'Tim Stauffer' photo (c) 2010, Dirk - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ The season might be wrapping up, but there are still fantasy championships to be won. At the BaseballGuys' Twitter account people continually send in questions in search of answers. Hopefully my answers are helpful.

I'm so sick of Tim Stauffer. If I hadn't reached my season acquisition limit I would never have him pitching. – @iamfantasyking

Perception is a witch (you know what word really should be there).

I'll grant you that two of the last five times that Stauffer has taken the hill he has gotten lit up (16 ER in a mere 4.2 innings), and that would kill anyone's fantasy squad. Hell, the guys seen his ERA go up a full run over his last 10 outings. Who wouldn't be ticked off? Still, I'm gonna say it's been a successful season, and so should you.

Stauffer had never made more than 14 starts in a season his big league career and he's up to 29 this season. That's led to 173.2 innings, more than double his previous career best of 82.2 innings. Give him a check mark here.

For his career he owns a 3.97 ERA. This season his ERA, despite his recent downturn is 3.83. Give him a check mark here.

For his career he has a 1.32 WHIP. This season his WHIP is 1.27. Give him a check mark here.

For his career his K/9 mark is 6.11. This season his K/9 mark is 6.06. Give him a check mark here.

For his career his BB/9 mark is 3.08. This season his BB/9 mark is 2.64. Give him a check mark here.

For his career his HR/9 mark is 0.98. This season his HR/9 mark is 1.04. Give him a check mark here.

For his career his GB/FB ratio is 1.49. This season his GB/FB mark is 1.83. Give him a check mark here.

The point should be obvious. Stauffer has been the same pitcher he has always been, just over twice as many innings as normal. In my mind, that means he has had a successful season (especially when you consider things like the fact that he has a better ERA than Chris Carpenter and Zack Greinke while posting a better WHIP than Matt Garza and Wandy Rodriguez). The timing of his recent struggles is horrible for those fighting for a fantasy championship, but in totality Stauffer has pitched pretty darn well this season.

Is Steve Cishek worth it for saves while not blowing up WHIP/ERA or is Jonny Venters a better options for cheap wins? – @Chaka606

The Marlins' closer, Leo Nunez, has decided to suck wind for the second straight season in the second half. Nunez has seen his 3.51 first half ERA jump to 6.38 (he's allowed 11 ER in his last 10.2 innings), and his BAA go from .221 to .307 since the All-Star break. Oddly, he's only walked three batters in 20 outings, but he's been bit by the long ball allowing four homers. As a result he has three saves in his last 11 outings while he has also blown three chances. His last save was August 16th. Cishek has picked up two saves in his last four outings as he gains a foothold in the 9th, and on the year he has a 1.24 WHIP and 47 Ks in 45.1 innings. However, he too has hit a bit of speed bump of late allowing six hits, three walks and four runs in his last 4.1 innings.

Venters continues to be an astronomically effective setup man who picks up the odd save (five on the year). He's also vultured six victories against one loss. However, it's his ratios that really stand out. On the year, and we're talking 77.2 innings, Venters has a 1.39 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .160 BAA and 87 punchouts. That level of production just isn't seen by anyone other than the elites in the game. To be quiet honest, his performance this year is superior to all but a handful of closers in the game – if that. He's been flat out amazing.

All of that analysis misses the point. Wins are hard enough to predict for starting pitchers, in fact I would argue that no one can effectively predict them. As for wins from a reliever, you're better off trying to guess how many times a day that everyone in the world sneezes. There is certainly no way to predict wins from a reliever, and you certainly shouldn't add one trying to add to the win column for your team.

Secondly, the worry about blowing up your WHIP or ERA at this point of a season, if we are talking about relievers, is negligible at best. Let's say your team has thrown 1,200 innings and it has allowed 450 runs leading to an ERA of 3.38. We can agree that the last month of work from Nunez is about as bad as it gets, right? So let's add in 11 runs and 10.2 innings to the mix to give us 1,210 innings and 461 runs allowed. The result is a 3.43 ERA. I'm not saying that isn't enough of a downturn to lose you a spot or two in your standings, but how often do relievers allow a run an inning over 10 innings? Not often is the correct answer, and with less than a month left in the regular season, it will be tough for most relievers to toss more than 10 innings the rest of the way.

The bottom line is that you needn't worry too much about any reliever crashing your ratios at this point of the season.

Jeff Niemann or Doug Fister going forward? – @MoonSetGallery

In 19 starts for the Rays this year Jeff Neimann has posted a 3.69 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. He's also picked up a victory in five of his last seven outings. However, he's started to allow a lot of homers, seven in his last seven outings, while his ERA is up to 4.01 in that stretch. That's still a passable number of course, and his 3.03 K/BB ratio for the year says it isn't all smoke and mirrors as he's posting three year bests in K/9 (7.00) and BB/9 (2.31). His GB/FB ratio is also a career best at 1.27. All of that says that his current level of production could be sustainable.

Fister has been a solid pitcher in his big league career with a 3.69 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, but the prevailing wisdom was that his production would take a slight dip outside of Safeco which so heavily favors the pitcher. That assumption has been wrong as Fister has taken off since he joined the Tigers. One of the biggest reasons is that his run support, which was under two runs with the Mariners, is approaching 4.7 in his seven starts with the Tigers. It's also helped that in his seven outings he's allowed more than two earned runs only once leading to a 4-1 record, 2.64 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. He's actually pitching like a new man with his new team (how appropriate). In addition to all of that just mentioned goodness, Fister has walked three batters in 44.1 innings. Three. That's led to a BB/9 mark of 0.61. That mark was 1.97 in Seattle. He's also struck out more batters with a 7.31 per nine mark compared to his 5.49 mark with the Mariners.

We may only be talking about a month plus of work, but Fister is performing at a near elite level since he joined the Tigers so ride that wave until his season hits the beach.

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87.

 




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About Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 7-10 PM EDT), Ray also hosts his own show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.

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