Fantasy baseball: Don’t draft starting pitchers early

Michael Wacha
Michael Wacha is a good get in later rounds.
Credit: Getty Images

Chicks dig the long ball, and that’s a fantastic reason to load up on hitters early in your draft. But it’s not the only one.

Optimal fantasy baseball draft strategy has long stated that we value the bats early, attack pitching later and save closers for last. Why? Read on:

Everyday consistency

Pitchers affect your fantasy stats once every five days and hitters affect them every single day. It’s a simple concept, but one that is lost on far too many owners. On top of that, the year-to-year consistency of hitters is far greater. Even elite pitchers like Tim Lincecum and Justin Verlander succumb to arm troubles and dips in velocity often, while the best hitters are a near lock to bat within a range of their career averages. Outside of Clayton Kershaw, there’s not a single pitcher I’d target in the first four rounds.

Who to attack

OK, so we’re going to wait until the middle rounds to compile our pitching staff. That strategy only works if we hit on the right guys. We’re looking for talented arms on good teams (wins is a stat dictated by outside factors) that ideally throw in pitcher-friendly parks. Give me a few pitchers from the Jordan Zimmermann, Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Wacha and Shelby Miller tier and I’ll be thrilled.

Streaming

Inevitably, there are going to be some atrocious offenses in baseball this season. The Astros, Marlins and Cubs immediately come to mind. The advantage of having droppable pitchers on our roster is that we can simply “stream” in No. 4 or No. 5 starters against these teams. It’s an especially effective strategy in head-to-head formats, where we can dominate the wins and strikeout categories on a weekly basis while also having a good shot at ERA and WHIP — despite not using high picks on a pitcher.

 

NBA pickups

1. Patty Mills, PG, Spurs — With Tony Parker shut down, the sharpshooting Mills will get 26 to 30 minutes nightly.

2. Nate Wolters, PG, Bucks — Larry Drew is committed to quietly impressive Wolters. He is getting 33 minutes per game over the last eight games.

3. Ben McLemore, SG, Kings — Sacramento traded away Marcus Thornton Wednesday, paving the way for their rookie.

The stocks of these guys could be sky high by Friday:

1. Darren Collison, PG, Clippers – If he goes to the Knicks in an Iman Shumpert/Raymond Felton deal, starter’s minutes will follow.

2. James Johnson, SF, Grizzlies – The Grizz could move Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince – and be better off thanks to JJ.

3. C.J. Miles, SG, Cavaliers — Luol Deng is an impending free agent that is no lock to re-sign with the Cavs. They could bail.

Follow fantasy sports writer Adam Levitan on Twitter @adamlevitan.


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