For these pairings, I’m going to be using our 2010 fantasy baseball rankings. Notably, the top 20 starters for 2010 fantasy baseball, top 40 starters for 2010, top 60 starters for 2010 and the top 80 starters for 2010. Okay, now that we have our links and shizz done. What is a pitcher pairing? It’s how you plan on putting together a fantasy staff. It’s a plan of action. If you have A pitcher, which B, C and D pitcher goes with him? You should have six starters. The sixth starter is Jonathan Sanchez or take whoever you want. I suggest an upside pick. Jonathan Sanchez comes to mind. Sanchez, Sanchez, Sanchez… The fifth starter will be covered below. I’m going to assume you’re in a 12 team, 5×5 and some variation of 9 Pitchers league. (NOTE: What you are about to read is massively confusing. If it were found scribbled in a notebook, the FBI would be watching me. But to add more confusion, every time I say Wandy/Bills tier, you can also include Matt Cain’s tier in there.) Anyway, here’s some pairings for pitching staffs for 2010 fantasy baseball drafts:
Tim Lincecum – There’s very little chance I have Lincecum on any of my teams, but if I do have him, I wouldn’t take another pitcher until around Wandy tier of the top 40 starters. Then I’d grab two guys from the flier tier of Cueto/Buchholz. Finally, I’d finish my staff off with — that just sounded like a phone sex operator — a total flier in the Homer Bailey tier. So Lincecum, Billingsley, Cueto, Anderson, Bailey and Sanchez. This is a pretty wonky staff, but Lincecum gives you that flexibility.
“F-Her vs. Greinke,” “Don’t hate them because they’ve done it many times before.” and “These guys have a legitimate chance of being on my team.” — With the pitchers from these tiers, you don’t have the same luxury of Lincecum. I’d pair any of the top 20 starters that come before Hamels with anyone in the Hamels tier, but it’s not mandatory. In other words, if I have Haren I wouldn’t ignore Hamels (or anyone in his tier) if he fell to me, but I wouldn’t reach either. So you could start your staff Hamels and Haren. Then I’d take one guy from the Bills/Wandy tier. So Hamels, Haren and Baker, for instance. Then I’d take one guy from the Slowey/Cueto tier. So Haren, Hamels, Baker and Ervin, possibly. Then I’d skip below for the fifth starter.
If you get a pitcher from above Hamels on the rankings and don’t get someone from the Hamels tier as well, I would pair that pitcher with two guys from the Wandy/Bills tier. So you’re looking at, possibly, Haren, Cain and Baker. Or Verlander, Wandy, Bills. Or Johan, Bills and Baker. If you can’t get two guys from the Wandy/Bills tier, I’d go for one and two guys from the Cueto/Buchholz flier tier. So, something like Haren, Bills, Cueto and Anderson. If you do get two guys from the Wandy/Bills tier, then I’d take one from the flier tier. So you’re looking at Haren, Wandy, Cain and Cueto. I’ll get to the fifth starter in a second. Remember, every team needs a sixth starter — Jonathan Sanchez.
“If I don’t get a pitcher from the previous tier, I’ll need someone from this tier.” — This tier starts with Hamels. I would team Hamels with anyone in this tier, but then I’d skip to the Slowey/Cueto tier. You draft Hamels and Johnson? Then skip to Slowey/Cueto. This is like a fantasy baseball Choose Your Own Adventure. Hamels and Nolasco? Skip to Slowey/Cueto. In the Slowey/Cueto tier, I’d take two. Hamels, Nolasco, de la Rosa and Slowey, for instance.
If you only get one from the Hamels tier, then I’d take two from the Bills/Wandy tier. So Hamels, Bills and Wandy, for instance. I’d then take one guy from the Cueto/Slowey tier. So, possibly, Hamels, Bills, Burnett and Slowey. See below for the fifth starter.
“I’m on board.” – If you were able to actually follow along in the last two sections, two points for you. Now let’s assume you don’t take any starter until the Wandy/Bills tier. Then I’d take two starters from the Wandy tier. So let’s say Bills and Baker. Then I’d take one from the Cueto/Buchholz flier tier. So you now have Bills, Baker and Anderson. This staff is five times wonky with a side of ulcer, so to finish it off I’d take Tim Hudson, Ted Lilly, Correia or Penny, or some kind of vet stability. So you’re hopefully looking at Bills, Baker, Anderson, Hudson, fifth starter to come and Filthy Sanchez.
The Fifth Starter – Before everyone takes Jonathan Sanchez, we need a fifth starter. My suggestion is to take someone to complement your first pick’s risk. If you went less risky by taking someone in the top 17 of the top 20 starters, then take a flier like, say, Mat Latos. If you didn’t take anyone in the top 20, then take someone a little safer with your fifth starter, like, Harang or Penny. If someone — anyone! — falls in the draft and becomes a value pick, take them. If Oswalt falls for whatever reason, take him. If Peavy falls, take him. If Bedard’s sitting around in the 330s, take him. The fifth starter is your wild card.
WHIP Issues – For every pitcher who is projected over a 1.26 WHIP, take one below. The quicker you do this, the better off you’ll be. For instance, if you take Bills, who I have projected for a 1.32, you need to pair him with someone I have projected for below a 1.26. Don’t pair Bills with Wandy. Don’t pair Bills with Price. Pair Bills with Baker. Pair him with Oswalt. Pair him with Cliff Lee. If you take Ubaldo (projected 1.27 WHIP) and Bills (projected 1.32 WHIP) where are you going to balance these guys? Slowey and Wells? Okay, but if you don’t get them, then you might need to scramble. Remember, the further you get into the rankings, the harder it becomes to find lower WHIPs. In the top 60 starters, there’s only two starters below a 1.26 WHIP and one of them might be a reliever this year (Hughes) and one is Randy Wolf. There’s four pitchers in the top 80 and one of them is out a month to start the season (Lilly), one is Jurrjens and two of them will hurt you on Ks (Wells and Buehrle). Sidenote: WHIP can be helped by closers and MRs… Or hurt by them.
K ISSUES – For drafters who follow my lead, this shouldn’t be as much of an issue. You’re shooting for around 150/starter.
Overall Pitching Issues – Just about everyone, including yours truly, drops at least one of their starters by May 1st. Obviously, you want the best team coming out the draft, but it’s a marathon not a sprint. Starters always come out of nowhere on waivers to become productive.