Kicking Rocks: Sweatin’ to the Oldies

Every year, at about this time, I like to go back and check in on certain strategies employed on draft day and see how they have served me thus far.  Is it a strategy worth employing again?  What tweaks to it are needed for the next time, if indeed there is a next time?  One strategy in particular, the one that seems to always spur the most discussion, that deserves to be re-visited is the one where I, because of the incredible depth at pitching, draft a beast-like offense first and wait until closer to the middle rounds to pick up my starters.  Nothing but bats to start things off and somewhere around the 10th or 11th round, I grab my first pitcher.

I thought I had it in the bag this year with that plan.  Not only was I putting together an offense that could make the greatest of fantasy players jealous, but the starting pitching this year was so rich with talent, that you almost had to be a blithering idiot to not score a few great arms.  For the most part, you could very easily back-door into a few good names just by listening to the guy next to you in the draft room bragging about his scouting techniques, but if you did even just a lick of your own research and read any one of the countless sleeper articles that were strewn about the interwebz, you could build yourself an outstanding rotation and do it for a rather low cost.

Yeah, well here’s the problem.  Talk to the guy who walked out of the draft with Brandon Beachy, Cory Luebke, Danny Duffy, Brandon Morrow,  and Juan Nicasio and you were probably listening to a whole lot of bragging.  Ridiculous upside in that rotation, right?  Great strikeouts, low ratios, probably some good wins totals….all the fixin’s you need for success in the pitching categories.  It almost didn’t matter who the supporting cast of arms was as this was one of the finest collections of young talent a fantasy owner could put together.

Or so I thought…

Three….count ‘em….three Tommy John surgeries, an oblique issue that sounds downright nasty and a knee injury that may or may not be the reason behind an overblown home ERA that has launched fantasy owners’ ratios into the stratosphere.  The bulk of my rotation in not one, not two, but three fantasy leagues has been decimated in just the first two and a half months of the season and I have been forced to rely on some of the veterans out there that you wouldn’t normally like to be relying on.

Fortunately for me, “old-timers” like Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano have been better than expected.  And Jake Peavy, who I swore I would never own again, has shown his appreciation of my renewed faith and stayed remarkably healthy (yup, there’s the jinx….my bad).  Not to mention, every owner in two of the three leagues is suffering from 37-year old R.A. Dickey-envy right now.  It’s gone from oldies to oldies-but-goodies here.  Then of course, there’s the deluge of relievers that I have moved in and out of my lineups for added support.  But how long can I keep playing this game?

To be honest, I don’t really see my luck lasting very long.  Some of these older pitchers are getting me by right now, but I have no faith in them lasting the rest of the season.  Heck, I’ve been sweating these old guys for the past month and feel like I’ve gotten away with something having not descended to the bottom of the standings like a mob informant wearing cement shoes in the East River.  But my luck can’t run on forever.  As we speak, I just lost Felipe Paulino, my fourth Tommy John victim (seriously, you just can’t make this stuff up) and that thread I’m hanging by is starting to fray.  I have to make some changes and fast.

Thankfully, this strategy has given me plenty of blue chip players to deal.  I sit atop most of the offensive categories (including nose hair — come on, you just can’t pass up a Major league reference even if you wanted to) and can turn some of these home runs and stolen bases into wins and strikeouts in no time.  It’ll take a little more work and some savvy wheeling and dealing, but I should be able to get it done.

As for using this strategy again in the future, absolutely.  Even decimated by injuries, my team is still competitive and can be improved upon with a few simple deals.  Not to mention, I have a hard time believing that this rash of injuries can happen to you each and every season.  Maybe I’d tweak my draft method a little differently by finding some more seasoned arms, as it seems that everyone who has pitched for less than two seasons in the bigs is due for Tommy John surgery these days, but all in all, this system has worked beautifully thus far.

I’ll have the clams casino.  Chef recommends!

 




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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com


12 Responses to “Kicking Rocks: Sweatin’ to the Oldies”

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  1. Jay29 says:

    This year I’ve lost Rivera, Soria, and Luebke for the season, had Carpenter (he was only taking a few days of rest at draft date) and Ellsbury miss significant time, and have had guys like Youkilis, Dempster, Smyly, Hutchison, and Marmol hit the DL. Oh yeah, and I had Robertson go on the DL two days after I picked him up as the successor to Rivera.

