Razzball Commenter League drafts are off and running! Don’t let the chance to play with your favorite writers and commenters in free leagues for an overall top prize pass you by! We’ve only had a handful of drafts so far, but next week we’ll be able to dive into early RCL ADP and over-analyze to our hearts content. As for now though, go sign up for a league drafting in the next week or so and contribute to our data pool. It’s so easy to sign-up, it’s really just one click! Use it as a mock draft that is actually useful. We just had the Writer’s League draft Sunday night and it was nice to get a draft under my belt this season that didn’t have a 4 hour pick clock. I’ll have more info on the Writer’s League draft in the coming weeks as well. Today, we’ll be going over how to approach your pitching in the RCL format. I’ll let you decide how well I followed my own advice in my recent draft.
The subject of RCL pitching has been covered many times before, quite Brucely, much more succinctly than I could cover it. Oaktown Steve started the streaming phenomenon way back in the year 2010. From that, Rudy felt he could improve the process and thus birthed the Stream-O-Nator! The world hasn’t been the same since. Finally, Rudy covered the importance of maximizing IP and how to value our streamers here. That should be enough clickbait and reading to get you off to sleep tonight where visions of ERA, WHIP and K/9 (or K%) will dance in your head. If you’re feeling lazy though, I’ll give you the cliffsnotes version with a couple of my own notes.
First off, let’s go over the draft. I wouldn’t leave an RCL draft with any more than 5 starting pitchers and 3-4 is preferred. With the moves limit now in place, I tend to lean more towards 4. I suggest embracing streaming pitchers as much as you are comfortable with. The moves limit shouldn’t be a factor while streaming a couple pitchers per week. Where you draft your 3-4 pitchers is very important as well. I’m not here to suggest that if you draft a pitcher in the first round, you’ll lose the league, but you’re not doing yourself any favors. I typically target rounds 4-6 for my first and sometimes second SP.
An IP limit in the RCLs basically turns the strikeout category into K/9. That makes those high-K/9 starters even more valuable as a base to build around. I am fully aware of my streaming (in)abilities and I know that streaming will have an effect on my ratios, nailing down two SPs that will help those ratios is a must. Doing so without leaving your offense inept is the real challenge. The latest I would wait to grab my first starter would be round 8 or 9. After that and you’re playing with fire and even then you’re going to have to hit on the starters you do roster and have them turn in solid seasons.
If you’re not into grabbing two starters in the 4-6 round range, then the 6th-7th is a prime spot for an elite relief pitcher to help those ratios and strikeout rate. This is where Felipe Rivero, Craig Kimbrel and even Aroldis Chapman are falling this year and I’m all over that. Don’t think someone has lost their marbles drafting Josh Hader right up there with the top saves guys either. Saves or no saves, his elite K/9 is an asset.
The back end of the draft is all about relief pitchers and speculative saves. This is especially true with early drafts, happening now, while jobs are in flux (MIN, KC, MIA [eww]). If you can steal a closer before the season even starts, that’s gravy, and everyone loves gravy.
Essentially, if you can come out of the draft with some rough semblance of the 66/20/14 split (Hitters/Starters/Relievers) that Rudy recommends, you’ll be doing well. My drafts tend to be a little more towards 70/15/15 or even 66/14/20. As long as you recognize what you’ve got and have a plan, you’re much better off than most.
Once the season has started, your ability to maximize your roster spots becomes directly tied to your success. With only 3 bench spots, it is imperative to use them to their fullest. Those three bench spots are your “swing” spots and can be used however is needed, depending on the day. Don’t think of your team as having only 3 bench spots, think of the waiver wire as your rolling bench.
I almost always try to have a full hitting roster out there. By default this means my three bench spots are almost always hitters, however if there’s a day when all my hitters are playing, I use those bench spots to swap in some relief pitchers. In an ideal world you’ll have 8 RPs and a starter going almost everyday. With relief pitchers I’m almost always looking for good ratios and K/9 studs. That extra boost in K/9 will be huge in deciding the strikeout category in leagues.
When the time comes (at the end of the season), you need to know your loopholes. There was always a heated discussion over the 188 GS with ESPN and the same is true with FanTrax but with IP. With FanTrax the loophole remains that ANY pitching stats accumulated on the day you go over 1400 IP will count. This is the same way Yahoo!’s IP limit works, for those familiar. Ideally you’d have a day where you finish with 1399.6 IP and then stack your lineup for the day you go over, trying to eek out every extra strikeout and/or win you can. Of course, pulling the trigger on this massive stat grab can have negative effects as well, so if you’re in a tight battle for ERA and/or WHIP, it may not be the best choice.
All of your pitching freezes once you hit 1400 IP so your final pitching numbers are your final numbers. That means it is very important to keep tabs on your leaguemates and know who might need one category or another down the stretch. Paying attention to these things can mean the difference in catching a team or two in a category and winning or losing a league. You don’t need to win Saves by more than one save to get those twelve precious category points.
All of the decisions ultimately come down to where the most points can be gained. It’s up to you to recognize your team needs and how they relate to the rest of the league. If you’re running away with the pitching categories, cut back on your RPs and stream the heck out of SAGNOF delights and/or some all or nothing power plays. If the opposite is true, keep those empty pitching slots filled with the nastiest middle relievers you can get your paws on.
Now you have a pretty good idea of what you should be doing, go test out a draft strategy. The RCLs are a great place to test out an extreme strategy and see what happens. Go big or go home. Speaking of going big, if playing for $100 buy-in gets you going, our long time league, Cougs R Us, always a perenial contender for toughest league is looking for a few more managers. Drop me a note: [email protected] and I’ll forward your info to the commish. Likewise, I run a $25 RCL, DFSers Anonymous, where I’m looking for four more as well. DFS experience encouraged, but not required.
TO JOIN A LEAGUE
Click the LINK in the ‘League Link’ column (see below grid) for the time you want and enter the League ID from the spreadsheet and password –> razzball. Password is always razzball — lower case. If you’re not signed up at Fantrax, you need to do that too (it’s free). Damn, that’s too easy. Oh, I guess I should also mention make sure you’re joining a league for free or for money, depending on your preference. That’s it! You can join as many leagues as you like.
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