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JB's Bullpen Method Redux - Building FrankenAces

Last year, I finally published an article breaking down my favorite fantasy baseball strategy I have been using for years. It's really less of a strategy and more a state of mind. No, the Bullpen Method is a lifestyle. I always speak about the importance of balance on a fantasy team. For your pitching staff, I find this even more important.

You need steady and consistent balance and to be frank with you, that is not possible with a bunch of starting pitchers on your roster. Sure, you can attack Wins and Strikeouts, but your ERA and WHIP have no chance at survival. There are like 20 starting pitchers in all of baseball that I would trust with my team's ERA and WHIP, and people want to fill your roster with them?

When your draft day arrives before the start of the 2021 MLB season, I encourage you to try my bullpen method for roster construction.

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Breaking Down JB's Bullpen Method

In a standard league, I will roster ~13 pitchers. Of the 13 pitchers I draft, six will be starters, and that usually drops to five during the season. That means the other seven or eight are relief pitchers, and I don't care if they are closers right now or not. For years, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller were my anchors, then Josh Hader emerged before taking the closer role, and every year a new crop of setup studs emerge like Giovanny Gallegos in 2019 or Devin Williams in 2020. This is the Bullpen mentality, realizing that starting pitchers are heavily overrated in fantasy and subsequently relief pitchers (especially setup men) are heavily underrated. Once you come to this epiphany, you can immediately take advantage of the common industry mistake and instantly witness improvement on your teams.

*Disclaimer - Please do not attempt this method in Points Leagues. Points leagues are made for heavy-volume starters and the elite closers. This method absolutely crushes Roto leagues, where balance is king - but also works in H2H leagues where you can easily beat your opponent in 3 of 5 pitching categories (5 of 5 if you are a talented SP streamer). 

 

2019 Examples

Since it was the last "normal" season we've had and it was the first year I started compiling the Bullpen Method results, let's start with 2019 for those looking into bullpening for the first time.

Example 1 is the 2019 RotoBaller Expert Roto League.

I finished the season with 13 pitchers on the roster. As is custom, five of those were starters: Homer Bailey, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Ryan Yarbrough, Tyler Glasnow, and Dylan Bundy. Typically in a vacuum with that rotation, I should have had no business being in even the top half of the league's standings, right? What if I told you I won the league with over 100 roto points? Bullpen Method to the rescue!

Since I told you just five of my 13 pitchers were starters, that means the other eight were obviously relievers. The eight RP on my roster were:

How hard do you think it was to draft this group of relievers last season? Extremely easy, and very cheap. All below 2.80 ERA and all below 1.09 WHIP. Sprinkle in all the saves you pick up along the way as they change roles in the bullpen and you've just won three of five pitching categories handily.

Let's look at another winning example from 2019 - this time in a H2H league. This time my five starters looked much better with Gerrit Cole, Clayton Kershaw, Charlie Morton, Robbie Ray, and Ryan Yarbrough. Again I went with 13 total pitchers, meaning once again I had eight relievers. Those eight relievers were:

  • Alex Colome (4 W, 30 SV, 55 K, 2.80 ERA, 1.07 WHIP)
  • Trevor May (5 W, 2 SV, 79 K, 2.94 ERA, 1.07 WHIP)
  • Drew Pomeranz (2nd half - 57 K, 1.96 ERA, 0.82 WHIP)
  • Chad Green (2nd Half - 55 K, 2.89 ERA, 0.96 WHIP)
  • Taylor Rogers (2 W, 30 SV, 90 K, 2.61 ERA, 1.00 WHIP)
  • Keone Kela (29.2 IP - 2 W, 1 SV, 33 K, 2.12 ERA, 1.01 WHIP)
  • Ross Stripling (4 W, 93 K, 3.47 ERA, 1.15 WHIP)
  • Julio Urias (4 W, 4 SV, 85 K, 2.49 ERA, 1.08 WHIP)

As you can see with the added boost I had at SP, and it being a H2H league, I cared even less about finding Saves and focused more on the extra K from my bullpen while still nailing down the ERA and WHIP categories on a weekly basis. This is why I said earlier that the Bullpen Method is more of a mentality than an actual black and white strategy - you can tweak it based on the league and your roster build. We will look at some of the different drafting techniques within the method a little later.

 

2020 Examples

I will admit 2020's chaotic COVID small-sample madness was not overly kind to my fantasy teams. Don't get me wrong, the pitching stats were still as gravy as always, but I went with damn-near 100% exposure on some DUDs on offense that kept me at 3rd-4th in all my leagues except one lonely dub. Ramon Laureano, Jonathan Villar, Danny Santana, Victor Robles, J.D. Martinez, and even Christian Yelich. I over yolo'd, which is a common theme when you are this rowdy. But it is worth noting, the bullpen method kept me so high in the pitching categories that even in a weird year with THOSE kind of offensive disappointments I was still competing near the top.

Example 1 is once again the RotoBaller Expert Roto League:

My five SP: Lance Lynn (9th round), Hyun-Jin Ryu (12th round), Zack Wheeler (15th round), Chris Bassitt (29th round), and Brad Keller (UDFA). Only one SP in the first ten rounds, and I ended the year with "only" six RP as I decided I was safe enough in the pitching categories and tried to catch up offensively. Those six RP:

  • Josh Hader (1 W, 13 SV, 31 K, 3.79 ERA, 0.95 WHIP)
  • Ryan Pressly (1 W, 12 SV, 29 K, 3.43 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
  • Drew Pomeranz (1 W, 4 SV, 29 K, 1.45 ERA, 1.02 WHIP)
  • Giovanny Gallegos (2 W, 4 SV, 21 K, 3.60 ERA, 0.87 WHIP)
  • Aaron Bummer (9 IP, 1 W, 14 K, 0.96 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) - Biceps Strain prevented a stellar full season.
  • Victor Gonzalez (3 W, 23 K, 1.33 ERA, 0.74 WHIP)

 

For Example 2, I will use The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational since everyone is all about overall contests these days. This is a 15-team Roto League that also has an overall aspect which was out of ~230 teams. I hovered around the top-60 overall mark for a lot of the season despite the previously mentioned DUDs on offense before a life event occurred near the end of the season that took me away from team management. Alas, the pitching stats were still gravy, and in this draft I did not draft an SP until after round 10. My rotation was Julio Urias, Lance McCullers Jr., Carlos Carrasco, Brad Keller, and Antonio Senzatela. You can already see the difference in rotation caliber going from 12-15 teams. Just like the other 2020 example, I ended the season with only 11 pitchers as I tried to find hitting depth. My six-man bullpen was:

  • Drew Pomeranz (1 W, 4 SV, 29 K, 1.45 ERA, 1.02 WHIP)
  • Ryan Pressly (1 W, 12 SV, 29 K, 3.43 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
  • Mark Melancon (2 W, 11 SV, 14 K, 2.78 ERA, 1.28 WHIP)
  • Diego Castillo (3 W, 4 SV, 23 K, 1.66 ERA, 1.06 WHIP)
  • Chad Green (3 W, 1 SV, 32 K, 3.51 ERA, 0.82 WHIP)
  • Jordan Romano (2 W, 2 SV, 21 K, 1.23 ERA, 0.89 WHIP)

 

Building Franken-Aces with Relievers

The first question most people ask when they see my drafts is - "How can you win without drafting aces?" Well, there are two answers. First, draft the sleepers that become aces. Duh, right? Like the 2019 example above, I was able to get Ryu and Glasnow for very cheap and for chunks of the season they were bonafide aces. In 2020, I got Lance Lynn and Ryu again for a good value. That certainly helps. But the second and most important answer is YOU BUILD THEM WITH RELIEVERS.

Like Frankenstein, you can put together a stud ace with unwanted scraps you find on the waiver wire or late in the draft. This is the heart of the Bullpen Method.

