Friday, April 18, 2008

Carlos Marmol and the Middle Reliever's Fantasy Value

Last year Carlos Marmol established himself as one of the elite middle relievers in the league; posting excellent strikeout rate and ratios. But how valuable is such a player? Pitchers that are drafted tend to be starters which can rack up wins or closer which obviously grab the saves. But what about the middle ground?

A great middle reliever can lower your team's ERA and WHIP. Last year Marmol had an ERA of 1.43 over 69.1 innings. That is about a third of what a very solid starting pitcher will have. These innings will have an effect on your bottom line. It is sometimes difficult to imagine a middle reliever having significant value over the course of the season but there will be times when after a night of baseball one of your starting pitchers will have had a less than stellar game and a solid two innings in relief can help bring all of your final numbers for the night back to respectability.

Additionally Marmol had 96 strikeouts last season or 8 less than Chien-Ming Wang (in 130 less innings). A hard throwing reliever can help to balance out a crafty starter. These solid arms will get brought into close games late leading to more wins than the typical reliever and are the first in line for save opportunity if something were to happen to the closer. The closer situation is typically good to look at when valuing middle relievers. Kerry Wood's injury history makes Marmol a bit more valuable than if he were setting up Nathan. That being said, value picks are what win fantasy leagues. So while I think Marmol is very good pitcher, top- and middle-tier closers should go first. Marmol's value comes from being a contributor on your team that got taken late in a draft and offers mid-draft value.

Inconsistency is an issue with all relievers and pitching in general. Linebrink strung together three very good seasons but has been somewhat mediocre in recent years. Brad Lidge went from being a dominant force to not being able to hold off Dan Wheeler for the closer's job in just a couple of years. Spending a high draft pick on a player that could be relegated to mop-up duty after a bad month is a risky proposition.

My team includes the likes of the suddenly questionable Francisco Rodriguez, the always injury-prone Huston Street, and the incredibly hittable Jose Valverde. So, I'm glad I took Marmol in the 12th round of my draft, as he has already racked up 17 strikeouts in 12.1 innings. But could this end up blowing up in my face?

No, it can't. Did you even read the post?

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