SP/RP Qualified Pitchers: The Relievers

In fantasy baseball, there are a couple of loopholes owners can abuse and one of my favorites is SP/RP qualified pitchers. These pitchers can be used in either the starting or relief spot and, depending on your league structure, they can be quite valuable. Today, I will be looking at how to use SP/RP qualified pitchers that are going to be used as relief pitchers to start the season.

Basically, they are useful in leagues that have each of the following:

1. Allow daily transactions.
2. Have both SP and RP slots

Here is how to use them.
Your starting staff are all starting except Bruce Chen. Replace Mr. Chen with Kevin Slowey for that day. Kevin may vulture a win or save and get a few strikeouts. The next day when Chen has to start, take King Felix out of your SP slot and replace him with Chen thereby keeping Slowey in your rotation. Most of the time, you will be maxing out with probably 2 starters a day, so you could rotate in a couple SP/RP relievers.

The type of pitchers you are looking for are decent and may eventually move into a closer role. In the last two seasons, a SP/RP became a major sources of saves (J.P. Howell in 2009 and Koji Uehara in 2010). If you are in a league that also counts holds, these players are huge by racking up holds while other pitchers can accumulate saves in the RP slots.

One other item to look for is to see if the pitcher is actually considered to be a setup man (hopefully for a bad closer that he can take their spot eventually) and not a long reliever where they might be pushed into starting duties or not given the opportunity to close out games. Here is a list of few SP/RP pitchers available to start the season (some are only SP qualified right now, but will start in the pen according to team reports).

Hisanori Takahashi – LAA – He joins the Angels pen after being with the Mets last season. His K/BB last season was 2.73 along with a 2.04 ERA and 1.13 WHIP when he was a reliever. Currently he looks to be one of the setup men for Angels to start the season.

David Hernandez – ARI – David did better in the pen last season compared to when he started. While reliving, his ERA was 3.16 and had K/BB of 3.21. He is currently slated to be one of the setup men for closer J.J. Putz (who recently experienced back problems) in Arizona

Tony Pena – CWS (Yahoo only) – Tony is a little further down the team’s depth chart compared to Takahashi and Hernandez with their teams, but has similar skills if you don’t count 2010. From 2006 to 2009, Tony was able to to have a K/BB in the 2 to 3 range and ERA near 4.00. In 2010 his K/BB dropped to 1.24 and the rest of his stats followed. I may not jump in with both feet for the 2011 season. If he is available in a Yahoo league, I would see how he does initially and then pick him up. (Note: There is some talk of him being the #5 to start the season)

Some other SP qualified pitchers that look to be in the pen for 2011:
Craig Stammen
Blake Hawksworth
Kevin Slowey
Tim Wakefield
Rich Harden




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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

20 Responses to “SP/RP Qualified Pitchers: The Relievers”

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  1. Bobby A. says:

    What’s the word on Rich Harden?

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      Probably will start the season on the DL, but not officially on it it yet. Once he is on it, he will make a great player to stash on the DL.

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      • jaywrong says:

        Carlos Zambrano and Tim Stauffer are great guys to have manning your RP spot in an otto…

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  2. Dan H says:

    Which RP/SP that are going to be starters do you like this year? I’ve kept Tim Stauffer for $1, but am considering going after Duensing or others in our auction this Saturday. Any suggestions? 16 team 6×6 (OBA/Holds) league and I tank saves for hold middle relievers.

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      I like Jhoulys Chacin and Jeremy Hellickson but I could see them as keepers. Tim Stauffer isn’t horrible for $1.

      Is the league head to head with rosters set at the beginning of the week? That is the best format for SP/RP that start, especially if it is a twice a week starter.

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    • JoeC says:

      McClellan (the pitcher, not the general).

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  3. Sean says:

    You forgot about JP Howell. For some reason he has SP elg in Yahoo.

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      What? Does yahoo give pitchers that didn’t pitch last year both qualifications? That would mean Wainwright would get it next year. Let me see what I can find out.

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  4. EdwardM says:

    It looks like Marc Rzepczynski will start this year in the bullpen.

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  5. pete2286 says:

    Manny Parra as a reliever last season:
    2.87 FIP, 3.08 xFIP, 9.8 K/9

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  6. Justin Merry says:

    Another reason that I prefer weekly transactions! :)
    -j

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    • JoeC says:

      Agreed. Weekly lineups are a better test of skill, IMO. Daily lineups are more about making sure to set your lineup every day so that you maximize your ABs/IP. I guess that’s a skill too, but it feels more like accounting than, say, programming.

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  7. Dan Lyles says:

    what about Arthur Rhodes? he had an awesome year with the Reds. Now that the Reds have traded him, I look for him to get about double the innings he got last year.

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  8. skip says:

    Good strategy. But it is cheesy so we banned its use in my money league.

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  9. Alvaro says:

    Last year Jaime Garcia sat on my RP spot all season (ditched relievers altogether, saved my season)

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  10. Erik Forstell says:

    Last year there were good relievers with SP eligibility that allowed me to take advantage of this strategy like Sean Marshall, Koji Uehara, Edward Mujica, and others.

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