Five Best Relievers You’ve Never Heard Of

These five relievers could be key to fantasy success in 2024.

Oftentimes it can be the relatively, or at least comparatively, unheralded relievers who can have the most outsized impact for fantasy managers. That’s particularly true in saves+holds leagues, where relievers who establish themselves quickly as high-leverage options on their real-life teams have more fantasy value and relevance.

But regardless of format, the nature of bullpen and bullpen management leaves the proverbial door continually open for relievers to establish themselves rather quickly, whether as the aforementioned high-leverage options who amass holds, relievers who provide quality weekly production in terms of stats like ERA and WHIP, or otherwise simply as closers.

Yennier Cano, like teammate Félix Bautista before him, was one such reliever to put himself on the map with a strong 2023 season. The same can be said of Tyler Holton in Detroit, as well as Joel Payamps in Milwaukee. Finding those types of relievers can be crucial not only in tipping the scales in weekly, head-to-head matchups but also in season-long roto formats.

With that in mind, here are some relievers who should consider drafting this season.


Abner Uribe


Speaking of Payamps, he’s not the only setup reliever in Milwaukee who could be worth considering for a roster spot in fantasy leagues this coming season.

Enter Abner Uribe, who made his major league debut in 2023, pitching to a 1.76 ERA and a 2.77 FIP in 32 appearances spanning 30.1 innings of work. He collected eight holds, a pitcher win, and a save in the process while striking out 39 batters compared to 20 walks allowed.

The walks are, admittedly, a slight problem from a sustainability standpoint, but it’s hard to ignore the exceedingly high upside here, especially considering the pitch mix at play here.

Abner Uribe In 2023

Front and center is, obviously, the sinker. And for good reason.

Uribe’s most utilized offering, it routinely flirted with triple digits on the radar gun. And like with most sinkers, it helped induce grounders at a rather high rate, logging a 54% ground ball rate.

However, the pitch also did its fair share of bat-missing, with a 21.4% whiff rate that was the 19th-highest among pitchers who threw at least 300 sinkers last season. That number is all well and good, and certainly a positive, but when you pair it with Uribe’s slider, which logged a 58.1% whiff rate, it creates some dynamic potential.

We’re still dealing with a reasonably small sample size, but on the season, the 23-year-old logged a 1.76 ERA and a 2.77 FIP in 30.2 innings, striking out 39 batters compared to 20 walks allowed. He didn’t surrender a home run. What’s more, he also logged a 32.9% whiff rate.

Uribe has dealt with elevated walk metrics before, walking 6.8 per nine innings in the minors. That metric actually improved a bit (5.87) in his first taste of the majors, but it was still on the high side of things.

Still, that’s about the only statistical blemish here for a reliever with league-winning upside in a variety of scoring formats.

In Saves+Holds formats, Uribe’s potentially expanded high-leverage role should give him plenty of fantasy upside. After he made his major league debut on July 8, the reliever ranked third among Brewers relievers in fWAR (0.6) behind only Devin Williams (1.3) and Holby Milner (0.7). Elsewhere, despite making his debut near the halfway point in the season, Uribe still finished fifth on the team in holds (eight) and sixth in high-leverage appearances (12) for the entirety of the campaign. In both cases, one of the relievers who finished ahead of the 23-year-old in both holds and high-leverage appearances (Peter Strzelecki) is no longer on the team, having been traded to Arizona at the trade deadline.

Even with the elevated walks, Uribe should be one of the better (and perhaps most underrated) fantasy options in leagues where holds are part of the scoring format.

In more standard scoring leagues or any scoring format really, if the Brewers continue to move on from veterans, it could put Uribe in a position to potentially see ninth-inning work. Of course, that’s all entirely speculative and plenty would have to happen for Uribe to step into a closing role.

But, Milwaukee already non-tendered Brandon Woodruff and traded Mark Canha, Adrian Houser, and Tyrone Taylor this winter. If they continue to make trades and move Payamps and Williams between now and July, the rookie’s fantasy upside would benefit significantly. The situation makes him one of the better bullpen stashes in the league.

Even if Williams isn’t traded and Uribe remains in a high-leverage role, seeing a few ancillary save chances here and there, he’ll be a quality fantasy option thanks to his strikeout and ERA metrics. That’s really the floor here fantasy-wise, but the ceiling is through the roof.


