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Best NL Fantasy Baseball Middle Relievers for 2013

Updated on March 29, 2013

The following is a list of the ten best National League fantasy baseball middle relievers for the 2013 season. Middle reliever is typically a hard to predict, volatile position in fantasy baseball. There are about five solid, dependable names, and from there it is hard to tell as bullpens often don't sort themselves out until May or June and studs from previous seasons fall by the wayside due to tired arms or overuse injuries. Some fantasy baseball leagues actually have scoring categories such as holds that make middle relievers valuable and important contributors to your roster.

13. Jordan Walden, Atlanta Braves

Walden, the former closer for the Angels, comes over to the Braves this season and if all works out well he might find himself in the eighth inning role by the All-Star break. The 6'5" right hander is only 25 years old and owns a career 10.8 SO/9 innings mark and 1.29 WHIP. The Braves head into the season with one of the strongest bullpens in the league and there will be plenty of holds to go around to the group. Walden will become even more prominent if Venters has to miss any time because of his elbow.

12. Mike Adams, Philadelphia Phillies

The 34 year old right hander returns to the NL with the Philadelphia Phillies after spending 2012 and part of 2011 with the Rangers. While with San Diego, Adams was one of the best set-up men in baseball. His best season was probably 2010 when he recorded an amazing 42 holds (thankfully, I had him that year and he carried my bullpen), 1.76 ERA, 1.065 ERA, and 73 strike outs in 66 2/3 innings. He had some health problems last season which caused his ERA and WHIP to jump considerably. Adams underwent surgery in October to address the thoracic outlet syndrome (the same issue that resulted in Chris Carpenter's struggles). However, Ruben Amaro assures us that Adams will be fine for the season. If he is ready to go he could be one of the steals of the draft. Pay attention to his health in spring training.

11. Rex Brothers, Colorado Rockies

The 25 year old Brothers had a solid season for the Rockies in 2012. In 75 games and 67 2/3 innings pitched he had a 3.86 ERA, 1.478 WHIP and 83 strike outs. The WHIP is a little high, but that should come down with experience. He had 18 holds and will play an important role in the Colorado bullpen in 2013. With his plus fastball he will eventually be the closer, maybe as early as this season if Betancourt is traded. Other hubbers also like Brothers this season.

10. Mitchell Boggs, St. Louis Cardinals

No middle reliever list would be complete without the NL leader in holds last season. Boggs was able to rack up 34 of them to take the league crown. The 29 year old made 78 appearances and had a 2.21 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 73 innings to go along with 58 strike outs. With Jason Motte out indefinitely to start the season due to elbow problems Boggs may find himself closing for the Cards.

9. Mark Melancon, Pittsburgh Pirates

The 27 year old right hander finds himself back in the NL after a disastrous stint with the Red Sox in 2012 which saw him post a 6.20 ERA in 41 appearances. Many forget that while with the Astros in 2011he had 20 saves, a 2.78 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 66 strike outs in 71 appearances out of the bullpen. He now finds himself the 8th inning guy in Pittsburgh where the closer is a 36 year old that had his one great season last year. Sounds to me like Melancon could be closing sooner rather than later.

8. Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals

Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals
Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals | Source

Rosenthal is the rising middle reliever star after the national television exposure of his 100 mph fastball in the 2012 post season. Because of it he may not come cheap and may be drafted higher than he is worth. Combined regular and post season he pitched 31 1/3 innings, had 40 strike outs, and a 0.798 WHIP. The right hander has a bright future and will eventually be the closer for the Cardinals.

7. Eric O'Flaherty, Atlanta Braves

Both O'Flaherty and Venters struggled early on, most likley due to a hangover from overuse in 2011, but they both righted the ship and ended up pitching well to end the season. Eric has the LOOGY role, so he is not a good source of strike outs or save chances, but he does rack up the holds. In 2012 he finished the year with 64 appearances, 1.73 ERA, 1.151 WHIP, and 28 holds. He had 32 holds in 2011. Look for more of the same this year.

6. Luke Gregerson, San Diego Padres

The 28 year old was the middle reliever of the year back in 2010 when he amassed 40 holds and sported a 0.830 WHIP. The last two seasons haven't been as epic, but he is still a solid arm source for holds. Last season he had 9 saves, a 1.088 WHIP, 2.39 ERA, and 24 holds. The Padres will surprise people this season with their offense and their pitching is always solid, so I expect Gregerson to have another good season

5. Drew Storen, Washington Nationals

Storen has filthy stuff but I still cringe when I think of his meltdown in the NLDS game five with the Nationals leading in the top of the ninth and all of the home fans ready to celebrate a long-awaited Washington baseball playoff series victory. Alas, it didn't happen as Storen gave up the tying runs and the Nationals went on to lose. Hopefully, there will be no mental hangover from this experience (remember Brad Lidge?) and that he will be able to resume his role as a dominant reliever for the Nationals. He missed a significant portion of 2012 with an elbow problem. For the season he appeared in 37 games and 30 1/3 innings with a 2.37 ERA and 0.989 WHIP. He should be ready physically to start the season as the 8th inning guy. Hopefully, he will also be ready mentally.

4. Jonny Venters, Atlanta Braves

Venters struggled early on, but eventually righted the ship and ended up overall with a solid season. He also had elbow issues, most likely due to overuse in 2011 when he appeared in an incredible 85 games. With and offseason of rest the 27 year old lefty should return to form with his nasty mid-90's sinker. In 2012 he appeard in 66 games, 58 2/3 innings, with 69 strike outs, 3.22 ERA, and 1.517 WHIP, and 20 holds. Venters is on the injury list for elbow soreness and it sounds like he may have to make a dreaded visit to Dr. James Andrews. This can't be good.

3. Jonathan Broxton, Cincinnati Reds

Jonathan Broxton, Cincinnati Redds
Jonathan Broxton, Cincinnati Redds | Source

Is he closing or is he starting? That is the question on everyone's mind regarding Aroldis Chapman and the Reds' bullpen. If Chapman starts, then Broxton will close, but if not then Broxton will slide into the set-up role. The season is only two weeks away and we still don't know which way it will go thanks to good ol' Dusty. The aptly nicknamed Brox came over from Kansas City to the Reds last season and took over the set-up man role from Sean Marshall. He pitched well for Cincinnati sporting a 2.82 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 20 strike outs in 22 1/3 innings. He had 10 holds and also 4 saves as he took over the closer role when Chapman had his tired arm episode toward the end of the season.

2. David Hernandez, Arizona Diamondbacks

Hernandez is a rising star in the desert and with J.J. Putz's age (35) and injury history he is also a good bet to take over the closer role at some point and for some stretch of the 2013 season. Last season the 27 year old right hander appeared in 72 games, 68 1/3 innings, had 98 strike outs, a 1.024 WHIP, 2.50 ERA, 4 saves, and 25 holds. He has a lock on the set-up man role and should have another great season in 2013. Draft with confidence.

1. Tyler Clippard, Washington Nationals

Tyler Clippard, Washington Nationals
Tyler Clippard, Washington Nationals | Source

Clippard is the safest name on the list and the best bet to have a great middle reliever season because of his change up, experience, and the Nationals' solid starting rotation, which means he should see plenty of hold opportunites. He is also next in line for saves if Drew Storen falters and he showed in 2012 that he can perform well in the closer role. Over the last three season he has averaged 75 appearances, a 2.82 ERA, 1.063 WHIP, 100 strike outs, and 23 holds. Last season he had 32 saves due to his time as closer. He is still only 27 and I anticipate he will have another great season for the Nationals.


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