Pinpointing Pitchers to Acquire Now
The tried and tested way to prepare for an auction draft is to spend 70% on offense and 30% on pitching. There are many reasons for this strategy. Even though many leagues are 4×4 or or 5×5, and a certain logic would say to spend equally, 50-50; there are more offensive players on a team, so more money should be allocated for those offensive players. Because there are fewer pitchers drafted than offensive players, (nine compared to 14 hitters), more weight is placed on each pitcher. Unfortunately, other than a small handful of ace starters, (Corey Kluber, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw), most are interchangeable and highly inconsistent from year to year. And for relief pitchers it’s even worse. One of the biggest rules in Fantasy is to never draft for saves. Last year’s closer of the year, who nailed down 45 saves, can be replaced this season after three or four blown saves. It is truly a, “what have you done for me lately”, position in baseball.
Therefore, it’s extremely important to mindful of pitching trends. A pitcher who developed a new pitch, or slightly different delivery, to increase spin rotation, can transform from a mediocre mid-level starter, into a top tier arm. To be successful in Fantasy, it’s imperative that you see these trends before your fellow team owners.
It’s also vital to follow the closer situation from team to team. How does the manager view saves? Does he have a history of being patient with his closers, or does he replace them after every other game? You need to know this when you select your closer. It is typically at this time of year when closers begin to get replaced. For positional players, usually Memorial Day is a great barometer for managers and GMs to begin to make determinations on the season, but for closers, the leash is much shorter. Most teams don’t want to fall too far behind in the standings and view a blown save as an unforgiveable sin.
This week I’m focusing on four arms, (three relievers, and one starter), you should be looking at going forward.
Addison Reed: Minnesota Twins, (28%)-Reed has been a closer in the past. From 2012-2014, he saved 101 games; and for his career, saved 125. He was signed by the Twins this offseason to be the set-up man and handle eighth inning duties before the 41 year-old closer Fernando Rodney. Although Rodney has saved over 30 games five times, he is a cardiac closer. Two of the last three seasons his ERA has been north of four which is terrible for a closer; and this season he has a 6.75 ERA, while blowing three consecutive save opportunities. Manager Paul Molitor has to be near the end of his rope with Rodney, which will clear the way for Reed.
Kyle Gibson: Minnesota Twins, (27%)-Gibson has been nothing more than a below-average starter for his entire career. The 30 year-old starter has a career 45-49 record with a 4.65 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. He’s been an innings-eater in his five-year career, and has averaged 166 innings over the past three seasons. But this season he has seemingly turned the corner. Although he only has one win to show for his five starts thus far, he doesn’t look like the same pitcher. He has 30 strikeouts in 27 innings, to go with a 3.33 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. Gibson may prove to be a late bloomer. Five years of mediocrity is tough to get past after only one month, but he’s worth snagging in your league. His next start is scheduled for May 1st against the Blue Jays.
Santiago Casilla: Oakland A’s, (2%)-Casilla is another pitcher who has been a closer. Two seasons ago, he had 31 saves for the San Francisco Giants. He’s now pitching for a franchise who doesn’t typically stick with one closer, or even keep them on the team for very long. There’s been a string of former A’s closers traded away by GM Billy Beane. This year’s closer (so far), is Blake Treinen. Although he’s done nothing to lose his job at this point, he did hurt his shin and is listed as day to day. Day to day for the A’s can be an eternity. Casilla has a longer history in the ninth, and Beane has a quick trigger finger. Even if Casilla doesn’t win the job, he’ll still get a handful of saves and help with ratios while getting 50-60 strikeouts.
3.) …Tyler Clippard. Sometimes this stuff just writes itself. Thanks @goodfundies for the GIF. The other relievers with three wins: COL’s Adam Ottavino and PHI’s Yacksel Rios. pic.twitter.com/VPvSFcT0hm
— Jerry Beach (@JerryBeach73) April 25, 2018
Tyler Clippard: Toronto Blue Jays, (1%)-Clippard has been an underrated reliever for years. He had 32 saves in 2012, while winning 11 games in 2010. For his career, his ERA is 3.10 and his WHIP is an exceptional 1.12. In 698 career innings, he’s averaged 1.10 strikeouts per inning. Although he doesn’t stand to get many save chances for the Blue Jays, and at this time isn’t even the setup man, (Seung-Hwan Oh), he already has three wins this season. With the trend in baseball turning to bullpens sooner and sooner, reliable middle relievers are getting more opportunities to get the decisions. Clippard is obviously being used in high leverage situations, which is putting him in line for wins. For eight seasons in a row, he’s averaged over 70 appearances. This season he’s on pace to appear in 91 games, and his WHIP and ERA are the lowest they’ve been since 2011.
It is a sneaky good pickup like grabbing a Tyler Clippard that can be the difference between winning your league and finishing in second place. Taking a low ERA and WHIP reliever who’ll get you an extra 60 Ks, a few wins, and handful of saves is far better than snagging a back of the rotation starter and watching him give up seven earned runs in three innings. You should always be able to find a spot for these types of pitchers. These are backbone guys that you can’t afford to overlook.
Addison Reed Featured Image: (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
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