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Pitch or Ditch for Wednesday, April 13

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Adam Conley

ZACH’S PICKS

Conley @ Verrett – Not giving up on Conley, especially versus struggling Mets offense (last in NL in runs, AVG and OPS).

Shoemaker @ Surkamp

Griffin @ Walker – Challenging matchup for Walker but I’m a big believer in him this year.

Wisler @ Roark

Greene @ Vogelsong

Rea @ Eickhoff

Pineda @ Happ – Pineda coming off rough opening outing and this matchup is as tough as it gets.

Jimenez @ Kelly

Carrasco @ Smyly

Simon @ Lackey

Rodon @ Hughes – Rodon was sharp in his first start. Keep an eye on Hughes but I’m not ready to trust him just yet.

Ventura @ Feldman – Ventura risky here but I’ll take a chance on him.

Ch. Anderson @ Leake – Sticking with Leake for now.

Peavy @ Lyles

R. De La Rosa @ Wood – Wood a toss-up here but I see more downside than upside.

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Pitch or Ditch for Tuesday, April 12

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Hector Santiago

ZACH’S PICKS

Nicasio @ An. Sanchez – Not sold on Nicasio yet. Anibal not a slam dunk either but I’ll go for it.

Corbin @ Maeda

Chacin @ G. Gonzalez

Erlin @ Morton

Tanaka @ Ar. Sanchez – Sanchez a risky play here but he was so impressive his first time out that I’ll give it a shot.

M. Wright @ Buchholz – Clay was roughed up in his first start and I’ve never been a fan of his for fantasy purposes.

Kluber @ Moore – Need to see a bit more from Moore before I can trust him.

Fernandez @ Syndergaard – Enjoy!

Medlen @ Fiers – Keep a close eye on Medlen though. I don’t like the matchup for Fiers.

Samardzija @ Chatwood – Not risking it with Samardzija at Coors.

Santiago @ Graveman – Santiago coming off strong outing and this is a decent enough matchup.

Holland @ Miley – Holland worth monitoring but I’ll play it safe for now.

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Zach’s Two-Start Pitcher Notes – Week of 4/11

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For owners in weekly lineup leagues looking to routinely maximize their wins and strikeouts, two-start pitchers carry a significant amount of appeal. In some cases, two-start pitchers with a pair of favorable matchups can be added via the waiver wire. In other cases, the waiver wire will not offer many viable options. Instead, owners in search of an edge in counting stats will need to stick to their roster and perhaps play a riskier two-start pitcher over a more dependable hurler who is in line for one unfavorable matchup.

Every Friday throughout the season, I’ll be writing an article for the MLB.com site solely devoted to previewing the following week’s two-start pitchers who are worth considering. I will mostly focus on 12-team mixed leagues but will also mix in some pitchers more suitable for deeper mixed leagues or even non-mixed formats. Keep in mind that I will not be discussing the obvious choices. I don’t need to tell you to pitch Clayton Kershaw in two-start weeks. A sampling of the full piece along with a link to the complete article will be available right here on the blog. Below is a portion of this week’s article.

Aaron Nola

Aaron Nola (vs. SD, vs. WAS)

Nola certainly deserved a win on Wednesday night as he held the Reds to just one run on four hits with eight strikeouts across seven innings. Unfortunately, the Phillies bullpen was unable to preserve a one-run lead, so Nola had to settle for a no-decision. Wins might be tough to come by for Nola this season as Philadelphia’s lineup and bullpen could struggle often, but the 22-year-old righty has already proven that he can be a highly effective big league pitcher. He should be owned in all 12-team mixed leagues and belongs in starting lineups for all of his two-start weeks. This is especially true for next week, as Nola’s first opponent, the Padres, were shut out in each of their first three games this season.

Wei-Yin Chen (@NYM, vs. ATL)

Chen owners should not be too concerned about his rough opening outing against the Tigers. I still expect a strong season thanks to his career-long consistency and his move from the AL East to the much more pitcher-friendly NL East. Next week, the new Marlins southpaw gets one favorable matchup (vs. ATL) and one matchup of medium difficulty (@NYM), but like Nola, I view Chen as an automatic start in two-start weeks.

For the full article, CLICK HERE

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Pitch or Ditch for Saturday-Monday, April 9-11

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Padres Royals Spring Baseball

ZACH’S PICKS

SATURDAY

Porcello @ Dickey – Bad matchup for both.

