Welcome back to The Rosin Bag—our weekly Pitcher List mailbag!
Holy prospect call-ups Batman! This is quite literally something I found myself saying (in private of course…) more than once in the last couple of weeks. The farm system floodgates have opened up and we have a slew of guys hitting the majors, and I’m sure there are more to come even still. In my leagues, I’ve seen owners tossing FAAB around with reckless abandon, established veterans getting dropped for the shiny new toy, and trade after trade as every owner scrambles to get a piece of the prospect pie. Now of course, this is a more relevant question for those of us who play in redraft leagues. It’s safe to say that in keeper and dynasty leagues most high end prospects worth a look are already rostered.
The big question is, how should you navigate this maelstrom of transactions, add/drops, call-ups, etc.? If you’ve ever read this mailbag before, then you know I like to preach the value of examining your own team and league context closely. In some leagues, owners could be all over prospects and have them stashed on the end of their bench. Other leagues may be the total opposite and have owners putting priority on players currently in the majors. Obviously, the ideal would be to have a prospect stashed prior to their call-up, but again, based on your team context, you might not be able to spare the bench spot for someone who may or may not be helpful in the near future. So in redraft leagues, when a guy gets the call and is available via free agency, I tend to take a more conservative approach to placing FAAB bids on him simply because it feels like I’m more likely to miss on a guy than hit.
One more thing on this topic, but I feel it’s often an overlooked one. So often we feel this pressure to place the large bid on the call-up for fear of missing out on the next Juan Soto. That’s where our eyes go when looking at the league transactions. I alluded to this already, but lost in the shuffle are the players that get end up getting cut in favor of the shiny new toy. Don’t forget that impatient owners cut really good (yet slumping) players all the time. Their impatience can pay off in a huge way for you as you swoop in and grab their guy on the cheap!
With that, let’s get to this week’s batch of questions!
All questions are either submitted via our Discord channel or through email to email@example.com
From Knucklebear: When is it a good time to give up and rebuild in a dynasty?
From Matt Nielsen: When is it time to sell in a keeper league? Once you decide to full-sell, is it better to sell early or wait until the deadline when people may be more desperate?
A couple questions this week on dynasty/keeper leagues and when to rebuild or blow things up. I love these questions, as my favorite leagues to play in are dynasty and keeper-style ones. Usually in a dynasty league, a manager would keep their entire major league roster and typically have some sort of minor league system. In a keeper league you would keep just a much smaller portion of your team—maybe 6-12 players. I’m going to focus specifically on dynasty style leagues in this response.
One of the most fun things about dynasty leagues is taking a big old piece of crap team and turning it into a contender. It’s so satisfying to see players you invested in go from dart throws to cornerstones of your team. A lot of young players are dart throw though. So, in a dynasty league, it is important to acquire more or better draft picks as well as better prospects and young players with ceiling when you know you need to rebuild.
If your team is clearly at the bottom of the league, I would begin shopping players almost right away. The key word here is “shopping.” Whether you want to make a league wide announcement, or go to the contending teams individually, make sure you let multiple teams know you are selling. I don’t like to jerk other owners around in trades (because it does make them less likely to want to complete a deal), but there is nothing wrong with letting someone know you put Player X on the market and are shopping him to the contending teams.
Some of you may not have a bottom-dweller team, but you still wonder when is the right time to sell. If you have a team stuck in the middle of the standings, and it’s clear your roster can’t compete with the top dogs, then there is no shame in starting the selling process. Just be smart about which assets you are selling and look at the window where you’d like to compete. I joined a dynasty league a couple of years back and my team wasn’t terrible, but it also wasn’t going to place in the top three. The top three teams were so much better than the rest of the league that it was laughable. I looked around the league and saw all of the middling teams trying so desperately to compete with those top teams and failing miserably. So, I crafted a plan to assemble a team that could compete with them in two to three years. Anyone on my roster who I didn’t see fitting that plan I put on the block and over the course of a couple of months traded away. The hardest part of any rebuild is sitting back and watching your team suck, but if you bail on your rebuild too soon then you will just get stuck in the middle again. We see it happen to MLB teams all the time.
