Welcome to the first 2014 season installment of my two-start pitcher series. Each Friday, in an effort to help out those of you in weekly lineup leagues, I’ll be discussing several of the following week’s two-start pitcher candidates before making a final determination as to whether you should pitch them or ditch them. Note that I will be focusing on the not so obvious options. I don’t need to advise you to pitch Max Scherzer next week or to ditch Brett Oberholtzer for his pair of starts @TOR and @TEX. Also keep in mind that my decisions are mainly geared towards standard 12-team mixed leagues.
Alright, let’s get started!
Jose Quintana (@COL, vs. CLE)
Quintana was decent in his season debut, as he whiffed eight and though he gave up five runs, three of those runs were unearned. The 25-year-old is coming off a very strong first full season in the big leagues, and I like him a lot for 2014. In fact, I like him so much that I’ll say pitch here, even though Coors Field will be the venue for one of his starts.
Tim Hudson (vs. ARI, vs. COL)
Hudson owners could not have possibly asked for anything more from the veteran righty in his season debut, as he blanked the D-Backs over 7 2/3 innings and even punched out seven. Now look, it would be silly to expect anything close to a strikeout per inning going forward, but another season of top-notch ratios would not at all be surprising. Even at 38 years of age, Hudson remains a highly effective big league pitcher, and at this point in his career, he is one of the most underrated and underappreciated hurlers in the game. With two home dates on tap for next week, he’s an automatic pitch. Actually, I see him as an automatic pitch regardless of the matchup, at least for the time being.
John Lackey (vs. TEX, @NYY)
Lackey was without question one of last season’s biggest starting pitching surprises, as he triumphantly returned from missing an entire season due to Tommy John surgery to post the lowest WHIP of his career and his lowest ERA since 2007. At 35, he’s getting up there in age, but he can handle any lineup when he’s on his game. Lackey will face a tough challenge next week, but I think he’s up for the task.
Dan Haren (vs. DET, @ARI)
Haren is a longtime personal favorite, so I made sure to draft him in multiple leagues this year. After a brutal start to last season, he settled down in the second half, and I consider the Dodgers to be a great fit for him. Sure enough, he dominated in his season debut, though @SD is a very favorable matchup. These matchups aren’t too friendly, and in a shallow mixed league, I’d totally understand if you opt to take the conservative route and sit this out. But in a 12-team mixed, I’ll roll the dice on Haren in hopes that the 2014 version is closer to the pitcher who registered a 3.52 ERA and 1.02 WHIP following the All-Star break last year than the pitcher who toiled in mediocrity for much of the 2012 season and the first half of the 2013 campaign.
Bartolo Colon (@ATL, @LAA)
This one is a tough call, as Colon was rather shaky in his inaugural outing as a Met, notching a quality start but serving up two homers in the process. The good news is that he continued to display his pinpoint control, not issuing a single free pass in his six innings of work. Honestly, I don’t know what to expect from Colon this year. He should remain a quality mixed league option, especially in light of his move to the NL. On the other hand, he will turn 41 in May. These matchups are a bit scary but I’d lean towards pitching Bartolo, as control guys tend to perform well against any lineup as long as they effectively pound the zone. But Colon is my least confident Pitch.
Tyson Ross (@CLE, vs. DET)
Ross put forth a mediocre performance in his first outing of 2014, and I’m not crazy about the four walks in five innings. But the Dodgers’ lineup is a tough one to face, and at least he racked up seven strikeouts. I said pitch on Ross for the @CLE start, but the vs. DET matchup would scare me off for two-start pitcher purposes. Outside of very deep mixed leagues or NL-only formats, I’m ditching.
Ubaldo Jimenez (@NYY, vs. TOR)
If you’re thinking about chasing strikeouts by pitching Ubaldo next week, forget it. Though he was decent against the Red Sox on Wednesday, this guy is way too combustible to trust outside of very favorable matchups. And these matchups are far from favorable, even if the Jays’ lineup is a lot less intimidating without Jose Reyes.
Tanner Scheppers (@BOS, vs. HOU)
Making his first career big league start this past Monday, Scheppers received a rude awakening as the Phillies lit him up for seven runs over four innings. Fresh off a dominant season as a late-inning reliever, he certainly carries plenty of upside, and the move to the rotation could work out just fine. But for now, I’m benching Scheppers unless the matchup is particularly appealing. The vs. HOU matchup is particularly appealing. The @BOS matchup has disaster written all over it.
Gibson @ Carrasco – I’m a big fan of Carrasco this year.
Pineda @ Dickey – I’m not a big fan of Dickey this year.
Norris @ Porcello – Porcello could become a POD factor soon though.
Danks @ B. Chen
King Felix @ Milone – Not enough upside with Milone.
W. Peralta @ Buchholz – Peralta deserves attention but this matchup is too tough.
Skaggs @ Keuchel – Skaggs not a bad gamble here but let’s see him make one start first.
Martinez @ Price
Cueto @ Gee
Lee @ Samardzija
Bumgarner @ Maholm
Teheran @ Strasburg
Kelly @ Liriano – Kelly an intriguing NL-only play.
Cashner @ Fernandez
McCarthy @ De La Rosa
Nolasco @ Masterson – Nolasco is YPNM.
Sabathia @ Hutchison – CC looking to bounce back.
Tillman @ Verlander
Gallardo @ Lester – I liked what I saw from Gallardo on Monday.
Darvish @ Cobb
Sale @ Shields
Weaver @ Feldman – I don’t trust Feldman. Period.
E. Ramirez @ Gray – Nice matchup for Erasmo.
Simon @ Niese – Let’s see how Niese does here.
Kennedy @ Eovaldi – Promising matchup for both.
Al. Wood @ Jordan – Jordan could prove start-worthy before long.
Wainwright @ Volquez
Burnett @ Villanueva
Miley @ Anderson – Playing it safe on both.
Cain @ Greinke
Jimenez @ Kuroda
Wilson @ Cosart – C.J. should get back on track here.
Kazmir @ Correia – Kazmir dominant in season debut.
Scheppers @ Lackey – Taking a wait and see approach with Scheppers. Throwing Lackey out there despite challenging matchup.
T. Ross @ Kluber – Ross’ strikeout upside too tempting to ignore. Giving Kluber another shot versus lower tier offense.
Moore @ Vargas – Vargas worth monitoring though.
Lohse @ Kendrick
Cingrani @ Wacha – Wednesday’s meeting lived up to the hype. Will this one follow?
Paulino @ Lyles – I like Paulino but this matchup is too risky.
M. Gonzalez @ An. Sanchez
Estrada @ Peavy
Pelfrey @ Salazar – speaking of hype…
E. Johnson @ Guthrie
Tanaka @ McGowan – and, also speaking of hype…
Saunders @ Odorizzi – taking a shot on Big O at home
Richards @ Harrell
Young @ Straily
Hale @ Zimmermann
R. Hernandez @ T. Wood
Vogelsong @ Ryu
Delgado @ Nicasio
Miller @ Cole
Leake @ Mejia
Stults @ Koehler
Ventura @ An. Sanchez (PPD)
Hughes @ Quintana – some may like Hughes, but I’ll sit it out for now
Doubront @ W. Chen
Morrow @ Archer – might as well try Morrow while we can!
Nova @ Oberholtzer
Elias @ Chavez
Lynn @ Bailey
Hammel @ Wandy – blue-plate special!
Morales @ Turner
Roark @ Wheeler
Lincecum @ Arroyo – wait and see on Timmah
***ZACH SAYS “Keep an eye on Turner in the early going as he might earn mixed league consideration before long as a matchup-based play, but I agree that we should play it safe with him for now. Hughes is also worth monitoring.”
Vargas @ Scherzer
Correia @ Paulino – Paulino has legit K upside if he can stay healthy
Kluber @ Kazmir (Gm 1 of doubleheader)
McAllister @ Lindblom (Gm 2 of doubleheader)
Lackey @ Jimenez – not trusting Ubaldo yet vs. big offenses
Buehrle @ Moore
Kuroda @ Cosart – keep an eye on Cosart if K rate rebounds
Kendrick @ R. Ross
Paxton @ Santiago - wait and see on Paxton
Harang @ Garza
Jackson @ Morton
Wacha @ Cingrani – NC-17
G. Gonzalez @ Colon
Lyles @ Alvarez – love Alvarez at home vs. weak road offense
Hudson @ Cahill – good matchup for Cahill, take a shot
Haren @ T. Ross
Sabathia @ Feldman – let’s see what the big fella has left
Hutchison @ Cobb – keep an eye on Hutchison
Burnett @ M. Perez
E. Ramirez @ Wilson – keep an eye on Erasmo
Kluber @ Kazmir
Greinke @ Kennedy – keep an eye on Kennedy
Anderson @ Eovaldi – in Miami, sure
A. Wood @ Lohse – blue plate special!
Cain @ Miley
***ZACH SAYS “In deep mixed/NL-only leagues, I’d consider Eovaldi, pitching at home versus a so-so offense. Agree on rest.”
This one is pretty simple. Cory and I agree that you should pitch everyone with the exception of Nolasco (taking a wait and see approach) and Scheppers. After all, it’s Opening Day!
SUNDAY (Bold = Pitch)
TBD (LAD) @ Cashner
Shields @ Verlander
Lee @ Scheppers
Lester @ Tillman
Nolasco @ Sale
Dickey @ Price
King Felix @ Weaver
Masterson @ Gray
Samardzija @ Liriano
Strasburg @ Gee
Teheran @ Gallardo
Wainwright @ Cueto
De La Rosa @ Fernandez
Bumgarner @ McCarthy
As far as two-start pitchers go, I’d pitch everyone with the exception of Nolasco, Scheppers, Erasmo Ramirez (like but don’t trust yet), Drew Hutchison and Scott Feldman.
I’d also be hesitant to start Wade Miley and Brandon McCarthy since one of their starts comes @COL.
Ryan Braun 4th overall? Eyebrow raising but not shocking. Paul Goldschmidt slipping to 8th? WHAT? Here are the complete results from last night’s 411 Listener League draft. This is a daily transaction 12-team mixed league that’s been in business for quite some time and includes Mike (South Larson Hamptonians), Cory (Schwartzstops) and 10 of the longest tenured 411 fans. With only two bench spots, the waiver wire is always a busy place, and I don’t think there’s anyone in this league who does not play Pitch or Ditch.
