The Undervalued Job of a Relief Pitcher

It might be the last position you think of drafting first in your fantasy baseball league, but these guys work some of the most important innings of the ballgame. Relief pitchers are separated into five categories:

Closers- Usually working the 9th inning, secures the win by getting the final out of the game.

Setup- Normally pitches the 8th inning, he pitches before the closers. Does not get much attention thanks to the closer. Setup pitchers are usually paid less than the closer and less than the MLB average salary.

Middle Relief- Pitching the 5th, 6th, 7th innings are common for these guys. May pitch longer in a blowout game.

Left/Right Handed Specialists Pitchers who are inserted into a game during a later inning to get a key batter or batters out.

Long Reliever A pitcher who comes into a game when a starter leaves early due to injury, poor start, etc.

With the exception of a few closers, most relief pitchers go fairly unnoticed. They do not commonly win awards and no one is a shoe-in when it comes to the All-Star Game. You can’t even imagine what goes conversations take place in the bullpen. Out of the many baseball books I have read, there are some autobiographies that give details to the outrageous actions that go on before, during and after the game.

You know you’re a true baseball fan if you can name every member of your favorite team’s bullpen. Pitching staffs may include 10-13 pitchers. About 6-8 are relief pitchers. Multiply about 7 x 30 (teams) and you’re looking at about 210 pitchers around the league, who are all battling for spotlight. It is pretty hard to stand out from the pack, when you only get around one inning of work.

Next time a relief pitcher is struggling in the 6th or 7th inning, give him a break. He just wants a little attention. It gets pretty crowded in the bullpen.


Craig Kimbrel                                                                              Mariano Rivera