Reliever Strikeout Targets for 2024

Reliever Strikeout Targets for the 2024 season

Here we will break down some relievers worth looking into for strikeout help. The names on this list should all be relatively low-cost options come draft day for you, and while they won’t contribute a whole lot in the saves category, they should help give you a strikeout boost and can provide holds for those of you in SV+HLDS leagues. In save-only leagues, you likely won’t need this list unless is late in the week in a head-to-head league maybe, but for those in 16+ team leagues, NL/AL-only, or leagues that value holds, these guys may be worth an add depending on your roster construction. These rankings and player notes are from the Top 100 Relievers for Save+Holds list with the purpose of this article just to be able to quickly reference certain relievers who can contribute to boosting your strikeout totals. Closers and high-leverage options like Bryan Abreu and Matt Brash who are being drafted in most leagues anyway were left off because they felt a bit too highly ranked for this exercise.




23. Josh Sborz (TEX) – The Sborz breakout was on full display in the first half of the 2023 season, before taking a turn for the worst in the second half as he battled injuries. He finished the year with a great 35.2% CSW and looked great in the postseason for the Rangers. With the team doing nothing to upgrade their bullpen this offseason, it’s fair to wonder if, maybe even when Sborz will take over the closer role from José Leclerc this season.


25. Julian Merryweather (CHC) – The long-awaited Merryweather breakout finally happened this season as the reliever was able to stay healthy for a career-high 72 innings. The walk rate became an issue later in the year, but his ability to miss bats (32.3% K and 16.6% SwStr rates) increases his upside in holds leagues. Barring a trade for Emmanuel Clase, the Cubs’ bullpen seems mostly set, with Adbert Alzolay closing out games to open the year and Merryweather as his top setup man.


26. Aroldis Chapman (PIT) – Chapman had a big bounce-back season, especially in the early part of the year with the Royals, and while the walk issues got worse in Texas, he was still mostly reliable for them. Chapman’s swing-and-miss stuff came back this year as well, finishing the season second in K% (41.4%) and CSW% (38%) but the command will be what keeps Chapman from being elite again (14.5% BB rate). Now with Pittsburgh, Chapman finds himself in a similar situation as last year with the Royals and could be on his fourth team in two years come August.


27. Trevor Megill (MIL) – Megill is one of my favorite sleeper picks for the upcoming season as the hard-throwing right-hander really took off down the stretch for the Brewers. His 2.84 pCRA, 27% K-BB rate, and 2.75 SIERA were all good for the Top 10 last year amongst all relievers. The fastball averaged 99.1 mph and he paired it with a curveball that held a 53% Whiff rate and .196 xwOBA. All the tools/skills are here, and the Brewers should use him in a setup role this year.


31. A.J. Puk (MIA) – Puk was having a fantastic season before July or so when he started to run into some bad luck (like really bad luck, with a .524 BABIP and 36.4% HR/FB in July). Puk still finished the year in the Top 10 amongst relievers in SIERA (2.66), K-BB% (27%), and CSW% (36.1%) and should return to a set-up role for the Marlins.


32. Jeff Hoffman (PHI) – Hoffman was the unsung hero of the Phillies bullpen in 2023, as he started throwing his slider more often (up over 24%). The change in pitch usage led to a 2.54 pCRA, 17.7% SwStr, and 33.2% K rates. He returns to a bullpen that lost Craig Kimbrel this offseason and didn’t make any significant additions, so Hoffman should at least be in the mix to be the team’s top setup option.


43. Alex Vesia (LAD) – Vesia struggled mightily to begin the season but was awesome over the last two months and even finished the year with the best PLV (5.55) in all of baseball and a solid 29.5% K rate. His fastball is arguably one of the best in the sport (1.67 PLA was the best in all of baseball, also led the league in vertical rise) and he should get a chance to begin the year in a setup role.


44. Joe Kelly (LAD) – Despite the 6.08 ERA last year and 4.12 ERA this season, Kelly was still able to land an $8 million deal to stay with the Dodgers given his Statcast metrics and the fact he’s still averaging 99 mph on his fastball. If Kelly can finally get luck on his side (as he did in 2021), he should be a quality holds option.


46. Brock Stewart (MIN) – One of the biggest breakout relievers of 2023 (despite the injury), Stewart upped his fastball velocity to over 97 mph while mixing in both a sweeper and cutter to keep hitters off balance. His 21.2% SwStr and 37.1% CSW rates were both third-best in baseball this year.


66. Keynan Middleton (FA) – Middleton put together a successful season for both the White Sox and Yankees, posting an impressive 18.6% SwStr rate over 50+ innings. Middleton’s closer experience (15 career saves) could help him potentially land a closer role somewhere, but those options are dwindling.


Honorable Mention: Trevor Richards and Fernando Cruz

Rick Graham

Rick resides in the Boston area and has experience as a player and coach at the collegiate level. He has been covering relievers for Pitcher List since 2017.

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