Anyway, onto the results:
(1) Havalina Lumber Co – Mike Trout CF
(2) Bloo Meenies – Miguel Cabrera 3B
(3) KFred inCal – Andrew McCutchen CF
(4) mancrushes united – Ryan Braun LF
(5) South Larson Hamptonians – Carlos Gonzalez LF
(6) Manhattan Marauders – Adam Jones CF
(7) The Canexicans – Jacoby Ellsbury CF
(8) Team Gluttons – Paul Goldschmidt 1B
(9) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Chris Davis 1B
(10) Nathan’s Dogs – Hanley Ramirez SS
(11) Schwartz Stops – Edwin Encarnacion 1B
(12) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Robinson Cano 2B
(13) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Clayton Kershaw SP
(14) Schwartz Stops – David Wright 3B
(15) Nathan’s Dogs – Bryce Harper LF
(16) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Prince Fielder 1B
(17) Team Gluttons – Jason Kipnis 2B
(18) The Canexicans – Evan Longoria 3B
(19) Manhattan Marauders – Adrian Beltre 3B
(20) South Larson Hamptonians – Troy Tulowitzki SS
(21) mancrushes united – Joey Votto 1B
(22) KFred inCal – Dustin Pedroia 2B
(23) Bloo Meenies – Giancarlo Stanton RF
(24) Havalina Lumber Co – Carlos Gomez CF
(25) Havalina Lumber Co – Yu Darvish SP
(26) Bloo Meenies – Jose Reyes SS
(27) KFred inCal – Ian Desmond SS
(28) mancrushes united – Justin Verlander SP
(29) South Larson Hamptonians – Yasiel Puig RF
(30) Manhattan Marauders – Freddie Freeman 1B
(31) The Canexicans – Stephen Strasburg SP
(32) Team Gluttons – Justin Upton LF
(33) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Adam Wainwright SP
(34) Nathan’s Dogs – Jay Bruce RF
(35) Schwartz Stops – Jose Bautista RF
(36) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Ian Kinsler 2B
(37) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Buster Posey C
(38) Schwartz Stops – Shin-Soo Choo CF
(39) Nathan’s Dogs – Albert Pujols 1B
(40) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Felix Hernandez SP
(41) Team Gluttons – Jose Fernandez SP
(42) The Canexicans – Mark Trumbo 1B
(43) Manhattan Marauders – Alex Rios RF
(44) South Larson Hamptonians – Craig Kimbrel RP
(45) mancrushes united – Ryan Zimmerman 3B
(46) KFred inCal – Eric Hosmer 1B
(47) Bloo Meenies – Max Scherzer SP
(48) Havalina Lumber Co – Jean Segura SS
(49) Havalina Lumber Co – Matt Kemp CF
(50) Bloo Meenies – David Ortiz DH
(51) KFred inCal – Joe Mauer C
(52) mancrushes united – Jason Heyward RF
(53) South Larson Hamptonians – Matt Carpenter 2B
(54) Manhattan Marauders – Cliff Lee SP
(55) The Canexicans – Adrian Gonzalez 1B
(56) Team Gluttons – Billy Hamilton CF
(57) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Elvis Andrus SS
(58) Nathan’s Dogs – Kenley Jansen RP
(59) Schwartz Stops – Greg Holland RP
(60) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Josh Donaldson 3B
(61) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Yoenis Cespedes LF
(62) Schwartz Stops – Trevor Rosenthal RP
(63) Nathan’s Dogs – Matt Holliday LF
(64) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Allen Craig 1B
(65) Team Gluttons – Alex Gordon LF
(66) The Canexicans – Joe Nathan RP
(67) Manhattan Marauders – Madison Bumgarner SP
(68) South Larson Hamptonians – Ben Zobrist 2B
(69) mancrushes united – David Price SP
(70) KFred inCal – Carlos Santana C
(71) Bloo Meenies – Yadier Molina C
(72) Havalina Lumber Co – Chris Sale SP
(73) Havalina Lumber Co – Brandon Phillips 2B
(74) Bloo Meenies – Starling Marte LF
(75) KFred inCal – Wil Myers RF
(76) mancrushes united – Koji Uehara RP
(77) South Larson Hamptonians – Carlos Beltran RF
(78) Manhattan Marauders – Hunter Pence RF
(79) The Canexicans – Josh Hamilton RF
(80) Team Gluttons – Gerrit Cole SP
(81) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Jose Altuve 2B
(82) Nathan’s Dogs – Wilin Rosario C
(83) Schwartz Stops – Kyle Seager 3B
(84) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Zack Greinke SP
(85) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Brian McCann C
(86) Schwartz Stops – Jonathan Lucroy C
(87) Nathan’s Dogs – Pedro Alvarez 3B
(88) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Starlin Castro SS
(89) Team Gluttons – Jose Abreu 1B
(90) The Canexicans – Masahiro Tanaka SP
(91) Manhattan Marauders – Homer Bailey SP
(92) South Larson Hamptonians – Mike Napoli 1B
(93) mancrushes united – David Robertson RP
(94) KFred inCal – Pablo Sandoval 3B
(95) Bloo Meenies – James Shields SP
(96) Havalina Lumber Co – Martin Prado 3B
(97) Havalina Lumber Co – Anthony Rizzo 1B
(98) Bloo Meenies – Gio Gonzalez SP
(99) KFred inCal – Jayson Werth RF
(100) mancrushes united – Desmond Jennings CF
(101) South Larson Hamptonians – Aramis Ramirez 3B
(102) Manhattan Marauders – Glen Perkins RP
(103) The Canexicans – Chase Utley 2B
(104) Team Gluttons – Sergio Romo RP
(105) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Everth Cabrera SS
(106) Nathan’s Dogs – Domonic Brown LF
(107) Schwartz Stops – Jordan Zimmermann SP
(108) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – J.J. Hardy SS
(109) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Jason Grilli RP
(110) Schwartz Stops – Shane Victorino RF
(111) Nathan’s Dogs – Daniel Murphy 2B
(112) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Aroldis Chapman RP
(113) Team Gluttons – Addison Reed RP
(114) The Canexicans – Aaron Hill 2B
(115) Manhattan Marauders – Grant Balfour RP
(116) South Larson Hamptonians – Jeff Samardzija SP
(117) mancrushes united – Curtis Granderson CF
(118) KFred inCal – Matt Cain SP
(119) Bloo Meenies – Matt Adams 1B
(120) Havalina Lumber Co – Matt Wieters C
