Riding the Pine in Roto Leagues


It’s important to use your bench wisely. One of the most frustrating things to me in Roto style fantasy baseball leagues is to leave stats on the bench.

So I like to utilize my bench for my starting pitchers, doing this with two main objectives:

  • To utilize the MRI strategy (maximize relief innings)
  • To try to find the right set of required hitters (all my leagues only have 9 but yours may have more than that) to achieve my optimal offensive production! Here is a look at the chart I would use to build my team according to my goals in a 10-12 team 5×5 roto league (note: these goals are set using only 9 hitters and are not universal to all lineup sizes):
Matt Wieters 71 21 68 2 .280
Albert Pujols 106 42 114 10 .312
Chase Utley 82 23 72 16 .277
Kevin Youkilis 86 29 99 3 .287
Erick Aybar 91 11 59 32 .289
Matt Holliday 85 23 98 6 .305
Chris Young 83 23 63 23 .249
Ichiro Suzuki 79 8 49 32 .290
Lance Berkman 89 34 114 2 .313
Totals 772 214 736 126 safe*
Goals 750 200 700 125 .275
*I don’t have to do the math. If these projections hold I know AVG is safe, BUT if you are going to do team AVG you must make sure you take the cumulative hits over at bats and not just average their averages.

This lineup would not need a bench hitter to meet these goals. In fact, a hitter on the bench would just be leaving stats on the bench, but there are two things to think about:

  1. If I were unable to get 1 or 2 of these players I would quickly plug in the guy(s) I drafted to make sure I am still set to reach my goals.
  2. Throughout the season I will also check the league’s pace to match these goals. For example, if people in your league have stacked up on mashers then the home run category may be way more competitive than you had anticipated. You will need to rework your goals, strategy, and potentially your roster. The other owners may be sacrificing steals and AVG to run away with another category and you may have already made up those points by being more balanced. As Clave posted a while back, you just need to hit the right amount of total roto points to win, it doesn’t matter how you get there.

I have found my hitters that will reach my output in the example above, so now we focus on pitching. I am a huge proponent of using middle relief pitchers to poach wins and to provide quality innings each time out. As I pointed out before, guys like Sean Marshall and Sergio Romo can provide enough stats over the course of a season to win you upwards of a half dozen fantasy points!

The way you maximize your pitching is by setting “every day pitchers” (your relievers and middle-relievers – as they may go any day of the week and not just during their scheduled start) and rotate in your starters. 

I know some of you want to stop reading because you are not a check-everyday-type-guy, but this is as simple as checking every Sunday and setting your starters for the week. You may miss the occasional start if a manager mixes things up or if there is a rain out, but you shouldn’t miss many, and you don’t have to check every day if you don’t want to. For those of you who are willing and able to check daily then just be on top of your team and you will get just about every stat you can out of your pitching staff, which is huge!

Another key to using a lot of middle relief guys is to have a few starters that will provide a lot of Ks and quality innings. I will pay big for at least 1 Ace and then go for undervalued guys like Ricky Romero (finally had a break out last year), Jaime Garcia (dude is getting better every year), Bud Norris (he won’t get you wins but he strikes out a TON of guys), Tim Hudson (solid pitcher), Brandon McCarthy (control control control), Carl Pavano (innings eater), and Scott Baker (this one is for Clave) [Editor's note: one day Scott Baker will pitch more than 17 innings in a season and it will be joyous!].

With an ace and a couple of these value pitchers, a trio of great middle relief guys, and your pitching staff will be set for dominance. Your value staff partnered with your lineup will make you pretty tough to beat in a Roto style league!

Tags: Albert Pujols Bench Draft MRI Roto Strategy

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