Scheming For Relief: Abad, Duke, Thayer and Machi

Today we’ll be digging deep into the depths of the middle reliever player pool to identify some lesser owned middles that could positively impact your fantasy baseball team, for now. There is one exception to rule noted above, 15% owned Jean Machi, who has been off to an incredible start to the season for the San Francisco Giants. I felt obligated to toss him into today’s discussion since we haven’t talked about him yet.

All ownership percentages reflect Yahoo! leagues.

Fernando Abad | Athletics | 1%

Abad has notched the fewest wins and holds of the bunch, but his ratios and strikeouts combined make him one of the more appealing potential adds — for now. He’s allowed just one earned run and four walks in 15 appearances (14.2 IP). The .065 batting average on balls in play is not sustainable, but with the large pool of relievers available, you can simply send him to the wire when that number creeps up enough to implode those ratios that make him valuable.

Zach Duke | Brewers | 2%

Old friend alert! Former starting pitcher, Zach Duke, appears to making the best of what could be seen as a last-ditch effort to rejuvenate his career out of the Brewers’ bullpen. The southpaw isn’t exactly young anymore, but his 1.26/1.84/1.74 ERA/FIP/xFIP and 36.4% K% lead us to believe that Duke may have, in fact, resurrected his career as a middle-innings arm. Each of the aforementioned numbers are career bests for the 31-year-old, but can he keep this up? Duke’s SwStr% of 11.6% indicates at least some of the strikeouts could be here for the time being and usage out of the bullpen suggests that he could find his way to a few wins and holds down the road. Steamer isn’t totally buying into Duke’s early season success, but they’re buying bits-and-pieces. Steamer projects the veteran to finish 5-2 with a 3.02 ERA and a 8.36 K/9 in 67 appearances (65 IP), which isn’t all that bad either. Adding Zach Duke in the short-term seems to be a low-risk, medium-reward type of play. If somehow he turns back into a pumpkin, you can send him packing just like his three previous employers have. For now, simply make the add and ride the wave.

Dale Thayer | Padres | 3%

Despite the fact that Thayer isn’t likely to continue getting wins out of the Padres’ bullpen at his current pace, he’s a fine holds candidate that has some experience in the ninth-inning should some dominoes fall in San Diego. Additionally, he’s missing more bats (10.2% SwStr%) than he ever has (8.8% career SwStr%), suggesting that the spike in K% this season isn’t necessarily a fluke just yet. Thayer has tallied a strikeout in 14-of-18 appearances to date, while allowing an earned run in just one trip to the bump. Updated Steamer projections suggest that Thayer will finish the season with just four wins and a 2.68 ERA, but for those looking to add him in your leagues, you’d be doing so for the holds and strikeouts he’d bring to your squad.

Jean Machi | Giants | 15%

This is the arm that is likely owned in your holds and solds league at this point. But, with five wins, a 0.53 ERA and a 21.3% K%, is Machi becoming relevant in deeper mixed leagues? To me, he is. I’ve added him in a few places to try and benefit from those scab wins we always talk about here in this column. If by chance the Giants’ bats aren’t able to put Machi in a situation to be the winning pitcher going forward, you can still count on the righty’s ratios and strikeouts to pad your team’s weekly or season-long statistics.

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In addition to contributing to the RotoGraphs blog, you can find Alan at his own site, and follow his nonsense on Twitter @TheFantasyFix.

12 Responses to “Scheming For Relief: Abad, Duke, Thayer and Machi”

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  1. The Humber Games says:

    If only his last name were Macchio and not Machi, we would have the makings of a great nickname there.

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  2. Jim Lahey says:

    I’ve looked at picking up Machi since April 3rd (2nd win) but I just can’t bring myself to roster him. The ratios just aren’t good enough, they’ve got other better relievers so he doesn’t have a great spot on the pen and the wins seem more like luck.

    Rostering guys like Tony Watson, Sergio Santos, Danny Farquhar, Hector Rondon, Ryan Cook over him… (and the SP/RP Tyler Thornburg, Alexi Ogando, Chris Capuano, Dicek.. nice pitching staff huh)

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    • All fine options as well. You’ll notice I’ve talked about a bunch of those names in the past weeks, but I try not to duplicate if possible.

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    • Will says:

      Machi’s SwStr% is as good as last year, so I see his Ks going up (and his changeup is as filthy as ever), while his BB% is even lower than his really low career average. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have him for save potential, but I think he should have a good impact going forward on ratios (if your league has the bench depth to make that kind of play).

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    • Satoshi Nakamoto says:

      What do you mean Machi doesn’t have a great spot on the pen?
      He’s the guy they use when the game is tied.
      That’s the best freaking reliever you could own besides a closer.
      Easy wins.

      It also helps if his team has good 8th/9th inning guys to maintain the lead for his scab win.

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    • Nodlew says:

      Hes better for you than Dice-k, Ogando, Santos and Cook is hurt now? That’s 4 right there Machi can replace for you.

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  3. atoms says:

    Holds and solds? Is that just a rhyming nickname for holds and saves?

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  4. Nodlew says:

    I play in a Roto league that has Net Saves and Holds. Its almost worth just punting one for the other it seems sometimes. Set up guys blow the saves closers get. Guys like Machi or Betances that pitch in the lower leverage situations with stellar ratios, become more valuable.

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  5. Ralph Libinski says:

    If you’re on the fence, I suggest grabbing Thayer just for that magnificent small mammal on his upper lip. That thing deserves its own uniform number.

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  6. Jackson says:

    Suggesting to pick up a guy who is doing well – ‘for now’ and that we ride the wave until he turns into a pumpkin does not cut it. So we pick up guys doing well, they revert to their old selves, and what do we get ? A 5.00 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP added to our team log. Chasing the flavor of last month is like a dog chasing it’s tail.

    The point is, WE CAN ALL LOOK UP WHO IS DOING WELL and add them.

    We come here for insight to see who is most likely to keep doing well and why.

    Example: Why is Fernando Abad pitching out of his mind right now ? Has he added a new pitch ? More velocity ? New mechanics ?

    I can get “ride the wave until he turns into a pumpkin” from a yahoo writer. I expect more from Fangraphs.

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