I realize we’ve reached Memorial Day and that is often a signpost for people to start reacting to numbers, whether by individuals or what your team as a whole has put up. While I am not against using today as a day to start aggressively looking at your team and trying to pinpoint weaknesses, I would caution that it is still early. If you follow me on Twitter, you have probably seen me lament (whine?) about my terrible pitching staff in my 10-team 4×4 AL Only league. We use just six pitching spots with 4 SP and 2 RP. Comprised initially of Scott Baker, Dallas Braden (qualified RP) Felix Hernandez, David Purcey, Andrew Sonnanstine and Joakim Soria, I watched as my ERA started poorly (4.93 after week 1) and just rose meteorically into the stratosphere (5.49 by week 3 and above 5.00 until week 6). I eventually shuffled Purcey out for Kyle Davies, but he was back to being Kyle Davies by the time I got him. Once Soria hit the DL, I scooped Scott Feldman and Josh Outman, but nothing worked.
Every time I got a nice outing, Sonnanstine was there to completely erase it and then some. Feldman gave me two strong starts, but Sonnanstine wasn’t having any of it. Then Outman comes along and starts throwing brilliantly, but Baker was there in a flash to cut out that nonsense. I was starting to get frustrated as my ERA hovered at, around or above 5.00 deep into May. Finally, I made a real move. I traded some of my offensive depth for another arm. I don’t think there’s a single media outlet that I participate in where I haven’t suggested buying low on Baker and his teammated Kevin Slowey. So I practiced what I was preaching and grabbed Slowey for Shin-Soo Choo. But alas, Baker and Hernandez both crapped the bed in their first starts of the week and I figured here we go again. However, that proved NOT to be a precursor of things to come for the Kramerica Industries. The first starts of Baker and Hernandez would stand as the only non-quality starts out of nine for my team. Feldman and Sonnanstine threw very strong games, each notching a win. Newcomer Slowey enjoyed an excellent debut on my team with his third straight gem going 7+ and grabbing a W.
But the All-Star was Outman (great name for a starting pitcher, btw… much better than Balfour). Coming off of a struggle against Toronto, I picked him up in a free agent buy on May 10th for just a $1 (real $, not FAAB). I targeted him mainly because of his nice K-rate (despite not counting Ks in this league), quality home park and upcoming schedule. He had the lowly Royals, the Rays (who can’t seem to beat lefties according to my good friend Jason Collette… more on that in a second) and the D’Backs. I was set to give him a 3-start audition with the last coming on the day of our next buy. He certainly couldn’t be any worse than what I was getting. Just as I drew it up he beat KC handily, STEAMROLLED the Rays and played with fire (5 BB/0 K) & escaped against the D’Backs. The latter two came in week 7 giving him 13+ IP of 0.66 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. Back to the Rays vs. southpaws for a minute. Though I went with Collette on that one as he’s a diehard Rays fan, I was blown away when I saw that the Rays actually have the most runs scored against lefties by a wide margin. That said, Outman got the best of them, lefty Brett Anderson wasn’t terribly sharp by still got his first major-league win and Dallas Braden was strong through seven but the Rays beat up righties Andrew Bailey and Brad Ziegler to salvage a win in the 3-game set.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Hernandez and Baker redeemed themselves on Sunday going a combined 16+ innings allowing just four runs and 15 base runners good for a 2.21 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 2 wins. All told, my six starters went 60+ innings of 3.12 ERA and 1.17 WHIP while going 6-2. I lowered my ERA from 4.98 to 4.60 and my WHIP from 1.42 to 1.37 which brings me back to my original point: it is still early enough that a strong week can drastically move the needle on your numbers. This was a very good week for my starters, but it wasn’t some otherworldly performance that can’t be duplicated a couple more times in the next month or so. Yes at-bat and inning totals are piling up as we get ready to flip the calendar to June, but don’t give up on a category and just say, “Oh it’s too late, I’m buried in that… might as well forget about it.” If you’re going to do that, you might as well forget about your season.
Another tip, and this works especially well for offensive categories, is to sort through your league history and see what the winning total was a year ago. See how the top team in your standings is currently pacing. Chances are they are set to blow last year’s winning mark out of the water meaning they are likely to regress. Check your pace as well. We’re about 30% through the season which means there is still a TON of time left and outside of a team just LITTERED with catastrophic injuries, no one should be throwing in the towel yet.