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:
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 nom, You 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…
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.
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.
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: