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Fantasy baseball busts: Players to fade at closer, relief pitcher for 2023 MLB season

We go over the top players at closers, relief pitchers to avoid in your fantasy baseball draft this season.

Boston Red Sox v Minnesota Twins
There are better RP options than Kenley Jansen this fantasy baseball season.
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Relief pitchers can often be the most overlooked position on your fantasy baseball roster, especially if your league counts holds in addition to or combined with saves. There are gems to be found in your upcoming fantasy draft at the position, but here, we go over which potential landmines to avoid.

Fantasy baseball busts: RP

Devin Williams, Milwaukee Brewers

ADP: 60

Williams has been a stud in his first two full big-league seasons, amassing 18 saves and 49 holds across 2021-22. With closer Josh Hader now in San Diego, he has to step up and close games for the Brewers, something he had rarely been asked to do before the trade last season. He went 15 for 17 in the role, so he may well be suited for it. While his ceiling is high, the uncertainty surrounding his ability to close for an entire season should keep you away from him where his ADP is. Should he somehow slip much later in the draft, he would certainly be worth taking a shot on.

Kenley Jansen, Boston Red Sox

ADP: 96

Jansen had quite the bounceback season with the Atlanta Braves last season after looking very human in the twilight of his Los Angeles Dodgers days. He went 41-for-48 in save opportunities and struck out 85 in 64 innings while posting a 3.23 ERA. Even though he was shaky at times in his final couple of years with the Dodgers, Jansen did not post an ERA in the 3’s since 2019. If that number continues creeping up, he may hurt your team's ERA and not put up as many saves as you’re expecting from his draft slot. Better to go with someone on the front end of their prime.

Clay Holmes, New York Yankees

ADP: 122

It’s always risky to bet on a player coming off a career year. Sure, it could have been a sign of things to come, but too often it is a misleading single-season performance that gets you to overpay the following year. That could be the case with Holmes who registered seven holds and saved 20 games. The 30-year-old put up career numbers in just about every category in the Bronx and it’s worth asking if he is due for a regression to the mean. That’s too big a risk to take him at his current ADP of 122.

Daniel Bard, Colorado Rockies

ADP: 150

Bard was one of baseball’s best closers last year, converting 34 of 37 save opportunities. He did so with a sterling 1.79 ERA. But his FIP was nearly a full run higher (2.86), suggesting that his amazingly low ERA was a bit “lucky.” Combine that with the fact that he pitches at Coors Field half the year, and that he had just 26 career saves entering last year, and there will be better, more proven options even later in the draft for you to consider.