Delosh Betader: 2021 Predictions

Travis Sherer looks forward to predict this year's elite non-closing relievers, and argues why you should draft them.

Imagine you could draft a pitcher who would give you 5+ innings per week of Cy Young numbers. Now imagine that you could get this pitcher after the 20th round in your draft. You can, if you draft elite non-closing relievers and combine their output. Earlier this week, I continued to make the case of why you should target relievers who are absolutely dominant but are not drafted in your league simply because they do not get saves, and combine their production as a cheap way to manufacture an elite starter. These combinations of relievers are named Delosh Betaders, after the best such combination in my lifetime: Dellin Betances and Josh Hader. Read the full case for employing this strategy in head-to-head leagues I laid out two years ago. To paraphrase thousands of words, in order for a combo to achieve this advantage, they have to meet the following guidelines:

Betader Guidelines
1. 3.10 ERA or less
2. 1.10 WHIP or less
3. 13+ K/9
4. 130+ combined IP

If a pair of combined relievers meets these guidelines, it can tremendously affect your pitching categories (which is outlined in the post linked above). This strategy is so useful and sparsely used that you should be looking for any of these undervalued relievers. I am every year. But 2021 will be different. We do not yet know how teams will use relievers. My bet is that non-closers will see more overall innings because many orgs will impose innings limits on all their starters due to the incredibly short 2020 season. So the brunt of the innings teams need to fill will fall on non-closers and openers.

One other note: I believe this strategy will be even more impactful in 2021 only because of the lack of innings all starters threw in 2020. We might not have a single starting pitcher reach 200 innings because not a single one pitched 100 innings last season. Also, a number of teams are moving to a six-man rotation to limit starters’ innings. If the average number of starting pitcher innings drops from say 160 to 130 and you can get two relievers to combine for 130 innings, that duo is no longer a spot starter. They become just as valuable as a Cy Young winner. Yes, they take up two roster spots. I understand the math isn’t exactly the same. But the increase in relief opportunities and decrease in starters’ contributions combines to generate an environment ripe for potential Betaders as the season progresses than maybe any other year — and I will address who I think those could be, but more immediately, here are those who I think will help your bullpen in 2021.


Williams or Anderson…or Bust


Usually, I would spend the next 1,000 words giving you a list of funny names that combined six or eight relievers to give you examples of how many options you have. I don’t think that is the case this year because if you wish to use the Betader strategy, but don’t have Devin Williams or Nick Anderson, you are starting at a disadvantage. Williams is by far the best non-closing reliever with Anderson not too far behind. Like Hader years ago, Williams is so good that he’s now drafted almost as if he is a closer, meaning you have to spend more draft capital to employ this strategy, but it’s still effective. Both of them are still undervalued because while they are drafted like closers, they are not drafted like the elite closers they would be. Williams has an ADP of 152 right now and Nick Anderson is 148. And for two picks in the middle two rounds, you could combine these two to create Devnik Williamson:


Devnick Williamson or Diegnik Castillamson


It is possible two of the triumvirate of  Nick Anderson, Diego Castillo and Devin Williams are closers to start the year. The Brewers have been shopping Hader and nobody really knows what the Rays will do with all of their bullpen options — many believe they will start the year as they ended it in the playoffs with Castillo finishing things out. The uncertainty emanating from all of them, however, manifests in a 4-5 round drop in ADP. The best-case Betader scenario is Anderson and Williams:

Name IP W Save ERA WHIP K K/9
Nick Anderson 44.1 5 16 0.55 0.49 71 14.3
Devin Williams 73.0 7 0 0.33 0.63 143 17.7
Devnick Williamson 117.1 12 16 0.42 0.58 214 16.4

(Note: the numbers above are generated by expanding 2020 performances to a 162-game schedule)


Not bad, huh? Think about it this way: you could either have 117 innings of insane pitching production, or you can have Marco Gonzales and Gio Urshela. Which would you rather have?

