Fantasy Baseball RP Rankings: Top closers, sleepers at relief pitcher for 2020


We’ll start our 2020 RP rankings with a yearly plea: Get rid of saves as a category in your fantasy baseball league. Replace it with saves plus holds so the player pool expands to more than just “closers”. Middle relievers are often better pitchers anyway, so they deserve more fantasy love. Regardless closers lose their jobs far too often and cause far too many headaches for fantasy owners, which makes the position tough to navigate on your cheat sheet, never mind throughout the season. 

Around two-thirds of closers eventually lose their jobs, even if just temporarily, at some point during the season. Looking at the rankings below can only help you so much. We all know injuries can strike anyone at any time, and with relatively limited chances to pitch, even a three-game slump can cost a closer his job. There’s very little margin for error, as “bad games” often result in memorable losses for a closer’s team (and lost weeks for fantasy owners). 

2020 Fantasy Baseball Rankings:
Catcher | First | Second | Third | Short | Outfield | Starter | Top 300

Regardless, most leagues still have saves as a category, and most fantasy owners overvalue closers on draft day as a result. After all, there are only 30-35 players at a given time getting saves, so especially in H2H leagues, those 30-some pitchers have tremendous value. We’ve separated the “expected closers” from the middle relievers in our rankings below, but there are plenty of setup guys who will have more overall value, particularly in Roto leagues.

That’s especially true with the “closers” from the Mariners, Orioles, and Giants — teams that will likely employ a closer-by-committee approach, at least to open the season. The Cardinals, Rays, and Red Sox also fall into that category, although those teams have at least a couple high-upside relievers who could run away with their respective jobs if given the chance. That said, Giovanny Gallegos, Nick Anderson, and Brandon Workman could all be ranked too highly if they’re only getting one save chance per week. 

2020 Fantasy Baseball Tiers, Draft Strategy:
Catcher | First | Second | Third | Short | Outfield | Starter | Reliever

As far as the top 10, none are without risks. Josh Hader saw a big uptick in HRs allowed last year, while guys like Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen appear to be on a gradual decline. Liam Hendriks could be a one-year wonder, and Kirby Yates is part of a stacked ‘pen that has multiple closing options. There’s also the distinct possibility that former top closers Edwin Diaz and Craig Kimbrel shake off disastrous 2019s and return to form. 

Perhaps the biggest unknown in the RP world will be how the new three-batter minimum rule will alter stats, particularly for lefty/righty specialists. It likely won’t affect closers too much (though there could be fewer multi-inning saves), but middle relievers could be a little less reliable. Either way, it’s just another thing to worry about for an already volatile position. 

2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers:
Catcher | First | Second | Third | Short | Outfielder | Starter | Each team

Ideally, you will have at least three reliable closers after your draft. That isn’t possible for every team, so if you’re one of the owners who doesn’t have that depth, grab a middle reliever or two who could earn a closing job early on and be prepared to be active on the waiver wire. 

We’ll be updating our RP rankings throughout the spring, so check back for the latest player movement!

DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2020 Fantasy Baseball Cheat Sheet

Fantasy Baseball Closer and RP Rankings

Rankings based on 5×5 H2H leagues with ERA, WHIP, Ks, Ws, and Saves as categories

More 2020 Fantasy Baseball: Auction Values | Mock Draft Simulator

1Kirby YatesPadres
2Josh HaderBrewers
3Roberto OsunaAstros
4Brad HandIndians
5Aroldis ChapmanYankees
6Liam HendriksA’s
7Taylor RogersTwins
8Ken GilesBlue Jays
9Kenley JansenDodgers
10Raisel IglesiasReds
11Edwin DiazMets
12Craig KimbrelCubs
13Brandon WorkmanRed Sox
14Hansel RoblesAngels
15Giovanny GallegosCardinals
16Nick AndersonRays
17Alex ColomeWhite Sox
18Archie BradleyD-backs
19Sean DoolittleNationals
20Keone KelaPirates
21Jose LeClercRangers
22Hector NerisPhillies
23Ian KennedyRoyals
24Mark MelanconBraves
25Brandon KintzlerMarlins
26Joe JimenezTigers
27Wade DavisRockies
28Mychal GivensOrioles
29Matt MagillMariners
30Tony WatsonGiants
31Will SmithBraves
32Emilio PaganPadres
33Drew PomeranzPadres
34Ryan PresslyAstros
35Seth LugoMets
36Matt BarnesRed Sox
37Tyler DuffeyTwins
38Luke JacksonBraves
39James KarinchakIndians
40Josh JamesAstros
41Chad GreenYankees
42Scott ObergRockies
43Hunter HarveyOrioles
44Shane GreeneBraves
45Ryan HelsleyCardinals
46Diego CastilloRays
47Tommy KahnleYankees
48Sam TuivailalaMariners
49Tyler RogersGiants
50Trevor GottGiants
51Blake TreinenDodgers
52Freddy PeraltaBrewers
53Ty ButtreyAngels
54Will HarrisNationals
55Yoshihisa HiranoMariners
56Drew SteckenriderMarlins
57Jose AlvaradoRays
58Andres MunozPadres
59Darwinzon HernandezRed Sox
60Buck FarmerTigers
61Tanner RaineyNationals
62Adam OttavinoYankees


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