For these pitcher pairings, I’m going to be using our 2015 fantasy baseball rankings.  Notably, the top 20 starters for 2015 fantasy baseball, top 40 starters for 2015, top 60 starters for 2015 and the top 80 starters for 2015.  You can also just go to our Fantasy Baseball War Room.  Okay, formalities out of the way.  *rolls up sleeves, makes farting noise with hand under armpit, rolls down sleeve*   Let’s get busy!  Now, what is a pitcher pairing?  It’s your plan for putting together a fantasy staff.  A course 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 Tony Cingrani or take whoever you want.  I suggest an upside pick.  Cingrani comes to mind.  Or Jesse Hahn.  Taijuan 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 (if ESPN opens its doors). (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 pitcher pairings for pitching staffs for 2015 fantasy baseball drafts:

TIERS

If your first pitcher is from the tiers: “Security blankets are for bouncers who are chilly,” or “Still number ones, but my teeth hurt.  It might be the caveats.” — These tiers are from Kershaw to Cueto.  If you draft someone from these tiers, you’ll probably lose your league or get lucky with your hitters.  If you do draft one, I wouldn’t take another pitcher until the tiers, Go ahead, draft your pants off.  No, figuratively! or You’re not on the ones and twos, just twos and maybe threes.  Then grab three guys from any of the tiers, Scarf isn’t just a piece of clothing I’m wearing, it’s a verb for nom nom nomYou can see these guys are a bad mother– Shut yo’ mouth! and Bridge Building 101.  Finally one guy from You know they’re sexy, sexy, sexy cos you heard it from hearsay. So, you’d have something like F-Her, Fiers, Hutchison, Lynn, Shelby and Carlos Martinez or Price, deGrom, Quintana, Peavy, Gio and Paxton. 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, “Commence drafting, Drafty McDraftstein.” – This tier goes from Samardzija to Iwakuma.  I’d pair any of them with anyone in the same tier or in the Save your druthers for your mothers, these are (this is?) my druthers tier, but it’s not mandatory.  In other words, if I have Samardzija, I wouldn’t ignore the rest of his tier if they fell to me or Hamels’s tier, but I wouldn’t reach either. You’ll be fine taking Samardzija and moving right into the Go ahead, draft your pants off.  No, figuratively! or You’re not on the ones and twos, just twos and maybe threes tier.  Let’s say you start your staff with Samardzija and Carrasco because he falls to you, you should skip right to the nom nom nom tier and grab someone, say, Stroman. So now you have Samardzija, Carrasco and Stroman, then you stay in the nom nom nom tier or jump to Shut yo’ mouth! or unto the Bridge Building tier and grab two pitchers. Finally, you jump to “You know they’re sexy, sexy, sexy” and ask, “Can I have a Hahn?”  (Yes, this is like a Choose Your Own Adventure.)  So that leaves you with Samardzija, Carrasco, Stroman, Pineda, Quintana and Hahn. That’s one great looking staff, or so she said, whoever she is.

Now if you grab Samardzija or Iwakuma or anyone in their tier, but you skip Hamels’s tier and go straight to Shoemaker or Ryu’s tier, then you grab two guys from either tier.  So you grab Shoemaker and Ryu or Fiers and Gray or any combo from those two tiers. At this point, you should have three starters. Then grab two from nom nom nom, Shut yo’ mouth! and Bridge Building.  Finally, You know they’re sexy, sexy, sexy cos you heard it from hearsay.  That could leave you with a staff of Arrieta, Fiers, Teheran, Archer, Salazar and Cingrani. That’s probably the best staff I’ve ever seen in the entire universe.

If your first pitcher is from the tier, “Save your druthers for your mothers, these are (this is?) my druthers.” – This tier goes from Hamels to Hughes. 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 and a head exam.) Grab your first pitcher from the Hamels tier, your next two pitchers from the Go ahead, draft your pants off.  No, figuratively! tier, then two pitchers from nom nom nom, Shut yo’ mouth! and the bridge tiers, then one guy from the sexy, sexy tier. So you could have Hamels, Fiers, Sonny Boy, Cashner, Eovaldi and Wacha. 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 Hamels’s tier, two pitchers from either the Go ahead, draft your pants off.  No, figuratively! tier or You’re not on the ones and twos, just twos and maybe threes tier, two from the nom nom nom, Shut yo’ mouth! and bridge tiers and a sexy, sexy tier pitcher. So, that could give you Hamels, Sonny Boy, Ryu, Archer, Cashner and Cingrani. 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 Hamels’s tier, then skip to the nom nom nom, Shut yo’ mouth! and bridge tiers and grab three guys, then onto sexy, sexy. So, you could have Hamels, Gerrit, Salazar, Shelby, Burnett and Bauer (or Hahn or Gausman or any sixth starter). Could this post become more confusing?  Short answer: no.  Long answer: nooooooooooo.  But let’s try…

