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Benchwarmer Baseball Rules

5.0 Lineups

Team lineups are submitted for a week of games at a time.  The league office will set a deadline for each week's lineup changes.  If no lineup is submitted, or is submitted late, the team will retain the same lineup from the previous week.  See Season Schedule for more details on how the lineup is used and Schedules and Deadlines for information on the submission deadlines. In Benchwarmer Baseball, a week is six games.

There is a week delay between transactions and roster/lineup implications. If you sign a player during the Week 10 transactions, he is not available to your lineup until Week 11. Similarly, if you cut a player during Week 10, you may still use him in that week’s lineup and his absence from the roster won’t take effect until Week 11.

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5.1 Hitters

The first part of the lineup is the starting batting order.  A team must name nine players to start and list the order in which they will hit.  This includes eight position players and a designated hitter.  In addition to the order, lineups will include the position that the player occupies.  Only hitters identified by their primary or secondary position can be used in that position.  As an example, only a player listed with a primary or secondary position of third base may be used as a starting third baseman. His place may be filled by a reserve if he does not actually play in that day's game (see below).


Any player may be used as a designated hitter.  Players who are identified only as designated hitters in the master player list may not be used in any other position unless they later meet the criteria listed in the Master Player List and Positions section.

5.1.1 Substitutes

As described in Season Schedule, a player's statistics for major league game X will be used for fantasy game X*.  If he does not play in that game, two things can happen.  First, a reserve off the bench may be used to fill his place.  Reserves enter the game in the order that they are listed on the lineup submission.

*See The Big Twist – The Five-Game Gap below for how this actually differs a little bit in practice. Bench Players

Bench players are submitted in the lineup ranked 1-5. Starting with the first reserve, each sub is checked to see if he played in game X and if his primary or secondary position makes him eligible to fill the lineup spot in question.  If so, that player is inserted into the lineup for that game.  This is at the same position in the order as the listed starter.


If there are more open spots in the batting order, the bench is checked again for eligible subs, until all the starting lineup slots are filled, or there are no more bench players. If a team’s starting SS does not play in a game, but there are two available subs on the bench to play SS, the sub ranked higher on the lineup fills the hole. Designated Hitter as Position Player

Actually, the DH is always the first position substitute.  If the team’s starting position player is out, and the listed DH is eligible to play at that position (primary or secondary position), then the DH will fill that role.  However, the batting order will not change.  Once all the field position players are filled, the highest remaining reserve will fill the DH spot, if necessary.


If the DH was changed to become a position player, the new DH from the bench will fill the batting order slot of the position player replaced by the DH.


If a DH can play multiple positions, several combinations may be checked in order to use the bench most efficiently to attempt to avoid using a Benchwarmer Batter. If a player can be used in multiple spots as a backup or DH, the overriding tiebreaker is to place from the top of the order down. Thus, if you have only one player that can fill in for two open spots – say leadoff and cleanup – he gets put in the leadoff position, and the Benchwarmer goes in the cleanup spot. The Benchwarmer Batter

Should there be no valid substitutions for a slot in the starting lineup, the spot is filled by the Benchwarmer Batter with the following statistics: 0 for 5, no RBI, no walks, no SB, 2 errors. If the Benchwarmer fills the DH role, there will be no errors. The Benchwarmer will be used as many times as necessary to get the batting order up to nine active players for the game.

Note on Switching Positions - Emphasis in 2008

This is just the way things work… In order to account for any holes in your lineup, only players in the DH role or in the bench slots can be considered for multiple positions when attempting to fill all open spots. If you have a player listed as a starter at 3B, but he is also eligible to play 1B, he will NOT be considered to fill in at 1B even if no one else in your lineup can play there and you have an eligible player for 3B on your bench. Thus, one piece of lineup strategy is often to use players who can play multiple positions at DH, unless you have fielding considerations to put another player at DH.

5.2 Pitchers

Note - moving pitchers in and out of the rotation and spot starter roles was impacted by a 2013 rule change.

