Fantasy Baseball: Building a pitching staff in season

Chad Billingsley vs. Aramis Ramirez

Before I get into some advice, let me tell a quick story. It’s draft day in an auction league that Nash, Clave, and myself are all a part of. I am sitting in front of my computer, Slurpee in hand (I am so thankful that I have a 7-11 within two minutes of my house), and Matt Kemp’s name comes up.

Now, I had no plans on drafting Matt Kemp. Generally, I don’t lay a draft out as thoroughly as Nash does, but I do know the big names that I am targeting; Kemp was not on that list. But he seemed to be going for a little cheaper than I had anticipated, so I uttered a phrase which I will not repeat, bid on Kemp, and landed him.

In doing so, I basically passed on any real chance I had of getting a true ace, but I did not care. The reason is that I have no problem having a revolving door for a pitching staff.

No, I am not talking about streaming, more selective streaming.

That’s not a foolproof strategy but if done well, it will work out for you. Here are a few tips to look at.

1. Look for people against bad offenses
This is not all that unlike streaming defenses in fantasy football, which I also do. Basically, there are offenses to avoid, and offenses to attack. For example, in a few of my leagues, I brought in Chad Billingsley to start for me on Friday vs. the Padres.

In that start, he went 8 1/3 innings, allowed three hits, one walk, and struck out 11 men. Quite frankly, I know that the Padres have no offense. Billingsley isn’t good enough to activate in every one of his starts, but when he’s facing a bad offense in a pitcher’s park, he’s easily good enough to play.

Basically, ask yourself “What’s the worst that can happen?” I know that this strategy works a lot better in weekly head to head leagues, but idea still works. The Padres aren’t going to go out and rock anyone. If we’re talking about a team like the Reds or Diamondbacks, leave Billingsley on the pine. Teams like the Padres are safe bets. Stream pitchers facing them at will.

2. Bring in high strikeout guys
At the very least, you know that you’ll get something. Don’t bring these guys in during weekly play when you’re in a battle for WHIP (as they tend to walk a lot of hitters), but the rest of the categories are fine.

But if nothing else, the strikeouts will be there. Look at Tim Lincecum’s Opening Day start against the Diamondbacks. Arizona roughed him up a little bit, but he still had seven punch outs in less than six innings. That ratio will work very well for your squad. Look to guys like Jonathan Sanchez or Francisco Liriano if you’re trying to find players that could be available.

Even in bad outings, high strikeout guys fill that stat very well. That’s something to keep in mind.

3. Look at your league’s standings
Okay, this is a piece of advice I would give to anyone trying to figure any roster dilemma out, but it really applies here.

Let the season go a little bit. I am not suggesting that you draft no pitchers, just don’t waste money or early round picks on them.

If you are in a weekly league, you can look week to week to see what the critical categories will be. If it’s a roto league, give it a month or two to get a shape of where you stand in what categories.

If you’re in need of a strikeout guy but aren’t as concerned with walks (or WHIP), then you bring in a guy like that. Maybe you need a guy to solidify your WHIP (a guy like R.A. Dickey is a stud in that regard). If you don’t need the strikeouts, look for that guy.

Lastly, maybe you just need a high win guy, in which case pitchers on the Yankees or Red Sox become valuable.

The bottom line is that you need innings to have any chance in pitching categories. With innings, you will get more strikeouts and wins, as well as saves if you carry a few closers. But it also helps you minimize the damage done by a single runner (WHIP) or run (ERA).

If you stream properly, you can be sure that those innings are almost all effective ones. Going after guys in good situations that fill needs will go a long way in making your pitching staff one of the best in your league.

Best of all, it will also allow you to build a killer offense. Think about streaming pitchers in for the rest of the year. If you need any help, it’s a strategy I like to use a lot, and I can promise it will populate a lot of my posts.

Tags: Matt Kemp Pitchers Pitching Streaming Strikeouts WHIP

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