OpinionMay 11, 2009


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Monday Mail Call: Pitchers to Target

By R.J. White

Hey there! Welcome back to another edition of Monday Mail Call, where we take on the Cafe community’s burning questions and attempt to guide you fantasy players in the right direction. We’ll feature two e-mails this week, along with responses from multiple Cafe writers, so buckle up!

“I play in two fantasy baseball leagues, and I use this site to get suggestions on who to pick up out of the pool. I have played fantasy baseball for several years, but never knew the answer to this question. Both leagues have 21-man rosters and start seven pitchers and nine hitters. Sportsline is a 10-team HTH points league where I set a weekly lineup. The other is a Yahoo league, consisting of 12 teams and using 5X5 Rotisserie categories in a H2H format. Changes in that league can be daily. Personally, I’m not real ‘keen’ on the daily changes, but you gotta play by the public league rules or customize in a private league. Do either of these leagues constitute a deep league? Thanks in advance.” — tigercat

Sean Acey: There really is no clear cut definition of a deep league, as a league can be deep in different ways. A standard Yahoo public league consists of 12 teams with 21 men on a roster, nine starting hitters, seven starting pitchers, and five bench spots. The majority of savvy fantasy baseball managers would not call this league deep. Yet, if this league consisted of more teams, let’s say 20, you would find yourself scraping the barrel a bit more for talent. Conversely, a league can be shallow in its number of teams but become deep with added starting positions and bench spots. You will see most deep leagues utilizing 13 starting spots for hitters, adding CI, MI (or two IFs) and two extra OF spots, and nine starting spots for pitchers adding an extra SP and RP slot.

R.J. White: Sean pretty much summed it up, but to directly answer your question, your Yahoo league would likely be considered a normal mixed league, while your Sportsline league would fall into the shallow category. You really can’t even begin to consider a league being a deep league unless it rosters at least 50% of your player pool, and many leagues go even deeper than that. Since your leagues are mixed leagues, the player pool consists of 750 active players (30 teams times 25-man rosters). As you see, your leagues don’t reach that magic halfway point of 375 rostered players.

“I am currently in a 10 person, 25-man roster Yahoo league where everyone in the league seems to value pitching. As soon as a young starter is scheduled to start, whether proven or not, if any hype at all is present, he is snatched up. My question is who are your picks for young breakouts from this point on and second-half flames? I need some leverage in the situation.” — Al S.

Ray Flores: Obviously, it’s worth keeping an eye on highly-touted prospects such as Jordan Zimmermann, Trevor Cahill, Brett Cecil, and Tommy Hanson for the next rookie dynamo to lift your pitching staff. Sometimes in the process, a few talented pitchers are dropped because of a slow start out of the blocks. A couple of good undervalued examples are Ubaldo Jimenez and Manny Parra, while a couple of fringe spot starters such as Jorge de la Rosa and Glen Perkins go a bit under the radar in spite of the good ratios they have posted thus far. If any of those guys are floating in free agency or on the waiver wire, they’re definitely worthy of an add as a potential diamond in the rough.

As far as potential second-half flames go, it’s tricky to pick out a few starters who are generally in a groove down the stretch. Without looking too hard into career second-half splits, I would look at a few starters who aren’t quite currently performing to par or to expectation. I like the Twins’ trio of aces in Francisco Liriano, Kevin Slowey, and Scott Baker to round into form; I see Slowey and Baker being more attainable on the discount because of their flyball tendencies and seemingly underwhelming strikeout rates. Adam Wainwright’s control leaves much to be desired (21 BB in 41.1 innings) and he’s giving up an unusual share of flyballs so far. A return to the fantastic command Wainwright had shown last season and a return to inducing more groundballs could be in the cards. I was bullish on Ricky Nolasco in the preseason and still am. He’s a bit unlucky with a 4.09 FIP so far and once his efficiency is back to where it was last year, he won’t be conceding so many line drives as he has so far.

R.J. White: If everyone in your league is targeting the sexy, young pitchers, I would look at the old, reliable veterans that don’t have super-high ceilings, but still give you quality innings every time out. With 250 players rostered in your league, I would take a look at the wire for the following guys: Ricky Romero, who should be back from the DL soon; Ben Sheets, who has a high ceiling but is a huge wild card; Barry Zito, who is pitching much better with Pablo Sandoval behind the plate; Kelvim Escobar, who will be back in early June; Koji Uehara, who is holding his own in the AL East; and Nick Blackburn, who’s starting to round into form. If you’re looking more for minor-league arms that could make an impact, check back tomorrow for our Future Rookies column!

That’ll do it for today. Get your questions in to us at fbcmailbag@gmail.com and we’ll answer them right here next Monday. Until then, good luck!

 
R.J. White (or daullaz) has been actively involved in fantasy sports for over 14 years, making him an addict at this point. He loves writing, the Atlanta Braves, music, the Buffalo Bills, theatre, the Philadelphia Eagles, his family, and the number 42, though not in that order.
 
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