5.2.1 Starters

Pitchers are handled differently, since it is very unlikely that they will pitch in the actual corresponding games between the major league and the fantasy seasons.  As soon as the starter is placed in the rotation, he begins to accumulate starts in a pool or, rather, a queue.  When his turn in the rotation comes up, the oldest start in the queue will be used for that fantasy game and will be removed from the queue.  Starts will accumulate as long as the pitcher is in the starting rotation up to a maximum of three - at which time the oldest one is discarded and never used.  If the starter is removed from the BWB rotation, the queue is emptied until he is placed back in the rotation, at which time he needs to begin accumulating starts from scratch.


Only starts will be used while a pitcher is in the rotation.  No relief appearances will be used for the queue.


Starting Pitchers will begin accumulating starts beginning with Major League Game 1.


In practice, pitchers that begin the BWB season in the main 5-man rotation and are not moved out will easily queue up an additional 1 or 2 starts, since many major league teams do not use 5 pitchers right away. If you have a pitcher who ends up in a 4-man MLB rotation, you may end up losing some starts that fall out of the queue before they can be used in BWB. Also, many teams skip a pitcher or two or rearrange their rotation at the All Star Break, so you may see starters queue up too many starts and lose their oldest one before using it in a BWB game.


The use of these extra queued starts will often allow your pitcher to not miss a BWB start if he misses a start in real life. Minor injuries, then, should not be a huge problem.


Starters placed into the rotation after the season begins, however, will probably not have the chance to queue up extra starts and you may be more affected by injuries to them.

5.2.2 Spot Starters

Teams designate five starting pitchers as their primary rotation. They also list two pitchers to serve as spot starters, who will fill in for a game if the scheduled starter does not have an available start in the queue to use.


Spot starters will only accumulate one start.  Thus, their latest available start will always be the one used.

  • If a pitcher is moved from the normal rotation to spot position, his latest start will be retained and any earlier starts in his queue will be discarded. (This was unaffected by a 2013 rule change)
  • If a pitcher is moved from a spot position to the normal rotation, any queued start that exists will be dropped (Note - this was part of 2013 rule change). He will immediately begin to queue up additional starts as they occur up to the three-start limit, subject to the rules of placing pitchers into the starting rotation.


Note: A rule change in 2005 allowed the “Spot Starter” to actually become a more versatile “Spot Pitcher.” Thus, relievers can also be used in the spot positions and they can fill in for the regular bullpen if needed. Keep in mind – only MLB starting pitching performances can be used for a BWB start. And only MLB relief appearances can be used in the BWB bullpen.

5.2.3 Preventing Manipulation of Known Results - First Stats that Count for Starting Pitchers

Modified 12/21/13

In all instances, the stats for a player are tied to the MLB game number associated with the BWB game being played.  At times, this can mean that as a player is moved into the starting lineup or bench, some stats will count that actually occur before the weekly lineup deadline.


As one of nine batters, any single batting performance is hard to manipulate game results - plus hitters are in place for a full week of six games.  However, it became clear over time that in some situations, a pitcher could be moved from a non-rotation spot into a starting role and the timing of the schedule could allow a known superior pitching performance to come into play.


So, in 2013 these changes took place:

  • As mentioned above - when moving spot starters into the main rotation, any queued starts (thus known) are discarded.
  • As a pitcher is moved into the starting rotation, even if the major league schedule would allow a pitching performance to be eligible for a BWB game, no statistics will count for new starters that occurred before the deadline day for that week's transactions/lineups.
  • Exception - pitchers signed exactly one week before the lineup deadline have their stats count based only on the MLB/BWB game number, even if it occurred before the current deadline.  It's assumed that this player was signed to take a rotation spot and is not an intentional manipulation that could come from moving someone from a spot role, the taxi squad or minor league.
  • 2014 Rule Relaxation - this date/deadline limitation will only apply to the main rotation P1-P5.  Teams can move pitchers into the spot starter role and stats will count as long as they are for eligible MLB-BWB game mappings.  In some cases it was clear in 2013 that a rash of injuries could leave a team with no lineup flexibility for a week's worth of games.

