Let’s take a look at a pair of NL East lefty relievers that are far more than specialists…
Eric O’Flaherty | Braves
Claimed off waivers from the Mariners a few years ago, O’Flaherty has evolved from more of a LOOGY into a legitimate weapon against right-handers, striking out a dozen in 12.2 IP against them. His overall strikeout rate isn’t anything special (7.78 K/9, 7.38 last year) but he keeps the walks down (2.75 BB/9) and gets a ton of ground balls at 53.8%. Jonny Venters is the set-up ace in Atlanta’s bullpen, but O’Flaherty throws a ton of medium-to-high leverage innings for them and has been highly effective. His seven holds are right behind Venters (nine), and that number figures to go up with the Braves being really really good.
Michael Dunn | Marlins
A former outfielder, Dunn was originally drafted by the Yankees before heading to the Braves in last winter’s Javier Vazquez trade. The moved on to Florida this offseason in the Dan Uggla swap, and has emerged as one of Edwin Rodriguez‘s go-to late-inning relievers, especially now that Clay Hensley is on the shelf. Dunn’s peripherals are … interesting. He’s struck out 18 men and walked nine in 15.1 IP, but his WHIP is sub-1.00 because he’s given up just six hits. A .125 BABIP certainly won’t last with a 46.9% ground ball rate, not with that infield defense, but he’s an elite strikeout guy (consistently 10+ K/9, in the majors and minors) getting late-inning work for a good team. Your WHIP will likely suffer in the long-term, but sometimes you have to make that trade-off.
Both players are owned in less than 3% of Yahoo! and ESPN leagues.