For these pitcher pairings, I’m going to be using our 2014 fantasy baseball rankings. Notably, the top 20 starters for 2014 fantasy baseball, top 40 starters for 2014, top 60 starters for 2014 and the top 80 starters for 2014. You can also just go to our Fantasy Baseball War Room once it’s ready, which should be by Tuesday. Or the fantasy baseball tiers. 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, D, E and F pitcher goes with him? Which is different than ‘F this pitcher,’ that’s what you say in May. You should have six starters. The sixth starter is Wily Peralta or take whoever you want. I suggest an upside pick. Jeff Samardzija comes to mind. Or Brandon Beachy. Zack Wheeler also comes to mind. I’m going to assume you’re in a 12 team, 5×5 and some variation of 9 pitcher leagues like the Razzball Commenter Leagues. Speaking of which, the RCL league sign-ups begin on Monday. (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 2014 fantasy baseball drafts:
If your first pitcher is from the tiers: “They’re great, I won’t own them, let’s Patty Cake while others are drafting them.” or “Semantics.” — These tiers are from Kershaw to Verlander. If you draft someone from these tiers, you’ll probably lose your league or get lucky with your hitters. If I do draft one, I wouldn’t take another pitcher until Chaz Bono‘s tier. Then grab a guy in Who’s going to be 2014′s Matt Harvey?‘s tier. Then two guys from Taking a number three doesn’t mean a pee and poop combo‘s tier, and finally one guy from either Thisclose‘s tier or Come here, Dumpling Face. Though, if you draft someone in Kershaw or Cliff Lee’s tiers, I could also see bypassing the Chaz Bono’s tier and skipping right to the Matt Harvey tier that Matt Harvey isn’t in. Then you’d take two guys from Matt Harvey’s tier that Matt Harvey isn’t in, then grab two guys from the pee and poop combo tier and finally Thisclose or Dumpling Face’s tier. So, you either have something like F-Her, Fister, Sonny Gray, Porcello, Ryu and Wheeler or F-Her, Gerrit Cole, Sonny Gray, Porcello, Medlen and Samardzija. 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, “I could see drafting one of these guys if they’re there (stutterer!).”: – This tier goes from Jo-Fer to Teheran. I’d pair any of the top 20 starters that come between Jo-Fer and Teheran with anyone in the I’ll let you be my first fantasy starter if I don’t have one yet tier, but it’s not mandatory. In other words, if I have Jo-Fer, I wouldn’t ignore Gio Gonzalez’s tier if they fell to me, but I wouldn’t reach either. You’ll be fine taking Jo-Fer and moving right into the Chaz Bono’s tier or the Matt Harvey tier that Matt Harvey isn’t in, but let’s say you start your staff with Jo-Fer and Gio Gonzalez because he falls to you, you should skip right to the pee/poop tier and grab someone, say, Porcello. Again, if someone from Gio’s tier drops, then you can grab him, but you’re loading up too much on pitching at this point. So now you have Jo-Fer, Gio and Porcello, then you jump to Thisclose and Dumpling Face tiers and grab three pitchers. (Yes, this is like a Choose Your Own Adventure.) So that leaves you with Jo-Fer, Gio, Porcello, Buchholz, Wheeler, and Peralta. That’s one great looking staff, or so she said, whoever she is.
Now if you grab Jo-Fer or Sale or anyone in their tier, but you skip Gio’s tier and go straight to Matt Harvey’s tier that Matt Harvey isn’t in, then you grab one or two guys in that tier and one or two guys from the pee/poop tier. If you grab one from Harvey’s tier, then grab two from pee/poop’s tier and vice versa. At this point, you should have four starters. Then grab two from Thisclose and Dumpling Faces. That leaves you with a staff of Sale, Gerrit Cole, Salazar, Kuroda, Samardzija and Smyly. That’s probably the best staff I’ve ever seen in the entire universe.
If your first pitcher is from the tier, “I’ll let you be my first fantasy starter if I don’t have one yet.”: – This tier goes from Gio to Zimmermann. 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 Gio tier, your next two pitchers from the Matt Harvey tier that Matt Harvey isn’t in, then two pitchers from pee/poop tier, then one guy from the Thisclose or Dumpling Face tier. So you could have Gio Gonzalez, Gerrit Cole, Sonny Gray, Cashner, Ryu and Beachy. 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 Gio’s tier, two pitchers from either Chaz Bono’s tier or Matt Harvey’s tier that Matt Harvey isn’t in, two from the pee/poop tier and a Thisclose or Dumpling Face tier pitcher. So, that could give you Gio, Matt Cain, Sonny Gray, Porcello, Kuroda and Wheeler. 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 Gio’s tier. Then skip to Matt Harvey’s tier that Matt Harvey isn’t in and take one, then two from the pee/poop tier then Beachy or someone from the last two favorable tiers, Dumpling Face and Thisclose. So, you could have Gio, Minor, Salazar, Ryu, Porcello and Wheeler (or Beachy or Samardzija.) Could this post become more confusing? Short answer: no. Long answer: nooooooooooo. But let’s try…
You can’t go wrong with a lot of different sets of pitchers. Shoot (not you Dick Cheney), you probably could do fine with drafting only 3 starters and 3 great relievers and streaming. If you stick to the pitchers I like, then you’ll do well matching them up any way you see fit. The key is to make sure you are drafting offense early and often. What I’m doing with my tiers pairing is making sure you’re drafting a balanced staff. You can take too much upside. That’s why every time I draft a guy from the Matt Harvey tier that Matt Harvey isn’t in, I go right to the pee/poop tier. The pee/poop tier is the key tier in the starter rankings. That’s your grounded, down-to-earth balanced starters to your upside ones. Look at the names in the pee/poop tier: Ryu, Kuroda, Medlen, Porcello, Cashner, etc. You’re really hoping to take the risk off of your Salazar’s and Sonny Gray’s. Pee/poop will not win you your league, but without it you’re gonna lose. Huh? Okay, let’s move on.
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 Liriano, who I have projected for a 1.25, you need to pair him with someone I have projected below a 1.23. Don’t pair Liriano with Chris Tillman. Don’t pair Liriano with Josh Johnson. Pair Liriano with Kuroda. Pair him with Alfredo Jettuccine Griffin. Pair him with Ryu. Remember, the further you get into the rankings, the harder it becomes to find lower WHIPs. In the top 80 starters, there’s only three starters below a 1.23 WHIP, and one of them I don’t recommend drafting (Dan Haren). Sidenote: WHIP can be helped by closers and MRs… Or hurt by them.
What about “Lottery Tickets?!” – There’s a whole slew of pitchers I haven’t mentioned after the Thisclose and Dumpling Face tiers. I even like some of them, namely the Lottery Tickets tier in the top 100 starters for 2014 fantasy baseball. These guys are 7th starters, DL-bound or minor league-bound starters that you’re stashing. I wouldn’t count on any of them for anything. I like me some Alex Wood 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 Jameson Taillon, 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.
Because we both know everything above this point was the gibberish of a mad mind, here’s an easy to use shortcut. Just click the pitcher you draft, then you’ll get a short list of the next pitcher you’re supposed to draft. Voila, snitches! Now, have at it: