Reliever Slot Thought


No idea how one might get an idea considered but I’m wondering if anyone else has proposed adding a reliever roster slot or two for the daily lineup?

If teams are going with 7-man bullpens real life and many fewer innings are being thrown by starters, then maybe it would serve Ottoneu to make that possible too?

I like scouting relievers so to me this would be called a ‘fun’ idea.



This is a pretty compelling idea, though a change like this would need to be done with some care.

I visited the team starting pitching stats at Baseball Reference (don’t tell anyone!) to do a little morning reading on this stuff. I know starters are being used less, but how much less is really important.

I went back to 2011, when Ottoneu started. Every year from 2011-2014 was pretty steadily at 6IP per start. 2015-2017 showed a decent drop, 5.8IP/start, 5.6IP/start, and last year down to 5.5IP/start. To me, that’s a substantial amount, and I’d like to continue to note how much this drops when considering how pitcher positions should work in the future.

I would say however that 5RP slots and daily lineups and the rest of the Ottoneu format allow for deep RP ownership. Most RPs don’t get work on back to back days, so they might be easier to swap around and platoon than any other position in your lineup. If you enjoy having a bevy of relievers on your team, you may be able to work that into a reasonable strategy in the current lineup setup.

Another thought is that RPs are high leverage and I am not sure tilting the balance of a pitching staff to favor a high-variance position is necessarily a great thing for the Ottoneu economy. However, if all pitchers are going to move to shorter, more high-variance outings, then I think it is only natural for Ottoneu to follow suit.

Anyway, some Friday morning thoughts on this stuff. Thanks for bringing it up!

Thanks for considering.

The Ottoneu system is so finely balanced & plays so well – support groups like these are needed for the addicts – it does seem if you make any change it could throw off that balance.

Even though 6 somehow doesn’t seem quite like a good baseball number, maybe just adding 1 slot would be the thing to consider.

Relief pitchers are high risk / high reward. And definitely we get to accumulate a nice crew of relievers.

I do think it’s hard to stream those pitchers effectively though – I think you constantly end up shooting yourself in the foot trying to do it because usage patterns are so chaotic.

More reliever innings are being thrown in real life (thanks for the numbers!) but they’re also being spread around to more guys.

This year I’ve got 2 Ottoneu teams so far, --one’s a major fixer-upper and the other is a starter-upper (completely empty roster when I took the team)-- so I I’ve really been trying fill a lot of roster spots. I joined one of those leagues after they had their draft so I’ve had a bigger challenge there, not that I mind. Anyway, what I’m finding is very little starting talent out there and what seems like a good amount of relief talent. This experience may or may not be pertinent but I wonder if in a general way it’s not difficult for Ottoneu owners to use their full complement of innings.

ok must run.
cannot wait for the season.

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Maybe the long term answer is to create a “flex” SP/RP slot that (unlike all the others) you can receive points in that slot regardless of whether they start or relieve?

Interesting thoughts



Just going to put out there again that perhaps some consideration be given to the idea of adding at least one new pitcher slot to our Ought To Know daily lineups.

Trying not to just repeat what I’ve said above, I think we kinda know where MLB thinking on bullpenning is headed right now.

We have 5 infielders instead of 4 in Ottoneu. We have 5 outfielders instead of the 3 in real life. We even have the nifty second catcher slot to ensure we can avail ourselves of 162 catcher games.

But while mlb teams usually have ~7 man bullpens, we have 5 man bullpens.

In every Ottoneu season in every league there are a handful of teams that throw 1500 innings, a couple that come relatively close to that, and then a bunch that will throw somewhere 800 or 1250 innings.

Having an extra slot wouldn’t put end to that, it just seems like the balance might sort of be a little off?

However I do understand that any change you make will also upset the balance to some degree. An extra slot is added, and then the quality of replacement-level reliever options will be a little lower.

