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MLB Baseball Column: Closer by Committee

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September 30, 2012
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Short Week Strategy

Walter Mosch
Senior Writer, Fantrax

The flast week of baseball’s marathon regular season is upon us and there is very little that is a sure thing for the final three days – especially regarding probable pitching matchups and team batting orders. Similar to the NFL’s infamous “Week 17”, many teams have nothing to play for, either because they have already clinched their standing in the playoffs, or because they are simply a week away from teeing off at their country club of choice. Teams will often save their young pitchers’ arms after a long, grueling season or they will have them on a pitch count in preparation for their upcoming playoff series. However, with the addition of an extra wild card in each league, more teams than normal are slated to be in contention for the last series of the season. In 2012, the MLB regular season ends this Wednesday, meaning that there are just three games for each MLB club and no pitcher will be making two starts before the end of the season. With that in mind, let’s break down the current situation.

As of Sunday morning, San Francisco has clinched the NL West and Cincinnati has done likewise in the NL Central.  Washington has a magic number of one and Atlanta is setting up their rotation so that white-hot Kris Medlen can pitch in a one-game playoff on Friday.  The AL races look much more muddled – although Texas is 2.5 games up and has a doubleheader slated for Sunday.

What does all that portend for Fantasy managers?  It means that you should try and throw as many starting pitchers as possible this week.  If you have more than six available, you should throw the best six – regardless of salary.  That means the likes of C.C. Sabathia (3110), Cliff Lee (2890), and Clayton Kershaw (3040) should all be in your line-up this week.  In a three-game week, starting pitchers have the most value in the points format as they have the potential to score as many as 30 points for the week.  Hitters will have to average 10 points per game to reach that threshold.

This is a week when it is extremely important to check MLB.com or whatever website you use to ascertain who the probable pitchers are for the short week.  More than in any other week of the season, recognize that the probable starters for this week are an educated guess.  If you have more than six starters available and are trying to choose among hurlers for your last slot, recognize that - all things being equal – a Wednesday start is more precarious than one slated for Monday or Tuesday.  Wednesday rainouts will not be rescheduled unless there are playoff implications.  Hiroki Kuroda is tentatively scheduled to go on Wednesday, but he is likely to be on a pitch count or a 5-inning limit if the Yankees clinch the division by Tuesday.

If you have fewer than six starters available, then I would recommend using your cheapest option available - Chris Sale (1190) or Matt Moore (1350) - to fill out your line-up.  If you have a “dead spot” in your line-up then you essentially want to use as little cap space as possible in order to play the best hitters available on your roster.

When choosing among hitters to play for the coming week, be aware that teams that have already clinched a spot in the post-season will likely be giving their starters a blow as they get ready for the start of the Division Series on Saturday.  That means that Yadier Molina is a superior play to Buster Posey this week.  Expect the likes of Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce to get a day off as the Reds rest their regulars in preparation for the playoffs.

It’s been a singular pleasure to write these weekly columns in tandem with my son, Chris – truly a labor of love.  There’s nothing more quintessentially American than fathers and sons sharing a love for the National Pastime.  It’s often said that to play Fantasy baseball effectively, you have to treat the six-month season as a marathon rather than a sprint.  Hopefully, it's been a joyous trek for you and with the finish line in sight, you are in a position to collect some prize money.  If not, then it’s always best to adopt the mantra made famous by the old Brooklyn Dodgers – “Wait till next year!”  See you then.

 

Walter has written about Fantasy Points Challenge games for fantasy sites such as The Hot Sheet and Owner's Edge.

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BrunosNaturals Oct 1, 2012 6:16:20 PM EDT
I agree with Sixpack. You guys always get to the point and most important the opinions apply to the Fantrax games. Thanks to you and Fantrax. Best fantasy imo.
SIXPACK Oct 1, 2012 5:26:16 PM EDT
Walter and Chris....... thank you very much for sharing your insight. You guys are a class act and the very best to each of you till we meet again come spring time. Bob Oberlin

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