Denver is a hot bed for pitching talent in 2014!
Well, not quite, but fantasy baseball owners searching for value at the closer position should look no further than Colorado Rockies’ setup man Rex Brothers.
As part of my ongoing coverage of fantasy baseball’s top “sleepers”, I’ll make a stop in the Mile High City, where owners could be singing “Hey, Brother(s)” by the time summer rolls around.
Rex Brothers, RP (current ADP: #229)
In just a few short seasons, left-handed relief pitcher Rex Brothers has really made an impression with the Colorado Rockies — and his fantasy baseball owners.
Brothers came up with the Rockies as a reliever and the organization has done a fantastic job at keeping in that role, as well as minimizing his innings.
He has mainly been used as a left-handed specialist, and rightly so. Over his 175.2 innings in Rockies’ pinstripes, Brothers has faced 273 lefties and limited them to a paltry .187 BA while striking out 96. Last year, that number got even better, with lefties hitting just .162 against him. That kind of dominance contributed to his meager 1.74 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 2013.
In 2013, fantasy owners got to see a glimpse of the future with Brothers. When Rockies’ closer Rafael Betancourt suffered a torn UCL last season, Brothers stepped into the vacated role and was highly impressive. The now 26-year-old went on to save 19 games in 21 opportunities, with 15 of those saves coming after July 1.
Most people expected the Rockies to hand over the closer role to Brothers this season, but management went in a different direction, signing veteran LaTroy Hawkins to a one-year deal and then giving him the ninth-inning job instead.
That move is scaring off fantasy owners, and it has lowered Brothers’ ADP to 229th. Of course, his true value is far greater than his perceived value, and owners should be pouncing on the opportunity to draft Brothers if he is available in that spot.
There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and LaTroy Hawkins not finishing the season as the Rockies’ closer. All kidding aside, Hawkins is 41 years old, and while he’s coming off a year in which he saved 13 games for the New York Mets, no one is expecting him to duplicate that feat. In fact, in his three previous seasons (with the Angels and Brewers), Hawkins totaled just one save.
Brothers’ tremendous potential to stymie left-handed batters has given him an incredible 11.17 K/9 in his three-year major league career, and his youth, coupled with Hawkins’ age, makes him a candidate to usurp the closer role — which could be by June at the latest.
Brothers’ current ADP has him getting selected behind the likes of John Axford (207), Nate Jones (212), and Jose Veras (222). Those three are currently slated to begin the season as their teams’ closer, but none of them offer the upside of Brothers. His $1 auction price is an absolute bargain over guys like Bobby Parnell ($4) and Joaquin Benoit ($3), and even if Brothers has to pitch the 8th inning for a month or two, the potential for Ks and holds (if your league counts that) is there.
There is a lot of optimism to be had with Rex Brothers, and even Rockies’ manager Walt Weiss has said he’ll get chances to save games here and there. Those limited ninth-inning opportunities in April and May should turn into a full-time gig come July and August, making him a top sleeper in fantasy baseball drafts.
2014 Projections: 4-2, 26 SV, 2.01 ERA, 84 K, 1.19 WHIP
» Missed any of my earlier picks? Please click here for links to all the sleepers I’ve covered from each team so far.