Sabathia @ Pelfrey

Cole @ Iglesias

Co. Anderson @ Sale – Anderson coming off strong spring but I’ll pass for now.

Kershaw @ Bumgarner – Nice!

Koehler @ J. Ross

Smyly @ M. Wright – Hanging with Smyly.

Fister @ Peralta – Fister could prove to be PoD worthy sooner rather than later.

Velasquez @ Matz – Need to see at least one solid outing from Velasquez before I can confidently pitch him.

Martinez @ Teheran

Milone @ Kennedy – Kennedy deserves consideration in deeper leagues but in 12-teamers, I’d play it safe for the time being.

Hendricks @ Greinke – Not a great matchup for Hendricks but I’ll go for it.

Pomeranz @ J. De La Rosa – I’m high on Pomeranz in general but not at Coors.

Hamels @ Richards

R. Hill @ Karns – Not trusting Hill right now. Karns offers sneaky upside this year.

SUNDAY

S. Wright @ Estrada – Taking a wait and see approach with Estrada.

Hellickson @ Colon – Great matchup for Bartolo.

Locke @ DeSclafani – DeSclafani is intriguing this year but I don’t like this matchup.

Cosart @ Scherzer

Wainwright @ W. Perez

Odorizzi @ T. Wilson

Tomlin @ Quintana (PPD)

Keuchel @ Nelson – I’m a believer in Nelson this season…just not for this start.

Nolasco @ Volquez

M. Perez @ Weaver – Weaver topping out in the low-80’s with his fastball…no thanks.

Kazmir @ Cueto

Arrieta @ S. Miller

Bassitt @ King Felix

Shields @ Bettis

Tanaka @ Verlander (PPD)

MONDAY

Niese @ Verlander – Niese strictly a deep mixed/NL-only option for this start.

Gallardo @ Price

Cashner @ Nola

Quintana @ Gibson – Gibson a viable two-start pitcher choice in deeper leagues for next week, but I’m reserving him in daily transaction formats.

Jungmann @ Wacha

B. Norris @ Scherzer

Cosart @ Matz

Finnegan @ Lester – I like Finnegan a lot this year but this matchup is too tough.

Young @ McHugh – Not giving up on McHugh.

Tropeano @ Gray

Lewis @ Iwakuma

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Pitch or Ditch for Friday, April 8

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Taijuan Walker

ZACH’S PICKS

Severino @ Zimmermann

Eickhoff @ deGrom

Salazar @ Danks

Rea @ Lyles

Archer @ Tillman – Need to see more than two dominant innings from Tillman.

Kelly @ Stroman

Liriano @ Simon

Garcia @ Wisler

Feldman @ Ch. Anderson

Big Erv @ Ventura – Erv looked pretty good in his abbreviated first start, but I’ll play it safe in this matchup.

Hammel @ Ray – Ray is too risky here, and though I’m not super confident in Hammel, I’ll say pitch.

Griffin @ Shoemaker – Shoemaker could become a viable PoD option soon.

Surkamp @ Walker – I have high hopes for Walker this year.

Stripling @ Cain

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Pitch or Ditch for Thursday, April 7

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Derek Holland

ZACH’S PICKS

Morton @ Stephenson – Playing it safe with Stephenson in his big league debut despite tempting matchup.

Latos @ Graveman – Graveman a decent option in AL-only leagues though.

Fiers @ Eovaldi – Tough matchup for both but I’ll give it a shot.

Conley @ Roark – There’s a lot to like about Conley this year.

Wood @ Peavy – Pitching both, but both are a little risky.

Kelly @ Salazar (PPD)

Hughes @ Jimenez – I don’t like the matchup for Hughes and I don’t trust Ubaldo.

Lackey @ R. De La Rosa

Holland @ Santiago – It’s only two games, but the Angels offense isn’t looking good so far (.115 AVG, 1 R), so I’ll pitch Holland. I’m also pitching Santiago at home, where he registered a 2.65 ERA last season.

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Pitch or Ditch for Wednesday, April 6

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Brandon Finnegan

ZACH’S PICKS

Happ @ Moore – Moore worth monitoring but this matchup is too tough.

Samardzija @ Jungmann

Miley @ Lewis

Chatwood @ Corbin

An. Sanchez @ Fernandez

Buchholz @ Carrasco – I’m not a big Buchholz fan but if you drafted him, you might as well start him here.

