Top 3 Sleepers for Saves in 2020 Fantasy Baseball Season
By Tristan Jung
Saves are a scarce category to come by these days. With only Kirby Yates of the San Diego Padres topping 40 saves last year, finding a reliable candidate for saves is more difficult than ever.
That also increases the marginal value of finding a strong closer for a good price in fantasy baseball. Because closer is a notoriously volatile position — just think of Blake Treinen, who went from a top-five reliever to unrosterable within three months — there are plenty of lesser-known players and strong middle relievers who could be in the mix for saves in 2020.
Here's a rundown of three of the best fantasy baseball sleepers for saves this season.
1. Jose Leclerc, Texas Rangers
We've been here with Leclerc before. The Texas Rangers' flamethrower has near-unhittable stuff when he's on, averaging over 13 strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) in his last two seasons. Unfortunately, when Leclerc is off, he can be wildly inconsistent, as seen by his horrendous 13.0 percent walk rate last year. Leclerc bounced back and forth between the closer role and the back of the bullpen last year, but a decent second half and a 3.59 FIP bode well for Leclerc. His competition — veteran Shawn Kelley and young reliever Emmanuel Clase — are no longer on the Rangers, leaving Leclerc as the clear No. 1 option heading into spring training. While Leclerc burned owners last year, he still showed enough positive signs to have tremendous upside in 2020.
2. Scott Oberg, Colorado Rockies
Betting on relievers from the Colorado Rockies is not often a great idea, but Scott Oberg may be the exception. Oberg has thrown 114.2 innings in hitter-friendly Coors Field over the last two seasons and found great results (2.45 ERA in 2018 and a 2.25 ERA in 2019). The righty has only given up nine home runs in the last two seasons, which would be good in any park, let alone Coors Field. Having been the Rockies' best reliever over the last two years, he will go into the season as the presumptive closer. While the risk of Coors has him lower down on most draft lists, Oberg's track record speaks for itself. Also, if the Rockies do end up trading Nolan Arenado and tanking in the short-term, they could trade Oberg and his four years of service time to a contender in need of a closer, giving him a potential mid-season boost.
3. Seth Lugo, New York Mets
The well-documented struggles of Edwin Diaz in 2019 has left the New York Mets in a bind for 2020. After a horrific season filled with blown saves and losses, Diaz will need to win new manager Luis Rojas' trust to start 2020. If that doesn't happen, the Mets have an extremely capable backup plan in Seth Lugo, who was the team's best reliever by far in 2019 with a 2.70 ERA over 80 innings. The Mets prefer to use Lugo as a "fireman" to get multiple outs in the seventh and eighth. However, with Diaz's issues, Lugo was thrust into the closer's role late in the year and picked up six saves. The righty is useful for any fantasy team even without saves due to his volume and skills, but if Diaz continues to struggle in April, there's no reason the Mets can't turn to Lugo to be their own Josh Hader. Given Lugo's phenomenal 2.70 FIP and 6.5 K/BB ratio last season, it would be an easy choice. The arrival of Dellin Betances could complicate the situation further, but Lugo's two-year track record of excellence should put him as the next man in line.
For some other relief pitching options, be sure to check out our rankings for the top 10 fantasy baseball closers for 2020.
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Tristan Jung is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Tristan Jung also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username tristan1117. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.