5.2.4 Rotation

Modified 3/26/2023


Owners specify a starting rotation of five pitchers.  A pitcher is used in a game if a) it is his turn in the rotation and b) he has a game in the queue to use.  In the situation where at the start of the season or if he is placed into the rotation mid-season, and does not have a qualifying game, then the spot starters are checked, in order. If one has a qualifying start and at least 4 games rest (see below), he takes the start. If neither of the spot pitchers can be used, the next pitcher in the rotation with a qualifying game will pitch, again contingent on the fact that he has not pitched in the previous 4 games.


Owners specify a starting rotation of five pitchers.  A pitcher is used in a game if a) it is his turn in the rotation and b) he has a game in the queue to use, and c) has not pitched in the previous 4 games (see below). If the designated starter does not have a qualifying game or the required rest, then the starting pitcher is chosen by:

  1. Moving up the next pitcher in the rotation with a qualifying game and 4 games of rest (cycling through all 4 of the other starters if necessary)
  2. Checking the three spot starters, in order, for a qualifying game and 4 games of rest


The spot starters are not rotated.  For example, a spot starter is needed in game 32.  The first spot starter qualifies and is used.  Assume that the spot starters do not change and the next spot start is needed in game 63.  Again, the top spot starter in the order is checked first, despite the fact that he was the last spot starter to be used.

5.2.5 Rest Between Starts

Starting pitchers must rest for four fantasy games between starts. If a pitcher's turn in the rotation comes due, but he has pitched in any of the preceding four games, he is skipped until his normal turn in the rotation comes up again (or unless he is needed to move up in the rotation before that occurs).

This makes changing a pitcher’s position in the rotation a tricky process. It’s almost certain that if you move a pitcher UP in the rotation, he will need to sit out a start. And in some weeks, moving a pitcher DOWN in the rotation could cause a problem (you need to be aware of which rotation spot will have two starts in the given BWB week). Reset rotation at the "All Star Break" (Week 16)

Added 7/18/14 for 2015 Season

Often MLB teams will use the four days of the All Star Break to reset their rotations.  After 15 weeks of signings and releases, injuries, and trades, your BWB rotation may be in a complete mess.  For Week 16 lineups, you can reorder your complete rotation without worrying about how many games of rest from one start to the next.  For BWB Games 91-95, the 5 games of rest will not be used to disallow a starting pitching performance if the previous start occurred in Game 90 or earlier (so, for example, the same pitcher cannot work Games 92 and 94, but a pitcher could pitch Game 89 during Week 15 and then again in 92 during Week 16).


There are still restrictions on statistics dates when moving pitchers from spot starter, minor leagues, or taxi squad into the primary rotation.  That does not change.


This is right at a break in the rotation where P5 has 2 starts in Week 15 and P1 has 2 starts in Week 16.  There's no advantage to be gained here for any pitcher in the number of starts for the remainder of the season.  From Weeks 16 through 25, each rotation slot will come up 12 more times.


5.2.6 The Pinesitter Pitcher

If the normally scheduled starter cannot pitch in the BWB game (whether because there are no starts in the queue or he has not had the proper rest), and no spot starter can fill in, and no other pitcher in the rotation can move up to pitch early, then a substitute is needed to start the game. If no starters qualify for the game, a Pinesitter Pitcher fills in with the following line score: 3 IP, 5 H, 5 BB, 0 K, and 5 ER.

5.2.7 Relief Pitchers

This is significantly more complicated, if that's possible, than the starting pitching.  Again, this is largely due to the fact that the need for relief pitching will generally not correspond with real major league game appearances.


Rather than maintain a queue of games for relief pitchers, their performance will be collected on a sliding scale of six games.  That is, games #1-6 will be compiled for fantasy game #1.  Games #2-7 will be compiled for fantasy game #2, and so on.


Only actual relief appearances will count.  No starts will be included in a relief pitcher's pool of games.


The actual use of these games will be described in more detail below in Scoring and Appendix B: BWB Scoring Formula.

