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Strategy for Building a Pitching Staff - Ideas?

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Strategy for Building a Pitching Staff - Ideas?

Postby AHF » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:07 pm

In my 5x5 auction league, I have had a top offense every season and my pitching has varied from best in the league to bottom third over the past 5 years. The last several years have been pretty ugly (usually worst in the league at mid-season and crawling back into mediocrity by the end). I have finished 3rd, 2nd and 3rd over those seasons and it has been my staff that has been my undoing every year (I won't bore anyone with the details). Our league has a 1400 innings pitched cap and starts 9 pitchers per day so getting the most out of the innings is key.

I am hoping to get some ideas from successful owners on here to advance my approach on my pitching staff that might also be useful for other Cafe members.

As a baseline, I am considering drafting 5 SPs this season with 3 being high dollar guys and the other 2 being $1-5 guys I can drop to FA without any pangs of guilt; drafting 2-3 middle tier closers and getting another 3-4 middle relievers with studly ratios and closing potential. The past few years I have gotten one stud pitcher (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez, etc.) and then looked for bargains thereafter (not necessarily low priced but guys who are lower priced than they should be) and I have ended up being eviscerated by guys who fall off the wagon.

Any better approaches to $$ apportioning (I am devoting the vast majority of my pitching $$s to 3 starters and 2-3 closers) or roster composition? Any particularly valuable metrics to focus on?

Thanks!
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Re: Strategy for Building a Pitching Staff - Ideas?

Postby cannonarm21 » Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:42 pm

Of course, this is only my opinion.

I feel that what you mention is a common mistake. I think if you use a high draft pick on a pitcher, but don't back it up with a solid #2, that pick ends up being a wasted pick. You have minimum innings pitched, so you will be forced to start several pitchers. One pitcher is not enough. It is too much of a guessing game to assume you will get solid pitchers later in the draft. Chances are the "sleepers" you target will be targeted by other owners. I am one of the few who usually has 3 pitchers by round 11.
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Re: Strategy for Building a Pitching Staff - Ideas?

Postby GiantsFan14 » Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:56 pm

I like to aim for high K/9 guys in IP max leagues. Starters, closers, even an elite middle reliever or two. Getting the most out of your innings is the important part.
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Re: Strategy for Building a Pitching Staff - Ideas?

Postby Ender » Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:10 am

In an auction I aim for 3 guys who I value as $12-$18 or so guys. Usually 1 or 2 guys in that range will go cheaper than your projections. This gives you a solid base of 600 innings and lets you absorb an injury without being completely screwed. Then I go for the $5-$10 guys that i like the most and a few closers who I think will keep the job but aren't going for a lot. Add in a few high value setup guys to keep your ratios up.

SP is insanely deep overall but the known sure thing commodities aren't all that deep and you want at least 3 of those. I would never ever draft a SP for over $25 in an auction. The odds of return on investment given how random the stats are and how injury prone pitchers are is just too high. The thing with pitching is either you understand what makes a good pitcher or you don't, if you understand it you can always get a lot of value cheap.
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Re: Strategy for Building a Pitching Staff - Ideas?

Postby Izenhart » Tue Mar 05, 2013 6:55 am

With a max inning limit it is important to go for max K per IP but also stick with picthers on good teams who can bring home wins. A lot of the time the best K/IP guys will walk a lot of batters and not go deep enough into games to consistantly get 15+ wins. Guys like CC Sabathia I find have been generally undervalued the past few years, he is solid in all 4 categories yet spectacular in none. Guys like Scherzer and Lincecum will get the K's but hurt your whip. Even Strasburg has a high pitch count by the 5th inning a lot despite not walking a lot.

I generally go for 6 starters I can rely on and 1 flyer type. 2 guys heavy in K's 2 guys with solid ratios and 2 guys who are on good teams for W's.

