One of the most entertaining players in baseball to watch is the one of the last true submariners left, Brad Ziegler. The D’Backs just recently picked up his 2016 option, and he looks poised to possibly be an under the radar closer option for 2016.
Ziegler stepped in for Arizona last season after they failed to find any capable replacements and were forced to take him out of the setup role which he had been excelling at for years now. Owners looking for cheap saves surely snagged him when he was named closer, and he went on to reward them with 30 Saves.
Ziegler may struggle to break a plane of glass with his fastball, but his funky delivery and command of the lower portion of the strike zone is unparalleled. He was statistically one of the best relievers in baseball, 1.85 ERA/.095 WHIP over 68 innings. So Zeigler certainly has the acumen to warrant fantasy attention in whatever role he has in 2016.
The main reason that he doesn’t not get the recognition he deserves is because he lacks the strikeout upside that we have all come to expect from relievers nowadays. He only had 36 K in 2015, but it does serve as his only blemish in terms of his 2016 value.
For me, Ziegler is the prime candidate for owners that don’t pay for saves and wait till the later rounds to snag one. The D’Backs should remain competitive in 2016 and they should provide Ziegler with plenty of save opportunities. There is one other caveat though, because of this article coming out in November there is the distinct probability that Arizona will bring in a harder throwing or power closer in order to elongate their bullpen and slide Ziegler back into his setup role.
While that could very well happen, I think that Arizona would be better off to focus on bringing in starters and mid relief options and allow Ziegler to remain in the closing gig. I compare it somewhat to the blueprint the Astros had going in 2015, by bringing in guys like Pat Neshek or Luke Gregerson, basically crafty types of relievers that can still get outs without having to light up the radar guns.
It is very early in the off season, but I am confident that any role Ziegler finds himself in this season will offer value, whether it be holds or saves. From a fantasy standpoint I hope he stays in the closing role, because of the cheap saves and solid ERA that he offers for the backend of your bullpen.