Many fantasy baseball championships are won on draft day. But some fake baseballers are able bring home the bacon with shrewd waiver wire moves and smoothly navigating their league’s settings to identify certain loopholes they can use to their advantage.
In some league variations, owners are have a fixed number of starting and relief roster spots to fill each-and-every day, so identifying lesser-owned hurlers with dual eligibility could be more valuable than most imagine. With that said, here is a short list of arms that said owners could slot into either their starting or relief roster spots in an attempt to gain an advantage in needed categories.
All ownership percentages reflect Yahoo! leagues.
Zach McAllister | Indians | 1% Y!
Throughout his career, Zach McAllister traditionally started games on the hill. But late last season the Indians’ began calling on the lanky right-hander out of the bullpen — and that trend continued in ‘15 despite McAllister hoping for a rotation spot. Looks like it was for the better. Now that’s he’s exclusively pitching in relief, McAllister’s velocity is up a couple of ticks on his fastball and curveball, while his slider’s velocity spiked close to five miles per hour through ten appearances. He’s currently inducing swinging strikes at a 9% clip — which is right about league average (9.3%) and up from his career rate (7.7%) — potentially due to the fact that he’s just letting them fly because he doesn’t have to keep anything in the reserves to last five, six or even seven frames.
McAllister’s numbers are still recovering from a brutal outing against the Tigers in which he yielded five earned runs on 13 hits in just four innings of work in the only game he starting this season. Since then, he’s been spectacular. And even more so in his last five outings. McAllister has allowed just three hits in six-and-two-thirds with a 10:0 K:BB and lowered his ERA over two runs from 5.84 to 3.79 since April 27th. The Indians’ appear to be using the righty more in the middle innings, in low leverage situations — his last three outings, the Tribe have been up five, four and seven runs, respectively — so while the path to holds and wins may not be all that clear, our fake teams could surely benefit from the strikeouts and steady ratios.
Carlos Villanueva | Cardinals | 6% Y!
In just eight appearances (13.1 IP), right-hander Carlos Villanueva is 3-1 with a sparkling 0.66 ERA, a 0.73 WHIP and a 13.5% K%-BB%. However, Villanueva’s 3.75 tells us he’s been the beneficiary of some favorable bounces so far this season. Opposing batters are hitting just .097 on balls in play (versus a career .284 BABIP) and those that reach base are being stranded more than 93% of the time (versus a 74% career LOB%). Yea, that’s probably not sustainable. And he’s also walking 11.5% of batters, when he’s only allowed 7.9% of batters to reach via the free pass over the course of his career.
On the bright side, it looks like there is a spike in swinging strikes (up to 12.1% SwStr%) he’s induced for the third consecutive year, leading to the spike in K%. The strikeouts will help. And until the regression monster surfaces, the ratios will too. There is some risk in running him out there regularly, but since he pitches in small doses I think I’d be willing to take that chance in non head-to-head formats. Send him packing when the monster arrives.
Chris Young | Royals | 9% Y!
We’re playing with fire here, I know. But the 35-year-old hurler is 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA (2.92 FIP), a 0.53 WHIP and an 18.3% K%-BB%. He still possesses the ability to miss bats (13.8% SwStr%) and is striking out opposing batters more than he ever has in the past (26.7% K%). And Young’s velocity is up a few ticks, too! Like the two above — and aside from the one game he started on May 1st — the Royals run him to the hill on short stints, lowering the risk for those willing to roll the dice. Again, head-to-head players may want to pay a little less attention to him than traditional roto guys, but I’m okay with streaming relievers like Young until he turns back into a pumpkin.