Going Deep: The Curious Case of Delosh Betader

The bullpen revolution has not yet hit fantasy leagues. Travis Sherer explains why picking the best relievers is easier than you might think...and the right ones have cool names.

What if I told you there was a spot starter who was as good as Jacob deGrom (ADP: 21) last year  and he was available after the ninth round in 100% of drafts. Is that something you might be interested in?

Sure, he only pitched 148 innings, but he had as many wins (10), just about as many strikeouts (269 to 258), and a lower WHIP (0.825 to deGrom’s 0.91). No big deal, right? Well, he also worked out of the bullpen and had a casual 16 saves.

Quickly go to your source for 2018 MLB statistics and type in the following name: Delosh Betader.

Did you find him? Oh, you and I must be looking at different leagues or at the very least different mock drafts. The ones I see show all kinds of names for very high-performing pitchers who don’t show up on most rankings such as Mad Barcock (ADP: Wouldn’t you like to know), Rad Greensly (ADP: It will blow your mind) and Kirbin McYates (ADP: Just take it). These guys all have two things in common: (1) awesome names and (2) they are a combination of two non-closing relief pitchers. Delosh Betader  a combination of Dellin Betances and Josh Hader  is a rarity of these combo pitchers because Betader comprises two pitchers actually drafted in most leagues. All of the others have at least one pitcher who isn’t even drafted.

It is a rare thing to be a non-closing reliever and be drafted  somewhere between five and 10 are so lucky. This is a market inefficiency that many of you can exploit this season. Hader is hands down the best non-closing reliever in the game, and he’s picked right around 100 in almost every draft. Betances has an insane ADP of 270. If you combine these two, however, into Delosh Betader, you get 148 innings of Cy Young quality pitching for a combined ADP of 185.  A total of 148 innings averages out to be just about six IP per week or one guaranteed quality start with a K/9 of 15.7 (which is 3 K/9 better than AL leader Gerrit Cole and NL leader Max Scherzer, if anybody cares).

Name IP W Save ERA WHIP K K/9
Dellin Betances 66.2 4 4 2.70 1.050 115 15.5
Josh Hader 81.1 6 12 2.43 0.811 143 15.8
Delosh Betader 148 10 16 2.55 0.825 258 15.7

Sure, I picked two of the best relievers to make my point  these guys are readily available. But surely there aren’t more players like that:


Kirbin McYates

Name IP W Save ERA WHIP K K/9
Kirby Yates 63.0 5 12 2.14 0.921 90 12.9
Collin McHugh 72.1 6 0 1.99 0.912 94 11.7
Kirbin McYates 135.1 11 12 2.06 0.916 184 12.2

The unexpected union of Kirby Yates (ADP: 175) and Collin McHugh (ADP: undrafted) produced what can most be characterized as one of the most stingy and versatile spot starters in history: Kirbin McYates. With 11 wins and 12 saves, McYates threw more innings in 2018 than Carlos Rodon, Carlos Martinez, Robbie Ray and Lance McCullers. He tied Scherzer and Justin Verlander in K/9. Yet somehow all this can be yours for the combined ADP of 238.


Rad Greensly

Name IP W Save ERA WHIP K K/9
Ryan Pressly 71.0 1 2 2.54 1.11 101 12.8
Chad Green 75.2 8 0 2.50 1.04 94 11.2
Rad Greensly 145.2 9 2 2.52 1.08 195 12.1

Rad Greensly  one part Chad Green (ADP: 280) and one part Ryan Pressly (ADP: undrafted)  is more of a workhorse for a spot starter. Greensly outworked the likes of Michael Fulmer, Rich Hill, and Stephen Strasburg. It’s hard to believe that both of these pitchers could go undrafted in some leagues when combined they had a better season than Walker Buehler.


Mad Barcock

Name IP W Save ERA WHIP K K/9
Matt Barnes 61.2 6 0 3.65 1.26 96 14.0
Brad Peacock 65.0 3 3 3.46 1.16 96 13.3
Mad Barcock 126.2 9 3 3.55 1.22 192 13.6

One of our more potent Frankensteins, Mad Barcock probably has my favorite name. Mix in equal parts Brad Peacock and Matt Barnes (ADP for both: undrafted), and you get a lot of strikeouts in limited IP. Sporting a 13.6 K/9, this combination is second-best behind only “Betader” in 2018, and nine wins is nothing to be ashamed of in 126 innings.


Carlard Rodriwards

Name IP W Save ERA WHIP K K/9
Carl Edwards Jr. 53.0 3 1 3.06 1.05 71 12.6
Richard Rodriguez 69.0 4 0 2.47 1.07 88 11.4
Carlard Rodriwards 122 7 1 2.66 1.06 159 11.7

Finally, Carlard Rodriwards sounds like a villain in the Hispanic version of the Harry Potter series. The machination of Carl Edwards Jr. and Richard Rodriguez has an impressive WHIP and ERA, but he has fewer wins, a lower K/9 and fewer innings than we want to see out of a reliever mashup. He still could be useful, but any drop in any numbers would make me re-evaluate.


Let’s Get Serious

Yes, this whole exercise is based on two assumptions: (1) you have an extra roster spot to fill with a reliever and (2) this is done in moderation. I am not suggesting you fill your pitching spots with relievers  unless you don’t have an innings limit, then it’s worth a look. If you do have an innings limit, you’ll never reach it with just relievers. But that is not the question. The question is: How many weeks were you four innings away from the 35 IP threshold so you threw Marcus Stroman, Tyler Skaggs, Lucas Giolito, or Michael Fulmer, only to suffer one of the combined 28 percent of their starts where they allowed at least four earned runs?

Why doesn’t everybody do this? Most managers see this as punting saves and instead will roster the most unreliable closers just so they don’t fall behind in that category. But one or two bad closers is enough to punt ERA, WHIP, and K. If you have an inning limit of 35 and had Wade Davis (ADP: 166) and Ken Giles (ADP: 163), this is the combined contribution for 2018:

Wade Davis 65.1 3 43 4.13 1.056 78 10.7
Ken Giles 50.1 0 26 4.65 1.212 53 9.5
Wen Givis 115.2 3 69 4.36 1.124 131 10.2

Sure, you get a lot of saves, but you also take on a mediocre WHIP, a bad ERA, and strikeout numbers that look fine unless you compare them with “Betader,” “McYates,” “Greensly,” or “Barcock.” So which approach is really punting statistics? You might be thinking the WHIP, K/9, and ERA aren’t that bad, but they are terrible compared with what you could be getting (see everything above).

Also, just look at what Wen Givis can do you your team’s stat line if you have an innings limit of 35:

Rest of Team 30 2 2 3.00 1.00 30
Wen Givis (average output per 26 weeks in 2018) 5 .115 2.65 4.36 1.212 5
Team Combined Result 35 2.115 4.65 3.19 1.03 35

Doesn’t look too bad until you remember that relievers are actually supposed to post better numbers than your starters. Now, look at what Delosh Betader can do for you with a 35 IP limit:

Rest of Team 30 2 2 3.00 1.00 30
Delosh Betader (average output per 26 weeks in 2018) 6 .38 .61 2.55 0.825 10
Team Combined Result 36 2.38 2.61 2.925 .97 40

So in an average week, Delosh Betader gives you twice as many Ks, drops your ERA 0.20 runs below the Wen Givis mark and drops your WHIP by .06. This may not seem like a lot, but this is just the average amount it will help you 26 times over the course of a season.

The point of this is not to persuade managers to punt saves. On the contrary, elite closers should be coveted by managers despite needing to pay an exaggerated price to get them because they too can do wonders for your peripheral stats. Take a look at how much the tandem of Jose Leclerc and Edwin Diaz can further add to your peripherals:

Rest of Team 30 2 2 3.00 1.00 30
Delosh Betader (average output per 26 weeks in 2018) 6 .38 .61 2.55 0.825 10
Jodwin Declerc (average output per 26 weeks in 2018) 5 .08 2.65 1.79 0.820 8
Team Combined Result 41 2.46 5.26 2.77 0.95 48

There are two ways of looking at this: (1) if you combine great closers with great non-closers, you can push down your ERA and WHIP while inflating your K numbers on a weekly basis, or (2) if you draft great closers and great non-closers, that is one less starting pitcher you need on your roster. You can get an average 10-plus innings of better production than Scherzer out of four stud relievers (regardless of save opportunities), leaving you just 20 innings to fill (which is three to four starts). Sure, you might suffer some lower win and save numbers, but you make up for it with essentially winning the other three categories every week.


To Sum Up

The point of this article is two-fold:

  1. Draft the best relievers. Where it gets complicated is that most closers are not the best relievers. They just get drafted because it’s easier to say that getting a player who affects all stats is better than one who only affects 80 percent of them  but this is not true. In baseball, you can negatively affect your two of your team’s other stats (ERA & WHIP) and underperform in another (K), which is what roughly half of closers do on a weekly basis.
  2. When it comes to drafting elite relievers or inconsistent starters, draft two elite relievers and quit while you are ahead. You may not get as many innings, but you likely won’t need them because the ridiculous numbers relievers put up are not matchable by most starters, if any.

How can you magnify this advantage? Find elite non-closers who still have SP eligibility (Hader, McHugh, Peacock, etc). That way you don’t have to use a reliever spot in your lineup on one of your non-closers. Instead, they can fill in for empty starters spots on their off days.

With the exception of Hader, long relievers and setup men such as Betances, McHugh, Peacock, Pressly, Miller, Green, Yates, Rodriguez and Edwards Jr. are rarely drafted, and if they are, it is very late. You can steal these guys for practically nothing, and as long as they meet the following combined season-long qualifications, they should be a very big help to fill innings for your staff: 138 IP, 9 wins, 12.0 K/9, 1.05 WHIP, and an ERA of 2.80.

Average draft positions taken from the Pitcher List mock drafts this offseason.

(Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire)

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.

6 responses to “Going Deep: The Curious Case of Delosh Betader”

  1. Kyle says:

    Sticking with this strategy, what combinations or individual players do you see putting up numbers like this in 2019?

  2. Ro says:

    I agree.. but don’t get crazy overpay for them. I have noticed the value in 2017, took advantage of it and won my league.. In 2018 everybody in my was paying for them (Hader, Betances, Miller, Green Bradley all went before 120th pick) I choose another strategy and still got elite numbers from rp from the waiver (McHugh, Pressly, Trivino, Strahm). Know your league and take advantage from the bias!

  3. Insert name here says:

    Hey Travis,

    I’m in a 6×6 league. For pitching sake its (QS,W,SV,K,ERA,WHIP). I liked your article and have tried this in the past, but not quite to this extent. How do you feel this would play out with the QS included in the categories? We have a 30 man roster with a 8 milb roster spots. This is an dynasty league. I feel with the 8 milb spots it creates a lot of room for flexibility with your benches to PP possibly. I feel this is a viable, wondering your thoughts on how this would work in a 6×6 with QS and no HOLDS. I do think the MLB is changing and the fantasy world should too, I like your thoughts. Just looking for your insight if any on my current situation. Thanks again

    • Travis Sherer says:

      Hey (Insert name here) — I believe this strategy works without holds. Like I’ve cautioned before, this should be used in moderation, especially in your league. If I were you, I’d get only two top non-closing relievers — maybe three — but only if they are elite. Because they can only affect half the pitching categories in your league, I’d say only get guys like Hader, Betances and Green. If I were you, I’d also target guys like Peacock, Julio Urias and Josh James, hoping that they don’t get rotation spots. That way they can get spot starts in addition to long relief opportunities because those types of pitchers can contribute in wins at a pretty high rate for the number of IP they get and they will qualify as SP/RP and it doesn’t hurt you to fill them in for your starters when they are scheduled to pitch. Anything else?

  4. wes says:

    Need this years version of this article. Probably my favorite and it helps me dominate my league with Holds as a separate category!

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