OVERALL THOUGHTS

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 nom nom nom tier, I’m trying to look at the Shut yo’ mouth! or Bridge tiers and not going straight to sexy, sexy.  The Shut yo’ mouth! and Bridge tiers are the key tiers in the starter rankings. They are not your upside starters; they are your “Hopefully he can give me a 6 IP, 2 ER start, because Salazar is fondling himself at a mascot and it’s the best thing he’s done with his balls all year,” starters.  Look at the names in those tiers:  Cashner, Gio, Quintana, Ervin, Wily, etc. You’re really hoping to take the risk off of your Salazars and Archers with them.  Shut yo’ mouth! or Bridges won’t win you your league, but without them you’re gonna lose.  Huh?  Okay, let’s move on.

TROUBLE AREAS

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 Wheeler, who I have projected for a 1.28, you need to pair him with someone I have projected below a 1.23.  Don’t pair Wheeler with Liriano. Don’t pair Wheeler with Yordano. Pair Wheeler with McHugh. Pair him with Stroman.  Pair him with Ryu.  Remember, the further you get into the rankings, the harder it becomes to find lower WHIPs.  Side note: WHIP can be helped by closers and MRs… Or hurt by them.

What about “Pop quiz, no essay questions?!” or “Besame mi cuello, mi safety net!” – There’s a whole slew of pitchers I haven’t mentioned after the sexy, sexy tier. I even like some of them, namely the Pop quiz, no essay questions and Besame mi cuello, mi safety net! tiers in the top 100 starters for 2015 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 Rubby 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 Syndergaard, 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.

BONUS FEATURE

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.  Frank Voila, snitches! Now, have at it:

 
  1. scott steelers says:
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    Love this thing. Thanks! So I’ll be starting the season with Abreu, Mccutch, Puig, Betts, Scherzer. My first 2 picks could be hitters, avail at my picks will be a choice of arenado, Billy Hamilton, pence, pujols it looks like. Pitchers avail will be darvish, hamels, Zimmerman, lester, arrieta. Possibly madbum. Which route would you go? Thanks Grey

  2. And Now the John Lovitz Dancers! says:
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    hells yeah, the PPP!

  3. Gordon Shumway says:
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    Thanks, Grey- does this change at all in H2H and/or auction leagues?

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Gordon Shumway: Alf! Yeah, it does a bit for H2H…I’ll go over strategy for separate leagues…

      • dem ribbies says:
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        @Grey:Hey Grey, when you do go over the strategy for H2H, would you pls include a thought or two on any impact that daily rosters might have on draft strategy? As of now all’s I know is that most teams in the league reserve 3/5’ths of their bench for SP’s to get more chances for W/QS/K’s. Anyhow, pls shed some insight on that if you would. Thanks!

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          I’ll go over H2H… I will say that you want quantity of SPs over quality more so in H2H

    • And Now the John Lovitz Dancers! says:
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      @Gordon Shumway: short answer, you need more SP for H2H, since you have no max innings, often getting as many K’s/wins as possible is a freeroll, esp in weeks where you are losing ERA/WHIP and are pretty likely to end up losing those. There’s more to it than that of course, but that’s the simple and obvious.

  4. Whatever says:
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    Hey Grey:

    Thoughts on this trade?

    10 Team Mixed Keeper w/minors (OBP and 350 cap)

    I give up Ventura (1), Pollock (2) and Addison Russell (minor)

    for Scherzer (16)

    Here are my current keepers (10) allowed:

    freeman(17), Chris Davis (12), Altuve (15), Ian Desmond (14), Yelich (7), Kole C (3), Ozuna (1), Pollock(2), Ventura (1), Kenley jansen (6)

    I have Quintana/Cashner for a buck that can take the place of Ventura as a keeper so I am thinking this trade is basically Scherzer for Pollock/Russell

    Thanks,

    Whatever

    • JeF With 1 F says:
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      @Whatever: Id hold

    • J-FOH says:
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      @Whatever: how many years can you keep? is this dynasty?

