2017 Fantasy Baseball Valuable Middle Relievers: Relievers Are People Too

By on March 8, 2017
middle relievers Photo Credit: Keith Allison

We all should understand how valuable middle relievers and setup men are to Major League teams, but how valuable are they to your Fantasy team?

Every standard league will have saves as a category to win/ score in, so there is a clear need for closers; however, is there a need for middle relievers?

The short answer is yes, and in all honesty an article written by my colleague explains it pretty well.

I’m here to help you find that value with my strategies in your different leagues.

Lets break them down to only the most common types of season long leagues.

2017 Fantasy Baseball Valuable Middle Relievers

Rotisserie

The key to a middle relievers value is his ability to mitigate the risk of some starting pitching options. Take a look at the Red Sox last year during the span of Sept 24 – 30.

Sept 24 – 30 Innings Earned Runs Hits Walks Strike Outs
Rick Porcello 12.1 6 16 3 15
Brad Ziegler 3.1 0 0 1 0

 

In a standard 5×5 league, Ziegler was able to turn two unimpressive starts by Rick Porcello into a decent week as he was able to help with a sub 4 ERA. Each player also picked up a win. This makes the key to middle relief value based on how much they pitch (to pile-up statistics).

I prefer to look to teams that have bad rotations and a guaranteed spot in the bullpen. The Padres Brad Hand is a player to watch here.

Brad Hand, San Diego Padres

 

Brad Hand quietly took major strides forward when he became a full-time reliever. A change in pitch selection led to a career year and Hand emerged as a top-tier middle reliever. His value to your Fantasy team is that he can replace a back- end starter on your roster by lowering your ERA (2.96 in 2016), striking out batters (30.5 K% in 2016), and holding your WHIP relatively steady (1.11 in 2016).

His 80 innings pitched isn’t as much as what a starter can give you, but the ability to also pick up wins and saves over the season can be nice. Innings is the key here, though. The Padres rotation has a lot of question marks, and may have to rely on a relatively strong bullpen.

Hand is a converted starter who could eventually make a random spot start, but don’t count on that. Hand’s real value is his ability to replicate his 2016 numbers over what could be another season over 80 innings pitched, and if he does, Hand could be a Top 5 non-closing Fantasy reliever.

Others to Consider: Addison Reed, Brad Ziegler, Hector Rondon

Point Leagues

I like to use a similar strategy for point leagues as I did for roto leagues. I like to take three category (out of the four standard SP categories) starters and then handcuff my rotation with high K/BB ratio. For instance, a low strikeout guy like Kyle Hendricks could benefit with a handcuff like Addison Reed. Likewise, you can supplement a category and my favorite one to do this with is strikeouts, but its not hard with other stats (other than wins).

Addison Reed, New York Mets

Reed has a great profile for a valuable middle reliever in point leagues. In most season point leagues, walks will get you negative points, so the key is finding relievers who can excel in maximizing their possible points. Addison Reed is a great candidate to do this since his walk rate is down to 4.3% and his K% is up to 29.9%. This bump in K% can be somewhat attributed to the use of his cutter so for now it seems sustainable.

With a decision on Jeurys Familia’s suspension looming, Reed could step in and pick up some saves in the beginning of the season, thus creating even more value to your Fantasy team.

Other to Consider: Hector Rondon, Nate Jones, Tyler Thornberg

 

Head-to-Head

My strategy for middle relievers in any head-to-head leagues, other than a Sabermetric style scoring, is to go for strikeouts in volume. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller are two easy guys to get since they both should pitch a lot of innings allowing their Ks to pile up (both have a K% above 40%). Outside of those two, there are a few interesting names.

Kyle Barraclough, Miami Marlins

 

The most interesting of the names is Kyle Barraclough. Barraclough had the third highest K% for non-closers (behind Miller and Betances). What makes him even more interesting is his situation. Barraclough is a part of what should be an excellent Marlins bullpen that should see a lot of work since Marlins’ starters averaged just over 5 innings a start. The more Barraclough pitches the more his strikeouts should pile up and the more value he could contribute to your team.

Others to consider: David Phelps, Mychel Givens, Ryan Butcher

 

The value of middle relievers continues to grow as Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances become household names. Clearly, middle relievers can be valuable to your Fantasy team, but its all about strategy. The strategies mentioned are the ones I like to use in different leagues, but your team might need a reliever for different reasons. Find a strategy that works for your team and use those middle relievers!

 

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Aaron Hinckley

Aaron Hinckley

An aspiring stay at home dad, Aaron is a graduate of Mercer University who is a self proclaimed analytical nut and master grilled cheese maker.
Aaron Hinckley

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