Fantasy Baseball: RP with SP Eligibility
This article focuses on SP-eligible relievers. These can be a valuable addition to your roster, especially in innings-capped leagues. All categories suddenly become ratios when an innings limit is applied. Strikeouts are no longer just strikeouts, they are strikeouts per inning pitched and wins obviously become wins per inning pitched. Adding a couple of SP-eligible relievers to your roster could not only improve your traditional ERA and WHIP ratios but also your wins, strikeouts and of course holds, if that is a scoring category for you.
When hunting for SPARPs (starting pitchers as relief pitchers), you are desperate for the pitcher to join the rotation. The opposite is true in the case of SP-eligible relievers, when you are hoping that they are consigned to the bullpen.
Here are 12 pitchers worthy of your consideration.
Alex Colome (SP, RP – TB)
The 27-year-old looks destined for the eighth inning. He vultured five wins last season in just 40 2/3 innings, which is a win every eight innings. No starter can compete with that. He also struck out more than a batter per inning (9.74 SO/9) with a very healthy 1.12 WHIP. Wins are too difficult to predict but the strikeouts and control stats suggest that Colome should be one of the first SP-eligible relievers that you consider.
Adam Warren (SP, RP – CHC)
The Cubs’ new acquisition looks like a starter but until space opens in the rotation he will work from the bullpen. As a reliever in 2015, he threw 35 1/3 innings with a 2.29 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 9.42 SO/9. As if to demonstrate the difficulty in predicting wins, Warren only vultured one from the bullpen.
Trevor May (SP, RP – MIN)
The right-hander has an outside shot at making the Twins’ rotation, but he was sensational when he was shifted to the bullpen last year. He picked up four wins in 31 1/3 innings with 37 strikeouts (10.63 SO/9), 2.87 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. Long-term, the Twins still see May as a starter, but his immediate future is likely to be in relief.
Drew Pomeranz (SP, RP – SD)
The former first-round pick was a transformed player when he moved to the Athletics’ bullpen last year, throwing 41 1/3 innings with 10.0 SO/9, 2.61 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. The 27-year-old will compete for a rotation spot, but his dominance as a relief pitcher, and the fact that he’s out-of-options, suggests that he will start the season in the bullpen.
Vincent Velasquez (SP, RP – PHI)
The 23-year-old has four legitimately impressive pitches. He is the favorite to join the rotation, but if the Phillies decide to operate him from the bullpen, Velasquez will boost your strikeouts while helping your ratios. He would be the best arm in the bullpen so there is also the possibility that he assumes the closer’s role
Brandon Finnegan (SP, RP – CIN)
The former first-round pick threw 27 innings in relief last season with 8.15 SO/9 and a 1.19 WHIP. The left-hander has an exciting repertoire of pitches and generates a lot of groundballs (54.3%). If you are searching for SP-eligible relievers, keep your fingers crossed that the Reds start Finnegan in their bullpen.
Joe Blanton (SP, RP – LAD)
The veteran was a revelation in the bullpen with 32 appearances, five wins, two saves, a 2.04 ERA and 9.73 SO/9. He is almost certain not to join the rotation and does not court the same attention as the younger members of this list. The right-hander could provide sneaky value as an SP-eligible reliever again this season.
Josh Collmenter (SP, RP – ARI)
The 30-year-old right-hander has thrown over 200 relief innings with a 7.29 SO/9 and 1.15 WHIP. He is one of the least exciting names on this list and is probably the last SP-eligible reliever that you should consider rostering.
Ivan Nova (SP – NYY)
The 29-year-old, who had Tommy John surgery in April 2014, will likely open the season in the Yankees’ bullpen. He has worked almost exclusively as a starter and has aspirations to rejoin the rotation. Until he proves that he is back to his 2011-12 abilities, it is difficult to see how Nova will be an option worth owning in an attempt to improve your ratios.
Trevor Cahill (SP, RP – CHC)
The Cubs are collecting starters-turned-relievers. The 28-year-old was surprisingly impressive after his move to the Cubs’ bullpen. He had more velocity on his fastball, a greater strikeout rate and only gave up four runs over 17 innings, while striking out 22. Until more track record is established, Cahill could just be the beneficiary of a small sample mirage.
Travis Wood (SP, RP – CHC)
The 29-year-old picked up four wins, three saves and four holds in 58 innings of relief in 2015 with a whopping 11.02 SO/9. The transformation from mediocre starter to elite reliever gives Travis Wood renewed value in fantasy leagues. He looks a reliable option to again help out in all categories this season.
Danny Duffy (SP, RP – KC)
The 27-year-old has been unable to transfer his Double-A and Triple-A strikeout rate of 10.36 SO/9 to the majors. He was a below-average starter last season and could easily be shifted into the Royals’ bullpen this year. Unfortunately for Duffy, the Royals have plenty of elite arms ahead of him in their bullpen. He still flashes potential of a pitcher with exciting upside.
As always, you might find that the best options are ones you pick up in-season. Keep alert for starters who are moved into the bullpen after Spring Training. Nick Tropeano (SP – LAA), Lance McCullers (SP – HOU), Adam Conley (SP – MIA) and Joe Kelly (SP – BOS) should all be on your watch list.