Fantasy Insider: American League Relievers

Here are the initial fantasy rankings for the American League relief pitchers, including rotisserie dollar values and projections for 2004. Who are the elite? Who are the sleepers? Who should you stay away from? One of the advantages of being a Insider Member is that you can find out who ranks where, right now!

Projections are listed as follows: Wins - Saves - K - ERA - WHIP. These prices are for regular 5x5 Rotisserie-style leagues with MLB Universe. Adjust prices upward for AL/NL-only leagues. All closers listed are the projected closers for their team, in parenthesis are the most likely candidates to take their job at some point in the season.


1. Keith Foulke, BOS $20
Foulke brings his nasty changeup to Beantown, giving them their first real closer in a while. He has a nasty habit of stealing wins from his starters, but that's all the better for his fantasy owners. And look at those K's!
Projection: 6 - 45 - 85 - 2.30 - 0.95

2. Mariano Rivera, NYY $20
Mo posted the best season of his career at age 33 last season. Chances are, he won't repeat his 1.66 ERA, but he's still one of the best closers of this generation. The Yankees will win a ton of games this year, too.
Projection: 4 - 42 - 60 - 2.40 - 1.00

3. Eddie Guardado, SEA $17
'Everyday' has stiff competition from last year's closer, Shiggy, but he has the job for now. Seattle should win a good amount of close games with their combination of a decent offense and solid starting pitching.
Projection: 2 - 40 - 60 - 3.00 - 1.00


4. Troy Percival, ANA $16
Injuries are still a concern for Percival, but when he's healthy he's dominant. The Angels are a team on the rise, and they'll need a guy like Percival to keep the ship in order.
Projection: 3 - 35 - 65 - 2.80 - 1.10

5. Francisco Cordero, TEX $14
Lots of people still don't know who Cordero is, but take notice. Jeff Zimmerman isn't coming back anytime soon and Hideki Irabu's back in Japan. Cordero is the man in Texas now.
Projection: 5 - 29 - 70 - 3.10 - 1.20

6. Arthur Rhodes, OAK $13
Rhodes has spent the last few years establishing himself as one of the league's premier setup men. Now he tries his hand at closing. He should be pretty good, but a big drop in K/9 last year is eyebrow-raising.
Projection: 2 - 32 - 50 - 3.50 - 1.25

7. Mike MacDougal, KC $11
Flamethrower sometimes struggles with his control (1.50 WHIP last year, yikes!), but was useful for a good stretch last year. Leskanic will be on Mac's heels if he should falter this year.
Projection: 3 - 25 - 55 - 4.05 - 1.35


Nathan: The Next Big Thing Among Closers?

8. Joe Nathan, MIN $10
If you like gambles, here's a good one. Nathan has one career save, but will be the opening day closer for a 2003 playoff team. Fortunately, all of his other numbers are excellent. Good sleeper.
Projection: 4 - 30 - 65 - 3.25 - 1.10

9. Aquilino Lopez, TOR (Justin Speier, others) $8
Big race here for the closer's spot. Lopez seems to have a slight upper hand right now, so let's talk about him. Good strikeouts and 14 saves last year with a .212 BAA are on his resume. Not bad. Speier should take his job at some point though.
Projection: 1 - 20 - 45 - 3.80 - 1.25

10. Jorge Julio, BAL $8
Julio has this job more by default than anything. But merely having the job counts for a lot in closer land. Ugly peripheral numbers aside, Julio did save 36 last season. Baltimore should win more games in '04.
Projection: 2 - 33 - 55 - 4.40 - 1.40

11. Danys Baez, TB $6
Baez lost his job with the Indians midseason, and it's not out of the question that he'll do so again with the DRays. Lance Carter is waiting in the wings for Sweet Lou to banish Baez to middle relief.
Projection: 1 - 24 - 60 - 4.10 - 1.20


12. Billy Koch, CWS (Damaso Marte, Shingo Takatsu) $5
It won't take Koch long to lose the job, if he even makes it out of Spring Training with it. The smart money is on Marte, though Takatsu is a dark horse for some opportunities.
Projection: 0 - 8 - 20 - 4.60 - 1.40
Projection for Marte: 3 - 25 - 55 - 2.30 - 1.10

13. Bob Wickman, CLE (David Riske) $4
Wickman gets the job to start, but he didn't pitch last year. At one time, he was very effective, but Riske is a good bet to steal the job at some point.
Projection: 5 - 29 - 50 - 3.50 - 1.30

14. Fernando Rodney, DET $3
Ever heard of this guy? Rodney somehow has the closer's job despite an ERA over six last year. Franklyn German could be in the running, but who cares? It's Detroit.
Projection: 0 - 18 - 50 - 4.80 - 1.50

NOT CLOSING (but still useful):

Rafael Soriano, SEA $3
If he's not starting, Soriano's still a great option to help keep your ERA and WHIP down and add some strikeouts. If he's starting, he'll be even more useful.

Shigetoshi Hasegawa, SEA $2
There's not much of a reason that Shiggy isn't closing over Guardado, but that's how it is for now. Last year, Hasegawa's ERA was a filthy 1.48 (and 0.77 before the break).

Brendan Donnelly, ANA $2
At the All-Star Break last year, Donnelly had allowed exactly two earned runs. Two. He only allowed 11 the rest of the way to become one of the most effective relievers anyway. Could get saves if Percival gets hurt.

Francisco Rodriguez, ANA $1
Seems like all the relief pitching is out west these days. Rodriguez is dominating when he wants to be, K-Rod to be sure.

Paul Quantrill, NYY $1
Quantrill pitched more games than any other reliever last year, earned 28 holds and put up a 1.75 ERA. He won't be the primary setup guy with the Yankees, but he's still quite good.

Kelly Wunsch, CWS $1
Wunsch held opposing batters to a ludicrous .139 batting average last year. He could get a shot at Chicago's closer spot, but should be somewhat useful with enough innings regardless.

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