5.3 2-Way Players - Pitchers/Hitters

Rule added for 2018 Season


With the signing of Shohei Ohtani and the possibility of some other 2-way players in the minors, BWB adds in 2018 the 2-way player that can fill a lineup spot either as a hitter or a pitcher.



  • A 2-way player can be placed in the lineup as a position player/DH or on the bench. He can fill any of the pitching roles (starter, bullpen, or spot starter).
  • For a given game week, he will only earn stats and provide input to game results in the role in which he's placed.  If he is listed as a hitter, he cannot provide any value that week as a pitcher.  If he is listed as a pitcher, he cannot fill in if needed as an extra bench player in the batting order.  This may change in future seasons if some of the processes around how open lineup spots are filled by bench players are modified.
  • There are no plans to count the hitting stats of standard pitchers - or pitching stats by emergency appearances by position players.


5.4 September Call Ups

During the final three weeks of the season, Benchwarmer weeks 23-25, taxi squad players and minor league players will become eligible to fill holes in game lineups - whether as players in the field or an emergency starting pitcher or coming out of the bullpen.


Following the normal lineup process, if there are any holes in a team's lineup, the taxi squad will be checked to see if there are any eligible game performances to fill in. Following that, if any spots are still open, the minor league roster will be checked.


Teams have the opportunity to rank their taxi squad and minor league roster in order to be considered for the lineup.  Ranking players is an optional exercise.  When checking either the taxi squad or minor league players to be used for games, BWB will check the team's priority list.  Any players not given a specific order - left as either "T" or "M" - will be considered for the game in random order.


2014 Clarification (how this has been done since implementation in 2006): "if any spots still open" is a literal interpretation of this rule.  BWB runs a process with your starters and bench players to find the best possible lineup.  Then, if there are still holes in your starting lineup, we check your taxi squad and minor leagues to see if someone can fill an open position.  We DO NOT rearrange your lineup/bench from scratch.


For example,

  • You are short at 1B and 3B.  You have a guy on your bench who can play both spots and the lineup process finds that putting him at 1B is the best lineup option
  • No one else on the bench can fill 3B, we initially put a Benchwarmer there
  • Now we look through your taxi squad and minor league roster for a player with stats who can play 3B
  • If there's no guy that can fill 3B, but you have someone in the minors who could play 1B, at this time we DO NOT move your other bench player to 3B and let your minor league guy go to 1B - you'll still have a Benchwarmer

This is largely dictated by the original programming on how the bench players are used to fill the lineups - we'll explore to see if we can change it in 2022, though that will take a major overhaul of how lineups are processed..


Since the last three weeks are 18 games played within your division, this should help reduce the number of Benchwarmers and Pinesitters that appear in crucial games (and we've had several pennant races come down to the last game - and even beyond), giving you a chance to settle it "on the field."

5.5 The “Cut” Lineup Designation

There has always been a not-so-secret loophole in the roster process that you could actually put more than four players on the taxi squad in a given week, provided that you were actually cutting them in your transactions that week to get back down to two. Remember, players cut don't actually leave your roster until the following week.


Once the roster expansion process was added for Weeks 23-25, the taxi squad became part of an expanded bench, and that loophole actually became a problem. To rectify that, a new designation was made in the lineup-setting process. Use the Slot designation to mark a player as "Cut" and you can use someone else in the active roster spot he was going to have to fill.


Note: This DOES NOT serve as the means to cut the player - you still must use the transaction process to release him (or trade). If the cut does not go through - for example, had you listed the player as a "contingent release" but that was not needed, the BWB Office will put the player back onto your active roster and make the necessary adjustments - attempting to make the change transparent to your lineup (but that's not usually possible...since that's most likely why you were using the cut designation).


Example: You submit a release of Scott Baker in Week 2 since he was sent down to the real-life minors and you can't put him into the BWB minors because of his salary. He will still occupy that second spot starter slot where you've got him in the Week 2 lineups...and will be gone by Week 3. However, you can designate him in the Week 2 lineup as "cut" and put someone else in as the S2.


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