With starting pitchers going less and less innings because of either an innings restriction, a bad outing or an arm issues the middle reliever or set up guys has become more and more important. Our league has a Holds category and the right set up guy not only helps keep your ERA down he might even pick up a save or two for your fantasy team. After last season World Series don’t be surprised to see teams go with a 7th inning guy an 8th inning guy and then turn the game over to their closer. There’s a lot of good and bad set up guys; so here’s my loo at 4 for this season.
The Best: Wade Davis, Kansas City Royals. Davis was a bottom of a rotation starter for most of his career, but last season he found a niche in the Royals bullpen. Davis went 9-2 with an ERA of 1.00 in 71 games covering 72 innings last season. Davis even picked up 3 saves for the Royals last season. It’s not the first time Davis had success out of the bullpen. In 2012 the Tampa Bay Rays used him out of the bullpen and he had an ERA of 2.43 in 54 games and went 3-0 that season. Davis had 33 holds last season, there is even a chance that Davis may add a few more saves to his totals in 2015 as there are reports that Greg Holland’s velocity is down.
Underrated: Adam Ottavino, Colorado Rockies. There are a ton of set up guys who are underrated, but I chose Ottavino because he pitches for the Rockies and it’s tough to find good things to say about the Rockies pitching. Ottavino appeared in 75 games and posted an ERA of 3.60 with a 1-4 record and 1 save over 65 innings. Ottavino did post a career high 21 holds last season. His ERA was 2.64 in 51 games in 2013; so his numbers where a little higher last season, but he pitched in 24 more games last season. There has been reports that Ottavino may get some closing opportunities as 2015 is LaTroy Hawkins last season and Colorado may start to look for someone to fill that role down the road.
Bounce Back: Craig Stammen, Washington Nationals. On paper a lot of experts think the Nationals are the team to beat this season, but if they appear to have a weakness it’s the bullpen. If Stammen can find a way to bring his ERA down from 3.84 and get it closer to his 2013 number; 2.76 or better yet for the Nationals his 2012 number of 2.34. Stammen looks to be the Nationals top set up guy so he should get more than 49 appearances like he did last season and he’ll need to greatly increase his holds number which was down to 7 last season. Stammen maybe the key piece to the Nationals bullpen and he should get the games to proves he’s a top set up guy.
Stay Away from: Bryan Shaw, Cleveland Indians. There is absolutely nothing in Shaw’s 2014 season that would indicate that he’s trending down, but my concern is that he had a league leading 80 relief appearances last season and I’m worried that his arm may not hold up to that type of work load again. Shaw has had 214 relief appearances over the last 3 seasons and that doesn’t count the times he warmed up in the bullpen and didn’t come into the game. Shaw is 27 years old; so his arm might still be young enough to handle another big number season of appearances, but with so many quality set up guys out there is Shaw worth taking a chance on?
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