In leagues that designate between starting pitchers and relief pitchers, and especially in leagues that use both designations and account for holds, value can be found in relief pitchers with starting pitcher eligibility. Below are a couple names to keep an eye on if you participate in these types of leagues.
Ogando’s fantasy value is taking a huge hit after his impressive rookie season. The young-right hander is being moved to the bullpen, and will primarily be a set-up man as Joe Nathan was signed to close games for the Rangers. Ogando’s move to the bullpen does give him some value as a dual-eligible reliever though, as he will have starter pitching eligibility in drafts. He should see his performance rise, as relievers often see their earned run average decrease by about a run after transitioning from the rotation. If Ogando piles up strikeouts and pitches to an ERA in the mid-2.50 range, he could have value to a league that accounts for holds, especially since he can be assigned to either pitcher role.
McClellan did not have the type of success in the rotation that the Cardinals hoped for when they asked him to fill in for Adam Wainwright last season. He was eventually moved out of the rotation and into the bullpen, but did not pitch to the level of effectiveness that he did in 2010. With a full-time move back into the ‘pen, the sinkerballer may be able to tally holds as a dual-eligible reliever. He is not the most effective reliever and his strikeout rate is below average, but if you have a league where you can take advantage of his holds and dual-eligibility, he could be worth a look.
Gorzelanny appeared in fifteen games as a reliever last year and netted four holds. He pitched well as a starter, and is only being removed from the rotation because of the National’s new additions. FIPs of 3.92 and 4.19 over the past two seasons show that Gorzelanny is improving, which should lead to success in the bullpen. While the fifth-starter role is still a possibility at some point during the year, Gorzelanny could become the top lefty in the ‘pen and should see his fair share of matchup opportunities, which could lead to better rate stats and cheap holds.
The experiment as a starter certainly did not work out, but at least Coke now has some value to those in the position to take advantage of dual-eligible relievers. He has pretty much no fantasy value in any other format, as he is stashed behind three better closer candidates. Coke did pitch well out of the bullpen last year, and the Tigers should win a ton of games, which could put him in the position to earn some holds. His ’11 walk rate looks bad, but he walked just 2.65 per nine innings as a reliever.
With a 2.95 FIP and a 5.80 K/BB ratio against lefties last season, Perez may see success as a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen. With only Darren Oliver, age 41, in front of him on the left-handed reliever depth chart, Perez has the ability to earn you a holds from a starting pitcher position. His chances are even better if Oliver’s age catches up to him.
Hensley is only one year removed from a 2.16 ERA, 2.87 FIP, 22 hold season, which is much more appealing than the 5.19 ERA, 4.90 FIP, 8 hold year he had last season. Now in San Francisco, he has Serio Romo and Santiago Casilla ahead of him on the set up man depth chart. Still, relievers are volatile and Hensley has decent career numbers out of the bullpen. A good spring training plus poor performance or an injury to one of the right-handers ahead of him could land him in position to earn holds on a regular basis
Players to keep an eye on:
Alfredo Aceves: He has a good chance of winning a starting role, but the team could acquire a starter before the season starts and move Aceves back into the hybrid type role he was in last year.
Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis: The Rays have too many starters, and one of these big right-handers will likely end up in the bullpen. It is uncertain which one will be put in the bullpen right now, but keep a close eye if you are trying to find starting eligible relievers.
Phil Hughes: The Yankees are in a similar situation as the Rays in having too many starters. Hughes or Freddy Garcia will probably be moved into the bullpen. Hughes has excelled in the bullpen at times, and although the Yankees have a loaded bullpen on the right hand side, Hughes could still provide value if he is moved to a middle relief role.
Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado: Fredi Gonzalez would rather use one of the young prospects in the bullpen if they miss out on a rotation spot, but the odds of this happening are very low. Still, it is worth keeping an eye on just in case Gonzalez does get his wish.