Three for Three?
We just passed the quarter mark -- that is, 40 games -- of the season, a time where statistics and places in the standings start to stabilize and mostly shore up.
Of course a good roto owner must always be vigilant, watching his or her squad, their production -- or sometimes lack thereof -- and relative position in the standings.
For at this time of the season, rosters are still sort of shaking out. Veteran players are ideally starting to work into a groove, and for the most part early season injuries, like tweaked hammies and tight necks -- are starting to loosen up with the advent of warm weather.
Although it is generally too early to determine whether your team(s) can make the serious pennant hunt, chances are if you have a good and productive team, you already know it.
Buehrle: no puzzlers left?
I actually seemed to have drafted pretty well this year, with competitive teams in AL Tout, NL LABR, and my NFBC Draft Champions League, with all three teams hanging among the top four pretty much all season so far.
Even better, though all these teams are performing well, they are not operating at full strength. For example, my LABR team is still awaiting Ryan Zimmerman and Ike Davis to show some serious pop, along with the recently recalled Dee Gordon to give me a swipe boost. Fortunately, my pitching is both good and deep, so I may have some trade possibilities there.
In the NFBC, which is shallower, but a draft-and-follow, meaning no FAAB, free agents, or trades, things are steadier still, with my guys staying healthy, holding their own, while I wait for Ryan Braun and again Mr. Zimmerman to really kick it in gear.
AL Tout is a bit different, though my team has been at or close to the top for the whole season. However, aside from the $31 I spent on Justin Verlander, that team is completely bereft of any stars.
I do have a wad of hitters, all of whom can hit 15-20 homers. Guys like Mitch Moreland, Jed Lowrie, Chris Young, Drew Stubbs, Josh Willingham, and Kevin Youkilis.
The team has good overall speed, and a couple of decent closers with Chris Perez and Casey Janssen, and with Verlander, my pitching has indeed been among the best in the league so far this season.
However, after Verlander come Jake Peavy, and then Alex Cobb, all of whom I have pretty good faith to keep on giving me good numbers as the season progresses.
The problem is my starters 4 through 6 get a lot iffier, with Mark Buehrle, Justin Grimm, and Chris Tillman filling that gap.
One of the reasons that I went after Verlander was based upon my experience in a tight league, a premier -- and healthy -- starting pitcher, who can deliver innings, strikeouts, and a low WHIP, mitigates some poor performances by the rest of the staff.
Both times I won Tout Wars before, my team was anchored by CC Sabathia, and he did deliver the anchoring stats I noted, hence my focus on Verlander this spring.
And, again, with Cobb and Peavy, I have a couple of pretty solid starters overall. Guys who might be lit up a few times, but basically will give me quality starts.
Tillman seems to have righted himself after an early season injury, but Grimm and Buehrle are question marks.
Though I have long been a fan of Buehrle, and his steady performance, even coming off his solid Sunday start, I am worried that the world, and especially the American League, has caught up with him.
As for Grimm, I think he has good enough stuff, but he is not only still young, but Texas has a bevy of pitchers like Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis in the wings, ready to come back and reclaim their innings.
Meaning I could lose production from Grimm, and worse, be killed by the continued "production" of Buehrle should he truly no longer be fooling any hitters.
So, while I will stay vigilant, looking for innings from arms who can help my team sustain a strong performance, I am worried whether the essentially three good starts from my top three guys will be enough to offset three potentially bad starts by the second tier of my staff as the season progresses.
I must say that one of the things I like about playing in deep and competitive leagues like Tout and LABR is that like on the diamond, a team has to make it through with fourth and fifth starters who are not stoppers.
So, I do find that comforting, but, still it does make me nervous, for though Verlander, et al., might be good enough to even out the bulk of bad pitching performances, they cannot take care of them all.
That means, like you, I will need to stay on top of things, subbing out my reserve relief pitchers as necessary, working the FAAB line, and maybe making a swap.
For, it never stops. At least not till the playoffs.
Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.
Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.