Whether you're in a roto league or a points league, relief pitchers can provide valuable arms to your team. No matter the strategy you're employing as a team, having rankings of the best long term options is important. We'll highlight a few of the names here, but some of them require little explanation. Closers are a very volatile bunch, but there is upside to be had, even in guys who aren't their teams' ace out of the bullpen now.
Raisel Iglesias -Hader and Hendriks are the guys two have above all else due to opportunity, strikeout numbers, and playing on a winning team helps. Iglesias had a superb year after leaving the Reds, and is only 31.
Edwin Diaz -The strike out numbers are elite, and the 3.45 ERA isn't indicative of how solid of a season he has had. Diaz is still only 27, and is the unquestioned ace in the Mets' bullpen.
Kenley Jansen -Rebounded this year and was a stud down the stretch with a league leading 15 saves in the last 60 days of the season, and a .79 ERA in that stretch. Jansen, at 34, remains a top relief option on one of the perennial favorites in the national league.
Emmanuel Clase -The 23 year old quietly had a dominant season for the Indians this year, posting a 1.29 ERA along with 24 saves. The Tribe struggled to get him save opportunities down the stretch, but that was a product of their on-field struggles rather than Clase losing opportunities. You hope to see the K numbers climb, but Clase has the stuff to be a dominant door-closer for years to come.
James Karinchak -Karinchak really struggled down the stretch, and was optioned to the minor leagues during the summer. Karinchak has a dominant arsenal though, and should Clase slip up, he has the stuff to produce in the back end of the bullpen. We hope to see him find his form again.
Joe Barlow -Following the Ian Kennedy trade to the Phillies, the Rangers turned to Joe Barlow, who was impressive in his new role. Barlow posted a 1.55 ERA with 27 K in 29 innings this season, and a WHIP of 0.828. Barlow converted 11 of his 12 saves this year, and at age 26 could be the favorite for saves again for the Rangers
Scott Barlow -Of no relation to Joe, Scott Barlow was effective closing out games for the Royals this year after taking the role and running with it. With 91 Ks in 74 innings of work, Barlow can put hitters away too. It remains to be seen whether Kansas City gives the reigns to Barlow or Josh Staumont next year, but Barlow is my favorite for the job.
Devin Williams After a rocky start to the year, Williams showed why he was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2020 as he was lights out down the stretch. While he clearly missed the Bull Durham lesson to never punch with your pitching hand, Williams would be a dominant closer on any other roster, and is a Josh Hader injury away from a dominant fantasy stretch.
Jake McGee McGee and Melancon move down the list - although they were both very effective this year, they lack the strikeout number to put hitters away, and their advanced age gives us pause on the longevity of their success.
Trevor Rosenthal Despite missing 2021, Rosenthal has been a successful closer in his career and is only 31. Look for Rosenthal to creep back on to everyone's radar in Spring Training.
David Bednar Made the most of his opportunity with the Buccos this year, and should be in the mix to hold on to the job heading in to next season. Bednar has a 2.23 ERA this season with 77 Ks in 60 innings. The 26 year old is one to keep an eye on.