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A Long Relief: The Midseason Method to Jump-start your Pitching Staff

Updated: May 31

The Midseason Method to Jump-start your Pitching Staff

Written by: Matthew Driscoll

Fantasy Baseball is all about strategy. Terms like ‘streamers’ and ‘eligibility’ have become constant points of analysis in roster construction, but there may be a very efficient points method staring us straight in the eyes: Long Relievers.

Many Fantasy Leagues (especially ESPN ones) have start limits. For many players, there is a lack of starts, meaning if you have a maximum of 15 starts, you typically get less than the cap. But some players, either due to draft strategy or injuries, have issues at the other end of the spectrum and max out their starts. While this may seem like a small issue, it can become a big problem very quickly. Picture this: You have a 15-start limit in your fantasy league, and you go into Saturday with a 20-point (standard H2H scoring) advantage. Your Saturday pitchers are two average-to-below average pitchers with average matchups. But on Sunday, you have Corbin Burnes vs the Pirates and Justin Verlander against the A’s. Naturally, you would want to start JV and Burnsie, but there’s always a risk that either would blow up, or you sit the other two and someone like Reid Detmers throws a no-hitter against a playoff team (again).

This is where the long reliever strategy could come in handy. Its reduced risk and potential payout are fairly unmatched, and most of these bullpen beasts are available in most leagues. Rostering 1-2 long relievers could save up to 4 starts for your horses to use, and they provide some nice value; if they’re cruising through 2-3 innings, they will yield approximately 7-12 points when factoring for saves/wins (3 inning saves, while uncommon do happen, especially on weaker teams). If you get two of these performances per week, that nets you a cool 15-24 points per pitcher! The cherry on top is that if they start to struggle, they aren’t expected to stay out and suffer like a typical starter, as there is usually another arm in the bullpen to get them out of the game before it slips away. So at the risk of a -5.0 outing, you have the potential for a consistent 8-10 point performance. Closers are highly coveted due to the probability of saves, but with saves, holds, and wins normally being scored the same, do I really care what stat the pitcher gets scored? To borrow a quote from Moneyball, “No, I do not care”. The Moneyball mindset worked for the 2002 Oakland A’s, particularly in finding diamond-in-the-rough relievers. There’s nothing stopping you from doing the same for your fantasy team. Here are five multi-inning guys to look at rostering:

  1. Michael King, RHP Yankees: Rostered in 33.6% of leagues

  2. Jorge Lopez, RHP Orioles: Rostered in 45% of leagues

  3. Jhoan Duran, RHP Twins: Rostered in 18% of leagues

  4. Tanner Houck, RHP Red Sox: Rostered in 46% of leagues

  5. Matt Moore, LHP Rangers: Rostered in 0.6% of leagues **

**(just called up. Could see very high leverage innings out of the back end of the Ranger’s bullpen)

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