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Fantasy Baseball Reliever Report: How To Recover Your Ratios

Cam takes a look at some relievers who haven’t allowed an earned run yet to start the fantasy baseball season.

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 29: Emmanuel Clase #48 of the Cleveland Guardians reacts after the Guardians beat the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Coliseum on March 29, 2024 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The start of the fantasy baseball season can bring fool’s gold and crocodile tears. With such a small sample size, the swings can be sudden and swift, good and bad. Especially in the ratio categories, the ups and downs can mirror Wall Street bull markets and bear crashes.

The season isn’t even three weeks old yet, and teams have only accumulated about 500 at-bats and 100 innings. A night where a couple of pitchers combine for 10 scoreless innings can drop a team’s ERA dramatically; conversely, if those same two pitchers give up eight earned, a team will find their ERA skyrocketing.

The best way to approach the early season is to maintain patience and common sense. If you have an ace who’s scuffling, ride it out. If you have a fifth starter at the end of your rotation, don’t be afraid to cut bait.

Although there is plenty of time to turn ratios around, you want to get in front of the problem sooner rather than later. When you find yourself with a team ERA of 5.94 (as I do in one of my leagues), you have to be bold. In my case, the main causes of this nightmare are Kevin Gausman’s 9.53 ERA, Griffin Canning’s 8.38 ERA, Patrick Sandoval’s 6.57 ERA, and Hunter Brown’s 16.43 ERA (after the drubbing KC put on him Thursday). My relievers are also contributing to this fiasco, with Jose LeClerq’s 14.40 ERA.

Other than Gausman, all of these starters could require a start on the bench to see if they can pitch their way out of it. In the meantime, a decent strategy is to target free-agent relievers who should provide low ratios. Although one reliever won’t contribute that many innings to help your team’s ERA, two or three for a short period of time, especially at this time of year, just might.

Here are eight relievers who’ve made at least six appearances (two per week) and haven’t given up an earned run yet this year:

Fantasy Baseball Reliver Targets

Jason Foley, Detroit Tigers

In six appearances, Foley has done just about everything for the Tigers. He’s 2-0 with three saves and a 0.94 WHIP.

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Nick Sandlin, Cleveland Guardians

I’m not sure what the Guardians’ pitching coach is doing, or what’s in the water, but something is going right in Cleveland. Sandlin is one of four pitchers on this list from the Guardians. In seven appearances, he’s 2-0 with a 0.63 WHIP. And in only 6.1 innings, he’s struck out a whopping 11 batters, good for 16.23/9IP.

Clay Holmes, New York Yankees

Holmes has contributed in every one of his six appearances, with five saves and a win. He’s keeping hitters off the basepaths with only a 1.17 WHIP.

Emmanuel Clase, Cleveland Guardians

Clase has had Sandlin, Cade Smith, and Hunter Gaddis getting him the ball in the ninth inning, consistently and effectively making the last third of the game unhittable. None of the four have given up an earned run. In Clase’s six appearances he has four saves and a 1.10 WHIP. Hitters barely get on base against these guys, never mind, score a run.

Cade Smith, Cleveland Guardians

Of the three, Smith’s numbers may be the best. He’s thrown 7.2 innings over his six appearances and has struck out an incredible 12 batters. He does have a hold for those of you who benefit from that stat, and his WHIP is only 0.65.

John Schreiber, Kansas City Royals

The Royals are a surprising 9-4 and in second place in the AL Central. Under-the-radar performances by Schrieber are a big reason why. In his six appearances, he’s 1-0 with two holds, and he has a 0.88 WHIP.

Hunter Gaddis, Cleveland Guardians

Gaddis is the final Guardians pitcher on this list. Amazingly, they have combined for 26.1 innings and haven’t given up an earned run. Gaddis has three holds in his seven appearances to go along with a 0.79 WHIP. It is no surprise the team finds themselves 9-3 and in first place in the division.

Kyle Nelson, Arizona Diamondbacks

Interestingly, Nelson is the only NL pitcher on this list. He’s thrown seven innings in his six appearances. He’s struck out a hitter per inning and has a 0.57 WHIP.

Typically, counting stats are easier to build as the year progresses, but ratios can be excruciatingly difficult. Do whatever you can to nip this problem in the bud. I have started today in my daily league, picking up Sandlin and Smith. And hopefully, Gausman can bring it tomorrow. If you do find yourself in this ratio hole, the best you can do is chip away at it … you won’t get it all back overnight.