Fantasy Baseball 2020: Taylor Rogers, Top Relievers for 60-Game Season

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJuly 1, 2020

Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Taylor Rogers throws during the sixth inning in Game 3 of a baseball American League Division Series against the New York Yankees, Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Jim Mone/Associated Press

Taylor Rogers has the potential to be one of the best relief pitchers in Major League Baseball's 60-game season. 

The Minnesota Twins possess one of the best offenses in baseball, and if their lineup takes advantage of their American League Central matchups, the 29-year-old could be pitching with the lead in many late-inning situations. 

Washington's Sean Doolittle and the Atlanta duo of Mark Melancon and Will Smith may find themselves in a similar spot since their clubs are expected to be battling for National League East supremacy. 

If those teams are in positions to win for most of the 60 games, relievers like Rogers may come close to matching Josh Hader and Kirby Yates in fantasy baseball value. 

              

Top Fantasy Baseball Relievers For 60-Game Season

Taylor Rogers, Minnesota

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Tom Olmscheid/Associated Press

Rogers moved into the closer role in 2019 by recording 30 saves with a 2.61 ERA in 60 appearances.

The left-handed pitcher likely will not throw in 60 games in 2020, but there is an outside chance of him reaching the 30-save mark. 

Minnesota added Josh Donaldson as support for Nelson Cruz in the heart of the order, and it has a lineup capable of producing runs in an instant off the long ball. In 2019, the Twins hit a single-season record 307 home runs and had seven players eclipse the 20-homer mark. 

If Minnesota benefits from instant offense in 2020, it should provide comfort for Rogers when he takes the hill in the eighth or ninth inning.

Rogers allowed eight earned runs in his final 18 regular-season appearances of 2019, and seven of those occurred in two contests. He also owns favorable numbers against Cleveland, who should be Minnesota's top competition for the division crown. 

Rogers is 2-1 with six saves, a 1.99 ERA and 10.2 strikeouts-per-nine-innings versus Cleveland, and if he achieves more success, he could be the Twins' X-factor to securing first place. 

             

Sean Doolittle, Washington

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 12:  Sean Doolittle #63 of the Washington Nationals delivers a pitch against the New York Yankees during a Grapefruit League spring training game at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on March 12, 2020 in West Palm Beach
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Doolittle should be selected on his consistency alone. He has picked up at least 20 saves in each of his three seasons with Washington. 

The 33-year-old has also excelled at shutting down opposing hitters on both sides of the plate. Right-handed batters have a .216 batting average against him, while lefties sit at .186. 

Doolitte typically starts strong, as he owns a strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate over 11 in April and May.

The southpaw should be available in the middle of most 12-team drafts since his current average draft position is 189, per Fantasy Pros

If he can start strong again and hold the bats of Atlanta and Philadelphia at bay, Doolittle could not only be a key fantasy contributor but also a major piece in Washington's title defense.

               

Will Smith and Mark Melancon, Atlanta

NORTH PORT, FLORIDA - MARCH 10:  Mark Melancon #36 of the Atlanta Braves delivers a pitch in the sixth inning against the Houston Astros during a Grapefruit League spring training game on March 10, 2020 in North Port, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Get
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Atlanta could have the most unique pitching setup of all the National League contenders. 

It may have the opportunity to run with a six-man rotation at times, and it has a pair of closer candidates in Smith and Melancon.

The latter is expected to begin the campaign as the ninth-inning man, but the former could challenge him for that role.

Even if Smith does not record an abundance of saves, he could put together a string of shutdown innings, and with the three-batter minimum in place for relievers, he could carry more fantasy value.

Smith did not allow more than six earned runs in a single month in 2019 for the San Francisco Giants, while Melancon finished well with 13 scoreless outings in his last 15 appearances. 

Neither hurler will be selected high because of the uncertainty of their situation, but both could be valuable given their recent numbers and with Atlanta expected to be out in front in a good amount of games. 

              

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference.

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