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Scoresheet Kings Diary: A Good Start

When we last left off, I was excited about my pitching, and mildly horrified with my offense. A month into the season, things haven’t changed much. Overall, my team has been a pleasant surprise — I ended last week tied for first in my division — but my margins have been thin, to say the least.

Calling my squad a first-place team is also something of a misnomer. The 24-team league is broken up into six four-team divisions, and thus far, my division has clearly been the worst of the six. I’m tied, at 16-14, for the division lead with CBS’ Al Melchior, but overall our .533 winning percentage puts us tied for 11th place. Which is fine, since it was never my intention to win it all this season. I’m in it right now because my pitching has been so good.

Last week served as a perfect example of how good/fortunate I have been. In my second game of the week, facing Jhoulys Chacin, I scored only one run. But eight shutout innings from Daniel Hudson and one from Francisco Cordero gave me a 1-0 win. In the fourth game of the week, my team took advantage of a rare off-night from Felix Hernandez (6.2 IP, 4 R), as Jordan Zimmermann, Matt Lindstrom and Cordero held a lineup consisting of (in order) Matt Holliday, Dustin Pedroia, Carlos Beltran, Troy Tulowitzki, David Wright and Chris Iannetta to just two runs. The following game, Mike Leake got beat like he stole something, lasting just 1.2 innings (you can set a “hook” for pitchers – I generally leave starters at four or five runs, and Leake allowed four before the second inning ended). But Chris Tillman stepped in to provide 7.1 innings of one run ball, and I escaped with a 6-5 victory. If that wasn’t an unlikely enough event, the next night C.J. Wilson‘s complete game spoiled a seven-inning, two-run performance from Tim Lincecum, and I prevailed 2-1. An extreme week, to say the least, but one for which I had prepared.

In place of a waiver system, Scoresheet uses three supplemental drafts. The first one was in mid-April, and its main purpose is for drafting guys that got off to fast starts that slipped through the cracks. To give you an idea of the players we’re talking about, the first five players drafted were Sam Fuld, Dustin Moseley, Freddy Garcia, Sam LeCure and Guillermo Mota. It’s a deep league, but guys drafted here can still contribute. The draft is three rounds long. I had three picks, but thanks to some trading, I had two in the second round and none in the third.

When the draft started, I knew heading in that my offense was already paper thin, as Manny Ramirez had already retired and Franklin Gutierrez had not yet taken the field. Nevertheless, I doubled down on pitching. I had the 13th pick, and I didn’t see a lot of value in any of the offensive players at that point. So with my first pick, I grabbed Antonio Bastardo. With my other two picks, I grabbed prospect Alexander Torres (26th overall) and Lindstrom (36th). I was especially pleased with Lindstrom, as in him I got a guy in the 37th round that I had considered taking nearly 10 rounds earlier in the main draft. That he has chipped in four scoreless innings since I got him doesn’t hurt either. The duo should bolster a bullpen that is going to have to continue throwing up bagels in support of a dreadful offense.

To date, just four of my hitters have an OPS better than .800 — Matt Joyce, Jeff Baker, Maicer Izturis and Brett Hayes — and only Joyce and Izturis start every game. While my team surprisingly ranks second overall in doubles, the Chamber of Bomb-erce has been possibly the least apt fantasy name in history, as my squad is the only one to not have ten home runs at this point in the season. In contrast to my pitching staff that ranks top six in ERA, K/BB, K/9 and BB/9, my offense’s is slugging a league-worst .357. That will happen when Brendan Ryan and Tony Gwynn are getting significant playing time (seriously, Gutierrez, hurry back). So with that in mind, bolstering the pitching seemed like the right thing to do. So far, so good.

Things have gone far from perfectly so far this season. Manny retired, Gutierrez has been out, and Jim Thome has been ineffective and is now hurt. Losing Jenrry Mejia to Tommy John didn’t make me all warm and fuzzy inside either. This team will clearly only go as far as the pitching takes it, and so far that has been to first place. Even if it doesn’t last, the first month has confirmed that my strategy — to stay competitive by building the best pitching staff possible, even at the expense of my hitting — was on point. I’ll call that a good start. As always, you can check out everyone’s roster and progress here, and find my Scoresheet updates by selecting the ‘scoresheet’ category in the right-hand navbar.