That IP number is likely to rise. I see Anderson getting more like 60 innings, which would add to that already ridiculous strikeout total and push them over the 130 innings threshold needed to be a Betader. Obviously, these ratios are not going to hold up under a 162-game season, but the extrapolation of their 2020 statistics shows just how dominant these two were in a shortened season. The K numbers could be repeated, although I find it hard to believe anybody can keep a near 18 K/9 for an entire season. Even if Williams does slip a little, Anderson could make up the difference or they drop to 200 Ks in a little more than 100 innings.

It’s important to note that the only reason why they aren’t picked higher is that they aren’t closers. If they were closers, with these numbers, they’d be picked by round 10.

Note: I’m putting these two first because they are the most likely pair to either maintain their production or exceed it. If you put any of the other relievers mentioned with Anderson or Williams, you are likely to have a successful Betader — they are both that good. And if you don’t have either, you should probably won’t have one.



No Williams or Anderson, but you’re stubborn?


Like I said, if I’m in a re-draft league and both Williams and Anderson are gone, I’m leaning into not doing Bataders and instead investing in more starting pitchers to make sure I win counting stats and get lucky on ratios more often than not. There are some lesser reliever combinations, however, who could help you out, even if they are nowhere near the level as the two elite options:


Paron Fairbummer


This could be a more realistic Betader. In drafts, you’re likely to get either one of Anderson or Williams, but not both. As soon as one goes, the other is probably out the door. With Pete Fairbanks and Aaron Bummer you have two guys who have no chance of closing full time — and that is shown in their ADPs: Fairbanks (401) and Bummer (317). You can pick them up at the end of your draft, or even on waiver wire:

Name IP W Save ERA WHIP K K/9
Pete Fairbanks 71.0 16 0 2.70 1.39 104 13.6
Aaron Bummer 25.1 2 0 0.96 1.07 38 13.5
Paron Fairbummer 96.1 18 0 2.35 1.27 168 13.6

(Note: the numbers above are generated by expanding 2020 performances to a 162-game schedule)


For guys who aren’t even drafted in most leagues, that is a pretty strong combination. What’s more, I think the above lines are actually the worst-case scenario for these two. In many ways, both of these relievers are likely to produce more in 2021. I don’t see Fairbanks’ WHIP being this high and Bummer was injured for a lot of the shortened 2020 season. He’s got to approach 65 innings for a White Sox team that is trying to win in 2021. If that is the case, these two approach 200 Ks combined. They might not reach it because even though Bummer had a 13.5 K/9, that seems high. I could see him being more of an 11.5 guy in the future, which could keep the duo around the 13 k/9 mark.


Trake McGay


What do you get when you cross Jake McGee and Trevor May? A semi-efficient spot starter named Trake McGay. I could be making too much out of McGee’s comeback, but I like the way he looked for the Dodgers last year. Sure, isn’t on the Dodgers anymore, but McGee looked like the Tampa Bay McGee in 2020 and not the Colorado version. He was efficient. He had a bump in velocity. He attacked the zone. He had an insane boost in SwStr%. All of these are positive signs.

Name IP W Save ERA WHIP K K/9
Trevor May 63.0 3 6 3.86 1.26 103 14.7
Jake McGee 55.0 8 0 2.66 0.84 97 14.6
Trake McGay 118.0 11 6 3.35 1.27 200 14.6

(Note: the numbers above are generated by expanding 2020 performances to a 162-game schedule)

May had an off-year for him, which was still a pretty good one. He was unlucky with the longball more than anything in a short season. I’m going to chalk his 2020 up to a fluke. I expect that WHIP to drop at least 10 points and the ERA to drop about a run, which would give you an 11-win starter with an under 2 ERA and a K/9 of 14.6. I’d take that for two guys who aren’t even picked in most drafts. McGee’s ADP is north of 325 and May’s is north of 350.


