Hardball High Week 5 – Armed and Dangerous: Planning your Pitching

Hardball High

Hardball High

In Fantasy Baseball, it’s easy to skate by and just get a passing grade on your “assignments”, per se. The truly exceptional teams put in the time and effort it takes to stand out in your Fantasy Baseball leagues. The most important thing you can do from a pitching perspective is to keep an eye on your arms. Here are some important tips that every successful manager keeps in mind throughout the week as they desperately search for something to do while bored at work:

Mind the matchups: In standard ESPN leagues that value wins as a category for pitching, there are many things you need to think about. Not only do you have to consider who you’re trotting out there to pitch for you and how much run support they usually get with their team, you also have to notice who the opposing pitcher is and how potent their team’s bats are. And there’s always the matter of whether or not your pitcher is a road warrior or only puts up quality starts at home. It’s not as simple as reviewing past ERA, WHIP, and current W-L record. There are several pitchers who are generally considered matchup-proof, however. I don’t care if Clayton Kershaw is up against the AL All-Star team, I’m starting him every week, no questions asked.

Fantasy Baseball

Bronson Arroyo’s ERA is nearly as flexible as he is (nearly).

Don’t be fooled by the outliers: As any fan could tell you, baseball is a game of streaks. Batters wax hot and cold constantly, and teams lose twelve games in a row and then win their next five (as an avid Mariners fan, I tend to see more of the former and less of the latter). This trend, however, tends not to extend to pitchers to the same degree. Just because Bronson Arroyo hasn’t given up a run in his last 14+ innings doesn’t mean the general public should be racing to their laptops to pick him up off the waiver wire immediately. Remember Philip Humber, the immaculate White Sox starter who tossed a remarkable perfect game against the Mariners on April 21, 2012? Well it was one of five games he won all year, and a 2012 ERA of 6.44 ensured that his one-off perfect game against the M’s would be the only thing by which he would be remembered. In order to keep from imploding, make sure your sample size for judging a pitcher is sufficiently large.

Keep alert on the weekends: For most people playing in head-to-head matchups, the easiest course of action is to simply make sure your pitchers are in your lineup when they’re scheduled to start. But this is the big leagues: every category counts, and there are instances when the most prudent course of action is to sit your studs. Most H2H leagues have weekly matchups based on categories, and your ERA and WHIP can quite feasibly suffer no matter who you’re starting. In a close matchup when you already have ERA and WHIP won, and you don’t need any more wins, the better play is in fact to sit your end-of-the-week starters so as not to tarnish your ERA and WHIP. It could be the difference between making the playoffs and watching from the sidelines.

There’s quite of bit of thinking that should go into each and every start you commission for your team; be careful not to neglect any of it, and stay on your toes. Class dismissed.