It is funny that just a week ago, Lord Zola and I were having one of our periodic chats that occur in GChat while we are both having at our keyboards for the day.
As I play in a couple of RealTime Sports DFS formats--Friday's Beat the Expert and the Tout Daily the same day--I was posting my weekly DFS piece and reviewing my picks with Z. It is fun playing devil's advocate--which we both do--not so much because it makes me rethink my selections, but much more because Todd is a very smart man, and the discussion is always challenging and revealing of thought processes much deeper than just which pitcher to fade.
Last week, I chose Vincent Velasquez and Nathan Eovaldi as cheap hurlers who could get whiffs and were going against teams vulnerable to the whiff. Furthermore, both hurlers had been solid of late, and both were moderately priced--under $7000--meaning I could seriously play with my hitters and stack my outfield against weaker pitchers.
There were other choices last Friday, such as Jordan Zimmermann, Danny Salazar, and in particular Noah Syndergaard, but as I suspected, the bulk of other players in both setups would likely roster Syndergaard, at least. I tried to choose what seemed to be the best path to points on a slightly less taken road.
When I first logged into RealTime, I could not have been happier with my choice, as both pitchers were into the fourth inning, both had whiffed four, while neither had allowed a run. In the meantime, my hitting choices were great with Eugenio Suarez and Kole Calhoun both homering while Didi Gregorius was also having a good day.
The short story was at the time I looked, I was in first place across the board with over 30 points during the first hour of play. All my pitchers needed to do was finish a couple of more innings each, whiff another six or so between them, and since both had a lead, just hang on with wins and I would finish the day in fat city all over.
How much easier could life get, right?
But in life, as in baseball, there are fifth innings and come the fifth, Velasquez could not finish, and by the sixth, Eovaldi was chased with the pair surrendering nine total runs, wiping out all their good work of the previous hour-plus.
I knew the risks, although the analogy Z provided in my taking this route during the first cycle of the tout tourney (as opposed to the cash prize contest I face in Beat the Expert) was like picking the biggest pair of underdog winners the first week of the NFL season.
I understood Todd's point, and the gamble, but on the other hand the first few weeks of the NFL season are exactly when the craziest upsets seem to occur. Furthermore, I am just one who is much more able to embrace a risk and walk away early on, rather than play a safe cat-and-mouse path, I suppose because it is simply my nature.
In the end, Z proved to be right on the night, riding Syndergaard to a top ten finish in Tout, while I fell precipitously from the top to close to the bottom all over with the pitching meltdown.
So, this week, I again finished my piece early Friday morning, this time riding Lance McCullers and Sonny Gray--both under $8000--in a night when Stephen Strasburg, Gerrit Cole, Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale and Johnny Cueto were all being given the ball.
Again, my logic is the bulk of owners will exploit those top starters, so I looked for pitchers capable of striking out at least a half dozen, going against teams more vulnerable to the whiff, and again, grabbing hitters with a favorable matchup, like Bryce Harper facing Jeremy Hellickson.
I do post my piece, but all of us in the Tout Daily share our fave picks and Rotoman Webmaster Peter Kreutzer consolidates said selections and posts on the Tout site.
Well, when responding yesterday to Peter's troll for picks, I accidentally hit the infamous "reply all" button, giving all my Tout mates a chance to editorialize.
Of course, the conversation went straight to the "art versus science" path Z and I always engage; that is making the smart steady predictable selection of Kershaw or Strasburg over the contrary selection of McCullers.
After my flub, Howard Bender noted "would NOT using McCullers and Harper today be considered contrarian now?", but Jeff Erickson, who knows me all too well responded "no, because it is Lawr."
Still, the question bounced back and forth, getting quite funny, ultimately going back to Todd and me when I wrote, "Much to Todd's chagrin, I shy from the safe and smart DFS plays as often as not. But, somehow I do ok."
Todd responded, "Slight edit: I shy from the safe and smart DFS plays as often as not. But, somehow I do ok, much to Todd's chagrin."
In the end, I do understand still that if you are a steady and vested player in Daily games, percentages is the way to go if the objective is to beat the house.
But, in a lesser committed world, the muse will always pique me before any other type of siren.
Who knows? Maybe it is just an age thing. Charlie Wiegert added to the thread, "Lawr thinks he has the right recipe tonight and wants to share. Interesting, it seems like an all or nothing approach. I'm doing the same tonight, none of those top pitchers for me either. I'm with you Lawr, let the old guys rule!"
That is what I want to hear. And, what I felt better seeing is that as I wrote, McCullers had allowed four runs but whiffed four as well, Strasburg was not faring any better, with four runs allowed into the fifth.
Sometimes, all roads lead to Rome despite and because of our best and worst intentions, no?