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Friday, May 11, 2007

Risk and Pitchers

I've talked about Risk as a something to be exploited in Fantasy Baseball over the past couple of days, but I never talked about how it relates to pitching. This is something I will go over now.

The strategy with hitters is to take one who is an injury risk and play him whenever he is healthy. You also take a supplemental player who will play whenever the primary player gets hurt or doesn't play.

I don't think this strategy can be applied to pitchers, and here is why. When you take a position player who is an injury risk and he ends up getting hurt, you play the supplemental player every day the primary player is not in the lineup. Normally, this supplemental player is not worthy of starting every day for your team, but is useful - as his name suggests - as a supplemental player who is used occasionally. Doing this properly maximizes the value of both of the players.

With pitchers, there is a very small amount of pitchers that should only be used sometimes. Normally, a pitcher should be used either every single game or not at all. As a result, supplemental pitchers shouldn't really exist. If a pitcher is good enough to be on your roster, he should be good enough to use. Otherwise, you're really just wasting a roster spot and you will have a hard time getting to your league's maximum innings pitched mark.

That's why on a lot of my teams I took a couple of underrated aces (Peavy, Felix, Schilling, Kazmir, Hamels, Myers etc.) and loaded up the back end of my rotation with more underrated guys like A.J. Burnett, Javier Vazquez, Dave Bush, Kelvim Escobar, Scott Olsen, Jamie Shields, and Oliver Perez. Olsen has turned out to be a bust, and I subsequently dropped him in the leagues I owned him. I had no idea his K rate would drop, his BB rate would rise, and his GB rate would drop. I didn't see any signs of this coming, and I doubt anyone else did either. As long as you can get most of your picks right, you can afford to miss out on a couple. Especially when you can pick up guys like Philip Hughes and Tim Lincecum off the Waiver Wire.

The point with Olsen is that if a pitcher is not worth using, he is wasting a valuable roster spot and isn't worth owning. As such, you can't really have a supplemental pitcher. The best strategy, I think, with pitchers is to grab one or two aces and load up on good values for the rest of the draft. All of these pitchers should be used every single game (with a few rare circumstances), and if one gets hurt you can either go without them, make a trade, or very carefully scan the Waiver Wire for a guy who might deserve a roster spot. But to hang onto one of these guys as a reserve in case one of your good pitchers gets hurt isn't a smart idea. It's a waste of resources.

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