Photo credit: By Not That Bob James from Phoenix, AZ, USA (Dbacks P Patrick Corbin Uploaded by Muboshgu) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
I’ve been putting a bow on the 2016 season over at Today’s Knuckleball, having recently concluded a series on the lessons I’ve taken away from my leagues this year. If you haven’t checked them out yet, I wrote a piece on each of the following types of leagues.
- Head-to-Head leagues (standard mixed)
- Rotisserie leagues (standard mixed)
- Deep leagues
- Dynasty leagues
With the final weekend of the regular season upon us, I’m turning my attention to next year. The first of my series on keepers by position debuted at TKB on Thursday with a piece on starting pitchers.
Though there’s not much left to ponder about the current Fantasy season, I hadn’t given much thought to which starting pitchers will have relief eligibility in 2017. Working on my TKB column on relief pitcher keepers forced me to consider what our draft day options might be in Head-to-Head league.
As I mention in the column, the only must-keep SPARP (starting pitcher as relief pitcher) heading into 2017 is Danny Duffy. Given that the lefty made 16 relief appearances this season, only the most punitive positive eligibility schemes would leave him ineligible at RP next year.
However, just because Duffy may be the only SPARP worth protecting for next season doesn’t mean he will be the only one to consider on draft day. Dylan Bundy figures to be a top SPARP target as well. Depending on what their roles appear to be next spring, Clayton Richard, David Phelps and Luis Severino could be worth drafting in standard mixed Head-to-Head leagues as well.
Two other potential SPARPs are worth keeping tabs on this offseason and in the spring. After missing nearly two months with a shoulder impingement, Reds manager Bryan Price moved Raisel Iglesias to the bullpen, and in recent weeks, he’s been closing out games. Between the shakiness of Tony Cingrani and Iglesias’ own strong performance (1.31 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 48 innings), it seemed like it would be only a matter of time before Iglesias would be closing for the Reds. Aside from the health risk posed by the larger workload, there was nothing wrong with Iglesias being used as a starter. In the five games he started before going on the DL, Iglesias put a 3.49 ERA with 29 strikeouts and seven walks in 28 1/3 innings.
The Reds need a reliable closer next season, but they will need quality arms for the rotation as well. Don’t count Iglesias out as a starter, and if he does rejoin the rotation, he will need to be owned in Head-to-Head formats.
Patrick Corbin also found himself moved to a relief role during the season, but in his case, the move was motivated by his performance and not his health. After a rocky beginning, Corbin adjusted and held the opposition scoreless in seven of his final eight outings, pitched mostly in long relief. Over those 16 1/3 innings, Corbin compiled a 1.10 ERA with 19 strikeouts and six walks over 16 1/3 innings.
Corbin’s velocity suddenly spiked over his last four appearances — nearly a month after he was moved out of the rotation — so his recent improvement may not strictly be a function of having moved into a new role. While it may seem like the lefty is making a case to enter next season as a reliever, as with the Reds, it’s not as if the Diamondbacks won’t need rotation help. A resurgent Corbin returning to a starting role would be a welcome sight in all mixed leagues, but with relief eligibility, he would have some additional value for Head-to-Head owners.