(121) Havalina Lumber Co – Ernesto Frieri RP
(122) Bloo Meenies – Jim Henderson RP
(123) KFred inCal – Anibal Sanchez SP
(124) mancrushes united – Alexei Ramirez SS
(125) South Larson Hamptonians – Mat Latos SP
(126) Manhattan Marauders – Jonathan Papelbon RP
(127) The Canexicans – John Axford RP
(128) Team Gluttons – Steve Cishek RP
(129) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Shelby Miller SP
(130) Nathan’s Dogs – Jim Johnson RP
(131) Schwartz Stops – Wilson Ramos C
(132) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Joakim Soria RP
(133) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Bobby Parnell RP
(134) Schwartz Stops – Cole Hamels SP
(135) Nathan’s Dogs – Jered Weaver SP
(136) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Michael Cuddyer RF
(137) Team Gluttons – Julio Teheran SP
(138) The Canexicans – Victor Martinez DH
(139) Manhattan Marauders – Salvador Perez C
(140) South Larson Hamptonians – A.J. Burnett SP
(141) mancrushes united – Jason Castro C
(142) KFred inCal – Hyun-Jin Ryu SP
(143) Bloo Meenies – Brandon Moss 1B
(144) Havalina Lumber Co – Casey Janssen RP
(145) Havalina Lumber Co – Evan Gattis C
(146) Bloo Meenies – Jed Lowrie SS
(147) KFred inCal – Brandon Belt 1B
(148) mancrushes united – Jedd Gyorko 2B
(149) South Larson Hamptonians – Rafael Soriano RP
(150) Manhattan Marauders – Brett Lawrie 3B
(151) The Canexicans – Huston Street RP
(152) Team Gluttons – Andrelton Simmons SS
(153) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Michael Wacha SP
(154) Nathan’s Dogs – Leonys Martin CF
(155) Schwartz Stops – Jose Veras RP
(156) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Fernando Rodney RP
(157) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Ryan Howard 1B
(158) Schwartz Stops – Austin Jackson CF
(159) Nathan’s Dogs – Coco Crisp CF
(160) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Manny Machado 3B
(161) Team Gluttons – Nolan Arenado 3B
(162) The Canexicans – Brett Gardner CF
(163) Manhattan Marauders – Asdrubal Cabrera SS
(164) South Larson Hamptonians – Nelson Cruz RF
(165) mancrushes united – Alex Cobb SP
(166) KFred inCal – Norichika Aoki RF
(167) Bloo Meenies – Xander Bogaerts 3B
(168) Havalina Lumber Co – Chase Headley 3B
(169) Havalina Lumber Co – Danny Salazar SP
(170) Bloo Meenies – Jon Lester SP
(171) KFred inCal – Nick Swisher 1B
(172) mancrushes united – Anthony Rendon 2B
(173) South Larson Hamptonians – Mike Minor SP
(174) Manhattan Marauders – Andrew Cashner SP
(175) The Canexicans – Justin Morneau 1B
(176) Team Gluttons – Khris Davis LF
(177) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Alfonso Soriano LF
(178) Nathan’s Dogs – Doug Fister SP
(179) Schwartz Stops – Howie Kendrick 2B
(180) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – CC Sabathia SP
(181) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Hiroki Kuroda SP
(182) Schwartz Stops – Will Middlebrooks 3B
(183) Nathan’s Dogs – Sonny Gray SP
(184) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Will Venable RF
(185) Team Gluttons – Justin Masterson SP
(186) The Canexicans – Mike Moustakas 3B
(187) Manhattan Marauders – Carl Crawford LF
(188) South Larson Hamptonians – Miguel Montero C
(189) mancrushes united – Nate Jones RP
(190) KFred inCal – Tommy Hunter RP
(191) Bloo Meenies – Christian Yelich LF
(192) Havalina Lumber Co – LaTroy Hawkins RP
(193) Havalina Lumber Co – Rex Brothers RP
(194) Bloo Meenies – Matt Moore SP
(195) KFred inCal – Tony Cingrani SP
(196) mancrushes united – Billy Butler DH
(197) South Larson Hamptonians – R.A. Dickey SP
(198) Manhattan Marauders – Adam Eaton LF
(199) The Canexicans – Jonathan Villar SS
(200) Team Gluttons – Kole Calhoun RF
(201) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – B.J. Upton CF
(202) Nathan’s Dogs – C.J. Wilson SP
(203) Schwartz Stops – Brad Miller SS
(204) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Adam Lind 1B
(205) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Ben Revere CF
(206) Schwartz Stops – Marco Estrada SP
(207) Nathan’s Dogs – Brian Dozier 2B
(208) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Hisashi Iwakuma SP
(209) Team Gluttons – A.J. Pierzynski C
(210) The Canexicans – Zack Wheeler SP
(211) Manhattan Marauders – Erick Aybar SS
(212) South Larson Hamptonians – Rajai Davis LF
(213) mancrushes united – Yan Gomes C
(214) KFred inCal – Johnny Cueto SP
(215) Bloo Meenies – Torii Hunter RF
(216) Havalina Lumber Co – Jimmy Rollins SS
(217) Havalina Lumber Co – Josh Reddick RF
(218) Bloo Meenies – Clay Buchholz SP
(219) KFred inCal – Neil Walker 2B
(220) mancrushes united – Lance Lynn SP
(221) South Larson Hamptonians – Mark Teixeira 1B
(222) Manhattan Marauders – Alejandro De Aza CF
(223) The Canexicans – Francisco Liriano SP
(224) Team Gluttons – Todd Frazier 3B
(225) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Danny Farquhar RP
(226) Nathan’s Dogs – Matt Garza SP
(227) Schwartz Stops – Dexter Fowler CF
(228) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Andre Ethier CF
(229) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Nick Castellanos LF
(230) Schwartz Stops – Jake Peavy SP
(231) Nathan’s Dogs – Drew Smyly RP
(232) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Mark Melancon RP
(233) Team Gluttons – Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
(234) The Canexicans – Dioner Navarro C
(235) Manhattan Marauders – Russell Martin C
(236) South Larson Hamptonians – Joaquin Benoit RP
(237) mancrushes united – Nick Markakis RF
(238) KFred inCal – Angel Pagan CF
