The question in that headline is so loaded it deserves a non-answer: It depends.
There are multiple fronts to attack and multiple strategies to use during the attack on starting pitchers. Many of them are winning strategies. Some of them will cost Ninjas their fantasy lives.I’m sure there are others out there, but let’s take a look at three that have proven effective for me: Pick a Stud, Go Mid-level or Roll the Dice. Every one could make a winner out of you.
Stud, then upside
Picking a stud like Tim Lincecum early could be great for your team, however, don’t even think about picking any of those upper-mid starting pitchers that will be plentiful in the middle of your draft.
You need to rely on Lincecum to be the difference maker you drafted him to be and make up for lost hitter stats. If that makes it sound like you’re playing catch-up, good because you are. However, you have an immediate edge out of your starting pitching and, once out of every five days you know your pitching stats should get a bump like almost no other team in your league.
What makes this a shaky strategy is that you have to strike a critical hit or two with upside picks late in the draft.
Following this method, your pitchers will be a Roy Halladay-type paired with upside starters late, guys like David Price, Jonathan Sanchez, JA Happ, Wade Davis, Matt Latos, Stephen Strasburg and Shaun Marcum.
Go mid-upper or go home
Waiting to pick a couple or three of those upper-mid starters is your best bet. Typically, this lets you take advantage of how the draft flows. Sometimes it’s better to buck trends, but you also need to grab talent where there is talent.
If you went with a handful of second- and third-level starters, your pitching staff would include three players in the Jon Lester, Javier Vazquez, Chris Carpenter, Yovani Gallardo, Matt Cain, Jake Peavy, Matt Garza mold.
In this scenario you can fill out your rotation with one or two solid veterans, like Randy Wolf and Gavin Floyd, and one or two upside picks, like Price, Sanchez, Davis or Neftali Feliz.
Roll the dice
You could go into the draft with no strategy and just wing it. Obviously, this is the most fun and flexible of all the options — the most Ninja of the three, if you will. However, your level of success is directly affected by your fantasy baseball knowledge. More specifically, you need to know your starting pitchers.
Maybe you’ve crunched every advanced statistic and memorized Justin Verlander‘s FIP for every season of his career. You know that Verlander is going to at least match his great season from last year, making him a Lincecum/Halladay type, only available 20 picks later. Your leaguemates say you are picking Verlander a little too early.
You know you’re not.
Your research has also given you irrefutable evidence that Jorge de la Rosa was as good as advertised last year and will be a top 10 pitcher, so you’ll draft him a round or two ahead of where the rankings have him.
You follow this same method throughout the draft, stretching a little here or there to get the players you feel are going to advance to the next level or are undervalued for whatever reason.
After completing this attack, you will feel the best you possibly can about your starting pitchers. Sure, you’ll probably miss out on a couple of your targets, but you will have a collection of players you’ve studied and know were the right pick.
But be cautious. It’s easy as a fantasy player to find all of the statistics that support your theorem and none that disprove it. Like marching headfirst into battle, this will get you cut down pretty quick.
Mixing in a boring pick or two could save you from utter disaster.
What method do you use when drafting starting pitchers?