Sunday, April 21, 2013

Stash the Sunday Night Starter

Every night before going to bed, I do a sweep of the various fantasy matchups I'm in and see if I want to make any transactions to aid my lineup for the following day. Saturday nights, in particular, are crucial because at that point you know which categories are the "toss-ups" that could make or break your week.

This particular Saturday night, I encountered a tricky situation that I wanted to share because it comes up fairly often. Basically, I had a small lead in ERA and WHIP, but not big enough that it was a foregone conclusion that I would win those categories. My opponent had two SP going today; I had zero.

This left me with a paralyzing decision. If I don't make any moves, his SP could pitch well and surpass me in those categories. If I do add a SP or two, they could pitch terribly, and I could have just handed my opponent the victory. Even if I made the wisest pickup based on the specific SP, and his opponent, this is one start we're talking about; any pitcher has the ability to implode at any given time (even if they didn't implode, the score was really tight--giving up 4 runs in 6 IP could have been the difference maker).

So, what to do? Focus on one number, and one number only: game time.


Kyle Kendrick and Jake Westbrook, both widely available in the fantasy baseball universe, are slated to start in tonight's Sunday Night Baseball matchup. By the time they take the hill, all of the day's early games will (probably) be done. If my opponent's SP have pitched well, and he's taken the lead in ERA/WHIP, I can insert my Sunday Night pitcher(s) into the lineup and hope they grab the lead back for me. Conversely, if my opponent's pitchers sucked, I can just throw them on the bench and enjoy a guaranteed win in those categories. By stashing one or both of the Sunday Night SP, I give myself the ultimate flexibility.

The counter argument here is that this move is getting rather cute. If there's a pitcher on your waiver wire who is clearly the best one out there, and the Sunday Night starters are way worse, you're arguably better off adding the best available player. But this is the free agent pool we're talking about; Stephen Strasburg wasn't just hanging around for you to pick up. I think the best available player in any of my leagues was Ervin Santana, and are you really that confident he's going to outpitch Westbrook or Kendrick on any given day? It's a total toss-up, which is why I go for flexibility over the top-ranked SP in this case.

You can't always have an ace up your sleeve, but you can have time on your side (that's right, two idioms in one sentence). As the next few Sundays roll around, consider looking at who is pitching in the Sunday Night game for your big Saturday Night free agent acquisition.

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