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 RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first season in Tout Wars, he won the H2H league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Bobby A.

What’s the word on Rich Harden?