(239) Bloo Meenies – Chris Archer SP
(240) Havalina Lumber Co – Alex Wood SP
(241) Havalina Lumber Co – Michael Brantley LF
(242) Bloo Meenies – Grady Sizemore CF
(243) KFred inCal – Eric Young Jr. LF
(244) mancrushes united – Yordano Ventura SP
(245) South Larson Hamptonians – David Freese 3B
(246) Manhattan Marauders – Dan Straily SP
(247) The Canexicans – Michael Pineda SP
(248) Team Gluttons – Kolten Wong 2B
(249) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Carlos Ruiz C
(250) Nathan’s Dogs – Ervin Santana SP
(251) Schwartz Stops – Derek Jeter SS
(252) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Marlon Byrd RF
(253) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Dee Gordon SS
(254) Schwartz Stops – Wily Peralta SP
(255) Nathan’s Dogs – Yovani Gallardo SP
(256) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Derek Norris C
(257) Team Gluttons – Dan Haren SP
(258) The Canexicans – Melky Cabrera LF
(259) Manhattan Marauders – Kelly Johnson LF
(260) South Larson Hamptonians – Ivan Nova SP
(261) mancrushes united – Corey Hart 1B
(262) KFred inCal – Chris Tillman SP
(263) Bloo Meenies – Jhonny Peralta SS
(264) Havalina Lumber Co – Chad Qualls RP
(265) Havalina Lumber Co – J.J. Hoover RP
(266) Bloo Meenies – Alex Avila C
(267) KFred inCal – Tim Lincecum SP
(268) mancrushes united – Dillon Gee SP
(269) South Larson Hamptonians – Devin Mesoraco C
(270) Manhattan Marauders – Rick Porcello SP
(271) The Canexicans – John Jaso C
(272) Team Gluttons – Tyson Ross SP
(273) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Cody Allen RP
(274) Nathan’s Dogs – Chris Johnson 3B
(275) Schwartz Stops – Jonathon Niese SP
(276) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Josh Fields RP
(277) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Michael Bourn CF
(278) Schwartz Stops – Jesse Crain RP
(279) Nathan’s Dogs – A.J. Ellis C
(280) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Dustin Ackley 2B
(281) Team Gluttons – Carlos Martinez RP
(282) The Canexicans – Phil Hughes SP
(283) Manhattan Marauders – Corey Kluber SP
(284) South Larson Hamptonians – Kendrys Morales 1B
(285) mancrushes united – Chris Owings SS
(286) KFred inCal – Colby Rasmus CF
(287) Bloo Meenies – Justin Smoak 1B
(288) Havalina Lumber Co – Juan Uribe 3B
(289) Havalina Lumber Co – Yonder Alonso 1B
(290) Bloo Meenies – Sam LeCure RP
(291) KFred inCal – Scott Kazmir SP
(292) mancrushes united – Wade Miley SP
(293) South Larson Hamptonians – Tyler Clippard RP
(294) Manhattan Marauders – Michael Saunders CF
(295) The Canexicans – Chris Carter 1B
(296) Team Gluttons – Garrett Richards SP
(297) Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Avisail Garcia RF
(298) Nathan’s Dogs – Mitch Moreland 1B
(299) Schwartz Stops – Carlos Quentin LF
(300) Bitter Old Dodgers Fan – Paul Konerko 1B
Coming out of the draft in my inaugural season in Mixed Tout Wars, I didn’t like my team at all. I had mismanaged my auction budget to the point where I was limited to $1 bids way too early in the proceedings. I ended up finishing in 10th place out of 15 teams. Last year, I did a better job showing restraint and left the Sirius/XM studios here in Manhattan relatively pleased with the roster I had assembled but not overly pumped. I ended up finishing in 11th place. Well, this year, I feel really good about my squad. I’ll probably finish in 12th place!
So, how did I prepare this time around? Exactly the same as before. I allocated a certain amount of dollars for each position on the roster with specific players in mind who would fill those slots, making sure that the total dollar amount was roughly $260. If the bidding for my top choice at a given position exceeded the amount I had predicted, I would turn to my second (preferably slightly cheaper) choice, and then my third choice, and so on, redistributing my budget allotment accordingly. The main difference this year is that I wanted to spend a bit more on pitching than usual. In a weekly lineup league that is deeper than 12 teams, I think it’s important to draft at least one sure-fire ace along with a #2 with ace potential. Instead of my usual 180/80 hitting/pitching split, or even 185/75 distribution, I was planning on something closer to 170/90, with approximately $25 earmarked for my ace and $25-30 reserved for two closers.
Anyway, enough buildup. Here’s the roster I ended up with, in the order I purchased the players.
Freddie Freeman ($29)
Prince Fielder and Joey Votto were my top two choices for my 1B slot, and I was willing to spend 34, maybe 35 bucks for either of them. Note that this is an OBP league, so both Fielder and Votto carry even more value than they would in a standard AVG league. But when I got a chance to grab Freeman for what I thought was a fair price, I pounced, fearing that Fielder and Votto would match or exceed my $35 limit (they went for $35 and $38 respectively). Freeman was #3 on my list, and I figured that the $6 savings could come in handy later in the auction. Oh, and the Braves’ first baseman is no OBP slouch either.
Chris Sale ($24)
I had budgeted $23 for my ace and hoped that I could land King Felix for that amount. Nope. I reluctantly went to 24 on him but when Tim Heaney said “25” I bailed. Just four players later, Sale was nominated, and since he was among my fallback option group, I was willing to go to the same $24 level that I hoped would be enough to win King Felix, and I’m fine with this. Sale is already a legit ace, and entering his age-25 season, I think the best is yet to come.