When it came to my aforementioned rebuild, I got some really great deals early in the season and some great ones closer to the trade deadline. The advantage I had was knowing that if I didn’t like an initial deal, I had the luxury of waiting a week or two for another team to enter the trade market. The thing to keep in mind here is that while some owners might offer you more under the pressure of the trading deadline, you might also have fewer trade partners because more teams are looking to next year in the same way you are. My advice, the sooner you can commit to selling the better. Take a good hard look at your league and if you know you can’t compete, pack things up and start shopping.
From Chris F: So far this season, the catcher landscape has not been very good to fantasy owners except for the ones who drafted the top 5. What are your thoughts on punting catchers for a high upside player? So far for me, it’s been working in a 14-teamer. The extra roster space to stash a pitcher has been awesome.
I have never been a fan of punting categories or positions, but you make a really strong argument for doing this given the catcher landscape. I think this really depends on what type of league you are playing in, there are a lot of variables to consider. In a two-catcher league, I just don’t see this working. For me, this would be a more viable strategy in a daily league, especially one with daily pickups. You would miss out on counting stats, but you may not get hurt by a terrible batting average and also have that extra bench spot to stream a pitcher in or stash a more potent bat at another position. This has me really intrigued. I’m not sure I’d try it myself, but I would love to know how it turns out!
From John Mazzoni: Is Luzardo worth a stash in a 12 teamer? Reports said he might not be up until September.
As of this writing, Luzardo is scheduled to throw against live hitters this coming weekend. I’ve seen some estimates for his MLB debut set for the All-Star Break, while other push him back into August. If you have the bench spot, then why not? You can always drop him if needed.
While we are on the subject of pitchers to stash, I’d also consider the following: Jimmy Nelson, A.J. Puk, Matt Manning, and maybe just maybe Casey Mize (I see Mize as the least likely to get the call, but stranger things have happened).
From Cutchamin: What conclusions can you draw when a hitter is striking out a lot more than in the past, and swinging and missing a lot more, but everything else is the same (including O Swing%/Contact and Z Swing%/Contact)?
Without some specific players to examine, this has been a tough question to answer. I tried to find an example of a player who has similar O-Swing% and Contact rates and also has seen an increase in strikeouts. Most of the batters I inspected who have seen an uncharacteristic rise in their strikeout rate saw a decrease in their contact. It is possible that a player has a hole in their swing that pitchers know how to take advantage of. I would be very interested to know if one of these guys saw a change in either the type or location of pitches thrown to them. We’ve seen that in the past, particularly once a pitcher has faced a batter multiple times. If anyone else has any insight on this, please hit up the comments!
From JOttr: Should pitcher streaming be treated differently in Roto than H2H, and if so, how?
Yes—absolutely it should be treated differently. For the sake of this question, I am going to assume you are talking about season long Roto versus H2H categories. For those who don’t know, in Roto you are competing against every other team and accruing stats for the entire season; in H2H you start with a clean slate against a new opponent each week. The first thing I do in H2H is look at my opponent.
Streaming pitchers can be very risky, and if I don’t have to take on that risk to win, I’m not going to. A poor streaming pitcher can absolutely wreck your ratios for the week and do more harm than good, however the nice thing in H2H is that it only affects you for that one week. So if you know by the middle of the week that you are going to lose the ratio categories, then you might as well stream a bunch of pitchers and try and get an edge in Wins or Quality Starts or whatever other categories there are.
With Roto, I tend to cycle through some pitchers with good matchups, but probably not nearly as much as H2H. I really don’t like to stream the more risky pitchers in Roto since you don’t get that weekly ratio reset. I know some guys will argue this the other way and might say that you have the whole season to make up for a bad start.
Another week and another mailbag in the books! If I didn’t get to your question, feel free to hit me up on twitter: @gabezammit
Don’t forget to send in questions via our Discord channel for next week’s mailbag. You can also submit questions by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Good luck in your fantasy leagues and I’ll see you back here next week!
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)