It is obvious that we try to build the best team possible during the draft. It is also pretty obvious that you really can’t win your league on draft day but you can lose it, or at least have a very bad season. There’s also been much talk on this site as well as other outlets concerning the strategy of bullying hitting and managing pitching. Yet no one likes to come into the season with a staff full of number threes and fours. Most every fantasy owner would like to have an ace for their staff coming out of their draft or auction.
The one NL-only league I am in this year is the CBSSports.com Analysts League. The one pitcher I wanted that I was able to get (this is an auction league) was Clayton Kershaw. The Los Angeles Dodgers' ace had a rough stretch in April where he gave up eight earned runs in three games, losing two of them. He has been very good since then, allowing only three earned runs in the next five games. In fact, he leads the league with a 1.35 ERA, and his 72 strikeouts put him among the NL leaders.
In the same league, fellow Mastersball contributor Ryan Carey came away with the Washington Nationals’ Jordan Zimmermann as his ace and the 26-year-old has done well by Ryan, ranking third in the league with a 1.62 ERA and seven wins in nine decisions.
I’m also in two NFBC leagues that are mixed leagues. In one, I drafted Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers and Gio Gonzalez of the Nationals as my two big starting pitchers. While I’m doing well with the American League’s Darvish, Gonzalez has left a lot to be desired with a 4.01 ERA and only three wins out of five decisions in nine games started. In the second NFBC league, I managed to draft Adam Wainwright (who I was very high on for this year) and Cole Hamels (who I was also big on). Wainwright has a 2.38 ERA, six wins and three losses in ten starts, and 69 strikeouts to only six walks. Hamels, however, has been a major disappointment with a 4.45 ERA, one win and seven losses in ten starts. The Phillies’ southpaw has alarmingly issued 24 bases on balls so far this young season after only allowing 52 all of 2012 and 44 all of 2011.
Look at the top ranked starting pitchers coming into the season, and quite a few of them are having serious problems or are not performing to the level that their fantasy owners (or their team fans, for that matter) expected. In addition to Gio Gonzalez and Cole Hamels, other top starting pitchers not doing as well as their owners expected are Ian Kennedy - 4.70 ERA and only two wins; Roy Halladay – 8.65 ERA, only two wins and fresh off shoulder surgery; Matt Cain – 5.12 ERA and only three wins; Tim Lincecum – 4.70 ERA and only three wins (although not so much a surprise considering his performance last year); Yovani Gallardo – 4.50 ERA and only 43 strikeouts after four successive seasons of striking out a batter per inning; Dan Haren – 5.54 ERA, continuing 2012’s downturn instead of bouncing back; Stephen Strasburg – pitching well despite only two wins, five losses, and a K/9 about 2.50 less than 2012 in his second year back from Tommy John surgery.On the opposite side of the coin are guys like Patrick Corbin – 1.44 ERA and seven wins without a loss; Shelby Miller – 1.74 ERA and five wins in living up to his top prospect label; Matt Harvey – 1.93 ERA and five victories without losing a game; Scott Feldman – 2.19 ERA and four wins; Travis Wood – 2.24 ERA and four wins. The list goes on and they are certainly not household names to the extent of what was expected going into the season. It seems as though the starting pitching world has been turned on its ear to a large extent (including the American League) and we, as fantasy owners, have a lot of work to do so far this season to keep our pitching numbers to the level we thought they would be going into the season.