McHugh @ Pineda

Gibson @ Gallardo – Taking a wait and see approach with Gibson.

Leake @ Nicasio – Let’s see Nicasio perform well when it really counts!

Nola @ Finnegan – Favorable matchup for both breakout candidates.

Strasburg @ Norris

Maeda @ Cashner – Not a great matchup for Cashner but at least he’s at home.

Rodon @ Gray

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Pitch or Ditch for Tuesday, April 5

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Aaron Sanchez

ZACH’S PICKS (Bold = Pitch)

Keuchel @ Tanaka

Price @ Kluber

Syndergaard @ Young

Wacha @ Niese – I’m liking Niese as an undervalued SP this year.

Verlander @ W. Chen

Ar. Sanchez @ Odorizzi – Sanchez could warrant mixed league consideration very soon, but not yet.

Iwakuma @ M. Perez

Cueto @ Nelson – Nelson more of a deep mixed league option for this one.

Bettis @ Miller – Bettis could graduate to being a viable play for road starts, but not yet.

Lester @ Heaney – Heaney worth monitoring but I don’t like this matchup.

Quintana @ Bassitt

Kazmir @ Shields

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The Inaugural Pitch or Ditch for 2016 (Monday, April 4)

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Zach here,

New season, and Pitch or Ditch is back. PoD has been a vital part of the 411 from the very beginning, and that’s not going to change in 2016. The exclusive home of Pitch or Ditch will be right here on the blog, so get ready for daily posts listing all of the probable starters for the following day’s games along with our all-important decisions and some commentary where applicable. Although the main goal of the Pitch or Ditch strategy is to search the waiver wire for starters who have pitched well of late and are heading into a favorable matchup, it’s also important to know when to bench or even drop a struggling SP currently on your roster. Unless otherwise noted, these picks are geared towards 12-team mixed leagues, and of course, 12-team mixed leagues that allow for daily transactions. Let’s get started!

Raisel Iglesias

ZACH’S PICKS (Bold = Pitch)

Keuchel @ Tanaka (PPD)

Bumgarner @ Peralta

Big Erv @ Tillman – Keep an eye on Erv but this is a tough matchup.

King Felix @ Hamels

Price @ Kluber (PPD)

Hellickson @ Iglesias – Breakout season for Iglesias? He should get off to a nice start here.

Scherzer @ Teheran

Kershaw @ T. Ross

Dickey @ Smyly – Tough opening matchup for Smyly but I’ll go for it.

J. De La Rosa @ Greinke

Arrieta @ Richards

Sale @ R. Hill – Not trusting Hill for now, even at home.

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Zach’s Mixed Auction Tout Wars Draft Recap

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Complete Tout Wars Draft Results

2016 AL LABR Auction Draft Results

2016 NL LABR Auction Draft Results

2016 Mixed LABR Draft Results

And be sure to check out the 2016 MLB.com Fantasy Player Previewwhich contains rankings, write-ups and projections for over 800 players.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If I had not occupied first place every single day from late-April through late-July, maybe I would have been satisfied with last season’s fourth place finish in the Mixed Auction Tout Wars league. Instead, I arrived at the SiriusXM headquarters in midtown Manhattan this past Saturday determined to do better. Third place in 2014, fourth place last year, what does it take to finally win this thing?

I prepared for the auction in much the same way that I prepared for my previous four Tout Wars auctions, mapping out an ideal team that I projected to fit under the $260 cap, assigning a rough maximum dollar amount for my top choices at each position. I then listed several backup names at each position that would cost less, in order of preference. If the bidding for my top choices exceeded my maximum by more than a buck or two, I’d work my way down the priority list and use the savings to upgrade my targeted player for one or more of the other positions. While it is important to decide on top choices prior to the draft, it is just as important to be flexible and be prepared to go after a second, third or fourth option.

So, how did it go? Let’s see. Here’s my squad, in order of purchase.

Pedro Alvarez ($7) – I threw out Alvarez’s name early, figuring that I could get him on the cheap while there were still plenty of power-hitting corner infielders on the board. It all worked out as expected, as I was able to land Pedro for two bucks less than my budgeted price. Now that he will be playing half of his games at cozy Camden Yards, I’m thinking that 30 homers are likely. Plus, his typically low batting average doesn’t hurt as much in this league, since Tout uses OBP instead of AVG. Alvarez’s OBP last season was .318, not great but not overly damaging.

