a pitcher of interest in leagues with innings caps. You want him. He offers a near-guaranteed profit at his current draft price. — Andy Behrens
• Blake Parker doesn’t enter the year locked in as the Angels’ closer, but he ended last season in the role, and he certainly has the stuff to succeed there (13.8 SwStr%). Parker finished last year with a 2.54 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP with a K-BB% (27.6) that ranked 11th best among relievers (sandwiched between Corey Knebel and Brad Hand).
It’s a strong situation for whoever becomes LA’s closer, as the team projects to win around 85 games, plays in one of the best pitchers’ parks in baseball and employs arguably the game’s most valuable defensive player in Andrelton Simmons. Parker’s ADP is hovering round 200, but he has the upside to finish as a top-five fantasy closer. — Dalton Del Don
• My favorite way to mine for relief heroes is to audit the early-season K/BB rates and try to find a dominator there. That got you to Brad Peacock last year, and Chad Green wasn’t far behind. But if you need a name now, let’s keep an eye peeled on Atlanta lefty A.J. Minter.
Minter, 24, isn’t anywhere near the closing discussion at the moment, so he’s out of mind for most fantasy owners. But he was ready for his close-up when the Braves promoted him in late August last year: 15 IP, 13 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 26 K. As always, those last two columns tell most of the story.
Minter’s minor-league resume is scant, given that he’s already had a Tommy John surgery, in addition to other maladies. The Braves recognize he’ll be a reliever-or-bust for a career, but they did have high hopes for him at one point — he was second-round pick back in 2015.
If Minter isn’t for you, that’s fine. We’ll have some out-of-nowhere heroes to discuss in a few weeks, I assure you. — Scott Pianowski