Rather than take a look at the usual, and highly touted, relievers who everyone already knows we’re going to look a bit deeper for the overlooked, undervalued and extremely productive relievers who might help a fantasy team while flying under the radar. For those of you in leagues without inning limits, these guys are great fill ins on the days you have open slots to fill.
Scott Downs (RP, Blue Jays): Don’t look now but Downs has almost as many saves as official closer B.J. Ryan. Since May 1st he’s notched four and hasn’t given up a run, earned or unearned. In fact he’s give up just 2 hits in his last seven appearances. It looks like the situation in Toronto is really closer by committee.
Brian Shouse (RP, Brewers): Shouse is the most overlooked part of the committee getting saves in Milwaukee now that Eric Gagne is out of the closer’s role. It’s hard to imagine that Gagne won’t get another chance soon but Shouse will get chances - especially against lineups which are predominantly left handed.
J.P. Howell (RP, Rays): He’s thrown 27 innings this season has a record of 3-0 with one save and a WHIP of 1.07 to go with a sub 3 ERA and 21 Ks. Considering how well the Rays have been playing he should get plenty of chances to come into tight games and steal more wins.
Matt Herges (RP, Rockies): While he does play in Colorado Herges deserves a lot of consideration in just about any league. He’s a dark horse in the closer mix and has put up great numbers over the 22.1 innings he’s thrown so far (1-0, 2.01, 20 Ks, and 0.99 WHIP). He posted numbers similar to this last year but with fewer K’s which suggest his stuff is really on.
Damaso Marte (RP, Pirates): Even though he plays in Pittsburgh for one of the worst teams in baseball Marte is still good for more than a strikeout per inning and solid WHIP. He’s notched 2 wins and could vulture the occasional save but Ks keep him on the fantasy radar.
Joe Smith (RP, Mets): The unheralded Smith is quietly having a very good season, averaging a K per inning and a 2.81 ERA with a 1.06 WHIP. He’ll be in the mix to close if an injury should strike Billy Wagner and should benefit from the Mets big bats and vulture some wins along the way.
Jeremy Affeldt (RP, Reds): Former closer Affeldt put his career back in order last year while pitching in Colorado and has taken another step forward while pitching for the Reds. He’s got the highest strikeout to innings pitched ratio that he’s ever had in his career and it doesn’t look like a fluke. His 2.70 ERA and 1.32 WHIP (also the lowest of his career) could lead to good things - and he’s in the closer mix if Francisco Cordero ever hits a rough spot.
Joey Devine (RP, A’s): Devine has been rather divine this far into the season. Once heralded as a can’t miss pitcher in Atlanta Devine seems to have finally gotten his feet on the ground and started producing numbers that are more in line with what he did in the minors. He is 3-0 with a 0.60 ERA 0.93 WHIP and 17 Ks in just 15 innings. He could evolve into a closer but he’s not one of the favorites even if Huston Street got injured.
Hideki Okajima (RP, Red Sox): He’s got a win, a save and an era of 0.50. That’s hard not to like. His .85 Ks/inning and the fact the he plays in front of the Boston offense means he’s likely to contribute across the board.
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