The season is now a month old and whether things are going great, poorly, or anything in between, you have to stay active and involved in your fantasy league if you want to contend.
Because of the fluid nature of the position, the fantasy pitching rotation seems to get the most attention from tinkerers like myself. So if you are looking at your pitching and trying to figure how to get to the top (or stay there), keep these three ideas in mind.
There are no Guarantees
The very first start from the first Dixon’s Picks of the season best illustrates this point.
As a two-start pitcher for the week, Ross made the cut for Dixon’s Picks with the following logic.
Ross has already thrown a great game against the Giants this season and in San Francisco, I’d expect another low scoring game on Monday.
4/28/14: Bumgarner/Ross Pitching Lines
Sure, I recommended Ross, but I knew he was a risk. That’s the nature of waiver wire guys. But never in my life did I expect him to pitch that bad and still outdo Bumgarner. I know Bumgarner isn’t off to a great start this year, but a pitcher of his caliber, pitching at home, in a great pitcher’s park, should do well against a team like the Padres, right?
No guarantees. Certainly no guarantees with streamers but really, no guarantees with anyone. Something to remember is that one or two bad pitches can really mess up a good pitching line. So, always have a Plan B.
Innings are your Friend
This shows up more in a weekly head-to-head format when all stats are so condensed, but it’s a basic rule that you need to remember.
Think about what I just said, “one or two bad pitches can really mess up a good pitching line.” That becomes less and less true when your team has some innings racked up.
It’s one of the reasons I’m not a huge proponent of the MRI strategy. Yes, those are very good pitchers and many of them are brought into situations designed to help them (lefty vs. lefty/righty vs. righty), but it just doesn’t take too much to really skew their ERA’s and to a lesser extent, their WHIP.
In a roto or points league, using middle relievers makes more sense as over time, things will even out a little in regards to their innings and having their stats skewed by a few pitches. But generally speaking, you can’t be afraid of racking up the innings. Going low will hurt you in any counted stat, and leave you vulnerable in the ratio ones.
Look at the Walk Rates
We’ll go ahead and call this the Curt Schilling clause.
In 2001, Schilling allowed a league leading 37 home runs and had a fairly average H/9 rate of 8.3. He did win 22 games, but surely that was only because he played on a strong offensive team that gave him tons of run support, right?
Curt Schilling: 2011
Wrong. Run support never hurts, but Schilling’s numbers were well worthy of Cy Young consideration, even without 22 wins. Yes, Schilling had better stuff than most, but he also understood one basic idea about baseball.
When a really good hitter is forced to swing the bat, he’ll only be successful three out of 10 times. Think about how much easier tests would have been in school if you only had to get 30 percent of the questions right to be successful.
Sure, when a pitcher is around the plate, he’s going to allow some hits, and some of them will even be home runs. But he always has the advantage of knowing what pitch is going to be thrown, making it much more challenging for offenses to sustain rallies and put up the crooked numbers. If a pitcher is walking guys, he’s also falling behind in the counts, meaning that hitters will have a pretty good idea of what they’re about to see.
Obviously now that the season is going, you’re going to fill your rotation out with guys that help fill your specific needs. But if you’re looking for a guy to help eat some innings to bolster your fantasy rotation, you should first look at the walk rates and go from there.