New Blood


Now we get to the new blood. There are a lot of relievers who could wind up being one-half of a Betader when 2021 comes to a close. They probably won’t be like Williams but you could see someone like another Fairbanks or May emerge will all of the extra opportunity that is coming relievers’ way this season. Here are number of guys I won’t be rostering, but I’ll be watching to see if they are on their way.


Tejay Antone


Will Tejay Antone start? I hope not.

For all I know, Antone could be a valuable starting pitcher. That is a possible outcome. I do know, however, he would be a fantastic multi-inning, high-leverage, non-closing reliever. Antone has Hader potential. Last season was a sort of pre-break-out year for the Reds right-hander. A near 11.5 K/9 seems to be the baseline as a reliever, judging by his stuff (plus velocity, plus slider, average control, four pitches) and his spring performances. Right now Antone’s ADP is above 300, so you can take him at the end of your draft and hope the Reds don’t give him that fifth spot in the rotation.


Emilio Pagan


Emilio Pagan wasn’t the same pitcher in 2020 that we were used to seeing. Or was he? I’d say that other than a little bit of a control issue in a short season, he was exactly the same pitcher. Even though he walked more than he usually does, he still managed to keep runners off the bases at a reasonable clip. Now, I’m not thrilled with his inability to minimize the long ball, but I also believe that is more of a modern baseball thing than an Emilio Pagan thing. That said, he is certainly capable of putting up a 10+ K/9 and a 1.00 WHIP for more than 65 innings, even in San Diego’s bullpen.


Andres Munoz


This one might be a year away, as Andres Munoz is still recovering from Tommy John. But if Cardinals fans can be excited about Jordan Hicks, Mariners fans can be excited about the better version of Hicks: Andres Munoz. It’s true that both are coming off a serious injury, and it’s possible that their recoveries could reverse their career trajectories, but at the time of their respective injuries, Munoz was the better pitcher. They had the same velocity but Munoz was able to actually strike guys out. I am aware that Hicks looked to be improving in that department before his injury (9.73 K/9). I am also aware that seeing Munoz with a K/9 below 11 is an anomaly. If I have to pick between two relievers, I’ll almost always bet on the one who can strike guys out.


Amir Garrett


It’s possible Amir Garrett is the Reds’ closer. In fact, I believe he said he was. The trouble is that nobody else in the Reds’ org is saying that yet. The good news about that is that he’s being drafted as if he isn’t the closer (ADP 247). Garrett is a steal here. If he becomes a closer, great. If he doesn’t, you’ve got a reliever capable of 70 innings, 100 strikeouts and a 1.10 WHIP. That’s a good half to any Betader.


DeMarcus Evans


I was going to throw Demarcus Evans into a Betader before he suffered a Lat injury. Now, I’m unsure about playing time and experience. This is a guy whose raw stuff is electric. There are insane control issues, but for one inning at a time, there is potential of Betader-ness. Let me throw some crazy numbers at you. Despite a 5+ BB/9, he was still able to manage a 1.22 WHIP and a 2.53 ERA. How did he do that? Nobody could get a hit off him (5.54 H/9), he struck everyone out (13.72 K/9), and hitting a homer off him was almost impossible (0.26 HR/9). There are two ways Evans can play out: one is batters as a whole become more patient and let him walk too many guys until he gets into trouble. The other is hitters continue to strike out at record rates and Evans’ crazy good stuff exploits that. There is no middle ground here — at least not right now.


Featured Image by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)

Travis Sherer

All Seattle Mariners fans have learned the future is all we have because the present is always too painful. I am Western Washington University alum, a local sportswriter, an official NCAA basketball statistician, a freelance radio and television production statistician, and a minor league standup comedian. Follow me @ShererTravis on Twitter.

15 responses to “Delosh Betader: 2021 Predictions”

  1. JT says:

    Travis!!! Bought into your concept 1.5 years ago. This is INCREDIBLE! This concept is a MUST for every season. I won my league last year, partially due to the Devin Williams and Nick Anderson combo. Thanks again! Your work has helped a TON!!!