    Needless to say I’m in 11th place, but I’m still hopeful of a good 2nd half…

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  2. MikeInNJ says:

    10-team NL only: I have Tim Hudson, Garza, Bedard, Latos, Ian Kennedy and Beachy. Sitting on taxi are Minor and Nicasio. I picked up Detwiler along the way. At least 5 of the first 6 were considered top NL starters. Care to guess how I’m doing in W’s, ERA and WHIP?

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  3. Chummy Z says:

    I’m an offense-first guy, but not to that extreme. In the first 10 rounds, I like to take 2 upper tier starters, and only 4th round or later. Otherwise, all hitters, and at premium positions. Also, I decided to draft with positional flexibility (ESPN league) in mind as well (e.g., Zobrist, Aviles, Bonifacio, Craig, etc.). In my 9-teamer, I’m dominating even with a long list of injuries (B Upton, Bonifacio, Gardner, Morrow, Street, Quentin, Craig, Beltre and Beltran’s occasional nicks, Baker…) mostly because I got first grabs on trout and harper, but also because my team had flexibility and micro-management on my part.

    Of course, the two starters I took early were Haren and Lester. Regrettable. I’ve gotten Peavy and Johan from the wire, and drafted Morrow and J Zimmerman later. Otherwise, I’ve just been streaming a guy a day and lead my league in virtually everything pitching (IP/W/ERA/WHIP/K:9/K:BB league) because I have great relievers (Chapman, Jansen, Frieri, Collins, Wilhelmsen). My attitude is that relievers can make up for ratios of mediocre starters, and since my league isn’t a saves or holds league, I have lots of flexibility in that regard.

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    • R M says:

      9 Teams? I don’t see how that can be very competitive unless you have HUGE rosters.

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      • Chummy Z says:

        Yeah, I’m the league manager and I tried getting as many (real life) people as possible, but only 9 committed, so it’s a shallow league. I added a few more bench spots and DL spots than normal for ESPN, but in retrospect, not enough. With that said, everyone has the same opportunities as I have, so it’s not like it’s inherently skewed towards one or two people dominating. It just means that better replacements are on the wire. But yeah, I might just join a Fangraphs league next year, because 9 teams does get boring when only 2 of them end up being competitive.

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    • R M says:

      I do agree though that RP’s can make up for mediocre SP’s. It’s been the opposite with me this year. My RP’s have destroyed my ERA/WHIP, which is unbelievably frustrating since they’re supposed to help.

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  4. batpig says:

    I swear, if you just jinxed Peavy I will never forgive you

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    • Howard Bender says:

      Fear not, my friend. I’m about to pull the trigger on a deal that sends him elsewhere. The stank I may have just put on him will hopefully dissipate.

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  5. DrBGiantsfan says:

    Well, I came out of my draft with Beachy, Luebke and Morrow, but I’ve been able to replace them from the FA list without too much dropoff in production.

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  6. Redsoxnation88 says:

    I hear you about losing guys to Tommy John. This year I’ve lost both Brian Wilson and Cory Luebke then got bitten by other long term injury bugs with Andrew Bailey , Ellsbury, and Quentin. Luckily, I was able to grab Dickey, Capuano, Jason Hammel, Aceves and Wilhelmsen to fill the pitching holes while streaming other guys in and out on matchups, in my dynasty league. I had only a couple tough weeks but have recovered and have been moving up the standings quickly.

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  7. matlock says:

    tastes a little funky!

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  8. Reverend Jim says:

    I employed that same stratagy this year and in every year except one in my keeper leauge (25 man roster). This year has worked out well, between the draft and a few key f/a pickups. I kept Matt Cain and I drafted Vance Worley (14), Justin Masterson (16), Jonathan Niese (17), Jake Peavy (19), Johan Santana (20) and Wei-Yin Chen (22). I was also fortunate enough to add James McDonald, Tommy Milone & Roy Oswalt, and landed Adam Wainwright in a buy low deal. Granted I did draft Nicasio, Bard, Chacin Iwakuma & Bedard so not every pick was a winner, but it has worked out so far.
    I don’t know if I would use this stratagy in a roto league, but in H2H…it’s the only way to go IMO.

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