The jury is still out on openers, but more than ever teams are using more relievers and counting more on that AAA shuttle of pitchers with options going back and forth. And then there are the guys who are starters but who are now going to be coming in in the 2nd inning and pitching to the 6th or something. I think it gets harder to know when your guys are going to pitch on any given day.

Not sure how this will all shake out as baseball continues to evolve at rapid pace. I do want to see the next Sparky Lyle emerge though - maybe Josh Hader and Corbin Burnes are approaching that with the brewers.


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I’ve tried swapping out recently overworked relievers ( is a great resource). But honestly it’s too much work and there were instances where I’ve missed out on saves because I didn’t think that a guy would work 4 days in a row or whatever.

Seems to me that the main effect of 6-7 RP slots would have is lower the value of SP4 (and maybe some SP3). I’m not sure whether the income or substitution effect would dominate for the value of SP1 and SP2. But RP6 and RP7 would likely be fungible $1 guys, so I would think that it would increase the premium people spend on SP1s. Of course another possibility is that it will change the Hitter/Pitcher budget split. Point is, it would likely create a valuation shock to existing Ottonue leagues. One that I wouldn’t welcome.

For me, increasing RP from 5 is a solution in search of a problem. And there are a lot of potential complications/problems it would likely cause.

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Looking through team pitching stats again, there isn’t a continuing drop-off for IP/GS. I’d argue it is basically flat, maybe a tick up if you don’t look at Tampa. Maybe it is cheating to not look at Tampa, but they were a clear outlier in 2018 and don’t seem to be going with the 1-SP and 4 bullpen days strategy in 2019.

I am not so sure that bullpenning is the future of regular season baseball. It has a lot of merits in the postseason, but I am not sure there is a growing consensus around it on the major-league level.

Of course, those pitchers mentioned by @dcrowell are huge regular-season and post-season weapons, and if more players start filling out that swing role, that might change things a bit. It seems like @LuckyStrikes may have been on to something.

So, this is a pure curiosity question: what is the origin or the rationale behind having 4th and 5th outfielder slots, and the 5th infielder slot in the daily lineup? Perhaps I’m missing something that is incredibly obvious in asking this.


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Great question!

We considered Util to be essentially a CI/DH type spot, so you end up in a 12-team league with:

3 2B/SS players x 12 teams = 36 MIs
3 1B/3B/DH players x 12 teams = 36 CIs
5 OF players x 12 teams = 60 OFs

There are 60 starting MIs, 60 starting CIs, and 90 starting OFs in MLB. So you end up with 60% of major league starting MIs and CIs on Ottoneu starting lineups, and 66% of major league starting OFs. DHs skew this a little bit, but players who DH in the AL every day often have other eligibility (OF, 1B, 3B, sometimes C).

It doesn’t translate quite as well over the pitchers, since it is one thing to be a regular position player and play 150+ games a year versus being a pitcher, but the 5SP and 5RP slots have resulted in pretty good pitcher valuations relative to how many outs they get, i.e. how useful they are to their major league team.

The meta valuations have strengthened our initial choices, I think. But this is why engaging about a flex pitcher slot or a 6th RP slot is important, even if no change is immediately made - baseball is an evolving game and the back of the napkin choices that have treated us well in the last 12(!) years may not always be the perfect choices for this kind of game.

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I enjoy the RP aspect of Ottoneu, but I don’t feel strongly one way or the other. I do think adding RP slots would marginally increase the number of teams hitting 1500 IP, but I don’t think it would have as much impact as you might think, because half of each league would still be in rebuilding mode most of the season and still wouldn’t roster enough strong SPs to reach the IP limit. If commissioners enforced the active roster rule, then this change would reduce the ability of those teams to focus on prospects. I wouldn’t mind, but the perpetual rebuilders probably wouldn’t like it.

I think it is also important to remember that Tampa was put into the opener and bullpening strategy due to injuries of guys they thought would be starters. I do think they found some effectiveness of limiting some guys number of turns through the order, but I don’t see this trend moving as quick and widespread as lets say the defensive shifts. It is something to monitor, but I think premature to make any actions based on it just yet.