MLB Fantasy Baseball: Need Pitching Help? Here's Some Relief

Patrick MurraySenior Analyst IJuly 1, 2008

Whether you play in a rotisserie league or head-to-head league you can never get enough good pitching. Stop scouring your league's free agent list for a starter who might be just good enough to make your squad.

Below is my list of relievers who can be a big help to your fantasy team. They will help with your ratios such as ERA, WHIP, and whatever else your league may use. They also will get you some strikeouts that can push you over that other team you've been chasing. In addition, they will occasionally pilfer a save or a win.

Stats as of morning of July 1, 2008.

Legend- WHIP= Walks plus Hits/Innings Pitched, K/BB= strikeouts per walk or strikeout to walk ratio, K/9= strikeouts per nine innings

Acquire now:

Carlos Marmol, CHC: 1-3, 47 IP, 3 SV, 66 Ks, 3.06 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 3.14 K/BB, 12.64 K/9. Marmol had a terrible June, but I expect him to bounce back quickly. He throws mid-90s heat and has a nasty slider. Expect him to pick up a few saves when Kerry Wood needs an occasional day off.

 Brandon Morrow, SEA: 0-1, 23.1 IP, 4 SV, 32 Ks, 0.77 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 4.57 K/BB, 12.34 K/9. With JJ Putz on the disabled list, Morrow allowed just two baserunners in the month of June while picking up four saves.

Scott Linebrink, CWS: 2-2, 33 IP, 0 SV, 29 Ks, 1.36 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 4.83 K/BB, 7.91 K/9. Linebrink was dominant with San Diego. He struggled a bit with Milwaukee, but seems to have regained his mojo with the White Sox.

Matt Thornton, CWS:4-1, 31.2 IP, 1 SV, 40 Ks, 2.27 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 4.44 K/BB, 11.37 K/9. You've seen a couple White Sox on this list, a big reason why they are in first place in the AL Central. Thornton throws upper-90s heat.

Heath Bell, SD: 6-3, 45.2 IP, 36 Ks, 2.17 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 2.77 K/BB, 7.09 K/9. The New York Mets made a mistake by trading Bell to San Diego. Last year, Bell stepped right into Scott Linebrink's old spot as setup man and has been lights out ever since.

Taylor Buchholz, COL: 2-2, 39.2 IP, 1 SV, 30 K, 1.36 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 3.33 K/BB, 6.81 K/9. After struggling as a starter, he seems to have found his niche as a middle reliever. The Rockies converted Buchholz to relief in August of last year, and he posted a 2.33 ERA for the final two months of the season. He won't strike out too many guys, but he gets a lot of ground balls which is what you want from a guy that pitches in Coors Field.

Scott Downs, TOR: 0-1, 37.2 IP, 5 SV, 34 Ks, 1.19 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 2.27 K/BB, 8.12 K/9. Once a starter, Downs was a pleasant surprise as a reliever for the Blue Jays last season. The left-hander grabbed a few saves at the start of this year in the absence of BJ Ryan.

Hong-Chih Kuo, LAD:3-1, 46 IP, 55 Ks, 1.76 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 5.00 K/9, 10.76 K/9. After struggling in limited time with the Dodgers for the past three years, the 26-year-old Taiwanese southpaw has excelled this year as Joe Torre's long reliever. Kuo has also made a few spot starts for Los Angeles.

Keep an eye on:

Grant Balfour, TB:2-0, 15.1 IP, 1 SV, 22 Ks, 1.17 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 3.67 K/BB, 12.91 K/9. Balfour had injury troubles at the beginning of his career, but has done well for Tampa since being called up on May 31. He dominated International League hitters in April and May as closer of the Durham Bulls. Balfour converted eight save chances while allowing just one run and striking out 39 batters in 23.2 IP with Triple-A Durham.

Aaron Heilman, NYM: 0-3, 42.1 IP, 45 Ks, 4.68 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 2.65 K/BB, 9.57 K/9. Heilman struggled mightily at the start of the season and many Mets fans called for his head. However, he had an excellent June, posting a 0.64 ERA. Heilman is traditionally a better pitcher in the second half. In the last three Septembers combined, Heilman has a 1.13 ERA.

JP Howell, TB: 6-0, 51 IP, 2 SV, 45 Ks, 3.00 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 2.05 K/BB, 7.94 K/9. The southpaw could be the Rays future closer, and has been tremendous in getting the ball from the starters to Dan Wheeler and Troy Percival. He leads all relievers in innings pitched and wins.

Well, there you have it, eleven relievers that can certainly help your fantasy team in a big way. Plug them into your open pitcher slots when your starters aren't pitching and watch your ERA go down and your strikeouts go up.