Relievers Who Have SP-Eligibility in Yahoo

Obvious fact: Yahoo is a common fantasy platform. Less obvious fact: there is some scope to exploit certain features of Yahoo. One of those is with relievers who have SP/RP eligibility. Relievers generally outperform starters in strikeout rate, ERA, and WHIP. As such, it helps those stats to use relievers as often as possible. Anytime you can use a reliever in a starter slot is potentially advantageous.

Some leagues don’t discriminate between type of pitcher, so the SP/RP status doesn’t matter. Other leagues don’t have enough bench depth to effectively use relievers in a starter slot. Generally speaking SP/RP pitchers are most useful to owners who participate in the daily grind and make over 100 moves a season by cycling the last spot on their roster. Some leagues have rules that disallow this as a viable strategy. That said, you don’t necessarily need to grind in order to leverage this strategy. Below is the not-quite-definitive list based on current eligibility; I left out some scrubs and guys who will almost certainly start. Other pitchers will gain SP/RP eligibility throughout the season, and it’s useful to periodically keep track of such things.

To Target

Kevin Gausman: It remains unclear if Gausman will start or relieve. The Orioles should probably prefer to keep him in the rotation unless they really need a late inning arm. If they go that route, Gausman could provide elite relief numbers out of a starter spot. The fantasy player in me has his fingers crossed.

Brandon Workman: I assume that Workman will be the long reliever in Boston, although there is a chance he doesn’t make the club so that he can remain stretched out as a starter. He posted a lovely 10.15 K/9 last season, but his swinging strike rate was close to average, so expect some regression. He should remain leverageable.

Felipe Paulino: Ostensibly – and the best sentences usually start with ‘ostensibly’ – Paulino is trying out as a starter for the White Sox. To me, they appear to be drowning in upside talent, which could relegate Paulino to the pen. Based on his pre-injury stuff, I suspect Paulino could be a very good reliever. I can’t seem to scare up a report on his current velocity, so if anyone has more details, please share.

David Phelps: Currently lightly penciled in as the Yankees fifth starter,  Phelps still has to beat out Michael Pineda (who could be another candidate if he loses). If Phelps goes to the pen, he is a core performer type who is best used by owners in deep leagues with few attractive starting pitcher options. For example, 15 relief appearances from Phelps will probably be quite a bit better than 2 starts from fringy waiver wire talent.

Carlos Carrasco: Prior to missing a couple seasons with injury, I had considered Carrasco the perfect candidate to reinvent himself in the bullpen. He’s competing for the fifth starter job, but as with Gausman, I hope he lands in the pen. He was throwing 95 mph with a 50 percent ground ball rate in his return last season. His strikeout rates have always been middling in the majors, but his stuff suggests potential for a leap forward.

Wade Davis: The Royals tried to Davis as a starter last season, but he appears destined for a return to the pen this year. In 2012, he was dominant as a reliever for the Rays, and I can only assume that potential remains. His stuff played up in the pen, including a 1.5 mph boost to his fastball.

Tom Gorzelanny: I always thought Gorzelanny should have gotten more chances as a starter. He’s settled into a useful swingman role. His use case is similar to Phelps.

Joe Kelly: I love Kelly’s stuff, but his focus on ground balls and occasionally erratic control makes him pretty fringy as a fantasy reliever. Like several others on this list, be careful.

To File Away

Tanner Roark or Ross Detwiler: Currently, one of Roark or Detwiler will be the fifth starter in Washington with the other presumably bolstering the bullpen. Detwiler is presumed the be on the outside looking in, but this is definitely a roster battle he could win. Neither pitcher is particularly sexy when it comes to fantasy stats. They’re both command and control types with low strikeout and walk rates. That means they can only help in maybe two categories and could even hurt you in strikeouts.

Alexi Ogando: Ogando looks like he’ll start the season in the rotation, but he’ll probably head to the pen at some point. The rotation would need to get healthier for that to happen, and maybe that’s too much of an assumption in Texas. Most people remember his excellent 1.30 ERA as a reliever in 2010, but he projects to be much more pedestrian. Expect fantasy average numbers, which makes him most useful if your pitching staff is below average.

Carlos Villanueva: He’s an interesting real world swing starter, one that I would be happy to roster on my team (if I ran one). He posts some good peripherals out of the bullpen, but a combination of high fly ball rate and high HR/FB ratio makes him difficult to leverage in any fantasy format.

Ethan Martin: He’s a marginal prospect in the Phillies system that they hope can succeed as a starter because he has four solid pitches. The issue is control. He seemingly has everything a late inning reliever needs, including a 95 mph fastball that could play up in the pen. If he weren’t on the shelf with shoulder pain, he’d be on my targets list.

Jose Alvarez: He looks like a useful real-world starting pitcher to me, and he’s probably the sixth starter in Detroit. He’s a little too soft on strikeouts, but he could be useful as a an occasional waiver wire pickup.

Chad Bettis: He was unimpressive in his major league debut last season, but he leans to ground balls and posted strong peripherals in the minor leagues. There’s breakout potential here.

Some Other Names Sans Comment
Brandon Maurer
Justin Grimm
Jeremy Bonderman
Tom Koehler
Mike Kickham
Brett Anderson (I assume he starts or enlists with the Disableds)
Donovan Hand
Garrett Richards
Kevin Slowey
Chad Jenkins
Jeanmar Gomez
Ross Ohlendorf

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Very good. In holds leagues this especially helps. Instead of 2/2 for saves/holds relievers I was running more like 3/2 or 4/2 using this strategy. Hochevar, Cecil, Tommy Hunter all helped…though those players didn’t always net the holds as I had hoped.

This article will be filed away, though I don’t see too many potential holds in this list. Will keep my eye on Workman, Davis and Paulino. Thank you.


Right now Gorzelanny probably has the best chance for holds on this particular list. Will Smith could find his way in and out of the rotation in Milwaukee as well and eventually earn SP eligibility. Overall, the pickings are definitely slim at the moment.

I think Carlos Martinez is a good name if he doesn’t make the rotation. Pomeranz in OAK could be OK and Burch Smith in SD if he doesn’t make the rotation. Besides Gausman, there has been some talk of Norris being in the back end of the BAL pen.

Drew Smyly and Tommy Hunter were excellent for holds with this strategy last year.