Immediately I'd like to point out that the title is regarding me, yes I know cocky, but hey. In case you're wondering no it's not really regarding me, it's regarding, Middle Relievers.
You know what middle relievers are right? The pitchers that bridge the gap between the starter and the closer? Doesn't a ring a bell? You know those perennial "closers in waiting", yup, middle relievers. Ahhh now you see what I'm talking about.
So why on earth would I decide to write a blog about middle relievers, they're just innings eatters after all. True, but there are few middle men that will not only "eat" innings, but post elite ratios, great strike out numbers, pick up a bunch of vulture wins and saves. Now you're getting exciting, and wondering, who are these guys and how much will they cost?
First off lets post this stat line.
Pitcher 1- 20w, 2.78era, 206k,1.05whip, 246 IP
Pitcher 2- 22w, 2.41era, 309k, 1.10whip, 272.2IP
Pitcher 1, Roy Halladay, how much did that guy cost you? The perennial Cy Young candidate cost you an early draft pick, and alot of money at the auction.
Pitcher 2-, Grant Balfour , Matt Thornton , J.P. Howell , Jared Burton. Shocking I know, 4 unknown, underappreciated middle relievers that likely weren't drafted in any leagues and if they were, they were your last draft picks, and couldn't have cost you more then $5 for the whole lot of them.
There's an inherant risk with spending a high draft pick or big money on pitcher, when you can utilize the "Lima Plan" and grab productive middle relievers for cheap. If you're questioning the logic of strategy ask yourself this. "How hard it is to replace a $1 pitchers production should he get injured?" Easy grab one from the free agent pool. " How hard is it to replace a $20 pitcher?" Not nearly as easy.
For those astute owners, you managed to pick up numbers that even an ace pitcher couldn't put from names off the free agent list. What more could you want?
OK, here's a list of Middle relievers to draft this year.
Tampa Rays Grant Balfour , J.P. Howell , Joe Nelson. Toronto Blue Jays , Jesse Carlson , San Diego Padres Mike Adams , St.Louis Cardinals , Jason Motte , Pittsburgh Pirates , John Grabow , New York Mets , J.J. Putz , Milwaukee Brewers , Carlos Villanueva , Mike DiFelice , Los Angeles Dodgers , Hung-Chih Kuo , Cory Wade , Kansas City Royals , Kyle Farnsworth , Colorado Rockies , Taylor Buccholz , Cincinnati Reds, Jared Burton , Chicago White Sox, Octavio Dotel , Matt Thornton , Chicago Cubs, Jeff Samardzija , Boston Red Sox , Manny Delcarmen , Hideki Okajima , Baltimore Orioles , Dennis Sarfate , Cleveland Indians , Rafael Perez , amongst others that will appear during the season.
Keep an eye out on the bull pen situations, particularily on guys that post strong K/9 (8k/9 or higher), as well as guys that don't walk alot of batters less then 2.75BB/9.
Pay attention to young prospects who start the year in the pen to monitor their work load.
All things being equal, middle relievers are key contributors to your fantasy baseball teams, and championships.