David Robertson ($17)
A little more than I wanted to spend for my top closer, and there’s some risk attached to Robertson since he’s new to the stopper role. But he has all the skills to thrive in the ninth inning. Don’t be surprised if he’s a no doubt top-5 closer by this time next year.
Gio Gonzalez ($16)
An ideal #2 SP. The ratios aren’t quite ace-caliber but I’ll take the 190-plus strikeouts along with the chance that he can pitch more like the 2012 Gio than last year’s version, which was still pretty good.
Ryan Braun ($38)
I had my heart set on Andrew McCutchen and was fairly confident that I could get him for no more than $38 being that he went for $35 in NL LABR. Not quite. I even went out of my comfort zone, going as high as $40, but that was it, and he was sold for $41. So I had this open $38 slot and wanted to use it on an elite OF. I was rather surprised I had to go the full $38 for Braun, but if he turns out to be the old Ryan Braun, he’ll earn this price. If not, well, I might regret this purchase.
Addison Reed ($13)
Reed was actually the final guy in my RP1 tier, so I was thrilled to get him as my second closer. His control could still use a little work, but for 13 bucks there’s definitely some upside to be had.
Wilson Ramos ($14)
A popular “sleeper” backstop choice this spring, and for good reason. 16 homers in 78 games last year. All he needs to do is finally stay healthy for a full season.
Doug Fister ($9)
Exactly the price I paid for Fister last year and now he moves to the NL, which is never a bad thing for any pitcher, and his strikeout total should benefit. It sounds like the elbow inflammation is no big deal, as he’s scheduled to make his first regular season start on April 6th.
Desmond Jennings ($18)
I’ve owned Jennings on at least one of my fantasy teams in each of the last three years, anxiously awaiting for that breakout season. It would be nice if it comes this year. Is a 20/30 season truly out of the question?
Chase Headley ($15)
Kyle Seager and Pablo Sandoval were my top two choices at 3B but both exceeded my $15 limit, so I opted for Headley. Not expecting a 2012 repeat but not expecting a 2013 repeat either. The bottom line is that he played hurt for much of last season, so at least a partial mulligan is warranted. Headley also walks quite a bit, which will help his OBP, and he can also contribute double-digit steals.
Jose Altuve ($16)
A personal favorite who still has room for growth (no pun intended), particularly in the walks department, But you’re not drafting Altuve for his OBP. You’re drafting him because he’s 30-plus steals in the bank, and still just 23, he has the potential to improve in all other facets of his game. Plus, he’s flat out fun to watch.
Asdrubal Cabrera ($12)
Cabrera is coming off arguably the worst season of his big league career that included a woeful .299 OBP, but he still managed to slug 14 homers in 136 games. If you miss out on the elite choices at the shortstop position, Asdrubal makes for a nice fallback option. A bounce back season to the tune of 18-20 homers, double-digit steals and an OBP in the .330 to .340 range is well within reach.
Chris Carter ($10)
This is where the OBP factor becomes important. While Carter is a major liability in leagues that use AVG, his high walk rate results in an OBP that, while not particularly helpful, isn’t overly damaging. So I’ll enjoy the homers without having to stress over the AVG.
Nelson Cruz ($10)
Aside from Texas, Cruz could not have possibly landed in a better spot than Baltimore, where he should take advantage of the cozy confines of Camden Yards to at least reach the 25-home run plateau. My ideal OF3 choice was Nick Swisher, and I really could have used the OBP boost, but Cruz was nominated a few minutes before Swisher, so I had no way of knowing that Swisher’s winning bid would also be $10. But I’m not beating myself too much over this, as Scott Swanay, the owner who bought Swisher, ended up leaving more than 60 bucks on the table, so there’s a pretty good chance he would have bid me up on Swish.
Dan Haren ($5)
Will we ever see vintage Dan Haren again or are his days of ace-level production officially over? He struggled for much of last season before finding his groove down the stretch. Pitching on a good team and in a favorable home park, maybe he will return to ace form. Or maybe he won’t. For a mere five bucks, it’s worth it to find out.
Alcides Escobar ($3)
A low-risk, high-reward pick to fill my MI slot. Best case scenario, he repeats his breakthrough 2012 season of 35 steals and a .331 OBP. Worst case scenario, he puts up a stat line similar to last year’s .259 OBP and 25 steals, which would be kind of depressing. I’ll gladly take something in between. By the way, age-27 season alert!
Mark Melancon ($2)
Arguably the most valuable setup man in fantasy. Melancon is one Jason Grilli injury away from becoming a high-end saves source, and do you really think that the 37-year-old Grilli will stay healthy all year?
Wade Miley ($2)
Nothing special but a serviceable back end of the rotation type who will give you innings without hurting your ratios.
Denard Span ($1)
Underrated source of runs and steals. A safe fifth outfielder.
A.J. Ellis ($1)
Why not? A regular starter who will hit double-digit homers, and the OBP factor helps his value.
Nathan Eovaldi ($1)
Young with upside. Eovaldi’s minor league strikeout numbers suggest that we could see some improvement in that area as well. Health permitting, he should be a mainstay in the Marlins’ rotation this year. I’ll start by pitching him in favorable matchups. If that doesn’t work out, I can just cut him and pick up a boring Mark Buehrle type.
Matt Dominguez ($3)
Unable to land a legitimate OF4, I instead chose to shift Chris Carter from CI to OF and draft Dominguez to serve as my CI. He needs to improve his OBP skills but the power seems to be legit. Plus, his above average defense at the hot corner will keep him in the lineup every day.
Dayan Viciedo ($1)
Cheap power to fill my UTIL slot. It’s as simple as that.
