Robinson Cano is suffering a mini slump at the worst possible time for his fantasy owners, but you better keep him in your lineups.
You are reading this message because you advanced to your fantasy baseball championship. Six months of scouting, ranking, drafting, sitting, starting, trading and waiver wire scouring brought you here. Now you have 10 days to bring home some hardware.
Here's my advice: If you are reading this, you must be doing something right; keep doing it.
Don't let your jealous rivals write your success off as luck.
Sure, you probably didn't expect R.A. Dickey to be a Cy Young Award candidate when you picked him up as a free agent. Rookie of the Year might have been on the minds of optimists who stashed Mike Trout, but certainly not a potential MVP. And you're lying if you say you thought Jim Johnson would lead all of major league baseball in saves when you grabbed him at the tail end of your draft.
Yes, luck does play a factor in fantasy sports, but skill still trumps all. Luck alone doesn't carry you all the way to a championship.
Again, you must be doing something right.
To win your league title, look back at how you managed your team all season. Did you stream starters or roll with a solid rotation? What categories did your offense dominate? Did you play match ups and hot streaks or just one consistent lineup?
These are the questions to consider as you navigate the final 10 days. You can also look specifically at how you managed against the team you are facing in the championship.
If it's not broke, don't fix it.
A big temptation for fantasy managers during a title match is to over manage. You see the raised stakes and want to do everything in your power to perform. You react by trying to beat the system with supposedly sneaky strategy. You outsmart yourself by playing a hot Adam Eaton over a slumping Hunter Pence.
Now is not the time to get cute. Trust your game plan.
Think of championship like prom and dance with the one who took you there. That goes for both strategy and players.
Here are two real-life scenarios to learn from.
1. Stick to Your Strategy
You made the unfortunate decision to start championship week off by streaming in Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Marco Estrada against the Washington Nationals. Your ERA now sits at a robust 13.50 and you can buy bread at a cheaper price than your 2.50 WHIP. The loss only came with three strikeouts, so you're sunk across the board.
A poor pick early in the week like this can sour any manager the the strategy of streaming pitchers. You may be tempted to scrap that idea and just go with whoever you have left on your roster.
Sorry, but you are now committed. The only way to correct those nasty ratios is to use a high volume of pitchers. Your ERA and WHIP will balance out with every additional start. You will pile up wins and strikeouts along the way.
The playoff format only requires you to win one more category than your opponent. In 5x5 leagues, you need to win six. In 7x7 leagues, you need to win eight. Margin of victory does not matter.
Streaming pitchers every day will ensure you win two categories by sheer volume: wins and strikeouts. Don't pass up the opportunity to take two valuable points to the bank. Keeping your ratios near the league average also keeps the door open for a big week if one of your opponent's few arms also turns in a disaster outing.
2. Start Your Studs
I'm looking at you, Robinson Cano owners owners. Don't even think about sitting your slumping stud for a hot waiver wire grab like Pete Kozma.
If one of your stars is playing hurt, sitting hurt or getting a day of rest for in preparation for October, then yes, of course you can sit him. But if your star is healthy and in his MLB lineup, he better be in your lineup as well.
Don't fuss over pitching match ups, either. You're playing Adrian Beltre against Jered Weaver and you're starting Weaver against the Texas Rangers. Save the match up scouting for your replacement options.
Make decisions you can live with. Don't lose a championship with your studs on the bench.