"What just happened?"
That was my reaction when I looked at the box score for my main fantasy baseball league last night. Of course, I left out a couple of expletives and I'm sure there were some exclamation points in there as well.
Long story short, it's a H2H points league. And Ricky Romero got me -26 points. That's not a misprint or typo, Ricky Romero scored NEGATIVE TWENTY-SIX POINTS for my team.
Wait, it gets worse. When I check my team mid-day (go iPhone) I noticed that somehow I had two probable starting pitchers on the bench; Romero and Vance Worley. Worley had already started and was stuck on my bench. I was sitting Romero in all of my other leagues, but after already missing out on points from Worley, I decided to throw Romero into the starting lineup. I mean, he was playing the Oakland Athletics (ranked 25th in runs and 30th in hits). What could go wrong?
But it's not just Romero. On the very same team I have Tim Lincecum, who was great for two starts before sticking me with a with a -3 point performance. And lets not even get into Francisco Liriano and his -17 point debacle on Monday.
It's not so bad with players like Liriano and Ervin Santana. You drafted them late and they've been pretty bad for the most part. It's the players you took with high draft picks. The players with solid, established track records who've helped fantasy owners for years. Not to name names, but lets name some names, shall we?
- Tim Lincecum
- Ricky Romero
- Dan Haren
- Jon Lester
- Cliff Lee
- Roy Halladay
- James Shields
These pitchers were drafted to be No. 1 or No. 2 starting pitcher for most fantasy teams. And at best they've performed like end-of-the-rotation fill-ins. Some have shown flashes of their previous brilliance. Others have hit the disabled list. But no matter which way you slice it, these players are not giving your team what you need. So what do you do about it?
For the record, I am discussing redraft leagues. In keeper or dynasty leagues, you will value players differently. I would be glad to discuss keeper/dynasty questions, please use the comments feature.
If your team has been fortunate enough (or good enough) to be doing well despite being saddled with at least one of these under-performers, good for you. In that scenario, you can carry a struggling player on your bench in hopes that he can turn it around. And if you need to cut bait at some point, so be it.
What about the rest of us? We have to evaluate our options. What kind of league are you in? If you are in a roto league you need to evaluate your pitching staff. Struggling pitchers can destroy your ERA and WHIP in roto leagues, so you need to handle these players with care. At this point, Lee and Halladay are the only pitchers on the list I would feel comfortable starting in a roto league.
So in roto formats, I would shop any of these players to see if you can get anything close to "name value". Sometimes there's just a crazy Red Sox fan who believes Jon Lester is about to go on a run for the ages. It can't hurt to ask. And a player like Romero? At this point you can just drop him in 12 and 10-team leagues.
In H2H (head-to-head formats), you evaluate pitching a bit differently. Especially in H2H points leagues. In a points format, I'd hate to give up any of these players right now (except maybe Romero or Lincecum) because if they bounce back, they can carry you through the playoffs.
In a H2H category league, you have the same worries as in a roto league, but you get to hit the reset button each week. A horrific start can doom you in ERA and WHIP for the week, but that's only two categories. In this format, I'm trying to hold these players if I can, and possibly even keep them on my bench.
Part of the problem is that these pitchers have been so inconsistent that you can't even play the matchups with them. They might get smoked by a light-hitting team and then dominate the Yankees or Rangers. That's why you don't want to take the cumulative hit in roto leagues.
It should go without saying that if anybody will give you even close to full-value for one of these players, you should take the deal as long as it helps your team. Sometimes players just have a bad year. It happens. Sure James Shields was great last year, but that was last year. None of those stats will help you now.
With the trade deadline approaching in many leagues, I would look to shop one of these players as soon as they have a good start. Look what happened to Lincecum and Liriano. They were worth twice as much a week ago. "Selling High" is all about timing, because it's all about perception. Probably more so in fantasy baseball than any other fantasy sport.
What have you been doing with your struggling stars? Have you been actively working the trade market? I'm always interested in this stuff, so please feel free to use the comments feature or reach out on Twitter. Good luck with the rest of your season.
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