Jose Altuve

Jose Altuve ($31) – I’ll admit it, I have a soft spot for this guy. I just love watching him play. Altuve provides my team with a strong foundation in steals, runs and OBP. And if he can reach double-digits in homers (expecting 15 home runs again might be unrealistic), well, that would be an added bonus. I was prepared to drop out of the bidding if it exceeded $34, so I was quite happy to draft him for this price.

Jose Abreu ($38) – I might end up regretting not going to $40 for Anthony Rizzo. But at the time, I figured that I could get Abreu, my second choice, for considerably less, maybe $33. Not quite. Still, I’m fine with Abreu, who should post similar counting stats to Rizzo despite perhaps a lower OBP.

Justin Upton ($30) – I was hoping to draft Upton for no more than $27 but Tim Heaney squashed those plans, forcing me to spend the extra few bucks. But Upton was the guy I wanted for my OF1 slot, and I wasn’t about to let $3 get in the way. Maybe it’s because so much was initially expected from him as a former elite prospect, but the younger Upton remains one of the more underappreciated fantasy commodities. He should greatly benefit from hitting in a lineup that includes Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez and Victor Martinez, and his steady walk rate enhances his value in OBP leagues.

Zach Britton ($17) – I wasn’t planning on drafting Britton and I don’t expect him to sustain his dramatically improved strikeout rate from last season. But he was the final upper-tier stopper available at the time, so I ended up paying list price for his services. Looking back, I would’ve rather had Cody Allen and his exceptional strikeout rate for a few bucks less, but this is fine.

Jon Lester ($21) – Lester posted ace-caliber numbers last season but he’s being valued more like an SP2 heading into 2016. He was my primary SP1 target partly for this reason, though as it turned out, he didn’t come at much of a discount. Of course, the day after I drafted him, it was revealed that he’s pitching with a bone chip in his elbow that could require surgery at some point. But as of now, neither the team nor the player seem overly concerned.

Danny Salazar ($17) – After making great strides with his consistency last season, the 26-year-old Salazar appears poised to enter fantasy ace status sooner rather than later. I’m hoping that sooner means 2016.

Yasmani Grandal

Yasmani Grandal ($12) – I was aiming to land either Brian McCann or Russell Martin for my No. 1 catcher slot, but the math didn’t work out. Grandal has been plagued by injuries throughout his young big league career, but the talent is undeniable. A healthy season could result in 20 homers, and he’s an OBP specialist.

Francisco Rodriguez ($10) – I had budgeted $10 for my No. 2 closer slot and K-Rod was at the top of my priority list. When searching for a second closer, my primary focus is job security, and job security will not be an issue here. The 34-year-old has yet to show any signs of decline, and I expect him to continue performing at a high level this season.

Elvis Andrus ($10) – After getting off to a slow start last season, Andrus picked up his game in the second half, batting .277 while recording 16 of his 25 steals following the All-Star break. He doesn’t carry a ton of upside, but Elvis does offer stability at a position lacking many stable options.

Curtis Granderson ($15) – Maybe it’s unrealistic to expect a repeat of 2015, but the price was fair and I am buying into the improved plate discipline, which should once again lead to a solid OBP. As for the counting stats, are 20 homers, double-digit steals and 85 runs too much to ask from the Mets leadoff man? I think not.

Trevor Plouffe ($6) – Plouffe is far from an ideal starting 3B, but after reluctantly allowing Ray Flowers to grab Evan Longoria for the bargain basement price of $13 and pulling out of a bidding war with Cory for Kyle Seager, my top choice, I had little choice but to settle for Plouffe. Although it is unlikely that he can duplicate last season’s 22 homers and 86 RBI, if he can just match the 14 home runs and 80 RBI he compiled in 2014, the Twins third sacker will more than earn the six bucks.

Ketel Marte ($7) – Considering the growing buzz surrounding Marte, I was surprised to land him for only $7. While it’s risky to rely on a player with only 219 big league at-bats under his belt to hold down my starting MI spot, Marte’s minor league track record in addition to his strong stint with the Mariners last season gives me confidence that he can at least post a quality OBP to go along with 25-plus steals in 2016. And I’ll gladly take that. Anything more would be pure profit.

