The relief pitcher fantasy baseball rankings for the 2022 MLB season are UGG-LEEEEE!
By my count, nearly a third of the league still has unsettled bullpen situations at this point, and that might be generous. A solution might be to grab one of the two universal options at the top, Josh Hader and Liam Hendriks. However, at the likely cost of a fourth-round pick or better, I don't see either being on many of my teams.
And in NL-only leagues, in particular, it's even scarier. After Hader, there are only three NL RP options in my top dozen. And even those top dozen options, AL or NL, do not inspire a lot of confidence. The advisable strategy is really league-dependant. Therefore, I will simply give you a few of my "sleeper" RPs who I have ranked outside the top 25.
Let's start with Cole Sulser. First off, someone is going to have to get saves for the Orioles. Even horrible teams usually have at least 25 save opportunities in a season. And Sulser is the horse I'll ride in that bullpen to give us double-digit saves and some nice peripherals. He has a reasonable 1.12 WHIP to accompany his 2.70 ERA last year. What I like even more though is his low 0.71 HR/9 and his nearly 80 percent left-on-base rate. But my favorite stat is his 28.4 percent K-rate. I'm struggling to find a good reason why he won't save 15 games for Baltimore.
Anthony Bender is another reliever on a weak team that I have in my top 40 that the ECR (Expert Consensus Rankings) currently does not. My guess is by April Fools' Day that is no longer the case. Dylan Floro was tabbed as the closer for Miami but is currently behind schedule due to arm soreness. Bender, meanwhile, did manage to save three games last season. With the exception of Bender's 28.7 percent strikeout rate, his underlying stats are just a touch below Sulser's. Miami is more of a pitcher's park, but they have moved the fences back in Baltimore. I have these two relievers neck-and-neck right now, but Bender might give way to Floro when he's healthy, so I have him after Sulser.
Near the very bottom of my 2022 RP rankings, we find Tanner Rainey, who is definitely worth a shot as an RP to fill out your roster. He is definitely a little wild (7.11 BB/9) and struggles with the long ball (1.71 HR/9). But he did save a trio of games last year (in just 31 2/3 IP) and if he can exhibit just a little more control, could be serviceable RP. Because he will definitely help you in the strikeout category. In his three years in Washington, he's had K/9 marks of 13.78, 14.16, and 11.94. Given how shaky the RPs are this year in general, Rainey presents a ton of potential upside at very low risk.
2022 Fantasy Baseball: Relief Pitcher Rankings
— Rankings by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.