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Draft Guide Preview

Draft Guide Preview: NL Central Saves & Steals

by NBC Sports EDGE Staff
Updated On: February 27, 2020, 4:56 pm ET

Spring Training is underway!  All 30 MLB teams have reported for action and have begun playing exhibition games which means the regular season, and perhaps more importantly, draft season, is just around the corner.

And whether you've already been prepping for weeks or just starting out, our all-new 2020 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide will provide that extra edge you need to ensure draft day domination. Featuring projections, rankings, tiers, mock drafts, expert columns and much, much more, it's never been easier to ensure you put together a virtual field of dreams and win all year long.

But in case that isn't enough to convince you that what you're getting is a true grand slam, we're also giving you another look at one of our Saves and Steals feature columns, this time with a peek at the NL Central, in particular the Milwaukee Brewers.

Take a look:


Milwaukee Brewers

Josh Hader
Corey Knebel
David Phelps
Freddy Peralta
Ray Black
Corbin Burnes
Alex Claudio

The Brewers don’t have the luxury of spending prodigious sums on their bullpens so they do their best to piece things together on the cheap. They always seem to have an elite arm to handle the most important innings. Hader will reprise his role as the best stopper in the league. Milwaukee still likes to use him as a multi-inning reliever. He recorded more than three outs in 23 of 61 appearances. This means he’s not always available for save opportunities. Last season, Hader was on hand for 37 of the club’s 50 saves.

Despite ever-nastier stuff including a one-mph increase to his fastball velocity, home runs were an issue for Hader in 2019. He coughed up 1.78 HR/9. It appears to be a simple matter of hitters guessing fastball and giving up entirely on trying to hit his slider. Consider: his slider allowed a .070 batting average and .140 slugging percentage while inducing whiffs on nearly half of all swings against it. His fastball remains an elite offering despite being responsible for 14 of 15 home runs allowed. Hader led the league in swinging strike rate (22.9% SwStr%) which in turn produced 16.41 K/9.

Before Hader, there was Knebel. The former ace closer missed the entirety of the 2019 campaign for Tommy John surgery. He’s currently expected to return during the first week of May. Rehab timelines are notoriously optimistic. Consider May to be a best-case scenario. At his best, Knebel wielded a 97-mph fastball and hammer curve. The pair of weapons combined for around 13.00 K/9. Command was an adventure at times (career 3.96 BB/9). Since he’s returning from a major injury, he’ll likely be eased back into the late-innings.

The rest of the bullpen will need to be put through the paces before roles are assigned. After missing the 2018 season, Phelps had a triumphant return to action with the Blue Jays and Cubs last season. While his 3.41 ERA was tolerable for a holds reliever, the underlying peripherals suggest there is meltdown risk. His best trait is an ability to avoid hard contact. Since he’s susceptible to left-handed hitters, he’ll have to be used very selectively.

Peralta smells like a right-handed Sean Doolittle – he’s a fly ball pitcher who relies on a high-whiff fastball and deception. In 85 innings split between starting and relieving, he recorded 12.18 K/9 and 3.92 BB/9. Unfortunately, a 5.29 ERA is kryptonite to fantasy owners. He did post a much healthier 4.01 ERA out of the pen.

Burnes and Black flashed setup-quality stuff in the past, but they had brutal seasons in 2019. In both cases, the velocity and stuff merits continued opportunities in the majors. The Brewers once hoped Burnes would become a starter and may opt to stretch him out in the minors. Claudio is a typical middle reliever and a solid single-day streaming target for holds.

Familiar names in camp as non-roster invitees include Shelby Miller, Jacob Faria, and Justin Grimm. Innings-eater Brent Suter is also assured a spot until he’s needed in the rotation. J.P. Feyereisen spent the last three seasons cleaning up at the Yankees Triple-A affiliate. He recorded a 17.4 percent swinging strike rate and 13.79 K/9 in 61.1 innings last season. He made only 40 appearances, indicating he could jump right into a multi-inning role.


For the full column and more from the MLB Draft Guide, you can purchase here! Take advantage of our package deals and gain access to our MLB Season Pass product, and be sure to grab our MLB DFS Toolkit as well!