The recent trend in the MLB, where starting pitchers pitch for fewer and fewer innings per start, has resulted in increased value among steady bullpen arms to provide fantasy production. As managers more frequently pull their starters at the first sign of trouble brewing in the middle innings, the setup man has taken on a greater role when drafting and making in-season adjustments to fantasy pitching staffs. Witness the trending decline in the number of starting pitchers that are contributing 200+ innings in a season: 2018 saw a mere baker’s dozen contributing that number of innings, following only 15 such hurlers in both 2017 and 2016, down significantly from the 28 we saw in 2016 and the 33 that were featured in 2015. As a result of these propensities among major league skippers and their pitching coaches, the role of middle relievers in both “real” and fantasy baseball has grown more significant.

Fantasy leagues are also beginning to embrace this in the form of a new...