The key to having a K/BB higher than a K/9 is having a BB/9 under 1. That usually means a walk percentage below 3%. To put a walk rate that low into perspective, the league average walk rate for relievers is 9.3%, so a rate under 3% is just tremendous. Here are three relievers who have walk rates so low that their K/BB rate is better than their K/9 rate. These guys can help a fantasy team due to the low amount of base runners they allow on along with relatively high strikeout rates. In a linear weights league like ottoneu, relievers like this become even more valuable.
Belisle won’t become closer unless something bad happens to Rafael Betancourt, which is not impossible due to Betancourt’s age but it is certainly not imminent. Belisle has been tremendous this year, posting a 11.50 K/BB along with an ERA/FIP/xFIP line of 2.39/2.09/2.51. In a hitter haven, it is extremely important not to allow extra base runners, which has been Belisle’s calling card all season. His 0.68 BB/9 and 1.8% walk rate are lowest in the bigs amongst relievers with at least 10 innings pitched. The strikeout rate is not terribly impressive at 20.5%, which is just below league average for relievers, but his great strikeout-to-walk ratio should continue to allow him to produce stellar results.
This has been by far the best Lyon has pitched in his career, as his 1.40 ERA is backed by a 0.93 BB/9 and 2.6% walk rate. Lyon’s career rate is 7.2%, so the improvement has been very impressive in the early going this season. His strikeout rate has also jumped significantly, up to 25% from his career mark of 15.2%. Lyon’s usage of his repertoire has hardly changed at all this year from last year, so there should be caution used when acquiring him, as it is far too early to say that these results are sustainable when looking at his past. However, with Brett Myers being a trade candidate, Lyon could eventually be lined up to save games in Houston once again if he continues to get somewhat similar production.
Thayer is already closing games for the Padres, so he is a bit different than the two aforementioned relievers. Even so, Thayer is still a relatively unrecognizable name and could be acquired for cheap at this point. His ERA of 4.09 is not sparkling, but his 2.46 FIP and 2.56 xFIP are. He has thrown just 11 total innings, but has a 9.00 K/9 and 0.82 BB/9 in majors this year. The strikeout rate may be a bit inflated, but the walk rate should remain very low for the foreseeable future. In his 37 career major league innings, Thayer has a 0.49 BB/9 and posted a 1.90 mark in 71 triple-A innings with the Mets last year. His 1.18 WHIP should drop significantly once his .355 BABIP comes back down closer to league average.