RESERVES: Justin Smoak, Phil Hughes, Kris Bryant, Jason Kubel
Either Smoak or Kubel could end up supplanting Viciedo at UTIL. Hughes should benefit from a fresh start in Minnesota and a move away from home run friendly Yankee Stadium. Bryant ranks among the game’s top prospects but now it sounds like he has virtually no chance of being called up before September, so he will be my first cut.
OBP could be a major issue for this team, and from the projections, I really don’t see any way that my current roster can produce an OBP higher than .330, and it will probably be closer to .320. But outside of OBP, I should compete in every category. Maybe my OBP deficiency will keep me from winning the league, but there’s no way I’ll finish lower than last year’s 11th place. But then again, last year I thought there was no way I’d finish lower than 10th, so who knows.
Six months is a very long time.
As always, your comments and questions are welcome.
CLICK HERE to view the complete rosters of all of the Tout Wars teams.
Late last week, in honor of the start of March Madness, MLB.com gathered a group of fantasy writers, reporters and show hosts in addition to longtime 411 fans Neighbor Steve and Scott to participate in a 10-team mixed league blitz of a mock draft. The picks were coming in so fast that I actually had to charge my phone multiple times during the Thursday afternoon to Friday evening period, as I was constantly checking my e-mail inbox in order to update our Google spreadsheet and tweet the latest picks.
When it was all over, I asked each of the participants (or at least one representative from the team) to answer the following:
-General strategy going into the draft
And here’s what I got. Teams are listed in order of draft position.
***Also note that the Jurickson Profar pick was made before he tore his right shoulder muscle. At the time, getting Profar at 17.6 looked like a fine value pick for Todd Zola.
ZACH STEINHORN (Fantasy 411 blogger/Mastersball writer) @ZachMLB
General strategy: The classic Fantasy 411 approach of loading up on bats early and waiting on starting pitching. I figured that this strategy would be even more effective in a 10-team mixed, as there would be plenty of high-upside starting pitching options available in the mid to late rounds. I ended up drafting five hitters before taking my first pitcher and was quite pleased to find that Justin Verlander was still available at 6.10. This is a guy who is just two years removed from a Cy Young and MVP season, but injury concerns combined with a somewhat disappointing 2013 campaign have dropped his price tag to a level that makes him an excellent value pick. Another longtime 411 mantra is to draft at least one and preferably two elite stoppers. Rosenthal and Perkins fit that description and getting Cishek as my third closer rounds out what looks to be a dominant bullpen trio.
Best pick: Yeah, the ninth inning sample size is rather small, but from a statistical perspective, Glen Perkins has pitched at a top-5 closer level ever since taking over stopper duties for the Twins midway through the 2012 season. So to get him as my #2 closer in the 11th round seems like a steal.
Worst pick: I like Matt Wieters this year and do consider him to be a tad underrated. But, as many of my league mates will point out, waiting as long as possible to draft your first catcher in a 10-team mixed, one-catcher format is probably the smarter route. Instead of drafting Wieters in the 14th round, I could have gone with Jason Castro in the 21st.
DYLAN HIGGINS/STEVE ADAMS (MLB.com fantasy writers)
General strategy: Steve and I are both pretty happy with our team. We prioritized hitters, especially power and corner bats, waiting until the middle rounds for pitching and the later rounds for middle infielders and closers.
Best pick: Our favorite picks were Zack Greinke in the 9th, Gerrit Cole in the 10th, and Sergio Romo in the 13th, all of which we felt give us elite upside at their positions despite being drafted much later than their talent peers. Our best pick might be Jose Abreu in the 11th, however, as he brings big power upside to our roster late, sliding into our utility slot after we already put solid bats at 1B and CI.
Worst pick: Our weakest pick might be Everth Cabrera in the 12th, despite being a very solid player that we both liked at that value. We were waiting on middle infielders and while we don’t think we overpaid on him at all, there were other perfectly solid shortstops and middle infielders that we could have waited even further on and been happy with.
DAVID LAHTI (MLB.com fantasy writer)
General strategy: Started out wanting to go with best available offense early (got my target guys in Goldy/Kipnis), filling in pitching in the mid-to-late rounds. But I decided to change course in the 3rd/4th rounds with Darvish and Wainwright still available. I had them as the #2 and #4 overall SPs, respectively.
Best pick: Yu Darvish, K leader in 3rd round.
Worst pick: Starling Marte, possible reach in 6th round.
BILL PASSONNO/EVAN BRUNELL (MLB.com fantasy writers)
General strategy: Waiting was the name of the game for us — especially when it came to starting pitching. With no shortage of pitching depth this season, including a treasure trove of young arms still floating around in the later rounds, we focused on securing our position players first. Our top four picks have all recorded at least 30 homers and 95 RBIs in a season at least once in their careers and remain heavily entrenched in their prime. Sure, Troy Tulowitzki is a constant injury risk, but it’s hard to pass up arguably the top player at his position, which is notoriously one of the thinnest in fantasy baseball. We planned to continue building the offensive side in the fifth round. However, Price was simply too good to pass up at that spot. Now healthy, he should have no problem returning to his Cy Young-caliber numbers from 2012, and is a lock for 200-plus strikeouts and possibly 15-plus wins. We returned to shoring up the everyday lineup in the next five rounds, grabbing three guys with eligibility at multiple positions in Zobrist, Santana and Prado to give us additional flexibility. And Mauer will add first-base eligibility in the first week of the season. Afterward, we turned our attention to power arms, grabbing Latos — who is still only 26 years old and has four consecutive 180-strikeout seasons on his resume — and Cobb. Adding Cashner, a popular breakout candidate, in the 15th round was a symbol of the tremendous depth on the mound this year.