2019 FrankenAces

Let's do some hindsight FrankenAce building. We will once again start in 2019, and take Brandon Workman and Emilio Pagan into our lab. Both were for the most part undrafted in leagues in 2019, or at-best late stashes because Boston's bullpen situation was sketchy. So now we have our unwanted scrap parts. Now let's combine their end of season stats. We get 14 W, 200 K, 2.10 ERA, and 0.93 WHIP. Now let's compare. Clayton Kershaw finished 2019 with 16 W, 189 K, 3.03 ERA, and 1.04 WHIP. Our Franken-Ace easily has him beat.

But Kershaw was only SP11, so let's now look at the SP4 back in 2019, Zack Greinke. He finished 2019 with 18 W, 187 K, 2.93 ERA, and 0.98 WHIP. Franken-Ace still has the SP4 easily beat in three of the four "SP" categories. Oh, and don't forget Workman and Pagan combined for 36 Saves too. "Pagman" FrankenAce was a five-category monster that only took two relief pitchers to build, and I carry six of these relievers at a minimum meaning I can build at least three of these FrankenAces.

The haters cry out "But those are two breakout relievers that became closers. They are the exception." Fair enough. Let's try another FrankenAce, this time without closers, because closers are the best relievers right? Silly simpletons. Let's go with two setup men that I also owned multiple shares of in 2019: Seth Lugo and Giovanny Gallegos. So we have our new unwanted scrap parts. When we combine their end-of-season stats we get 10 W, 197 K, 2.51 ERA, and 0.86 WHIP. Now, let's look at Jack Flaherty who was drafted in the second round of most drafts for 2020. He finished 2019 with 11 W, 231 K, 2.75 ERA, and 0.97 WHIP. "Gallugo" FrankenAce tied Flaherty 2-2 in the four SP categories, but by only ONE win and 34 K, and again he loses in the Saves department to break the tie.

What the hell, let's do one more. This time let's do a second-half FrankenAce because remember, the Bullpen Method is not solely a draft strategy. It is a mentality that is fluid and lasts the entire season. Relievers are like any other position in baseball, they have splits. They can start off cold and finish hot, and just as easily vice-versa. This is why I picked up Chad Green and Drew Pomeranz after rough starts to 2019. So we have our unwanted scraps. Let's say I put them together during the All-Star break to make a second-half  "Pomereen" FrankenAce. Combine their second-half stats: 2 W, 112 K, 2.43 ERA, and 0.89 WHIP. Next, let's look at one of the best 2019 second-half SP performers, Yu Darvish. Over the same timeframe, he earned 4 W, 118 K, 2.76 ERA, 0.81 WHIP. Bravo, Mr. Darvish, you defeated our second half "Pomereen" FrankenAce, but it was a very close fight and against two relievers that were way off standard-league radars. The Pomereen combination was a lethal weapon down the fantasy playoff stretch in 2019. Fluidity - there is always a reliever on the waiver wire that has what you are looking for. Don't get wrapped up in names or roles, just production and skills.

2020 FrankenAces

The first FrankenAce I want to point out from last season was one built by my colleague and long-time friend Nick Mariano. He is hands down the second-best FrankenAce builder on the planet and we have bounced relief pitcher strategies back and forth for years. He finally dethroned me in the previously mentioned RotoBaller Expert League in 2020 and he did it with the help of a lethal "Willianthal" FrankenAce built by two undrafted relievers: Devin Williams and Trevor Rosenthal. When we combine their stats from 2020 we get 5 W, 91 K, 1.07 ERA, and 0.73 WHIP. Now let's compare to the stats of 2021 fantasy golden boy Lucas Giolito: 4 W, 97 K, 3.48 ERA, 1.04 WHIP. Thanks to Rosenthal's 11 saves, undrafted Willianthal FrankenAce just beat Gioltio in four of five categories, losing strikeouts by only six.

