February 28, 2014
TTO Scoresheet Podcast
As you’ve undoubtedly heard, good pitching beats good hitting, and vice versa. You may not, however, have thought about the implications of great pitching or terrible pitching on good hitting. We’ve got plenty to say on starting pitching in Scoresheet (so much so that this week is only the first half of our coverage of the position), but to summarize at the highest level, our advice is to maximize the great pitching on your team and to minimize the innings devoted to terrible pitching.
Sounds easy, but it can be quite hard in Scoresheet. So read on for our rankings and detailed thoughts on some players. And be sure to check out our podcast, linked at the bottom of this article, for even more advice on strategy and specific players.
We are also really excited to have the man/the legend Bret Sayre on the podcast for a special guest segment. Bret is trying out Scoresheet for the first time this year, and in this week’s segment, we talk through our thoughts on his keeper decisions in his soft keeper league.
Without further ado, here are our starting pitcher rankings in Scoresheet. Please note that for convenience, we are calling pitchers we rank 1-25 as no. 1 starters, those ranked 26 to 50 as no. 2 starters, etc.
Start out planning your rotation by expecting to need 1,500 innings. It’ll probably be less than that, but by how much you’ll never be sure. Who do you want throwing those 1500 innings? Well, we’d all love to fill our rotation with Clayton Kershaw and his clones all five times for 1,000 innings, and then get the other 500 by writing down Craig Kimbrel 10 times in the bullpen and be done, but there’s no challenge in that kind of league and arguably there’s no sport without the challenge. As you stack up the pitcher projections, the reality is that every fourth one is going to get fragged falling off a four wheel vehicle or playing with their friend’s Yorkie Poo, so you’ll probably want to have plenty of backups. We’d suggest you plan on spending between eight and 12 roster spots on guys that you could put into your rotation at some time during the year to make sure you get enough innings.
So how do you maximize the potential for quality innings without exposing yourself to the dreaded Pitcher AAA appearance on your weekly results? The first step is to make sure you pick up at least a couple of guys that you’re pretty sure are going to deliver top flight performance this year. That gives you a good core to build as your base—ideally we’re looking at three guys from whom you’re expecting 180 innings and less than 3.5 runs per nine innings. Of course, those guys are popular, and if you want to score any runs, you have to draft some bats, and the rest of your pitchers aren’t going to be studs.
As we progress down the draft, start to think of pitchers in three categories. The first category is the boring guys that are as dependable as pitchers get but haven’t been drafted yet because they’re not going to give you many stellar outings. You’re pretty sure they’re going to give you at least 180 innings but you’re also pretty sure they are going to be of fairly average quality. The second category is the exciting guys that are high variance in terms of quality and durability, but have upside potential. Preferably, the variance is something you can plan weekly lineups around, like injuries, and not something you can’t do anything about, like healthy bouts of suckitude. The second category of guys may throw 180 innings but they’re probably projected to throw closer to 100 innings. The real key for the second category of guys is that they have a chance to shut down offenses. The third category of guys is the rest of the guys out there, and we don’t want anything to do with them.
The key is to balance those starting pitcher roster spots between the first two categories. The goal should be to come up with an amalgamation of the boring guys and exciting guys that offers your team a baseline expected performance from the boring guys that can be surpassed at times by the exciting guys. When you add in the chances that some of them get injured, you’ll find that you want to be able to pick up something like four of each of these guys for your team. The good news is that if you end up with fewer injuries than you expected, you can always trade them or stick them in your bullpen as long relief, so you know their innings won’t be wasted value.
Veteran dynasty players and Scoresheet owners may have some questions about the placement of pitching prospects on our list. Would we really take a broken down old arm such as Jake Peavy over Taijuan Walker? Are we insane for considering Nate Eovaldi, a fine third starter, in the same stratosphere as Archie Bradley? You've caught us... we're all relatively dyed-in-the-wool TINSTAAPPers, and to varying degrees, we'll pretty much always take the pitcher with present value over a comparable pitcher who's farther away from the majors with more promise. Unlike with hitting prospects, we tend not to expect pitchers as likely bets to reach their potential, and the downside is a lot of torn labrums and broken hearts. The difference is starker the further you head into minor levels. Are you willing to pay 4-5 draft picks for a guy who may come up for 10 starts, give up a dozen home runs, and strain his forearm? Especially in shallower leagues, Low-A pitchers who throw hard are pretty much a constant renewable resource. Lower-level pitching prospects, especially of the non-elite variety, should be treated as penny stocks, ready to be traded away at the first sign of improvement.
No. 1 Slot
One of the reasons why we don't value pitching prospects as highly as others is because almost every year brings with it a Danny Salazar, someone who makes massive gains within a season. The injury concerns are real, but so is the likelihood of a healthy Salazar being an almost ace.
No. 2 Slot
Julio Teheran is a reminder of the volatility of a top pitching prospect, as he's gone from stud to nearly unkeepable. Now, with a rotation spot in hand, his value doesn't appear to have bounced all the way back, making him something of an attractive target in many leagues. He's been on the radar so long that many don't realize he'd still be a fairly young prospect, and he represents a more intriguing target than a veteran projected to return similar or even better value, such as Justin Masterson, or even a young pitcher with slightly less breakout potential, such as Patrick Corbin.
No. 3 Slot
No. 4 Slot
We discussed Archie Bradley in general earlier, but even among pitching prospects, he's lower on our boards than most others. For somebody run up the flagpole on many draft lists, he certainly has never quite licked the control problems that have plagued him through the minors, and the Bronson Arroyo signing leaves him thoroughly blocked for the first part of 2014. The upside is immense, but for where he'd usually go in a draft, we're far more likely to take the safer bet.
This week, the Outcomes discuss starting pitchers and everything else in a podcast that Pete Holmes would likely call "a little too long." First, the Outcomes introduce the week and get way too invested in the return of baseball. At (00:11:36), they take reader questions and successfully attempt to draft a player live on the air. At (00:27:22), the Outcomes interview @dynastyguru and Real Professional Bret Sayre, and ask him about his debut in Scoresheet and his strategy for his first keeper deadline. Finally, at (00:47:52), they discuss the top 100 starting pitchers, ending with a real cliffhanger.