Jeff Hoffman


The ninth-overall pick in the 2014 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, Hoffman was part of the Troy Tulowitzki deal back in 2015 and worked as a starter for considerable stretches with the Colorado Rockies from 2016 through 2020.

A move to the Cincinnati Reds prior to the 2021 campaign saw Hoffman make most of his appearances in the bullpen. He was solid enough in 2022 for the Reds, thanks in part to the re-integration of the slider back into the veteran’s pitch arsenal.

Jeff Hoffman In 2021 vs 2022

Hoffman barely used the pitch in 2019 and scrapped it all together in 2020, opting for a four-seamer, splitter, curveball pitch mix that year.

However, after moving to the Reds, Hoffman replaced the curve with the aforementioned slider, which was arguably his best pitch at times following his rookie year in 2016. The slider was his most-used offering behind the four-seamer in Cincinnati, but the reliever’s fastball cleared a 50% usage rate in both campaigns, operating comfortably as the most utilized pitch in the arsenal.

Jeff Hoffman’s Slider Usage From 2017 Through 2022

Hoffman’s increased slider usage may have helped him be moderately successful in Cincinnati, but it was a driving force behind his breakout season with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2023. Hoffman threw the slider more than ever, and more than any other of his pitches in 2023. What’s more, it was notably a harder slider than before.

Jeff Hoffman’s Slider Usage In 2023

And this is all without mentioning the fact that Hoffman’s four-seamer averaged 97.1 mph in 2023. Prior to last season, it hadn’t averaged 95 mph in a single season in the majors.

Thanks in large part to the slider, though the added velocity on the four-seamer certainly played a part as well, Hoffman posted a 2.41 ERA and a 2.57 FIP in 52.1 innings for the Phillies last season. He added five pitcher wins, a save and 11 holds to go along with 69 strikeouts and 19 walks allowed. The veteran also surrendered just three home runs on the year.

Like with Uribe, walks were still a slight problem. He allowed 3.27 free passes per nine innings and his 9.1% walk rate finished in the 38th percentile. And while that’s not something to simply overlook, it is worth noting that the right-hander’s walk rate tied a career-best, regardless of role (starting or relieving). What’s more, the walk rate in general also dropped for the third year running, dropping from 13.4% in 2021, to 11.7% in 2022 and the aforementioned 9.1% number last year.

But the free passes were really the only area where Hoffman wasn’t either elite or decidedly very good last year.

Jeff Hoffman’s 2023 Percentile Rankings

Hoffman may not be the first in line for saves in Philadelphia, even with Craig Kimbrel no longer on the team, but the Phillies have shown a tendency to spread saves around (to a degree) in the past and the club will be looking to replace Kimbrel’s 23 saves from last season.

Even if Hoffman isn’t pitching in the ninth inning and is primarily a setup option, his bat-missing (and run-prevention) ability gives him quality fantasy upside, regardless of the scoring format.


Robert Stephenson


Stephenson is still a free agent, so his role for 2024 and how it pertains to fantasy remains to be seen.

Still, regardless of what role (or team), the veteran enters the 2024 season with, he’ll be someone to target aggressively in the last few rounds of fantasy drafts, particularly those for leagues in which holds are involved in the scoring.

The 30-year-old was solid enough in 52.1 innings split between the Pirates and Rays last season, logging a 3.10 ERA and a 3.22 FIP, while striking out 77 batters, walking 16, and giving up eight homers. He also finished with 15 walks, three pitcher wins, and a save for the campaign.

In fact, it was a rather strong season for the reliever, but things changed considerably after his move from Pittsburgh to Tampa Bay via a June 2nd trade.

Stephenson registered a 2.35 ERA and a 2.45 FIP in 38.1 innings of work for the American League East club. And while his .194 BABIP was on the more fortunate side of things, it’s the strikeouts and walks that really catch the eye here.

The 30-year-old logged a 42.9% strikeout rate and just a 5.7% walk rate as a member of the Rays. It certainly wasn’t a full season’s worth of innings, but at the same time, 38.1 innings for a reliever isn’t exactly a minuscule sample size either.

For reference, among qualified relievers, only two finished with a strikeout rate north of 40%. Among the same group, only 24 had a walk rate south of 6.0%, and none of them had a strikeout rate above  33%.

The success, particularly from a bat-missing standpoint, was in part due to the introduction of a cutter to Stephenson’s pitch arsenal that quickly became an elite offering.