That was too easy though because those were two of the biggest relief pitcher breakouts of the year. So how bout we build one from my TGFBI team, one of my personal favorites, "Pomerillo" featuring Diego Castillo and Drew Pomeranz. Combine their 2020 stats: 4 W, 52 K, 1.60 ERA, and 1.07 WHIP. Clearly not as dominant as the Willianthal FrankenAce due to the volume in the small COVID-sample season, but let's compare now to Blake Snell who is being drafted as the 47th player overall in NFBC drafts this off-season: 4 W, 63 K, 3.24 ERA, 1.20 WHIP. 2-1-1 in favor of team Pomerillo, but add in the saves and its a demanding 3-1-1 lead.

You want to know what's really fun? Building a FrankenAce from the same bullpen. Jordan Romano and Rafael Dolis both had great 2020 seasons in Toronto, and also created a Canadian "Dolano" FrankenAce for fantasy. Let's combine their 2020 stats: 4 W, 52 K, 1.41 ERA, 1.12 WHIP. This is one you can still build cheaply in 2021 as Kirby Yates moves into town and sucks up all the ADP.

Pretty simple, no? So we are not only making FrankenAces out of late-round picks/ free-agent pickups, but at the same time our offense is STACKED because while the rest of the league was wasting picks on their starting pitchers in the early rounds, we were grabbing the elite bats. That is the heart and soul of the Bullpen Method, and why it is so deadly. You are stacking your offensive categories and then winning/catching up on pitching categories on the back end without breaking a sweat.

 

JBullpen Method Drafting Strategies

As I have said numerous times already in this article, and will probably say a few more times - this is not a black and white strategy. You can't say "I drafted Blake Treinen and Edwin Diaz in 2019 because JB said relievers were better than starters and they both sucked so I lost." That's why it is more a state of mind, where names and roles don't matter. All you care about is numbers. If one guy isn't getting it done, move on, even if he is getting saves.

With that being said, I have noticed over the years that the drafting strategy, specifically how you handle starting pitchers and closers really doesn't matter with the Bullpen Method which is what makes it so cool. You can get five true aces as your starting pitchers, or you can get one ace and four mid-late round starters, or you can wait until round 10 to get your first starter. Names don't matter. Those five arms are there to get you IP, W, and K to keep you afloat in those categories while your bullpen does the rest.

I ran some mock drafts with the two conflicting draft techniques to prove it and to also show you just how flexible you can be. Because the best drafting strategy is to always take what the league gives you. I broke down the drafts into two categories: SP Light and SP Heavy.

*I used FantasyPros for the mocks with 5x5 Roto categories, 30 roster spots, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, CIF, MIF, OF x 5, UTIL x 2, P x 9, Bench x 7.

SP Light (1 x SP, 3 x RP in first 15 Rounds)

This draft technique is my most common with the Bullpen Method. I get one top-100 overall SP after some elite bats, in this case Zack Wheeler. Then I might grab some elite relievers that happen to fall into my lap for those elite ratios, in this case Josh Hader, James Karinchak, and Nick Anderson . But other than that, the first half of the draft is all about the bats. I can get basically whatever hitters I want and really blow the league away offensively. Then, hit the pitching fast and furious in the second half until I have filled my five-man rotation. In this mock I went SP for rounds 15-17 with Andrew HeaneyMarcus Stroman, and Eduardo Rodriguez then later snagged Ryan Yarbrough as my SP5 and Jordan Montgomery as a depth SP6. The final bullpen is Josh Hader, James Karinchak, Nick Anderson, Chris Martin, Giovanny Gallegos, Pete Fairbanks, and Chad Green. Let's see how the projections look:

This is the prototypical league roto rankings layout for my teams. My offense is competing for the top spot in all categories because of the number of first-half picks on the stud hitters. Saves, ERA, and WHIP are locked in - despite only have four pitchers after round 14. That is the power of the Bullpen. Some successful SP-streaming throughout the season can vastly improve the W and K totals for some extra first-place padding, especially in daily-roster move leagues.

