For these pairings, I’m going to be using our 2013 fantasy baseball rankings. Notably, the top 20 starters for 2013 fantasy baseball, top 40 starters for 2013, top 60 starters for 2013 and the top 80 starters for 2013. You can just go to our Fantasy Baseball War Room too (due to popular demand, we’ll make a downloadable Excel spreadsheet available later today). Or the fantasy baseball tiers (compliments to commenter, Drew!). 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 Matt Harvey or take whoever you want. I suggest an upside pick. Matt Harvey comes to mind. Or Marco Estrada. Marco Estrada also comes to mind. I’m going to assume you’re in a 12 team, 5×5 and some variation of 9 Pitchers league. BTW, if you haven’t done so yet, sign up for a Razzball Commenter League (we need commissioners!). (NOTE: What you are about to read is massively confusing. If it were found scribbled in a notebook, the FBI would be watching me. If Charles Manson stood up and read this at the next prison Meet N’ Greet, no one would blink an eye.) Anyway, here’s some pairings for pitching staffs for 2013 fantasy baseball drafts:
If your first pitcher is from the tier: “These guys are the best. I will enjoy missing out on them.” — This tier is from Verlander to F-Her. If you draft someone from this tier, you’ll probably lose your league or get lucky with your hitters. If I do draft one, I wouldn’t take another pitcher until Darvish’s tier, “I’ll grab one of these guys when possible; just not going apeshizz cray cray.” Then grab a guy in Samardzija’s tier, “These guys are my BFF (Best Fantasy Friends).” Then two guys from either Parker’s tier, “A bunch of zeroes, and zeroes aren’t a bad thing,” or Kuroda’s tier, “I like them, but if drafting one causes an erection for longer than four hours, see a doctor.” Then a guy in Estrada’s tier, “I love you, I love you not… I love you!” Though, if you draft someone in Verlander’s tier, I could also see bypassing the Darvish tier and skipping right to Samardzija’s “These guys are my BFF (Best Fantasy Friends).” Then you’d take two guys from Samardzija’s tier, then grab two guys from Parker or Kuroda’s tiers and finally Estrada’s tier. So, you either have something like F-Her, Darvish, Jon Niese, Garza, Kuroda and Estrada or F-Her, Samardzija, Hughes, Minor, Fister and Harvey. Either of those staffs will probably have 13′s in every pitching category in a 12 team league.
If your first pitcher is from the tier, “Like these guys; might draft one; don’t reach for multiple ones.”: – This tier goes from Greinke to Gio. I’d pair any of the top 20 starters that come between Greinke and Gio with anyone in Cliff Lee’s tier, “You’re mine and we belong together,” but it’s not mandatory. In other words, if I have Greinke, I wouldn’t ignore Lee’s tier if they fell to me, but I wouldn’t reach either. You’ll be fine taking Gio and moving right into the Darvish tier. But let’s say you start your staff with Greinke and Moore because he falls to you, you should skip right to the Samardzija tier. Again, if someone from Lee’s tier drops, then you can grab him, but you’re loading up too much on pitching at this point. So if you have Greinke, Moore, Samardzija, you jump to Parker or Kuroda’s tier and grab two pitchers. (Yes, this is like a Choose Your Own Adventure.) So that leaves you with Greinke, Moore, Samardzija, Parker, Beckett, and Fiers. That’s one great looking staff, or so she said, whoever she is.
Now if you grab Greinke, but you skip Lee’s tier and go straight to Darvish’s tier, then you grab one or two guys in that tier and one or two guys from Samardzija’s tier. If you grab one from Darvish’s tier, then grab two from Samardzija’s tier and vice versa. At this point, you should have four starters. Then grab one from Parker or Kuroda’s tiers then Estrada. That leaves you with a staff of Greinke, Gallardo, Peavy, Niese, Fister and Harvey. That’s probably the best staff I’ve ever seen in the entire universe.
If your first pitcher is from the tier, “You’re mine and we belong together.”: – This tier goes from Lee to Chapman. This is my ideal pairing (which will be as convoluted as everything that came before it. Anyone that actually reads AND understands this post deserves a gold star.) Grab your first pitcher from the Lee tier, your next pitcher from the Darvish tier then two pitchers from Samardzija’s tier, one from Kuroda or Parker’s tiers then Estrada. So you could have Matt Moore, Medlen, Samardzija, Morrow, Beckett and Estrada. You just won your league and games haven’t even started. You’re welcome.
Close to ideal (let’s say ideal-ish) is if you draft one pitcher from Lee’s tier, two pitchers from Samardzija’s tier, two from Parker or Kuroda’s tiers and Estrada. So, that could give you Chapman, Morrow, Ryu, Garza, Milone and Harvey. Honestly, that staff looks pretty good to me; go buy yourself an ice cream cone and celebrate.
Not ideal but it will do, Pooh (let’s call it ideally Pooh) is if you draft two pitchers from Lee’s tier. Then skip to Samardzija’s tier and take one, then two from Parker or Kuroda’s tier then Estrada. So, you could have Lee, Moore, Ryu, Parker, Kennedy and Chris Tillman (or Harvey or Estrada; I like those guys; have you heard? Have you flocked? Have you congregated? Could this post become more confusing? Short answer: no. Long answer: nooooooooooo).
WHIP Issues – For every pitcher who is projected over a 1.23 WHIP, take one below. The quicker you do this, the better off you’ll be. For instance, if you take Darvish, who I have projected for a 1.24, you need to pair him with someone I have projected below a 1.23. Don’t pair Darvish with Gallardo. Don’t pair Darvish with Samardzija. Pair Gallardo with Niese. Pair him with Kennedy. Pair him with Minor. Remember, the further you get into the rankings, the harder it becomes to find lower WHIPs. In the top 60 starters, there’s only five starters below a 1.23 WHIP. There’s only 3 pitchers in the top 80. There’s no one in the top 100. Sidenote: WHIP can be helped by closers and MRs… Or hurt by them.
What about “Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar?!” – There’s a whole slew of pitchers I haven’t mentioned after the Estrada tier. I even like some of them, namely the Bud Norris tier, the “Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar” tier and the Luebke “Hey, you may as well fill your free DL spot until Jed Lowrie hurts himself” tier. These guys are 7th starters or DL-bound starters that you’re stashing. I wouldn’t count on any of them for anything. I like me some Kyle Kendrick as much as the next guy, but are you really starting him every time out in April and risking a huge blow up, which would lead to a crushing April that leaves you in your fantasy baseball basement and a chance to start trading for keepers in May? You take a flyer on someone like Dylan Bundy, hope he gets the call and if he doesn’t, you decide whether to drop him in redraft leagues. He’s not your 6th starter.
K ISSUES – For drafters who follow my lead, this shouldn’t be 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. Always. Even in deep leagues.