At the time of this writing, the Atlanta Braves’ Julio Teheran has the following numbers:
Yes, I realize it took me a week to write this post and Teheran has made another start since then. But get off my back. You aren’t my mom, so don’t nag me! [slams door and stomps off to pout]
I look at Teheran’s stats and it’s love. Real love. Like a unicorn loves rainbows or fairies love glitter love. Teheran is obviously money, so let’s talk money for a little bit.
I paid $19 bucks for Teheran in an auction draft and he serves as my team’s Ace. Needless to say, I’ve been very pleased so far and I’ve made up little business cards for myself that say “Fantasy Baseball Auction Hero.” Prices are seriously inflated in this particular league, making $19 for Teharan look even more like an early steal.
Granted, I play with crazy auction people, but the point is that he’s a young, exciting pitcher and if you wanted him on your team you had to pony up some dough for him. Meanwhile, depending upon who you ask, his 2014 season is on pace to be worth around $31 in fantasy baseball value.
The Three Dollar Teheran
But I have two Julio Teheran‘s on my fantasy pitching staff and through the magic of cloning, I’ll tell you how I did it. You like where this is going? Me, too!
At the time of this writing (Seriously, mom! Get off my back about it taking me a week to write this post! [puts in ear buds and pouts]), Carlos Martinez, Drew Storen, Adam Ottavino have the following numbers:
Those are the numbers for three middle relievers who are having fine seasons and have no real warning flags around them that say they can’t continue it. Those middle relievers were also cheaply available. I paid $3 for Carlos Martinez as an auction flyer, but grabbed the other two off the waiver wire for nothing. Good middle relievers are a limited, but by no means rare commodity.
Go get you some, because notice how closely their numbers compare with Julio Teheran. I’ll wait.
Maximizing Relief Innings (MRI) isn’t a new strategy. Others will tell you that you can pick up a middle reliever as a cheap source of K’s, and this is illustrated in the example above.
I’ve also heard others talk about how a middle reliever can potential help with ratios, helping to bring down your overall ERA and WHIP. I’ve even heard folks talk about how they’ll occasionally vulture a win or two by temporarily carrying a middle reliever.
All good strategy advice, but each stops well short of saying that you can use middle relievers to actually replace an Ace starter, or duplicate him as is the case in this example.
I’m telling you that you can absolutely use 3 middle relievers to replicate the stat line of any fantasy baseball Ace, and the benefits of this are huge.
What’s the catch?
First, let’s talk about the two downsides to this strategy:
- If you implement this strategy you have 2 less bench spots available to you because you are using 3 players to count as one. I think team depth is overrated, a topic that I’ve already talked about, but if you are the type that likes to have extra hitters on your bench slots, then this strategy might not be for you.
- You might take a hit in the Wins column, but can I gently remind you that you’ve paid only $3 to get the sweet stat line the middle relievers provide?
Let’s Talk Brass Tacks
“Building” an ace from three middle relievers means you aren’t fighting over finite resources. There aren’t many Julio Teheran’s. When everyone wants a fantasy baseball rotation full of them it drives the price up. This strategy allows you to zip where everyone is zagging, picking up identical production at a fraction of the cost.
There isn’t a consensus on what a pitcher of Teheran’s calibre costs, but everyone agrees the price is steep. Let’s use the absolute low range – $15 – for sake of argument. It won’t take you more than a FA pick-up or $1 each to nab three stellar middle relievers. You just saved $12 bucks, minimum.
Find three dependable starters to serve as your “2-4″ in your fantasy baseball rotation. You obviously can’t replace all starters with middle relievers because you couldn’t work them into your lineup. Duh. But think about guys like Marco Estrada, Mike Minor, James Shields, etc. These guys can be had fairly, represent a fine fantasy pitching roster, but since they only pitch every five days they give you no stats 80% of the time.
It’s in that 80% time that your middle relievers are filling in your pitching slots. Boom, you just rolled a natural 20 and created your 4th starter for $3, while pulling down Ace numbers.
This is an all in, bold move that can be done at any time. If your present pitching staff is struggling, jettison the dead weight to free up a roster slot and “build” your new team ace right now.
Then rename your team the Three Dollar Teheran and watch it rise in the roto standings.