Roto Arcade: Starting with Relief
By Andy Behrens
July 19, 2007
Today let's talk about starting pitchers who don't start.
No, not A.J. Burnett. I'm referring to relief pitchers who qualify as starting pitchers in Yahoo! leagues.
This can really be a big deal. Let's say, for example, that your league uses three SP positions, two RP positions, and two Ps. That's how the Yahoo! Friends and Family League is configured. It's not an uncommon setup. In a configuration like that, most teams will carry no more than four closers – two at RP and two at P. But if one of your closers happens to be, say, Kevin Gregg of the Marlins, you can start five. Nice, eh?
Follow that link above and take a look at Scott Pianowski's lineup in the F&F league. You'll notice that he has Gregg slotted as a starting pitcher, not a relief pitcher. This has allowed him to start five closers throughout much of the season – no small feat in a 13-team league. Not surprisingly, Scott leads the league in saves, and by a wide enough margin that he can now safely deal a closer.
If you're in a league that counts holds as well as saves, it's especially important to find relievers who qualify as starting pitchers. Just park someone like Carlos Marmol in a SP spot and you can accrue holds without burning one of your RP positions. Unless you're streaming starting pitchers, you're not actually getting production from every SP spot each day. Try not to waste lineup positions.
Even if you're in a traditional 5x5 league, middle relievers with excellent ratios and high K-rates have more value than many heavily-owned starters. (And I'll just keep making this point in various ways until Pat Neshek is owned in more leagues than Matt Morris. Don't mind me. Feel free to skim such paragraphs). Most fantasy owners understand the utility of hitters who qualify at multiple positions, but they don't always understand that there's a potential position-eligibility advantage with pitchers, too.
These have been a few of the more useful starting pitchers who don't start in 2007:
Kevin Gregg, Florida, 2.96 ERA, 20 SV, 6 HD, 96.3 percent-owned
Carlos Marmol, Chicago, 1.41 ERA, 1 SV, 5 HD, 24.1 PCT
Anyway, Marmol has been overpowering. Any hope of him taking over as the Cubs closer vanishes on Friday when Ryan Dempster – who used to be a SP/RP himself – returns from the DL. Still, Marmol has 45 K in 32 innings and he's held opposing hitters to a .175 average. He's significantly more valuable than whatever replacement-level fat-WHIPped starting pitcher you're carrying.
Brett Myers, Philadelphia, DL, 5.50 ERA, 6 SV, 3 HD, 78.5 PCT
Brad Hennessey, San Francisco, 3.43 ERA, 5 SV, 9 HD, 28.2 PCT
Carlos Villanueva, Milwaukee, 3.31 ERA, 0 SV, 14 HD, 16.8 PCT
Casey Janssen, Toronto, 2.44 ERA, 3 SV, 13 HD, 5.2 PCT
Zack Greinke, Kansas City, 4.54 ERA, 1 SV, 7HD, 5.0 PCT
Jonathan Sanchez, San Francisco, DL, 3.96 ERA, 0 SV, 1 HD, 0.1 PCT
Andy Behrens has written for ESPN.com, the Chicago Sports Review, NBA.com, the Chicago Reader and various other publications. In all likelihood, Andy owns more Artis Gilmore memorabilia than you. Follow him on Twitter. Send Andy a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Thursday, Jul 19, 2007 7:29 pm, EDT