It’s one of the most exciting times of the year: Real baseball finally arrives today! With the start of the season comes a lot of uncertainty, specifically when it comes to bullpen usage around the league. Some teams are more transparent than others, but others won’t tip their hand until the games actually mean something. These reliever lists will be fairly volatile for the first month or so—until situations become more clear. For now, these are the top 90 names that I feel could contribute in holds leagues early on in the season, with the back half being one big glob of question marks.
- Tier 1 would run roughly between Ryan Pressly (#1) and Joakim Soria (#12). These are the guys who are locked into high-leverage roles and we can expect them to keep ratios low while racking up holds. Dellin Betances and A.J. Minter will start the year on the IL, but both should be back within the first week or two of April.
- Tier 2 goes from Trevor Rosenthal (#13) to Hector Neris (#30) and features the rest of the potential set up options with upside. Rosenthal looks healthy and ready to dominate the eighth inning for the Washington Nationals, but there’s still some injury risk involved owning him. Jeremy Jeffress has a chance to return by the end of April and barring any significant changes to the Milwaukee Brewers roster, he should return to a setup or possibly even closer role. While the Miami Marlins offense may be anemic this year, they have some intriguing arms in the rotation and bullpen, with Adam Conley a potential multi-inning stud late in games.
- Tier 3 runs from Chad Green (#31) to Steve Cishek (#49) represents relievers who can help fantasy teams right away, but have some limitations or concerns. Just like every year, Green’s upside is unfortunately capped because of how he is used. Lou Trivino looked filthy in the Japan series, so here’s to hoping the first half of 2018 (1.22 ERA) was the real Trivino and not the second half (5.46 ERA).
- The final tier, tier 4, runs from Ryne Stanek (#51) to super deep league stash candidate Jose Castillo (#90). This tier encompasses the rest of the relievers who are just as likely to shoot to the top of the list as they are to be off the list in a few weeks time. There are a few San Diego Padres in this bunch, all of whom carry some nice upside if they can secure a secondary set up role. Alex Reyes and Josh James both have bullpen roles, but both are expected to get a chance in the rotation at some point this season. However, if they go the other way and begin working in more high leverage situations, they will fly up the board.
Graphic by Michael Haas (@digitalHaas on Twitter)