2010 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Relief Pitchers

All 2010 Fantasy Articles | 2010 Position Rankings

When it comes to drafting relief pitchers, keep in mind that the only thing you care about is saves. Sure, drafting a closer like Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon or Jonathan Broxton will also net you value in other categories such as ERA and/or WHIP, but if saves are your main objective than why overpay?

Chances are, you’ll have the opportunity to draft a starter or decent bat (at least one that will contribute to your team on a regular basis) in the same rounds that Rivera, Papelbon and Broxton are selected in. If you’re head over heels for those guys and want a sure thing, then don’t let us stop you from drafting them. But in the end, we think you’ll get more value in passing on those top closers and targeting the guys that we have listed below. Just remember to nab another pitcher that will get you saves later in your draft or else you will regret not taking Rivera/Papelbon/Broxton when you had the chance.

Heath Bell, Padres
Bell pitches for a team that will be in a lot of close games and that plays in a spacious park. What’s not to like? The Padres also don’t have a quality set-up man to pitch in front of Bell, so owners can draft him in confidence knowing that San Diego will have to use him in later innings if they want wins.

Joakim Soria, Royals
Be careful with Soria, because he’s being overvalued on draft day. He’s a great closer, but he battled shoulder issues last season and he plays on a team that won’t offer him a ton of save opportunities. Draft him with confidence, but don’t reach for him.

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2010 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Starting Pitchers

All 2010 Fantasy Articles | 2010 Position Rankings

Sometimes it’s difficult to evaluate what kind of production a player will have when he changes teams over the offseason. This is especially true when it comes to starting pitching, because not only can an unfamiliar ballpark play a role in how a starter fairs, but also what kind of offensive production he can expect from his new lineup and whether or not he’ll have a good spot in the rotation.

Below are eight starting pitchers that either changed teams at the tale end of the 2009 season or will be playing for a completely different club in 2010. We’ve outlined some factors that the pitchers will be facing in their new situation and try to project how they’ll fair in 2010. Some players (like Roy Halladay for example) can be counted on to be great no matter what team they wind up on. But what about guys like Jake Peavy (who will now have to pitch in the AL for a full season for the first time in his career) or Max Scherzer (a strikeout pitcher that is moving to a tougher AL after playing the past couple seasons in Arizona)?

Let’s take a look.

Roy Halladay, Phillies
You’re going to draft Halladay for the same reasons the Phillies parted with multiple players (including Cliff Lee and a couple of key prospects) in order to acquire him from the Blue Jays last winter: he’s outstanding. Halladay finished with 47 complete games last season and 14 shutouts, while also ranking 11th in innings pitched. Now that he’s playing in the NL on a team with a potent offense, he should have no problem winning 17-plus games and notching another 200 strikeouts. The only knock against Halladay’s new home is that the Phillies play in a hitter-friendly ballpark. But we’re thinking the veteran pitcher will adjust fine to his new digs.

Cliff Lee, Mariners
Lee felt he was shafted when the Phillies unloaded him in order to acquire Halladay last winter, but he should love his new surroundings. He’s walked fewer than two batters per nine innings in each of the past two seasons and will now have the luxury of having a solid defensive outfield at his back. He’s used to pitching in the AL from his days in Cleveland, so the league change won’t hurt him one bit. Lee is a top-notch fantasy starter.

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