This article is part of our Mound Musings series.
Last week we took a look at some potential end game shake-ups in the American League, and this week we'll do the same for the National. However, the Tampa Bay Rays have recently put a completely new spin on bullpen roles, and I thought I should make some observations on the fantasy impact of that ongoing experiment.
The Rays are redefining bullpen strategy
I'm sure you are aware that Tampa Bay is currently deploying their pitching staff in a revolutionary new way. At least a few times a week, a relief pitcher starts the game, he pitches an inning or two and is then replaced by a starting pitcher/long reliever who pitches four or five innings (sometimes even longer if all goes well). What's the benefit? As best I can see, the biggest advantage is the potential to flip the opposing lineup. Two of the Rays' primary long men are left-handed, so starting a right-handed short starter could theoretically encourage the other manager to load his lineup with lefty batters and would perhaps make pinch-hitting more important earlier. That would help southpaws Anthony Banda, Ryan Yarbrough and Vidal Nuno. The same could happen if a lefty short starter began the game, followed by the right-handed Matt Andriese or maybe Austin Pruitt. So, from a fantasy perspective, the "starting" pitcher could start several times a week, but will not collect wins, saves, holds or quality starts – basically little or no fantasy value – while that second pitcher