Best pick: Carlos Santana
Worst pick: Fernando Rodney
ZACH FINKLESTEIN/FRED ZINKIE (MLB.com fantasy writers)
General strategy: Team Zink/Fink drafted Clayton Kershaw (first round) and Craig Kimbrel (fifth round), arguably baseball’s No. 1 starter and reliever, respectively. Around those selections, we mostly prioritized hitting. In a 10-team league, we thought we could build a formidable pitching staff late in the draft. With that said, getting Kershaw and Kimbrel provides us with a pair of impressive pitching-staff anchors.
We felt we were able to capitalize on this strategy, scooping up Sonny Gray in the 18th round and Lance Lynn with our 21st pick. It is much tougher to acquire high-level hitters late.
One hitting position we waited on was catcher. In a one-catcher league, we felt we could be patient on the backstop position, as there is not much difference between Wilson Ramos (our pick in the 16th round) and some of the receivers who went several rounds before.
Best pick: Team Zink/Fink picked Billy Hamilton in the 10th round of the draft. This is the pick we are most excited about, as Hamilton has a chance to produce first-round-pick value. Keep in mind Hamilton stole a professional-baseball-record 155 bags in 2012. And though he swiped “just” 88 bases during a 2013 season spent mostly in the Minors, the speedster is the only player in baseball with the ability to win an entire fantasy category by himself.
Hamilton is highly unlikely to hit as well during the regular season as he has during Spring Training, but even a .300 on-base percentage would give the speedster ample opportunity to run.
Worst pick: Matt Carpenter probably has the best chance of underperforming his draft spot. He doesn’t have much power or speed, and two of his best skills – hitting doubles and drawing walks – tend to play out better in real baseball than rotisserie fantasy.
Also, if the Cardinals regress in terms of their ability to hit with runners in scoring position in 2014, Carpenter will be all but ensured to watch his runs total drop from its big league-best mark in 2013 (126).
TODD ZOLA (MLB.com/Mastersball writer) @toddzola
General strategy: Balanced hitting, two top SPs to avoid middle tier and top-5 closer.
Best pick: Mark Trumbo – Needed to address power and should have 35+ HR in the desert.
Worst pick: Brian McCann – No need to take a catcher in a 10-team league until the end — NONE. I panicked a little thinking I needed just a little more pop.
MATTHEW LEACH/DEAN CHIUNGOS (MLB.com fantasy writers emeritus)
General strategy: I’m basically a best-available guy. Fairly conventional strategy – hitters before pitchers, unless there’s a pitcher you just can’t pass up.
Best pick: Might be our first one. Getting Braun at #7, to me, is great value. In my previous draft, I had the No. 3 pick, and I almost took him. I would definitely take him at 4. So 7 is a win.
Worst pick: I’m not crazy about taking a closer as high as we took Uehara, unless it’s somebody really elite, and he makes me a little bit nervous. I don’t hate that pick, but I don’t love it either.
CORY SCHWARTZ/MIKE SIANO (Fantasy 411 hosts) @schwartzstops, @thecapt23
General strategy: Our shared Fantasy 411 strategy is governed by three basic principles: get as many big bats as you can, get a killer bullpen, and downplay starting pitching. Check, check and check.
Best pick: We love getting Kenley and Holland back-to-back, especially with the injury to Aroldis Chapman thinning the ranks of the elite closers. We’ll have the best bullpen in the league with this tandem, setting the stage for an above-average pitching staff in general.
Worst pick: We really loved each of our picks!
PETE McCARTHY (MLB.com studio host) @mlbpetemccarthy
General strategy: I try not to pigeonhole myself into having a strategy for the draft. I have my ranked list and I’m going to take the best player available and the structure of my teams will vary from league to league. Generally, I like to find starting pitchers late and don’t take more than one above average closer. If pitchers are flying off the board, it’s possible I’ll fill my entire lineup before drafting a single pitcher. But that’s not the way this draft turned out, as I grabbed Felix Hernandez in the 4th and Jose Fernandez in the 6th.
Best pick: Love me a late-round high risk/reward selection and Josh Hamilton in the 11th round is my kind of gamble. 2013 was a rough year for him but he still hit 21 HRs with 79 RBIs and a .250 average. In the 11th round, I wouldn’t be terribly disappointed in those numbers and his ceiling of AL MVP candidate makes him a potential bargain. That’s how you win leagues.
Worst pick: It’s a bit difficult to say already but I was pretty conservative with Adam Jones at #12 overall. While Jones has been mighty consistent to begin his career with the O’s, he might have passed the point where we can expect that major jump in HRs or SBs. Was very tempted to take Hanley Ramirez, who would have been more boom or bust. I suppose having a steady player like Jones allowed me to take some chances with Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Hamilton later, but he’s not the kind of home run pick that can win a league.
STEVE COZZOLINO/SCOTT GILROY (Fantasy 411 fans)
General Strategy: Always go for a balance of power and speed early and five-category contributors where possible. By the end of the first 10 rounds, draft three pitchers: 2 SPs and 1 RP. During the mid to late rounds, address needs and go for high upside late in the draft.
Best pick: Matt Holiday 6.01. Never the sexiest pick, but very consistent and reliable. A great value that late in the draft where OFs of equal or lesser value such as Pence, Heyward and Bruce went more than a round or two earlier.
Worst pick: Overall, we’re very pleased with our draft, but the reach for Kung Fu Panda was our worst pick. A bit of a panic move with how thin 3B was getting plus our target, Kyle Seager, was already nabbed. A-Ram was our other option. Hopefully a major weight loss translates to a major increase in production reminiscent of his 2011 days.
General strategy: Get several elite players at several positions to start and one top-10 SP and get several guys from the 2nd tier later. In a 10- teamer, we knew the #5/6 SP would be easier to fill with a solid option.
Best pick: I was happy to get Harper at 10 but Holliday in the 6th I felt was solid value.
Worst pick: Jose Reyes could turn out to be a bust again but was hard to pass at that spot. I guess Allen Craig concerns me more. I’ve been staying away in most of my drafts.