Previously I had mentioned the benefits of using relief pitchers in fantasy baseball. Baseball managers often use their relief pitchers in situations (including spot starts) that exploit the advantages of those pitchers. For example, if a particular reliever has a great deal of success against right-handed batters, the manager may only use him in those situations. This can lead to some pretty good statistics for your fantasy baseball team. In addition, if a reliever gets favorable spot starts in the rotation, this too can offer a nice statistical boost to your fantasy roster. Also, with the closing pitcher situation often in flux on many teams throughout the major leagues, relief pitchers may be in line to take over the ninth inning role at any time.
Let’s take a look at a few relief pitchers who may give your fantasy baseball team a much-needed “shot in the arm” (pun intended):
Daniel Bard (BOS) –
The closer-in-waiting for the Red Sox, Bard throws hard. Really, really hard in fact. With an average fastball of 97.9 MPH, he is the perfect candidate for the 9th inning role in Beantown. If Jonathan Papelbon falters, Bard will step into the role. In the meantime, enjoy the WHIP, Ks and ERA he will bring to your pitching staff.
Mike Adams (SD) –
With closer Heath Bell’s status in question for several seasons now (rumors persist that the Padres will trade him), Adams is the heir apparent for collecting saves in San Diego. For 4 seasons now, Adams has been one of the best set-up men in the major leagues. Dependable, consistent and reliable to hold a game close, Adams has put up a 1.81 ERA from 2008-2010. With a 1.17 ERA and 0.62 WHIP, 2011 is shaping up to be more of the same.
Jonny Venters (ATL) –
Craig Kimbrel may be the primary closer for the Braves, but Venters is the premier set-up man in the game. With a 0.80 WHIP and 0.62 ERA, Venters has also been picking up a few saves recently. This is reminiscent of the Duane Ward-Tom Henke situation with the Toronto Blue Jays in the late 1980’s-early 1990’s.
Tyler Clippard (WAS) –
After leading the major leagues in relief wins in 2010 with 11, Clippard leads MLB with 19 holds in 2011. Add to that an impressive 53 Ks in 41.2 IP, 1.94 ERA and .91 WHIP and you have one of the better relief pitchers in the game today.
Koji Uehara (BAL) –
Remaining healthy has been the issue with Uehara, but when he pitches, he does so effectively. Kevin Gregg may be the current closer in Baltimore, but with a career ERA of 4.00 and history of bouncing from team-to-team, there is no guarantee Gregg holds down the job all season. Don’t forget, in 2010 Uehara took over the closer’s role in August and converted 13 of 15 save opportunities.
Regardless of which approach you take to filling out your fantasy baseball pitching roster, always keep in mind the benefit that a solid relief pitcher can bring to your team. They are often the “forgotten men” in baseball and in the fantasy world. By being one of the few fantasy owners to think of adding a relief pitcher to the mix, you just might be giving your fantasy baseball team the edge it needs.