 

Pitching Heavy (5 x SP, 2 x RP in first 15 Rounds)

I am not opposed to this strategy, but you will never see me doing it with pitchers being as brittle as they are these days. But I promised you that waiting on starting pitching would not affect your overall results with the Bullpen Method and now I get to prove it. Going inverse from the last strategy of SP Light, we now go seven pitchers in the first half of the draft. In the first 13 rounds I grabbed Gerrit Cole, Lucas Giolito, Josh Hader, James Karinchak, Charlie Morton, Joe Musgrove, and Frankie Montas. To reiterate, that is 50% pitchers through the first 14 rounds. Let's see how the categories broke down at the end:

So obviously we expect the hitting categories to take a hit in this strategy where we focus on our pitchers early instead of loading up on bats, and they certainly did. But the big shocker and the proof of Bullpen Method is the pitching categories. In this technique we drafted five starting pitchers along with two elite closers and the pitching projections look eerily similar to our SP Light strategy where we only had ONE starting pitcher in the first 14 rounds, and it was Zack Wheeler. The results below are obviously still fantastic, because the Bullpen Method always wins, but if you could obtain the same overall standings and roughly the same pitching category results without burning early picks on TJS/Inning-Limit-risk starters, wouldn't you do it?

 

2021 RP Targets

This season, once I reach the second half of the draft and start filling my rotation and bullpen, these are some late-round relievers I'm targeting to build some FrankenAces:

Drew Pomeranz, SD - 235 ADP (2020 - 18.2 IP, 1 W, 4 SV, 29 K, 1.45 ERA, 1.02 WHIP)

I wanted to stay outside the top 250 ADP for my targets, but Pomeranz is my boo plus he's half of my FrankenAce logo. Pom now has 134.1 IP as a reliever under his belt. Across those 134.1 innings, he owns a 2.55 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and a 31.4 K%. If we look at him as a reliever from just the last two seasons, he boasts an incredible 1.71 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, and 79 K in 47.1 IP. I am actually pleased that the Padres signed Melancon because it will hopefully help further suppress Pomeranz ADP as we hit peak draft season. Pom is the only high-leverage LHP in the bullpen for the Padres and Melancon is about to be 36 years old, continue to give me all the Pomeranz.

Giovanny Gallegos, STL - 275 ADP (15 IP, 2 W, 4 SV, 21 K, 3.60 ERA, 0.87 WHIP)

Truth be told, I love Jordan Hicks and Alex Reyes as well this year to make a terrific trio in St. Louis, but Gallegos is my guy. He had an amazing breakout season in 2019, but I think he's poised to take it a step further this season. He upped his slider usage to over 50% in 2020 which increased the strikeout and groundball rates. He was one of only eight relievers with a 35+ K%, 40+ GB%, and sub-3.00 xFIP. Alex Reyes feels like he has been injured his whole career and has never pitched over 46 innings in the minors, and Jordan Hicks is coming off Tommy John Surgery, while Gallegos just threw 74 innings in 2019. So despite his "role" in the Cards' late innings at any given time, you know Mike Shildt is going to lean heavily on Gio as his safety valve.

Diego Castillo, TB - 322 ADP (21.2 IP, 3 W, 4 SV, 23 K, 1.66 ERA, 1.06 WHIP)

I wrote a piece back in December about why I love Diego Castillo so much, and probably at least five separate articles before that. Allow me to paraphrase. Practically doing away with his four-seam fastball, Castillo threw his slider at a surprising 64.7% clip, and despite the slight dip in K-rate from previous seasons the results were very promising. He posted career-bests in O-Swing%, Contact%, and SwStr% while boasting a 2.13 GB/FB and 24.1 Hard%. As I said prior to the 2020 season, this guy is the perfect blend of velocity, stuff, strikeout potential, soft contact, and keeping the ball on the ground. Castillo was one of only two relievers with a GB% above 60, Hard% below 25, and at least a strikeout per inning. (Victor Gonzalez was the other).

