The perception of starting pitching depth on a fantasy baseball team is the same mirage that exists with respect to depth at running back in fantasy football leagues. You are always one pitch or one carry away from being in a bind. With pitchers, it could be age and frailty such as with Andy Pettitte and Jake Peavy. Or perhaps it is flawed mechanics that have caused your fantasy ace, Stephen Strasburg, to start drawing comparisons to Mark Prior. From forearm tightness to sore shoulders, fantasy GMs are constantly trying to avoid season-ending injuries to their starting pitchers. On the other hand, running backs are just a few fumbles or a lethal hit away from being relegated to the bench. The mere sight of your player on the week’s injury report will send many GM’s running to the waiver wire. In the end, GM’s who thought they had plenty of depth at the position realize how shallow their rosters really are.
Coming into this fantasy baseball season, the best advice I received was to grab as many quality starting pitchers as possible. Sure, draft the great position players early but make sure I stockpile as many arms as I could because you never know when injuries may occur. I heeded this advice throughout the season thus far and picked up additional quality starting pitching even though I thought I had sufficient depth at the position to start the year. I drafted Adam Wainwright, Max Scherzer, Jake Peavy, Brandon Morrow, Julio Teheran, Andy Pettitte, Jason Hammel, and Dan Haren. I quickly dropped Hammel and Haren for Shelby Miller and Justin Masterson. I then dropped Pettitte for Patrick Corbin as I didn’t want another injury prone starter in my rotation.
We all knew Peavy was eventually going to be on the disabled list…we just didn’t know when. Drafting Peavy was the equivalent of drafting Ryan Mathews or Darren McFadden in a fantasy football league. Doing either of these things requires you back them up with quality options. Peavy had been performing well up until his last two outings. I was relieved it was an injury (non-displaced rib fracture) and not ineffectiveness that caused his recent poor outings.
Well, the dreaded time has come for many fantasy owners including myself. While I lost Peavy to the DL, he was not alone. Johnny Cueto, Stephen Strasburg and Brendon Morrow were also placed on the disabled list. Morrow’s DL stint is a blessing after the way he has pitched. But for Cueto, he just recently came back and started to look like his old self. However, Strasburg is the one that scares me the most. He was likely drafted very high and was counted on to perform at an almost Verlander/Kershaw level. That hasn’t happened up to date and now he is injured again. I’m pretty sure GM’s are cursing at themselves watching Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki tearing it up while Strasburg is on the mend.
I am happy to roll out my rotation week after week and try and weather this injury storm. I am reluctant to trade my pitching because this is what can happen. I may think I’m six deep at quality starters, but I’m always one pitch, batted ball, or slip in the shower away from combing the waiver wire.
This article was originally featured at www.FantasyJudgment.com