Here are a few tips on how to dig deeper into your bullpen and squeeze the most out of the waiver wire:
The Middle Relief Goldmine
Most Yahoo! leagues track saves (SV) as a stat. For this reason closers tend to go higher in the draft than other relief pitchers. Many managers draft closers specifically and ignore an ocean of middle relief talent.
Ultimately, you would like to have a closer like Jose Valverde with his 49 saves in 2011, but if you are lacking a top-shelf closer it may be worth your while to dig into some bullpens. While bullpen guys won't get you as many saves, the good ones will still post a great ERA and WHIP and will probably pick up a few wins in the process. Last year, Jonny Venters had 6 wins, 5 saves, a 1.84 ERA, and a 1.09 WHIP. He did all this with 88 innings pitched. Compare that with Jose Valverde's 71.1 innings pitched and you've got yourself a fantasy workhorse. A smart way to find great middle-relief pitchers is to research holds (HLD). A hold is neither a win nor a loss for a relief pitcher. It means he left the game without surrendering any runs or putting a scoring run on base. Holds are not a stat in most leagues, but you can sort by holds on websites such as Yahoo! MLB.
Multiple Eligibility Pitchers
A player who is eligible for more than one position can be fantasy gold. Many times when a team moves a relief pitcher to a starting position, Yahoo! keeps its relief pitcher status and they become available to play as a reliever as well as a starter. With these players, you can place a starting pitcher in a relief spot or vice versa. This way you are able to start an extra pitcher for that day.
Normally when a pitcher is moved from the bullpen to a starting position, it is because he has recently become hot or is a young stud that the team is easing into a starting role. Some notables in this category in recent years have been Phil Hughes, J.A. Happ, Joba Chamberlain, and Tyler Clippard. In 2011, Tyler Clippard had only 3 wins, but produced a 1.83 ERA, .162 WHIP, and did it in an impressive 88.1 innings pitched. What he lacked in the saves category he made more than made up for in all others.
Really good multiple-eligibility guys don't come around often; there may only be one or two each season. But keep you eye out for these players; they will reward you with superb roster versatility.
Kristian Eberwein is a sportswriter and fantasy baseball expert from Central Florida. He has been a player and commissioner of Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball leagues for the past seven years.