Jake Diekman, OAK - 347 ADP (21.1 IP, 2 W, 31 K, 0.42 ERA, 0.94 WHIP)

Talk about a career revival! Most casual fantasy players wouldn't know Diekman has been in the big leagues since 2012, and if they did know they probably mostly remember the two very mediocre 2018-2019 seasons he had bouncing between FOUR different teams. Then he comes out in 2020 and blows the cover off the whole damn thing and records the second-lowest ERA, fifth-highest GB%, and tenth-highest K% among all relievers with at least 20 innings. What changed? Well first and most importantly he learned a new slider from Twitter, and no I am not joking. By watching Pitching Ninja's slider analysis on Chaz Roe, Diekman tweaked his slider and the results speak for themselves. The 14 inches of horizontal movement was double he previous years, and was fifth highest among all LHP. The pitch boasted a .106 xBA, .141 xSLG, and a 46.8 Whiff%. Trevor Rosenthal can be named the closer all he wants, I will find plenty of fantasy-use for this new-found dominance from Jake Diekman.

Jordan Romano, TOR - 351 ADP (14.2 IP, 2 W, 2 SV, 21 K, 1.23 ERA, 0.89 WHIP)

Across a whopping 30 big league innings, Romano has certainly been Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as the first half were awful and 2020 was fantastic. During last season's breakout, Romano boasted a 2.40 xFIP and flashed that rare groundball (58.1 GB%), soft-contact (25.8 Hard%), high-whiff ability (36.8 K%). In his forgetful 2019 campaign, Romano threw his fastball and slider at a 60%/40% split. In 2020 that split flipped to 40/60, and evidently it was beneficial - along with a 2 MPH uptick in velocity. His O-Contact% dropped 23 points from 2019, with his overall Contact% dropping 15. He gave up the eighth-lowest contact among all relievers. Typically when a pitcher only carries a two-pitch mix one can expect struggles with the opposite-handed hitters, but Romano mowed down left-handed hitters in 2020. I mean MOWED. Left-handed batters hit .083 with a .157 wOBA against Romano, piling up a 56 K% and a lowly 4 BB%. His 1.10 xFIP vs LHB was ranked right behind Liam Hendriks. He will be setting up Kirby Yates, but we all know at this point I don't care.

Yimi Garcia, MIA - 366 ADP (15 IP, 3 W, 1 SV, 19 K, 0.60 ERA, 0.93 WHIP)

Yimi had a great first season in Miami, enjoying a career-high 31.7 K% and career-low ERA. Of course, 15 innings is a laughable sample-size and he certainly had his fair share of HR/FB luck, but his 2.85 xERA was right on par with his 2.88 xERA from 2019 and he did make a noticeable change with his pitch selection. He essentially swapped out his curveball with his slider as his secondary pitch. While the slider is not a strikeout pitch for him in the slightest, this new mix led to a career-high GB% and Soft%. Anthony Bass certainly muddies the save projections in Miami but Romano also pitched behind Bass last season and still carried plenty of value, and so will Yimi.

Lucas Sims, CIN - 383 ADP (25.2 IP, 3 W, 34 K, 2.45 ERA, 0.94 WHIP)

I love Lucas Sims at his ADP, but my colleague Eric Samulski loves him more and he's already done a great write-up on him you can read here. The K% has been locked in above the 30% mark for two straight seasons, his xBA and xSLG were both in the top 1% of the league, and he only allowed one barrel all season in 2020. He should see at least a modest share of the Reds save opportunities in 2021 but I am more intrigued by the ratio and strikeout potential over a full season.

Seth Lugo, NYM - 405 ADP (36.2 IP, 3 W, 3 SV, 47 K, 5.15 ERA, 1.36 WHIP)

We definitely learned one thing about Lugo in 2020, and that is he should not be in a starting rotation. But let us not forget 2019 when he threw 80 innings out of the bullpen with 104 strikeouts and a 2.70 ERA. After the additions of Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker, with the pending return of Noah Syndergaard, we can safely assume Lugo will return to the Mets pen setting up Edwin Diaz....sometime in May. He recently had surgery to remove a loose body in his throwing elbow but he should only miss the first month. I won't be drafting him outside of draft and hold formats, but you best believe he'll be a cheap FAAB target of mine at some point in April.