James Shields ($8) – Everyone is so down on Shields this year that I actually think he’s a bargain. The guy pitches 200 innings every year and despite delivering a disappointing ERA and WHIP last season, he struck out well over a batter per inning and pitched to a 3.29 ERA in 16 starts at Petco Park. Eight bucks isn’t a huge bargain, but there’s still some room for profit.

Julio Teheran ($6) – Wins might be hard to come by for Teheran, but he was one of the undervalued arms I had my eye on to fill the middle of my rotation. After two straight superb seasons, Teheran kicked off his 2015 campaign in shaky fashion before registering a fine 3.42 ERA in the second half. Still just 25 years of age, there’s a lot to like here.

Jose Quintana

Jose Quintana ($9) – One of my favorite discounted starting pitchers heading into the 2016 season, Quintana is fresh off a 2015 campaign in which he posted a similar stat line to that of 2014, the main exception being an improved walk rate. He fits in nicely as my SP3, behind Lester and Salazar and ahead of Shields and Teheran.

Jay Bruce ($6) – I honestly don’t know what to expect from Bruce this year. But despite the low OBP, where else are you going to find 25-30 homers for $6? Combine the Bruce purchase with the Alvarez buy and I’ve secured 50-60 home runs for the total cost of $13. That’s pretty good.

Jason Castro ($2) – Nothing special. A worthy No. 2 backstop who could hit 15 homers.

Nori Aoki ($3) – Expected to serve as Seattle’s primary left fielder and leadoff hitter, Aoki is certainly capable of swiping 20 bags while scoring a healthy dose of runs and providing a helpful OBP. Health has been an issue over the past couple of years but for three bucks, there isn’t a whole lot of downside.

Aaron Nola ($1) – Nola’s first taste of the big leagues last season was largely a success, and he will look to carry that momentum into his first full major league season. While it might be too soon to count on Nola in 12-team mixed leagues, in 15-team mixed leagues like Tout Wars, he’s an acceptable back end of the rotation starter.

Carlos Beltran ($2) – No, I’m not expecting 162 games, but on a per game basis, Beltran is still a productive player. And who knows, maybe he will manage to stay healthy for the entire 2016 season. Either way, he’s my fifth outfielder, so the risk is minimal.

Colby Rasmus ($1) – Cheap power to fill my Utility slot.

Anibal Sanchez ($1) – If healthy, Anibal has the ability to return mid-rotation value. For $1, I consider him to be a sound investment.

RESERVES (six-round snake draft)

Kevin Quackenbush – Even if he opens the season as San Diego’s closer, does anyone really think that Fernando Rodney will hold onto the job for long? Didn’t think so.

Trea Turner – Even if he opens the season in the Minors, does anyone really think that Turner will stay there for long? Didn’t think so.

Brandon Finnegan – High upside arm is competing for a spot in the Reds’ Opening Day rotation, and the organization isn’t exactly loaded with quality starting pitching options.

Brandon Drury – Could open the season on the big league roster thanks to a red-hot spring.

J.P. Crawford – Top prospect will likely make his big league debut in 2016, though roster constraints might force me to drop him before that time comes.

Jesse Winker – Similar situation to Crawford, and I’ll probably be a little more patient with Crawford.

On the whole, I think I’ve assembled a very balanced roster, and I’m confident that this team can be competitive. I’m especially pleased with the starting rotation, and I might even have an SP to spare should I decide to trade for an upgrade at another position. The weakest areas are at third base with Plouffe and the outfield, where I feel that I’m lacking a reliable OF2. Granderson is more of a high-end OF3. But I was able to land many of my top targets, and I’m thankful for that.

Here’s my complete starting roster:

C – Yasmani Grandal

C – Jason Castro

1B – Jose Abreu

2B – Jose Altuve

SS – Elvis Andrus

3B – Trevor Plouffe

CI – Pedro Alvarez

MI – Ketel Marte

OF – Justin Upton

OF – Curtis Granderson

OF – Jay Bruce

OF – Nori Aoki

OF – Carlos Beltran

UT – Colby Rasmus

SP – Jon Lester

SP – Danny Salazar

SP – Jose Quintana

SP – James Shields

SP – Julio Teheran

SP – Anibal Sanchez

SP – Aaron Nola

RP – Zach Britton

RP – Francisco Rodriguez

And you can view the full draft results for all of the Tout Wars leagues by clicking on the link at the very top of this post.

As always, your feedback and questions are welcome.

Zach

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