      • Whatever says:
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        @J-FOH:

        its not a dynasty. would have to trade a few pieces after a while.

        if i trade for scherzer can keep him for one year at 16 or two years at 21.
        ventura i can keep for another two years at a buck, same with cashner or quintana
        pollock i can keep for another two years at 2
        russell has to be promoted after 450AB’s so he is a couple of years away.

        • Whatever says:
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          @Whatever:

          I also have Soler in my minors so trading away Pollock is not that big of a hit.

          • Wake Up says:
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            @Whatever: I’d take Scherzer…

            • Whatever says:
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              @Wake Up:

              appreciate the inputs.

              • Grey

                Grey says:
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                @Whatever: Hey, fellas, nice inputs!

                • Whatever says:
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                  @Grey:

                  You should see my outputs! :)

                  • Whatever says:
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                    @Whatever:

                    But yes, I appreciate the help.

                  • Grey

                    Grey says:
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                    I love any puts

                    • Whatever says:
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                      @Grey:

                      :)

          • J-FOH says:
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            @Whatever: I agree with wake

            • Whatever says:
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              @J-FOH:

              Thx.

  5. Robert says:
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    In a 10 team league, I plan on picking up 2 pitchers in the top 25. So like Arrieta, Woods, hopefully some other guys fall down in value on draft day. First pitcher would be in 5-7 round and one soon after. I feel this will allow me to load up on hitters early and still allow a great staff.
    Thanks again

  6. JeF With 1 F says:
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    Heres my Dynasty squad…won last year and made some tweeks with trades going into this year…Looking like a repeat

    C. Gattis
    1B. Goldy
    2b. Wong
    3b. Arenado
    SS. Bogaerts
    CI. Miggy
    MI. D.Gordon
    LF. Marte
    CF. Cutch
    RF. Cuddyer
    OF. C.Dickerson
    Util. C.Gomez
    Util. T.Frazier

    P. A.Wood
    P. Carrasco
    P. M.Harvey
    P. Z.Wheeler
    P. H.Bailey
    P. M.Fiers
    P. L.Lynn
    P. W.Peralta
    P. Gausman
    RP. A.Miller
    RP. K.Giles

    Bench: Kennys, Wet Tail, Arismendy (Going to drop Arismendy for Hutchinson in the draft)…Also planning on adding M.Saunders in the draft to cover my ass on Cuddyer.

      • JeF With 1 F says:
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        @PK: Just Pee?

    • KB says:
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      @JeF With 1 F: Does it even matter what you do in the draft?

      • JeF With 1 F says:
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        @KB: Probably not ha

    • Wake Up says:
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      @JeF With 1 F: Yeah, I was thinking which one these things don’t belong with Cuddyer…but I see you got that covered.
      Nice team

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Wake Up: looks like a strong league

        • Wake Up says:
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          @J-FOH: Is that sarcasfont or new times Roman?

          • J-FOH says:
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            @Wake Up: oh no my phone auto corrected.

            • Wake Up says:
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              @J-FOH: HA

        • JeF With 1 F says:
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          @J-FOH: Or just a strong owner

      • JeF With 1 F says:
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        @Grey: 10 teams…30 man rosters

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Ah, yeah, team is solid, but in a 10 team league you’ll still have to work it

          • JeF With 1 F says:
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            @Grey: Ill put my thang down flip it and reverse it

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              Perfect

    • M says:
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      @JeF With 1 F: solid team across the board

  7. Swfcdan says:
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    The FBI are watching you (again)!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Swfcdan: Damn them…I mean, I welcome it!

  8. Cram It says:
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    TGIF Grey. For auctions, do you have a strategy regarding closers? I know you don’t pay for a stud, so do you allot a certain amount for them? Like $15-$20 for 3 closers? Something like that…

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      @Cram It: One $12 closer, no one else over $10, trying for 3, depends on league size

      • Cram It says:
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        @Grey: 13 teams. Thanks.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          @Cram It: You should have 3 closers, yeah

  9. burningbridges247 says:
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    There is no better thing on earth than this right here….except for maybe bacon- but it’s CLOSE!!! Awesome, excellent, A++ job this year, Grey. Couldn’t be more excited about drafting pitchers late this year. Thanks for the help!

    • J-FOH says:
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      @burningbridges247: this is a fun tool to play with. Next year it might come in bacon flavor

      • burningbridges247 says:
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        @J-FOH: See…..now your just playing with my emotions.

  10. the swinging says:
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    The best thing to do is make sure ur upside guys are healthy and have a solid starting job comin out of spring and draft the players u think will be the best.