Scheming For Relief: The Lesser Owned Lefties

Alarm goes off. Slam snooze. Slam snooze again. Wake up. Grab some coffee. Flip on the laptop. Check your fantasy baseball team(s). Check the box scores. Navigate to Fangraphs. Rummage through the leaderboards. Sort. Analyze. Grab a second cup of coffee then sort again.

It’s a vicious cycle. But we all do it, right? Right? Maybe it’s just me, but, I’m eternally on the prowl for something different when scouring the leaderboards.

From Eno’s research, we know that you’re more likely to stumble across a sasquatch than you are a lefty closer. Based on this, our tendencies are to add right-handed closers — or right-handed closers in waiting — because they will likely aid our teams in the saves, strikeout and ratio categories now or some point in the season.

But that doesn’t preclude the southpaws from being beneficial in holds leagues. Some could be “one-category wonders,” ya know? The LOOGY gets the situational call from the skip with the potential tying run on first base, whiffs his one-and-only batter, earns the hold then takes a seat. He spends little time on the mound, meaning it’s less of an opportunity for said LOOGY to destroy your ratios. This strategy would likely benefit those in head-to-head leagues, but I think you see where I’m headed with this.

Let’s take a look four lesser owned lefties who currently have at least two holds and a K% of 20% or better that could help — and not hurt — your team going forward.

Y! Holds K% ERA WHIP
Matt Reynolds 6% 2 23.4% 0 0.5
Sean Doolittle 3% 3 28.6% 1.59 0.71
Paco Rodriguez 1% 5 30.3% 4 0.89
Mike Dunn 0% 4 22% 1.99 1.39

Matt Reynolds | Diamondbacks | 6% – Through 14 appearances (14.0 IP), 28-year-old Matt Reynolds is the owner of a sparkling 0.00 ERA (1.67 FIP) and a 0.50 WHIP. He’s struck out 23.4% of the batters he’s faced, while surrendering free passes to just 2.1%. Reynolds pounds the zone (47.8% Zone%), gets his first strikes (66% F-Strike%) and induces a good amount of swinging strikes (10.9% SwStr%). This season, the southpaw has notched two saves and two holds and his name is starting to buzz in fantasy circles as a darkhorse candidate for the closing job in Arizona should their bullpen continue to falter. He’s worth the add for those in holds leagues, for those speculating saves and even in deeper leagues for owners who need help with some ratios.

Sean Doolittle | Athletics | 3% – Unlike the aforementioned Reynolds, Doolittle has surrendered two earned runs in 12 appearances (11.1 IP), good enough for a 1.59 ERA (4.00 FIP). But he’s allowed just eight of the 48 batters he’s faced to reach base, keeping his WHIP at a reasonable 0.71 through four weeks. Doolittle misses a ton of bats (14.5 SwStr%) leading us to believe the 28.6% K% is sustainable — for those looking for more than a one-trick pony. Doolittle should be owned in more than 3% of leagues.

Paco Rodriguez | Dodgers | 1% – Rodriguez, the holds and strikeout leader of this foursome, has surrendered four earned runs in 15 appearances (9 IP) leading to his 4.00 ERA (1.80 FIP). Despite the ERA, the 22-year-old misses a ton of bats — owning an incredible 18.4% SwStr%, proving his 30.3% K% is for real — and induces a ton of weak contact (16.7% IFFB%) to batters who can get their barrel on the ball. Rodriguez should be considered in all holds leagues.

Mike Dunn | Marlins | 0% – 27-year-old Mike Dunn has been on the bump 15 times this season (13.2 IP) and owns a 1.98 ERA (3.17 FIP) and 1.39 WHIP. His velocity is down a tick from last year and the strikeouts have followed suit, despite missing more bats (10.0 SwStr%). Dunn may not earn as many holds as others due to the fact his team may rarely be in the lead, but with four holds already under his belt, he should be owned in more than 0% of leagues. Could be a streaming middle reliever, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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In addition to contributing to the RotoGraphs blog, you can find Alan at his own site, and follow his nonsense on Twitter @TheFantasyFix.

7 Responses to “Scheming For Relief: The Lesser Owned Lefties”

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  1. rustydude says:

    What about Timmy Collins? He fits your criteria and sort of balances this list btwn AL and NL.

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    • You’re absolutely right, he does and is a great option in deeper holds leagues. But to be honest, I set the minimum appearances to 10 when deciding on which players to look at.

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  2. Jared says:

    Who’s most likely going to lose his job: League, Holland, or Bailey? I’m looking to trade one of them.

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  3. Polka says:

    Would you add any of these four studs over a faultering Drew Storen in a 7×7 holds/svs/era/whip/w/l/k???
    I’ve always liked Doolittle, and they are all available and Paco looks very intriguing!

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  4. Polka says:

    If I’M a betting man I’d say League…4 k’s and a era over 4 and Kenley waiting in the wings with his cannon:) Just one man opinion

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  5. ichirosan says:

    Another one I find myself picking up and dropping twice per week in my 20-man dynasty league is Tom Gorzelanny, who just misses the K% cut.

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  6. Marcus Tullius Cicero says:

    Rodriguez should get the nod solely because his name is Paco.

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