This article is part of our Mound Musings series.
The following article, looking at bullpen constructs for the coming season, appeared in the 2019 Rotowire Fantasy Baseball Magazine, which hit newsstands in January. As you might expect, with the season now upon us, several bullpens have become more settled, but there are still many that could offer significant fantasy value in the coming weeks. Therefore, updating those potential opportunities will be our focus for this edition of Mound Musings.
Not that long ago, assessing a team's pitching staff heading into a season might have been challenging, but it was usually fairly consistent. Most teams would be fielding a rotation of five starting pitchers they hoped could pitch into the sixth or seventh inning, and a bullpen with somewhat defined roles. There would be a long man or two, in case the starter didn't get deep enough into the game, followed by set-up guys, charged with getting the game to the closer. Things simply aren't that cut and dried these days.
The focus here is on bullpens – but, we'll start by briefly discussing "openers" – the latest in the evolution of pitching tactics. Openers are technically starting pitchers, as they take the mound at the beginning of the game, however they are really relief pitchers, generally tasked with pitching the first inning, or sometimes two. A few teams have already experimented with the concept, and initial returns suggest this approach could stick around. The problem for fantasy owners is this tactic virtually eliminates any value for that reliever.