  2. Jake says:

    Would you consider Garrett Crochet a reliever you could use for this strategy since he’s going to be a late game arm?

    • Travis Sherer says:

      I’d say so. He has the ability to. make that kind of an impact. It’s also possible if he has success early on that he could work more than one inning at a time, which is a huge plus.

  3. MJB says:

    Curious your thoughts about Jonathan Hernandez and Joely Rodriguez down in Texas for this. (I know Jonathan is hurt right now, but assuming he comes back with similar performance to late last year…)

    • Travis Sherer says:

      As a tandem, I don’t think it’s good enough. By that I mean there are probably better options. Hernandez is a very solid reliever but his K-rate makes it hard to really take advantage of this strategy. There are a number of guys who fit Hernandez’s profile like Codi Heuer who work clean innings. If there are a lot of those guys, it means you need to find something better. Rodriguez’s is better, but I’d want to see a little more from him before recommending it.

      You’ll have to put up insane ratios (like a 1.50 ERA and 0.800 WHIP) if you’re only going to get 9 K/9 as a reliever and you want to make this strategy work. Think of it this way: the more K’s you get, the more you can punt in other categories. The fewer Ks you get, it the less you punt.

  4. Ethan Kaplan says:

    Josh Staumont on the Royals. Watch out for this guy. Plus-Plus fastball and breaking ball. Future closer.

  5. Floyd says:

    I have enjoyed this strategy since it was first featured here. Devin Williams was incredible last year – and hopefully his shoulder is OK. We can’t just double his 2020 stats though. Regardless, he’s a great pick if healthy. The Brewers should have already dealt Hader – so it could still happen any day…which would only increase Devin’s value (in leagues that count Saves), even if this means fewer innings.

  6. Preston says:

    Completely missed an opportunity to name players Deck Wanderams and Petron Bumbanks

  7. Wes says:

    I play in a 10 team, h2h cats league. We have Wins, Saves, Ks, ERA, WHIP and then we have QS and Holds as well. I find this strategy is PERFECT for a league that counts holds and it has worked out fantastically in the past. Can you give me a couple of elite mid level guys who play well to get a cheap win or are lined up for a lot of holds chances with the occasional save opportunity? Thanks!

    • Travis Sherer says:

      Thanks for reading!

      For cheap wins, I’d look into a lot of the Tampa Bay bullpen Fairbanks gets a lot of win chances. Jonathan Hernandez is a decent bet for holds. Like I mentioned above, my hope is that Antone is thrown in the bullpen, and because of his injury, that now has a real chance of happening. He would be a good chance at being a multi-inning reliever. Those guys can rack up the holds/wins. Emmanuel Clase will get holds chances as will Garrett Crochet. Grab Codi Heuer if you can get him. I think he ends up being one of the better relievers out there. He might not rack up the Ks but his ERA/WHIP will be elite. Also Chad Green is always a candidate to post W/H.

  8. Kyle says:

    Yes! Thank you so much for this yearly article!

  9. Matt J. says:

    Definitely a bit of a flyer, but what about Karinchak and someone like Tanner Rainey, Jake Diekman or Josh Staumont (although he may be getting saves now)?

    • Travis Sherer says:

      Hey Matt — Thanks for reading! The point of this strategy is to use non-closers because they are so undervalued. That said, Karinchak is probably out. Staumont could work, but his WHIP is pretty high to be an elite reliever. The 2020 version of Rainey fits the mold, you just have to believe he took a major step forward last year. When it comes to Diekman, age and performance history are concerns for me. I’m not as confident in his ability to repeat anywhere near his 2020 output. Guys like Shane McClanahan are more fliers I’d go for.

      • Matt J. says:

        Understood. Coming from a S&H dynasty league, so I already have Karinchak, was looking for a good pairing for him on the wire, hence the options. Fairbanks might be a good option as well it seems

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