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Monday 18th Dec 2017

It certainly is that time of year. We are deep enough into the season that if we have a competitive team, things are beautiful. If we are in a throwback league, however, and are not in the running, it means football season could not come soon enough.

But, those of us who play in Dynasty and Sim leagues are busy trying to plot for 2018 as I write. The trade wire in my keeper leagues has already kicked into gear, and I have tried to be active, save in the MidWest Strat-O-Matic League, where I am having a miserable 2017 in anticipation of a fantastic 2018.

Just based upon the 2017 totals of many of my players, I will actually have not just good starters at every slot, but a full rotation with the amazing surplus of two extra starting pitchers, and in a 30-team league with strict usage issues, the existence of Luis Perdomo and Jesse Chavez is tantamount to manna from heaven.

I do have a decent starting eight, and enough starters that I can rotate around to ensure that usage rules are not abridged. We are allowed 20% over a player's AB/IP the previous season, but with no injuries. Overuse reduces the number of freezes a team can retain.

With a core of Travis Shaw, Marcell Ozuna and Yonder Alonso in a very deep, 30-team league where usage is indeed enforced, that is a golden troika of hitters. Throw in Zack Greinke, Ervin Santana, Jimmy Nelson and Alex Wood as my pitchers and next year is looking so good.

The problem is, if you remember the numbers of those guys, you can see just how rugged last year (remember, we sim the previous season) was and how fine 2017 looks to be.

 Player  2016 Stats  2017 Stats  2016 WHIP/OBP  2017 WHIP/OBP
 Alonso .253-7-56 .273-21-45  .316 .373
 D. Santana .256-11-32 .290-16-51 .345 .381
 Shaw .242-16-71 .295-25-61 .306 .363
 Greinke  13-7, 4.73  11-4, 2.97  1.273  1.047
 E. Santana  7-11, 3.38  11-6, 2.99  1.219  1.108
 Wood  1-4, 3.73  11-0, 1.56  1.260  0.877
 Nelson  8-16, 4.62  8-5, 3.43  1.517  1.227

So, I will have to muddle through 100 or so more games this year plugging the gaps with Jordan Pacheco, Xavier Scruggs in the outfield, Erik Kratz at catcher, and Rob Refsnyder.

In fact, my team is just off an eight-game losing streak wherein we could muster no more than four hits off Larry Dierker. Larry Dierker, you ask? Well, to alleviate those tight usage rules, we are allotted two each of hitters and pitchers. All are set up for the worst fielding, baserunning, and skills as the game will allow, meaning the players represent bad placeholders to save us from ourselves.

Well, in the throes of my losing streak--during which I should mention Lord Zola's team swept me for the second time this year, here-to-fore unheard of--I faced Larry Dierker (we are allowed to name these players whatever we like). The Dierker Strat card reflects a pitcher with a 7-35 mark, a 7.50 ERA and a WHIP of 2.00, meaning even a guy like Kratz, with an .094-1-5 line last year, should be able to at least work a walk, right?

Afraid not, for all we could muster was four measly hits and it is only by the grace of Travis Shaw's two-run tater that we were not shut out.

I do like to play games, and though I try to avoid any kind of killer competitive instincts, I still like to play hard and to win, so biting in over seven or eight really offensive games is tough to swallow no matter how delicious 2018 might appear right now.

At this point, my goal is to ensure that like it or not, Kratz, Pacheco and Scruggs get all the playing time they can donate to keep the really good fun core of my squad together for next year.

That means facing a pitcher better than the Dierker set up will make the path forward a very tough 100 games. It will be a tough row to hoe. And, I gave Diane very strict instructions should my kidney fail or an airplane fall out of the sky and crash into me between now and next year's Opening Day.

But I think I can make it, know what I mean?

I will almost always respond if you track me down @lawrmichaels.


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