Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Veteran Starting Pitcher may be more valuable than a Reliever down the stretch!

So I posted this piece Friday night with the best of intentions but now, as of Saturday morning, I have another thought as I am here setting up my teams for this coming week.... so I'm just throwing it out there. You see, I love to give free fantasy baseball advice and many of you believe in my wisdom and I appreciate that. Today, I feel like this article I wrote yesterday was solid, but needs to be tweaked to handle every situation that might arise, and here is another situation that might arise.

This week, in one of my big money keeper leagues, I am in the running for 3rd place which should bring in at least $400+ at season's end. The point lead for 1st & 2nd is so ridiculously large that there are only three of us fighting for 3rd, 4th and 5th, which are all money spots.

Anyway, as of this week, my pitching has the most points to gain in our roto league. I am behind in every category except saves, which I own but in every other category, I am in the middle to bottom of the standings yet I am still in 3rd. That's because I have the top hitting team in points and also because this league is so imbalanced its sad. My goal here in September was to beef up my pitching, use all SP's and try to trot up the pitching standings. I made trades over the last few weeks to make this dream a reality and I am going forward with a staff of Matt Cain, AJ Burnett, Aaron Harang, Scott Kazmir, Felix Hernandez, Adam Wainwright, Pedro Martinez, Andy Sonnanstine, and Carl Pavano. I'm happy to say, I have already gained about 10 points over the last 3 weeks in pitching in our CBS roto league. The big winner is we count Innings Pitched in which I am in second to last and trail the next guy buy almost 100 IP. 3 weeks ago, I was in dead last trailing by about 100 from that guy, so I'm getting there.

Here's where this new situation comes into play. This week, I had Andy Sonnanstine in against Boston. One start and Sonnanstine has been shakey the last 3 times out. I also have Jonathon Broxton on my bench who has been lights out lately. So, I am here thinking about the opposite of what that last article was about. However, I still believe in what I wrote, but here is a special case where down the stretch I am going to turn to a reliever, which is not my norm. Point is, Sonnanstine is a one starter against Boston this week. I am guessing he is decent, 5 IP, 3ER, 1BB, 8H, maybe 3K. Decent, but not good enough where as Broxton can be 3-4IP, 0H, 0BB, 4 K, and that is more valuable. There is a better chance that Broxton will be more solid than Sonnanstine will have a great game. So in this situation, it makes more sense to use the reliever because I'm getting better stats minus one or two innings max which really won't affect me in the standings. Plus, Broxton is the sure fire option I was talking about! There are not many other players I'd actually consider doing this with except maybe Joba Chamberlain.

The Original Article on Friday
In the beginning of every season, I consistently talk about how a good solid reliever could help keep ERA/WHIP down as opposed to an older starting pitcher who consistenly turns in a 5IP, 8H, 3 ERm 2BB, 2K performance once a week where as the reliever might pull in 4IP, 1H, 1BB, 4K , which proves more valuable in most leagues.

Now, with the season winding down and money on the line, I actually believe in the complete opposite with some minor twists. Every website/expert in the industry will tell you that using a reliever down the stretch will help lower ERA/WHIP, and if you pick the needle out of the haystack, they might be right. Imagine picking up a reliever who pitches a total of 0.2 innings this week and gives up a 3 run bomb and then another ER two days later. That's a deeper hole now to dig out of. But, let's assume your ERA is so far in the hole that you need quality innings to get you out. What's more effective? A reliever who goes 4IP with a walk, a hit and a few K's or a solid veteran starter who gets you 10-15 IP with 2-5ER as a two-starter in a week? Hmm, I'd say the two-starter, but it also comes down to making solid choices! Here is an idea as to what I am talking about....

Jeff Suppan - Last 6 Starts - 5 W, 14 ER in 42 IP - All quality starts (7, 7, 8, 6, 7, 7 IP).
Greg Maddux - Only 1 game in Aug where he gave up more than 2 ER (7ER in that game), but he's only lasted 5 IP in last 3 starts. He pitches in Petco next week and a possible two-starter!
Mike Mussina - Quality starts everytime out, continue to use over someone not as established, next start against Seattle!
Randy Johnson - 55 K in last 44 IP
Pedro Martinez - A bit of a gamble....but he's Pedro!

The other part to this is that sometimes, you might want to think twice about using some of those young guys who have been a bit shakey lately.
Plus, many of the this years young starting pitchers are starting to or have surpassed last years innings total and there is that chance that these guys could start wearing down here in September. Some of the names that come to mind are...

Matt Garza - 4 or more ER in four of last six starts

Kevin Slowey - He's actually been quite stellar and faces KC this week but did give up 10 H in 5 IP against Toronto this week
Nick Blackburn - Also pitching well but last 5 starts were 4.2IP vs. NYY, 8.0 IP vs. OAK, 4.2 IP vs. ANA, 5.2IP vs. OAK, 6.2IP vs. TOR...which looks like he has a tough time against the good teams.
Edison Volquez - Has been great and bad in this second half, inconsistent but still worth using over many SP's
Johnny Cueto - Battling elbow soreness
Jair Jurrjens - 13 ER in last 14 IP
Clayton Kershaw - 44 BB in 86 total IP this season, 8 BB in last 13 IP, and 14 ER in last 13 IP
Gavin Floyd - Pitching well but he's at 167 IP, only 70 IP last season
John Danks - 3 straight losses with 11 ER in 14 IP
Greg Smith - 5ER and 8ER last two starts

You could even make a case for older relievers turned starters like Justin Duchscherer, Todd Wellemeyer, and Ryan Dempster to name a few of the starters we are most likely all utilizing.

Now, I am not saying that these older veteran SP's are better options than the younger SP's mentioned above. However, sometimes we have to let go of the idea that some of these players are already and could be potential stars. We have to realize that there is a chance these guys can wear down while a solid veteran SP on a winning team or a team in the race could be more helpful to your fantasy team down the stretch. We all know the potential of Edison Volquez outplays Greg Maddux anyday, but at this point in the season with Volquez passed his innings total and showing some inconsistency in the second half, Maddux looks like a decent option right now with the Dodgers in the playoff race.

So all I am saying is you need to take a look at your staff, take a look at your waiver wire and see where you can make some improvements with your staff. Look at match ups, look at opposing pitchers, look at ballparks and opposing offenses. This is when it counts!

Good luck down the stretch!

The Fantasy Man

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