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The first Spring Training games are less than a month away so Fantasy Baseball draft prep is in full swing. The So-Called Fantasy Experts will be with you every step of the way and today we uncover our relief pitcher busts.

Relievers are different in a way since their role can have a large impact on their value. Saves and holds change the ranking process, because now it is not just about skills.

The closer position is known for its turnover and last year was no different. There were 12 relievers that recorded double-digit saves despite not being a closer on Opening Day last year.

Our relief pitcher busts are either pitchers that are currently closers that will eventually lose their jobs, or pitchers that are speculated to be closers that will fail in their attempt to lock down the role. To have a closer change, you need two things: poor performance and an attractive alternative. All of our busts fit the bill. As always, a bust can only be determined by comparing a player’s projected ending value to their draft day price. Let’s use NFBC ADP data as the market price.

Let’s now expose our 2016 relief pitcher busts. We have two for mixed leagues, and one each for AL-Only and NL-Only leagues.

Relief Pitcher Busts

Mixed League Busts

Santiago Casilla, San Francisco Giants

Casilla held the closer tag throughout the season last year, despite subpar numbers in the first half. He righted the ship a bit in the second half, but for the season as a whole, his tendency to allow too many base runners has to be cause for concern.

The worry with Casilla is the margin for error in 2016 is going to be extremely thin. There are two solid candidates to replace him, Sergio Romo and Hunter Strickland, and both had better stats in 2015. The main issue with Casilla had to do with his control problems (3.6 BB/9), which led to a less than stellar 1.28 WHIP.

Romo and his devastating slider have closed before and he looks to be next in line; however, Strickland and his impressive heater is definitely lurking. Either way, I struggle to see Casilla being able to fend off both of them in 2016. Casilla’s ADP comes in at 20, and that compares unfavorably to Strickland at 47 and Romo at 51.

Arodys Vizcaino, Atlanta Braves

Vizcaino entered 2015 without much of a shot at the closer role in Atlanta. All it took was a Craig Kimbrel trade, a Jason Grilli injury, and a Jim Johnson trade for Vizcaino to inherit the closer duties. On the surface, he was decent in 2015.

He posted a 1.60 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and converted nine of his 10 save opportunities. However, when you dig a little deeper, you see he battled control issues (3.5 BB/9) and gave up a lot of hard contact, especially when you look at his line drive rate (27.9-percent).

The Braves may be cautious with Vizcaino for a couple of reasons. He has a checkered health history to say the least, and he was also suspended 80 games for using Stanozolol last year. The cost conscious Braves may also have arbitration talks in mind given that an impressive save total could cost them more money in the future.

To make matters worse for Vizcaino, Jason Grilli is expected back sometime early in 2016, possibly by Opening Day. Grilli was great in the closer role last year going 24-for-26 in save chances and he should be in the mix again this year. With an ADP of 26, Vizcaino has a lot more hope priced in versus Grilli’s 40th ranked price tag.


Deeper League Busts

AL-Only Bust

Steve Cishek, Seattle Mariners

Last year, Cishek struggled in the first half as he once again dealt with velocity issues in the season’s early going. Despite an improved second half, most of it in low-level situations with the Cardinals following his trade to St. Louis, Cishek continued to have control issues.

The Mariners GM has tagged Cishek as their closer for the 2016 season after signing him to a free agent deal. The main competition will come from Joaquin Benoit, who the Mariners acquired in an offseason trade. Over the past two years they both have similar numbers, especially when you consider the BABIP and LOB% differences. The exceptions are Benoit’s vastly superior contact and swinging strike rates, while Cishek tends to give up too many line drives.

Cishek may open the year as the stopper, but I doubt he is the Mariners wire-to-wire closer. This appears to be a co-closer situation and Cishek’s ADP of 29 versus Benoit’s at 36 feels too wide as they should be flat, or even switched.


NL-Only Bust

Fernando Rodney, San Diego Padres

Rodney started last season as the closer for the Mariners, but he blew up one too many times and was designated for assignment in June. He was then traded to Chicago, where he was decent in a few non pressure situations with the Cubs.

Last year, Rodney was a bit unlucky with the long ball, as his HR/FB ratio of 16.1-percent was nearly double his career mark of 9.1-percent. That being said, Rodney’s lack of control has led to him to allowing too many base runners. Over the past three years, he has a BB/9 of 4.9, 3.8, and 4.2 and that has played a large part in him posting a WHIP of 1.34, 1.34, and 1.40.

Now on an incentive laden contract with the Padres, this may be Rodney’s last chance to stick in the majors. The Padres have a few intriguing options to close including Kevin Quackenbush, Brandon Maurer, and Drew Pomeranz. Rodney may initially get the closer role, but I doubt he hangs onto it.

Rodney’s ADP ranks only 61st among relievers, but that has a lot to do with him just recently signing with the Padres. Speculate on other relievers, just pass on the sideways hat wearing, arrow shooting closer and avoid the whole Fernando Rodney Experience.


Unless you leave your draft with a couple of the elite closers, be prepared to stay active on the waiver wire to stay competitive in the saves category. By avoiding the mentioned busts, you will already be ahead of the game.

Early 2016 Fantasy Baseball Rankings
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