By Jake Ciely
Let’s deal ‘em up!
As we settle into this dead zone we call the NFL offseason and MLB pre- preseason, we’re left with testing the daily NBA or NHL games or waiting for baseball to start. I’m in the latter category, as the last time I tinkered with NBA, I found out that I had an ungodly knack for picking players who fouled too much early or left games due to injuries. So this offseason, I’m going to spend my time studying for the MLB 2014 season and sharing insights to help you win.
Your first tip for 2014? Stay away from the elite pitchers!
Simply put, there is no reason to spend so much on the top-notch pitchers. By grabbing one of the expensive arms, you hamper your ability to build a quality-hitting lineup. You’re forced to dig and attempt to get lucky with matchups and inconsistent hitters. And yes, I know that any daily lineup needs a few of those types anyway… but I said a “few.” Often, grabbing a pitcher at the top means you need an entire lineup of those types.
Not only does the price associated handcuff your options elsewhere, it doesn’t even guarantee production. My favorite example from last season is Clayton Kershaw. There is no doubt that the man is the best pitcher in baseball right now. Yet, as good as Kershaw is, we simply need to look at his third appearance against the Padres. Actually, his first and second could be included as well. So let’s.
In Kershaw’s first start against the Padres, he entered 2-1 with a 1.16 ERA. Kershaw gave up five runs (three earned) in 5.1 IP with just five Ks, which ended in a loss. Most sites had Kershaw finishing with a single-digit performance; some even had a negative-scoring outcome. In his second showing, Kershaw fared better – 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 9 K – but he still suffered a loss and poor scoring. His third start against them had to be better right? After all, Kershaw had a 1.84 ERA going in with 104 Ks in 107.0 IP. Plus, the game was in San Diego. Well, not so fast. Kershaw against lost the game with 6.0 IP, 4 ER and 7 Ks. That’s three showings against one of the weaker hitting teams (seventh lowest in runs), all in pitcher-friendly parks, especially the third game. Meanwhile, we saw mid-level options such as Bartolo Colon, C.J. Wilson, Chris Tillman, etc. post a high number of wins, while notching some high-scoring shutouts.
There are tons of examples where elite pitchers struggled and/or mid-to-low level pitchers dominated a favorable matchup. The fact remains, you just don’t need to spend big on pitching. Play the matchups and/or the “hot arm” and make sure you have a quality selection of hitters.