The Last 3 Days — Reliever Options

With just three days left of the baseball season, and all but four teams scheduled to play just three games, many starting pitchers will have already thrown their final pitch of the regular season. Rather than pick up free agent fodder expected to make a start, but who could potentially hamper your ratios and cost you prize money, you might consider dropping all your starting without a start and picking up strong relievers for some extra strikeouts. So let’s review a list of middle relivers who I sorted based on last three week strikeout rate and aren’t closers, so they should be available in your league.

Sure, it’s only been 6.1 innings, but Joe Kelly ranks second among all relievers in strikeout rate over the past three weeks with an eye-popping 56.5% mark. It took him a while to turn his premium velocity into strikeouts, but he’s been in the high 20% range since 2019 and is over 30% this year. Hilariously, his ERA stands at 6.08 right now thanks to a crazy .382 BABIP.

It’s been an up and down career so far for José Alvarado as his control comes and goes. But his stuff is sublime and he has struck out 56% of batters he has faced during this period, driving a 37.1% overall mark on the season. Helping him avoid damage from all his walks is a GB% well above 50%, so that’s a potential double play if he walks a batter and a next hitter manages to put the ball in play.

Matt Brash opened the season in the Mariners rotation, after beating out fellow top prospect George Kirby. After five starts struggling with his control, he was demoted to the minors for two months and has returned as a reliever. He has struck out 45.5% of batters recently and also generates a high rate of grounders. In fact, he’s quite Alvarado-esque. I’m surprised he’s only gone two innings once since his recall, as I would have guessed he would be used as more of a long-man, with multiple two and three inning relief outings. He’s an even better keeper league option in case he returns to the rotation and figures out his control issues.

With Craig Kimbrel out as Dodgers closer, it’s anyone’s guess who will get the next save, but Evan Phillips is firmly in the conversation. Whether he records a save or not, he has been dominant this year and has posted a 44.8% strikeout rate recently and 32.5% mark over the entire season. He’s clearly an elite non-closer option for a handful of strikeouts these remaining three games.

Though his season strikeout rate is just a good, not elite 28.4%, Enyel De Los Santos has posted a 44.4% mark recently. His four-seam velocity has also averaged a career best, while he has thrown his slider more often than he has previously. All four of his pitches have generated a double digit SwStk%, with his slider in the high teens. It’s quite the repertoire.

José Quijada has been in the closer mix on the Angels since Raisel Iglesias was traded, so it’s possible he’s owned in your league. If not, he offers excellent strikeout potential, with the risk of too many walks, knocking him out of the game. He’s a good pickup if you also need a save or two to gain a point or avoid losing one.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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1 month ago

Nice, Just in time!