Robert Stephenson Cutter Usage In 2023

Despite not throwing the pitch before June, the offering still finished the year with a +12 run differential, the fourth-best in the sport among cutters, trailing only Corbin Burnes (+18), Kodai Senga (+17), and David Robertson (+14).

2023 Cutter Run Value Leaders, Pitchers

If a team with a vacancy in the ninth inning signs Stephenson, he immediately becomes a player to potentially take in the first ten rounds of fantasy drafts this Spring. Even if he’s operating in a setup role, however, he’ll still have plenty of fantasy utility, regardless of the format.


Kevin Kelly


Sticking with relievers who finished last season with the Rays, Kelly was another bullpen success story for Tampa Bay. The rookie pitched to a 3.09 and an identical 3.09 FIP in 67 innings. The 26-year-old didn’t miss bats at an elite rate, finishing with 56 strikeouts, a 20.3% strikeout rate, and a 22.2% whiff rate. However, he was either elite or above-average in most other regards, whether that be inducing grounders or limiting mistakes.

Kevin Kelly In 2023

With that in mind, it probably isn’t surprising that Kelly finished fourth on the team in total high-leverage appearances (18) and tied with Jason Adam for the second-most holds on the team (11) behind only Colin Poche’s 22.

Kelly’s late-inning role in Tampa Bay seemed secure, speculatively speaking, heading into the season. However, the offseason departures of Stephenson, Andrew Kittredge, Jake Diekman, Jalen Beeks, and Calvin Faucher should only help the 26-year-old see more high-leverage and hold chances heading into his second season.

Overall, the 2023 season was the first time in seven years that the Rays haven’t finished in the Top 10 in the league in holds, as 21 teams finished with more holds last year. Bullpen construction and performance can obviously fluctuate from year to year, but if Tampa Bay’s bullpen can return to form from a holds total standpoint, Kelly’s fantasy upside in Saves+Holds league should stand to benefit considerably.


Dauri Moreta


Moreta, like Uribe, looks like one of the better stash candidates where potential saves are concerned heading into the 2024 season. Of course, that’s in the hypothetical situation where the Pirates trade David Bednar.

The 27-year-old enjoyed a breakout season in 2023, pitching to a 3.72 ERA and a 2.93 FIP in 58 innings of work. And while Pittsburgh also has Colin Holderman on hand, Moreta’s better strikeout numbers give him a bit more upside, certainly from a fantasy standpoint.

Featuring a slider, four-seamer, and changeup, Moreta didn’t get many chases outside the zone, with just a 23.9% chase rate. However, he was adept at generating swings and misses inside the zone, with a 24.7% in-zone swing and miss rate that was 28th among all relievers.

Like with Hoffman, a significant increase in slider usage was key.

Dauri Moreta’s Career Slider Usage

Thanks in part to the offering, Moreta finished the year in the 92nd percentile or better in both whiff rate (33.6%, 92nd percentile) and strikeout rate (31.8%, 95th percentile).

Overall, the 27-year-old was also able to limit quality contact, which certainly doesn’t hurt considering he gets most of his swings and misses in the zone. Opposing batters managed just a .270 xwOBA and a 33.1% hard-hit rate against the Pirates reliever. Both finished in the 87th percentile or better. Or, more specifically, the hard-hit rate was in the 87th percentile. The xwOBA? That was in the 93rd.

The slider, unsurprisingly, was particularly helpful in that regard, holding batters to just a .219 xwOBA on the season, fourth among pitchers who threw at least 600 sliders, as well as a .162 average and a .167 xBA.

Moreta only logged five holds and a save last season, but he was third on the team in high-leverage bullpen appearances. If that kind of high-leverage usage continues, as well as his, as well as his 2023 bat-missing and quality contact-limiting metrics, the reliever should have no trouble being an impact fantasy option in Saves+Holds formats.


Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter/X)

Ben Rosener

Ben Rosener is baseball and fantasy baseball writer whose work has previously appeared on the digital pages of Motor City Bengals, Bleacher Report, USA Today, FanSided.com and World Soccer Talk among others. He also writes about fantasy baseball for RotoBaller and the Detroit Tigers for his own Patreon page, Getting You Through the Tigers Rebuild (@Tigers_Rebuild on Twitter). He only refers to himself in the third person for bios.

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