These pitchers might not rack up saves, but they could still hold considerable fantasy value.
From my perspective, it’s never too early to begin speculating about teams’ bullpens during the offseason and researching who could make a fantasy impact the following year. Playing fantasy baseball for as long as I have has taught me that finding those hidden reliever gems can be the difference between hoisting a trophy and waving the white flag in July. Spending time studying every arm in all major-league bullpens is a staple of my pre-draft routine, and just as important as the homework done for position players, starting pitchers, and impactful rookies.
Please note I am not talking about closers, but rather those reliable bullpen arms that have impressive peripherals and produce in high-leverage situations, not just save situations. These pitchers have earned the trust and confidence of their managers and will continuously be given the opportunity to pitch in similar future situations that could result in wins, holds, and potentially some saves. Even in deeper AL- and NL-Only leagues, the value of these relievers is sometimes unappreciated, despite how they can offset bad performances by starting pitchers in any given week.
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If your fantasy squad needs some late-season Ks, J.P. has you covered.
As we move to the closing weeks of the season, fantasy owners in the championship hunt are forced to chase specific categories. Realistically, only a category or two leave room for fluctuation with so few games remaining, so any late-season waiver pickups tend to relate to those specific needs.
In this article, I want to focus on little-owned starting pitchers who could help rack up the strikeouts down the stretch. Most leagues have moved beyond the trade deadline; thus, any potential additions must come from the waiver wire. All ownership statistics are from ESPN leagues, but one can reasonable assume that Yahoo! and CBS ownership rates would be roughly equivalent.
Major strikeout happenings in Queens, the rest of the day's action, and what to watch tonight, including possible major strikeout happenings for Cleveland.
What’s a good way for a pitcher to try to wrap up his league’s Rookie of the Year award? How about starting a game with eight consecutive strikeouts to tie a record previously held by Jim Deshaies? That’s the route Jacob deGrom chose.
These bullpen arms might not rack up saves, but they can help you pad other categories in Roto leagues.
In non-dynasty leagues, quality relievers who do not rack up saves are often overlooked. If employed correctly, though, they can be pseudo-saviors for two main types of squads: (1) teams who have an underperforming pitching staff and are striving to recover in specific categories in the second half of the season, and (2) leagues that have strict “games started” limits in order to keep teams from simply streaming starters all season.
Teams who have fallen behind in pitching categories can try to cobble together a trade or two, hoping to bolster their pitching staff for a second-half run. However, trades aren’t always possible. And even in the meantime, it can be useful to target specific relievers who can help in desired categories. This article will outline a few relievers who could be useful waiver-wire pickups to aid in WHIP/ERA or in strikeouts. I’m not including pitcher wins because that seems like a crapshoot.
Why bringing an end to the strikeout scourge might require some three-dimensional thinking.
Even if you’ve missed Rob Neyer’s midnight ride to warn the world about the Strikeout Scourge—one if by land, two if by sea, three strikes you’re out—you can’t help but have noticed how many plate appearances are ending in punchouts. Baseball’s strikeout rate is up this season (from an old-record 19.9 percent last year to a new-record 20.4 percent in 2014), and batting average is at its lowest ebb in the DH era. As a result, action seems scarce, unless you prefer seeing swings-and-misses to watching balls in play.
Everyone has a pet fix for this state of affairs, or at least a way to prevent it from growing worse. Although recent research by Russell Carleton revealed that educating hitters might help turn the tide, most proposed solutions suggest hamstringing hurlers. Tighten the strike zone. Limit the number of permissible pitching changes. Politely ask Stephen Strasburg to retire for the good of the game.
The fantasy crew runs down the starters it expects to beat their PECOTA projections in punchouts.
One of the fun ways we all try to outsmart our opponents in fantasy is by searching for hidden value in players who, for one reason or another, we suspect have the ability to outpace their projections (and, relatedly, their draft cost). Our Darkhorses series features staff picks for players who could very well outpace their PECOTA projections for the year and provide the top overall production in one of the standard five-by-five categories. We’ve all picked one player currently projected by PECOTA to fall outside of the top 10 and one longer-shot player currently projected outside of the top 25. We’re taking a look at pitching this week, following our run on offense a week ago. To read the earlier editions in this series, click below:
Ten relievers who've racked up the strikeouts in the majors for the first time this season.
Here’s a stat about strikeouts: The percentage of 50-plus-inning relievers who struck out a batter per inning in 1990 was lower than the percentage who struck out 12 per nine innings in 2012. Remember the Reds’ “Nasty Boys” bullpen of Rob Dibble, Randy Myers, and Norm Charlton? They were three of only eight relievers with a K/9 of at least 9.0 in 1990. Relative to average, Dibble’s 12.5 K/9 that season was more impressive than, say, Aroldis Chapman’s league-leading 15.1 in 2013. But 15.1 is such an astounding number that it commands the attention anyway. Strikeout rates are rising too fast for the baselines in our brains to keep up.
Every season, a new crop of relievers arrives and astonishes us with their strikeout prowess. Some are promising rookie relief prospects who throw a million miles per hour and were expected to miss many bats. Others are rookies who’ve exceeded expectations, and still others are veterans whose latent strikeout powers were never suspected before they surfaced this season.