Aaron Bummer, CWS - 443 ADP (9.1 IP, 1 W, 14 K, 0.96 ERA, 1.07 WHIP)
Man what an incredible season Bummer could have had, but a biceps strain forced him to miss most of the season. As you can see by his half of jersey in the logo, I am right back on the Bummer-train for 2021. I love that the Liam Hendriks signing is burying the ADP in the mud because now we get to see this new strikeout plus negative launch angle black-magic over a full season. From the very truncated 2020 sample, we saw a big increase in sinker usage with its -14 LA, and a big increase in RPM for the slider. He threw the slider nine times, and generated an 85.7 whiff% and zero batted ball events.

Emmanuel Clase, CLE - 444 ADP (Missed 2020 due to Suspension)

It's never good to have a player miss a season due to suspension, but Clase presents a very intriguing buy low for 2021. First of all, his arm is obviously fresh. Second of all, we don't know if James Karinchak will hold the closer role all season. Lastly, Clase throws 99.5 MPH fastballs (cutter and four-seam) paired with a 90 mph slider. In his small cup of MLB coffee in 2019 for the Rangers, he was very impressive in the Statcast categories, whereas the strikeouts were very meh. His K% in the minors never really got the blood flowing either, but he is still only 22 years old. At the end of drafts I am willing to take a chance we witness a breakout in 2021, and also some save opportunities.

Mike Mayers, LAA - 465 ADP (30 IP, 2 W, 2 SV, 43 K, 2.10 ERA, 0.90 WHIP)

Like the White Sox, the Angels also have a new shiny closer in Raisel Iglesias who is allowing fantasy owners to forget how good Mike Mayers was in his first year in LA. He introduced a new cutter to his arsenal, and by the looks of its .196 wOBA and 43.8 PutAway%, it was quite successful. Considering he was one of the most heavily-used relievers in baseball in 2020, Joe Madden should lean on Mayers again and we'll get to see the new cutter over a high-volume full season.

Tyler Duffey, MIN - 483 ADP (24 IP, 1 W, 31 K, 1.88 ERA, 0.79 WHIP)

The forgotten man in the Twins bullpen that now includes Alex Colome, Duffey has now given us two elite reliever seasons in a row. With 2019 and 2020 combined Duffey owns a 34.2 K%, 2.31 ERA, and a 0.94 WHIP over 81.2 innings. He appears to only be getting better too as he threw his curveball at a wild 53.1% rate and did away with the slider in 2020 which helped induce a career-high 55.6 GB%. Steady strikeouts and ratios for daysss.

Garrett Crochet, CWS - 484 ADP (6 IP, 8 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP)

I always like to have one "swingman" type pitchers to target for those multi-innings of clean relief. They work great as subs for a starter who has unfavorable matchups for the upcoming week. Would you rather take five innings from your SP4 in Coors or five brilliant relief innings from the Croch-Rocket (probably not the preferred nickname)? What's most fun about the White Sox is they have two of these guys you can choose from, as Michael Kopech should have the same type of role in 2021. But since Crochet is being drafted ~250 spots later in the draft, I'll focus here. Crochet is a 6'6" monster southpaw pumping triple-digit fastballs with an 86 mph slider, and went straight from the 2020 draft to the big league bullpen. His exact role for 2021 probably can't be pegged even by Tony La Russa at this point, but whatever point of the game he goes to the mound you know multiple innings of electricity are to follow.

Chad Green, NYY - 545 ADP (25.2 IP, 3 W, 1 SV, 32 K, 3.51 ERA, 0.82 WHIP)

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Chad Green will continue to be on my FrankenAces target list as long as he keeps boosting my wins, strikeouts, and ratios for free at the end of drafts. Since 2017 he has the third most wins among relievers (sorry not counting you anymore Yarbrough). Across all those 218 innings he also boasts a 34.2 K%, 2.77 ERA, and 0.95 WHIP. His last name is Green because he is moneyyyyy.

