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Inseason Dollar Values: Setup Men

The RotoWire Inseason Dollar Values tool  – which you can access here: http://www.rotowire.com/baseball/dollarvalues_bat_lastyear.htm – is a great resource for not only comparing player values, but also for finding value that may be overlooked for one reason or another.

With dollar values based solely on season-to-date production, the tool is not an indicator of rest-of-season value, but it is helpful for analyzing trade offers, evaluating potential waiver wire additions, etc. It is customizable for league size, position eligibility requirements and scoring categories.

After running the tool Friday afternoon for a 15-team, mixed 5x5 rotisserie league with 14 hitters and nine pitchers, one thing stood out to me: the relative value of some of the league's top setup men. With a $260 salary, Dellin Betances checks in as a $12 player, meaning he's been as valuable as Hyun-Jin Ryu, Jeff Samardzija, and even Jordan Zimmermann to this point. Believe it or not, he's returned more value than the likes of Kenley Jansen, Jonathan Papelbon, Lance Lynn and Jake Arrieta.

The Cardinals' Pat Neshek has been an $11 player, returning more value than Aroldis Chapman, David Robertson, Ian Kennedy and Jose Quintana. Of course, missed time has a lot to do with the depressed values of guys like Chapman and Arrieta, but it's still amazing to think these non-closers have been this valuable in the fantasy realm so far. Here are some other reliever values worth noting:

  • Wade Davis, KC ($8)
  • Tony Watson, PIT ($7)
  • Tyler Clippard, WAS ($6)
  • Brad Boxberger, TB ($5)
  • Darren O'Day, BAL ($5)
  • Jean Machi, SF ($4)

By comparison:

  • Cody Allen, CLE ($8)
  • Chris Archer, TB ($7)
  • Matt Garza, MIL ($6)
  • Yordano Ventura ($5)
  • Alex Cobb, TB ($4)
  • Zack Wheeler, NYM ($3)

But come next season, nobody's going to actually target these setup men. Right?

It is risky business going after non-closers in fantasy, as a missed win or save would go a long way in negating their value and the relatively low strikeout totals set you back in that category. However, is it possible their contributions in ERA and WHIP alone make them worth considering?

The idea is not as crazy as it may sound, as the ratio categories are typically the toughest to make up ground in. In a league with nine active pitchers, going with four or five guys projected in the 180-200 innings range, two closers and two or three setup men may actually be a viable strategy. Sure, it's impossible to know what to expect from year-to-year, especially with a guy like Neshek, but the returns this season suggest it's something to at least ponder.

Last season, no reliever with single-digit saves returned more than $5 in value. In 2012, no reliever with single-digit saves returned more than $4 in value. Is it a strategy I'm going to deploy in 2015? More than likely not, but you may be better off spending $1 at the end of an auction on a setup man rather than a starter like Bud Norris or Tim Lincecum.