Aside from the top 3 SPs heres who I like to target, usually nabbing 1 from each list if I can

Ks = Lincecum, Scherzer, Gio, Chapman, Darvish
W's = Sabathia, Fister, Koruda, Haren
Ratios = Cain, Lee, Cueto, Latos, Halladay, Sale

Pitching is a 4 category position, I look for players who are solid across the board and try and never pick a guy who will hurt in more than one. After these guys are gone I look for potential.
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Re: Strategy for Building a Pitching Staff - Ideas?

Postby Ender » Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:01 am

I take guys like Cueto completely off my sheets, he is just a K killer and I still don't trust his ratios to be honest. I'd much rather have someone like Gallardo who goes for the same price.
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Re: Strategy for Building a Pitching Staff - Ideas?

Postby J35J » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:18 am

Ender wrote:I take guys like Cueto completely off my sheets, he is just a K killer and I still don't trust his ratios to be honest. I'd much rather have someone like Gallardo who goes for the same price.


Yup, I'm kinda the same way. I dropped them just enough that I'll never own them because there are always people that see those ratios and draft them much higher than I'm willing to.
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Re: Strategy for Building a Pitching Staff - Ideas?

Postby Ender » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:09 am

If I'm drafting Cueto it is for the wins not the ratios. You can get ratios easily in roto, it is really W and K that drive value and W are so erratic it is hard to draft for. Obviously you don't want ratio killers but a guy like Cueto does nothing for me unless he has 17+ wins.
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Re: Strategy for Building a Pitching Staff - Ideas?

Postby AHF » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:49 am

cannonarm21 wrote:Of course, this is only my opinion.

I feel that what you mention is a common mistake. I think if you use a high draft pick on a pitcher, but don't back it up with a solid #2, that pick ends up being a wasted pick. You have minimum innings pitched, so you will be forced to start several pitchers. One pitcher is not enough. It is too much of a guessing game to assume you will get solid pitchers later in the draft. Chances are the "sleepers" you target will be targeted by other owners. I am one of the few who usually has 3 pitchers by round 11.


Just for reference, I came out of the last two drafts with the following core guys on my staffs and ended up in terrible shape:

2012:
Felix Hernandez
Zach Greinke
Daniel Hudson*
Max Scherzer*
Andrew Bailey*
Matt Thornton*
Brandon League
Addison Reed
Vinnie Pestano
Tyler Clippard

2011:
Cliff Lee
Zach Greinke
Jonathan Sanchez*
Matt Garza*
Colby Lewis*
Joe Nathan*
David Aardsma
Brandon League
Aroldis Chapman
Chris Sale

These staffs were not just bad, they were terrible (the guys with the *'s really wet the bed for me) but I felt decent about both of them leaving the draft so I am thinking I can stand some real improvement in the system I am using to evaluate these guys.
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Re: Strategy for Building a Pitching Staff - Ideas?

Postby AHF » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:55 am

Ender wrote:In an auction I aim for 3 guys who I value as $12-$18 or so guys. Usually 1 or 2 guys in that range will go cheaper than your projections. This gives you a solid base of 600 innings and lets you absorb an injury without being completely screwed. Then I go for the $5-$10 guys that i like the most and a few closers who I think will keep the job but aren't going for a lot. Add in a few high value setup guys to keep your ratios up.

SP is insanely deep overall but the known sure thing commodities aren't all that deep and you want at least 3 of those. I would never ever draft a SP for over $25 in an auction. The odds of return on investment given how random the stats are and how injury prone pitchers are is just too high. The thing with pitching is either you understand what makes a good pitcher or you don't, if you understand it you can always get a lot of value cheap.


In a $315 auction league, how many known commodities are there among the $12 - $18 crowd? These guys went in that range last year:

Ricky Romero
Tommy Hanson
Joakim Soria
Dan Hudson
Andrew Bailey
Carlos Marmol

Yu Darvish
Joel Hanraham
Brandon League
Joe Nathan

More misses than hits in that list.

I know I could use an improvement in my understanding on evaluating pitchers. I generally look at xFIP, WHIP, K/9, K/BB and save potential. The last three seasons I have ended up struggling in ratios more than anything.
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