To put into perspective just how valuable Baltimore Orioles RHP Felix Bautista was this season, the second-year closer was diagnosed with a partial tear of the UCL in his valuable throwing elbow back in August, did not pitch in September, and he still ended up the top relief pitcher on the ESPN Player Rater. Sure, fantasy managers would have loved six months of Bautista, but the five he provided were fantastic, with eight wins, 33 saves, 110 strikeouts and a 1.48 ERA and 0.92 WHIP.
Then again, Bautista, who starred as a rookie in 2022 and was the No. 4 closer selected in ESPN average live drafts (eighth round), was supposed to be great. In roto formats, we advise fantasy managers to wait on closers in drafts and find new ones to emerge during the season. This season, an undrafted relief pitcher ended up nearly as valuable as Bautista for roto and among the top 10 relief pitchers in points formats. Let's call them co-MVPs, one in the American League and the other in the NL.
Congrats to Miami Marlins LHP Tanner Scott, who became the team's regular closer in September, punctuating his already soaring value. Scott, who lost the closer role during the 2022 season for Miami, was among the league leaders in holds this season before the Marlins finally turned to him to close. He piled on the strikeouts all along, one of the few to surpass 100. It is not all about saves in ESPN points formats. Run prevention and whiffs always matter, as do wins and holds. Scott represents an undrafted fantasy hurler who helped carry fantasy managers to championships.