by Will Overton
One of the most overlooked and underused assets in fantasy baseball is the middle reliever/setup guy. Unless he is on the coveted “closer in waiting” list he probably isn’t getting much attention from fantasy owners.
On one hand I get it, a middle reliever isn’t getting you much in any one category when he takes the mound (unless you’re playing in a league with holds or the holds + saves category). The middle reliever is more of a slow burn that can help in your ratios and your strikeouts, especially if you’re using K/9. If you’re in a 10 or 12 team league you probably don’t need a middle reliever or two because you can rely on the closers in waiting and starters to round out your pitching staff. In a deeper league you may be better off having a reliever or two to balance your ratios, rather then scraping the bottom of the barrel for another starter who isn’t very good.
Here are a few guys who could fill this spot on your team if you want to balance your pitching out:
Danny Duffy – Kansas City Royals: This is probably the most familiar name on this list because just a couple of years ago he looked like he might be the future ace of the Royals staff. He suffered an injury towards the end of 2014 and just didn’t look quite the same in 2015. This year Kansas City decided to use him in the bullpen, after adding a couple guys in free agency, and Duffy has excelled in the role. He has 15 K in his last 10 IP and really seemed to be settling into his role. Of course he was utilized for a spot start yesterday (3 IP) and now it remains to be seen if they are going to stretch him back out or stick him back in the bullpen moving forward.
Louis Coleman – Los Angeles Dodgers: After being used a bit more sparingly early on in the season, Coleman is now a fixture in the Dodgers bullpen and has put up really good numbers. He allowed four runs in his first five appearances of the season, but in 10 outings since he has not allowed a run and he hasn’t even allowed a single hit in the month of May (six outings). Coleman hasn’t been used for a full inning of work his last five times out, which is odd. At the same he has pitched four times this last week and has six strikeouts, which you’d probably be happy with from a scrap heap starter.
Cam Bedrosian – Los Angeles Angels: Here’s a bit more of a higher risk, but also higher reward option. Bedrosian has had a few stints in the big leagues over the last few years and has struggled to put it together. He’s now pitched in 11 games this season and he hasn’t allowed a run since his first outing. Bedorsian was sent down after two outings, but he came back up at the end of April and since then has 12 K in 7.1 IP and that’s where the big upside lies. He throws fire out there and gets a lot of swings and misses. If you use K/9 in your league then Bedrosian is definitely someone to gamble on.
Ryan Buchter – San Diego Padres: Here’s another guy who can lock in some serious strikeouts for your squad. Buchter has 25 K in 18 IP this season and has only given up one run, which is pretty incredible. He has some risk to him as well because he has some control issues, he has walked 10 batters in his 18 IP. Since he gets so many swings and misses and guys can’t seem to make good contact off him he hasn’t paid much for it. He also still has a WHIP of 1.00 because teams don’t get hits on him that often. It also helps that he pitches in Petco Park for his home games. I like Buchter as one of the better options for this list.
Brad Brach – Baltimore Orioles: One of, if not the safest guys on this list is right here with Brad Brach. The Orioles bullpen as a whole is solid, and Brach gets overlooked by Zach Britton and Darren O’Day. Brach hasn’t been used as much as you’d like recently, but his 1.35 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and 22 K in 20 IP is really attractive. He also has better control than a lot of the guys on this list, walking just five so far. In the last week he has 7 K in 4.2 IP and he should be on your radar in 14 team and deeper leagues.
Make sure to check out all of Rotoprofessor’s Preseason Top 10 Prospect Lists: