MLB Bullpen

© Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Update: Pay Attention To Bullpens For Daily Lineups

June 06, 2018 - 6:22 am

The strength of the bullpen is an underrated aspect in daily fantasy baseball. While most of the analysis is dedicated to the strength of an opposing starting pitcher and the lineup that is going to face him, relief pitchers typically represent 40 percent of the game. One of the ways to create edge over your opponents is to understand the gaps in skill among major league bullpens.

The primary evaluation is simply the overall talent level of each bullpen in the league. The best way to do this is to evaluate the individual parts and weight a projection based on how frequently those parts are used in the pen to form a composite bullpen projection. However, as we get deeper into the regular season a quick look at overall bullpen ERA estimators like FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) or even just ERA can help quickly sort out the good from the bad.

As of June 4th, the best bullpens in baseball have been:

1. Houston Astros - 2.82 ERA/3.05 FIP

2. Chicago Cubs - 3.18 ERA/4.02 FIP

3. Washington Nationals - 3.20 ERA/3.42 FIP

4. Arizona Diamondbacks - 3.30 ERA/3.84 FIP

And the worst bullpens have been:

1. Kansas City Royals - 5.42 ERA/4.84 FIP

2. Miami Marlins - 5.06 ERA/4.79 FIP

3. Chicago White Sox - 5.01 ERA/4.80 FIP

4. Baltimore Orioles - 5.00 ERA/4.66 FIP

5. Cincinnati Reds - 5.00 ERA/4.86 FIP

The bullpen gap is wide between the Astros and the rest of baseball. The Astros also have the best starting pitching. They are consistently one of the most difficult teams to pick on with opposing offensive players.

On the flip side, the teams with the worst bullpens in baseball also have some of the weakest starting staffs. These teams are often the ones to target aggressively with opposing hitters.

While there is often overlap between the quality of the starting pitcher and the bullpen behind him, keep the other 40 percent of the game in mind when evaluating matchups for your hitters.


TPC Southwind plays host to this year's FedEx St. Jude Classic, and while much of the attention will be on next week's US Open there is still plenty of opportunity for fantasy gamers who stay focused on this week's event.

TPC Southwind plays as a par 70, at 7,244 yards and ranked ninth in par-adjusted distance out of all the courses played on tour last season. The course has consistently played in the upper third in overall difficulty relative to par making capturing the winning golfers even more critical for your fantasy lineups.

Henrik Stenson is our second ranked golfer in the field, behind Dustin Johnson, but offers a $1,300 pricing discount on DraftKings that makes him our recommended play to anchor your fantasy lineups. Henrik has the upside to win this even, and a high floor with 60 percent odds to finish inside of the top 20 and 86 percent odds to make the cut. Stenson ranks third on the PGA Tour in strokes gained on approach, which should be beneficial in avoiding the water hazards at TPC Southwind which have claimed more victims than any other course on tour.

Luke List is our favorite mid-range target this week with a salary of $8,300 on DraftKings. List ranks second in this field in strokes gained tee-to-green over his past 50 rounds behind only Dustin Johnson. While Luke List hasn't yet won an event, he only needs the putter to click to be successful. Even when List isn't at the top of the leaderboard, he is scoring fantasy points, ranking third in this field in DraftKings scoring driven by his ability to generate birdies.