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March 18, 1998

Fantasy Mailbag

Non-closer relief may have a place on your staff

by Keith Law

Subject: Draft Question
Date: Mon, 16 Mar 98 15:30:25 CST
To: roto@baseballprospectus.com

    In a 4x4 NL only draft with 10 teams and 9 active pitchers. Does it make sense to draft only a few starters and many good relievers, like setup men. After the closers are gone and the stud SP, to me getting several good RP helps my ERA and WHIP, may get some wins and saves, but only sacrifices some wins. After the stud SP are gone, most SP will put up higher ERA and WHIP. Would a 4 SP 5 RP be a good strategy especially if I can draft a solid stud like Maddux or Schilling? We have a maximum of 181 starts and 900 inning minimum.


    Major Rotogeek
    US Army

Dear Major Major:

That's usually my strategy as well: Three good starters, one gamble starter, one closer, and four $1-2 relievers who are likely to turn into closers or starters by the end of the season - and who can provide you with a nice $1 keeper the next season for your rotation. Butch Henry was one last year, as was Felix Heredia. Mark Hutton, Ricardo Rincon, and Bill Simas all come to mind this year.

Three solid starters who cost as much as five less-solid starters will likely give you a lower ERA and Ratio out of your rotation, and the $1-2 relievers who fill the gap generally don't pitch enough innings or pitch poorly enough to drive your numbers back up to the stratosphere. In the tightest leagues, you can usually get a $1 lefty setup guy whose 30-40 innings a year won't hurt you, but most leagues see reliable middle relievers with no chance at saves go for $1-$2.

The "gamble starter" is for the most risk-loving roto owners. Jeff Suppan, a gamble starter I have at $2 in LABR this year (where you might argue my entire rotation comprises gamble starters), has a pretty high upside, but also might just post another 5.50 ERA if he doesn't take a step forward. If you take one of those guys, but hedge that bet with three relatively solid starters in front of him, you won't suffer this year if he blows up, but you'll get a nice keeper for next year if he shines.

-Keith Law
Baseball Prospectus Fantasy Editor

You can send email to Keith at roto@baseballprospectus.com.

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