FANTASY BASEBALL: WHY PITCHING IS STILL THE NAME OF THE GAME
OK, Fantasy gamers draft day is around the corner and you are likely still licking your wounds from last season, which piles on the anticipation even more. There’s a good chance you are blaming your pitching staff for your team’s over all failure, and are currently contemplating going with offense for as many consecutive picks to start the draft as humanly possible. So here’s the challenge: Don’t write off pitching this season, whether you are in a head to head or rotisserie league, simply pay attention, make better value picks and keep that line up balanced.
The top 10 fantasy pitchers are just as valuable to your line up as any hitter, and the drop off after the top 10 is significant. Make sure and grab a top 10 pitcher, regardless of who it is – Hernandez, Kershaw, Kluber, Sale and Scherzer are all capable of anchoring your staff. Don’t overpay for Madison Bumgarner if you are in an auction draft especially if you think he’s going to piggy back his playoff performance with a season long stat line that is better than the 5 mentioned above.
Stay away from injury prone pitchers like Masahiro Tanaka, Harvey, Sabathia, Fernandez, and Beachy. Even though one of those guys is likely to bounce back and kill it this season, it’s too tough to call which one. So be conservative, look for value and target pitchers who have averaged 28 starts or more over the last 3 years. Guys like John Lester, Gio Gonzalez, James Shields and Zack Grienke have been pillars on their respective staffs. What makes a serviceable pitcher effective is that he doesn’t hurt your stat line by missing starts.
If you have to take risks, or are wanting to reach early on certain guys, take a look at Alex Wood, Justin Verlander and Mike Fiers. You can count on exceptional value from all three, and if you can land two of them with a top tier pitcher you’ll be off to the races.
Don’t forget relief pitchers. Saves is a category you can win if you want, but keeping with the theme of balance, make sure to nab a top 3 closer – it doesn’t matter which one. After that 4-20 are statistically negligible. Jonathon Broxton is going to be the best value as he has potentially the clearest path to keeping his job. Don’t draft more than 2-3 closers and be sure to hand cuff your picks. Closers will pop up all season long so be patient. Over one of the teams who named their closer on opening day last season had different closers by the end of the season. Several teams refused to name a closer at the start of the season, and by the end of the season, several more teams did not have a dedicated closer. Closers can get demoted, injured or traded, so investing highly in multiple closers for one stat is ill advised. Instead take two closers, gamble on a third, and be diligent on the waiver wire until you can pluck a newly named closer. Drafting middle relievers who could become closer is a low risk high reward strategy that doesn’t cost you much on draft day. RPs like Wade Davis and Andrew Miller were inning hogs and made significant contributions to ERA, WHIP and K/9. Wade Davis was exceptional in middle relief last season, so don’t be surprised if the repeats that again. Ken Giles should not be ignored, as it’s almost certain that Jonathon Papelbon will get traded at some point this season. There’s not telling you this year’s Houston Street is going to be but he is out there. Risks are always good ideas when taken at the right time. Good luck gamers.