Victor Gonzalez, LAD - 688 ADP (20.1 IP, 3 W, 23 K, 1.33 ERA, 0.74 WHIP)

Holy hell we are still finding studs in the late 600s. Gonzalez got his first taste of the major leagues in 2020, and he just so happened to get a World Series ring along the way. The lefty was phenomenal in the small sample, and as I stated previously he was the only other RP with Diego Castillo to possess a GB% above 60, Hard% below 25, and a strikeout per inning. He successfully avoided a single barrel through 52 batted balls, averaged a -2.4 launch angle, and owned the fourth-lowest xERA in the league. Talk about a ratio anchor. He's only 25 years old and could even see a small handful of LHP-friendly-matchup save ops for the Dodgers in 2021.

 

Weekly Leagues

It makes sense that the Bullpen Method is much easier to pull off in daily-roster leagues, where you can change your lineup everyday. This means you can maximize your SP streams and your reliever-innings by swapping them daily to avoid off-days. In weekly roster leagues, it certainly gets more challenging, but I also love the complexity it adds. Each week, you get to analyze and determine your "Ratio," a.k.a. how many SP and how many RP you will utilize in that week's starting lineup. My baseline is usually 4:5, especially if I have a two-start SP but it will fluctuate week-to-week based on pitchers' schedules and my place in the standings.

You aren't going to want to start a one-start SP on the road versus the Yankees so why not replace him with four clean innings from one of your stud relievers instead? That same week you could have an SP at Coors too, now you might be looking at a 3:6 ratio. Likewise, if you have five SP with either two-start weeks or great match-ups, go 5:4 and do some catch-up in W and K categories. Your fantasy-managerial skills will be tested, but your Sunday nights/Monday mornings will certainly be more exciting and/or filled with anxiety. Bottom line this method can work in any type of league, as long as you are being proactive.



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Deshaun Watson20 mins ago

Settlement Talks Ongoing In Deshaun Watson Case
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Expected To Join Yankees Wednesday
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Braves, Michael Harris II Complete Eight-Year Extension Tuesday
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Pelicans Not Looking To Trade Brandon Ingram To Nets
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San Antonio Spurs2 hours ago

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Removed From Tuesday's Start Against Atlanta
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Likely Out Until Friday
Tennessee Titans8 hours ago

Lonnie Johnson Jr. Claimed Off Waivers By Titans
Tanner Houck8 hours ago

Diagnosed With Disc Issue
San Francisco 49ers8 hours ago

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To Remain Out On Tuesday
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Atlanta Recalls Freddy Tarnok
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Roquan Smith Will Travel For Second Preseason Game
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Washington Wants Antonio Gibson To Be More Decisive
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49ers Won't Ask Too Much Of Trey Lance
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Called Up By A's
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To Make Season Debut Saturday
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Day-To-Day With Left Hamstring Tightness
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Flashes Last Week At St. Jude
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Attempts To Stay In FedEx Playoff Hunt
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Marlon Vera Produces Highlight-Reel Knockout Win
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Udonis Haslem Unsure About Future
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Says He's Not Retiring
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Puts On A Show On Saturday
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Picks Up A Win Saturday
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Shines In UFC Debut
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Earns Second TKO Victory
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Successful In Main-Card Opener
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Long Shot To Finish Top Ten
Joey Logano3 days ago

Could Move Up At Richmond
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Kevin Harvick3 days ago

Poised For A Possible Top Ten Result
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NASCAR3 days ago

Bubba Wallace Starts 11th At Richmond Sunday
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Azamat Murzakanov6 days ago

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Looking Forward To The FedEx Cup
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PGA6 days ago

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A High-Risk, High-Reward Play This Week
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Martin Truex Jr1 week ago

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Aims For Third Win
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Starts In Fourth
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