Make sure and get Fantasy Alarm's award winning 2013 Fantasy Baseball iPhone App!
Though it was a typical short slate of games Thursday, the night was jam-packed with big names and big stories. There was the much-anticipated match-up between Justin Verlander and Yu Darvish, Bryce Harper was back on the field to lend his support to teammate and fellow superstar Stephen Strasburg who was still looking for his first win since Opening Day, the Mariners were looking for their first series win at Yankee Stadium in what seemed like a bazillion years, and there were aces abound with the likes of Adam Wainwright, Jose Fernandez, Mat Latos and Matt Cain all taking the hill. Yet with all of that star power front and center and in the spotlight, none of it compared to what was actually my favorite part of the night.
Whether they’re hot or cold, streaks play an all-important role both in the real baseball world and the fantasy one. You get a player who goes on a hot streak and he can carry your team for a pretty significant amount of time. If he’s on a cold one, you best be getting him out of your lineup fast or he’s liable to do some seriously damage to your team. Cold streaks are always feared, but when you’ve got someone on a hot streak, there’s nothing better. Not only do you reap the benefits in the standings, but the value of the player grows tremendously on the trade market. But like all good things, hot streaks always come to an end. It’s inevitable. And on Tuesday night, one of the better hot streaks we’ve seen recently finally came to a close.
For the months leading up to, and right up until the very last moment before your draft, I’ll always be one of the first to tell you to wait on starting pitching. The position is incredibly deep and if you do your homework, you can find outstanding, quality pitching throughout the middle to late rounds. In a 12-team, mixed league with a snake draft, I’m not even looking at a pitcher until the sixth round. You can easily build yourself competitive pitching staffs without investing an early round pick on a Justin Verlander or a Clayton Kershaw. Sure, those guys will be great, but clearly there are others. If you watched that Colorado/ St. Louis series this past weekend, you’ll know exactly what I’m, talking about.
On a night when Roy Halladay apologized to Phillies fans for his lackluster performance and informed them that he would be out for the next three months due to shoulder surgery, Cardinals fans were treated to the joys of watching a young ace in the making build off of his already impressive start to his rookie season. The changing of the guard is always a bittersweet moment as the excitement of seeing a new up-and-comer is always tempered by witnessing the end of a legendary career. But it’s just the cycle of things in the world of baseball and, obviously nothing new, as there was a time when Halladay himself was a rookie and we were all watching Dwight Gooden wrap up his time spent in the major leagues. But while the nostalgia of a great career is always nice to pore over, we fantasy folk need to focus on the present and the future and that future is found in Shelby Miller.
With the usual shorter slate of games on Thursday, we’re going to skip the usual format and go with one of those game by game, stream of consciousness-style round-ups again. As a matter of fact, I think we’re going to make this a regular thing for Monday and Thursday nights as it allows us to take a broader look at what’s going on throughout MLB with respect to the fantasy world. This should actually help with waiver wire selections, especially for those who are in leagues with daily roster moves and transactions. So without further ado, let’s take a look at what happened Thursday and what we can expect, fantasy-wise, moving forward.
Given the way the Red Sox pitching staff has opened the season, it’s hard to argue against any decision John Farrell makes. So when he opted to go with Junichi Tazawa for his new closer instead of the well-proven Koji Uehara, there was little backlash from the fantasy community. Sure, there were some grumblings from the eager-beaver waiver hounds who remain glued to their league’s waiver wire and snatched up Uehara moments after Joel Hanrahan was hurt, but most of them were still fairly quick on the draw the following morning when it was announced that the choice made was actually Tazawa.
As bad as some of the pitching performances have been this past week, and believe me, there have been some bad ones, none have stood out as much as Roy Halladay’s pair of debacles against the Cleveland Indians and Miami Marlins. The 2013 road had been a rocky one for Doc, but after three consecutive quality starts that saw him post a 1.71 ERA with a 16:5 K:BB over 21 innings, it looked as if things were getting back to normal. With a two-start week coming to wrap up the month of April and open May and match-ups against what appeared to be soft opponents, fantasy owners thought they were getting ready to cruise into the second month of the season. What they got was a whole lot of disgustingness shoved right up their fantasy team’s WHIP-hole.
For two straight years, Dee Gordon, son of former All Star reliever Tom Gordon, was listed among Baseball America’s top 50 prospects thanks to a slick glove in the field and blinding speed on the base paths. He got his first taste of the big leagues back in 2011 and over a 56 game span that saw him come to the plate 233 times, Gordon hit .304 with 34 runs scored and 24 stolen bases. But in 2012, when he was given the starting shortstop gig to open the season, Gordon struggled mightily at the plate. Yes, he swiped 32 bases over 87 games, but he also hit just .228 and had a woeful .280 on-base percentage. He was shipped back down to Triple-A and his overall fantasy value took a hit. And when the Dodgers traded for Hanley Ramirez and announced that he would play shortstop in 2013, Gordon became even more of a forgotten man as there was, obviously, no room for him on the big league roster. Well guess what? He’s baaaaaaaaack!
It’s been a fairly rough week for yours truly here, not just in real life (hence the absence for the majority of the week), but in the fantasy racket as well. Injuries have been absolutely brutal to all of my fantasy teams during this young season and Friday turned out to be yet another dark and dismal day in my attempts to climb back into contention. Obviously there’s plenty more to come, but when your team is sitting in a relatively deep hole and you continue to lose players faster than you are getting them back, the fantasy doldrums seem a lot like a permanent residence than just a temporary situation.
One of the keys to a successful fantasy season is not just identifying which players are about to catch fire and embark on an impressive hot streak, but your ability as an owner to ride that streak and cut bait when it’s all said and done. All too often, we fall in love with our players, particularly the ones who are massively exceeding our expectations, and we tend to put false hope in numbers that, deep down, we know won’t last. We may hope they last, but we need to be realistic and understand that the law of averages is in play here and what goes up, usually comes back down. Sure, there are always exceptions to the rule, but for every one legitimate breakout, you’re looking at dozens of guys playing over their heads who will eventually see their lofty numbers normalize over time, some shorter than others. Understanding that fact and the ability to simply cut these hot players once they go cold is almost as much an art form as identifying the breakouts before they happen.