Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Baseball Pitching: Riding out a Hot Streak


If you check out the free agent list in your league right now, it’s not impossible or even that unlikely that you’ll see the name of Jason Hammel. Hammel is off to a great start this season and if you go to this ESPN page, you’ll see that he’s on a pretty lofty pace.

Jason Hammel -- Current Pace

IP
K
W-L
ERA
WHIP
223.217922-62.430.81

Certainly, it’s not likely that he’ll hold that pace all year. His 162 Game Average over the last three years paints a much bleaker picture.

Jason Hammel, 162 Game Average: 2011-2013

IP
K
W-L
ERA
WHIP
19714011-134.461.384

If you do the math, you’ll see that if he finishes anywhere near those numbers, May-September could be a pretty rough stretch. If a bad start can be a good thing, a good start can certainly be a bad thing, right?

Right, but here’s the thing. If we’re compiling a real team, we can sit here and debate how much team chemistry is a factor. Will the guys mesh together off the field? If so, will that make them play better than their collective talents would suggest they should? If not, will they play worse than their collective talents would suggest they should? Of course, team chemistry isn’t exactly bolstered by bringing in new guys all season long.

But in fantasy baseball, members of your team don’t mesh. Heck, they may all play on different real teams. It’s all about the numbers. So even if you believe that someone like Hammel is due for a bad run, why not pick him up and then let him go when things go south?

It’s inexplicable to me when hot players, especially pitchers, are on the waiver wire in deep leagues.

First of all: Every year there are a few young pitchers that either seem to emerge from relative obscurity and a few veteran journeymen that just put together a fantastic season. Andrew Cashner and Travis Wood were prime examples in 2013. It may not make a lot of sense, but it’s an undeniable part of every sport.

Just because guys like Hammel or Nathan Eovaldi don’t appear likely to have a great year, don’t discount the possibility. You’ll drive yourself nuts trying to explain it, but you’re really shortchanging yourself if you don’t embrace it.

Second of all: There is no logical reason to not pick up the player until the hot streak is over, especially in a composite league (weekly head-to-head leagues are a little different). I completely realize that Jason Hammel, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, and countless others that had a strong April aren’t likely to be Cy Young contenders by the end of the year. I also completely realize that they’re off to great starts, currently pitching well, and doing absolutely no good on your waiver wire.

But what do you do when they start to go south? You don’t want those rough outings hurting your team’s stats, right? Well, no. But remember, it’s a long season — 162 games to be exact. Hopefully you’ve built a good enough pitching staff and accrued enough innings that a few bad outings aren’t going to kill you. Remember, even Jose Fernandez and Adam Wainwright will have a bad start or two. We absorb those, fantasy players should be more willing to absorb the bad starts of the waiver wire guys that are on hot streaks.

Once they string a few bad starts together, then it’s time to drop them and find the new guys on a hot streak.

 

Just to be clear about something. This isn’t streaming. Streaming is what I write about with Dixon’s Picks each week, when you pick up a player for literally 1-2 starts based on favorable match-ups or specific needs.

What we’re talking about here is simply riding out a hot streak until the hot streak comes to an end. Yes, the hot streak may stop at some point, but it’s not necessarily going to stop immediately.

Just like your favorite real team can’t have too much good pitching, you can’t have too much good fantasy baseball pitching either, it’s simply impossible.

Don’t handcuff yourself by being completely unwilling to break from the preseason thoughts and ride a hot streak out. Find room on your roster for the players — especially pitchers — on a hot streak, and make your team even better. Sure, the guys might end up with a 4.25 ERA and 1.35 WHIP by season’s end, but that doesn’t mean they can’t give you a 2.25/1.05 when they’re on your team.

 

Tags: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Featured Hot Streaks Jason Hammel Jon Niese MLB Popular Starting Pitchers