Tout Table: Tough Decisions

We’re down to the nitty-gritty and sometimes we have to make difficult roster moves. There is less margin of error, so this week, we asked the Touts:

Have you made any tough drops or benchings of top players this month?

Ryan Bloomfield (BaseballHQ, @RyanBHQ): Of course! Choosing your drops can be just as tough as placing your bids (and it’s a bad feeling to drop somebody, only to have them come back and haunt you on a different team). That said, it’s fair to be agressive on drops for anyone missing over a week at this point (looking at you, AJ Pollock). You should be even more aggressive dropping pitchers (Kershaw a prime example), as there’s not much time to build up to a point where they can go 5+ innings to qualify for a win or rack up a meaningful number of Ks.

Derek Carty (RotoGrinders, @DerekCarty): Not yet, unless you count Miles Mikolas in NL-only, who over a full-season would be a $5-10 player, but it’s coming. As you get late in the season, remaining matchups become crucial for pitchers. My Giants pitchers like Alex Wood and Logan Webb have a tough schedule ahead, Kyle Hendricks has some tough matchups, and so I’m certainly considering dropping otherwise good pitchers in the final couple weeks of the year if they project to hurt my team more than they help it as a result of context.

Rick Wolf (Fantasy Alarm, @RickWolf1): In Tout AL, we had to drop Shane Bieber even though he may pitch a couple of games this season. We needed to collect the FAAB to protect from other teams getting pitchers off the FAAB wire. Always tough to drop your lone ace.

Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): It’s never easy to bench a player who you drafted as a corner stone to your team, but if you are in contention right now you do what is needed. Case in point is Yu Darvish..watching him pitch to a ERA over 11 over the last month has made him difficult to rely on down the stretch where ERA points are seperated by a hundredth of a point.

Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): No, because if they are “top” players than they should be projected for a strong final month, regardless of how they have performed over a small sample of five months this season.

Michael A. Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): I drafted Jarred Kelenic in almost every league I am in, and it finally got to the point I had to let him go in non-keeper leagues. He has not proven he can hit Major League pitching thus far, and his batting average became an albatross. I dropped him in a couple leagues and benched him in some others. I also let go of Gary Sanchez in a couple league for the same reason as I could not justify keeping him rostered at this point.

Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): Not this year, but many times in past seasons. Almost always to protect ratio categories, but sometimes to try to hustle an extra HR here or Win there. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

Fred Zinkie (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @FredZinkieMLB): I haven’t dropped a true star, but I have sent Adam Frazier, Sean Manaea and Isiah Kiner-Falefa to waivers in 15-team leagues. Cody Bellinger can start packing his bags, because I’m counting down the hours until I drop him on Sunday!

Brad Johnson (Patreon/BaseballATeam, @BaseballATeam): Tommy Pham is back to mostly bench duty for me in a 15-team dynasty league. He and Eugenio Suarez built a deep hole in batting average for me to climb out of – the only reason I’m not soundly winning the league. Since July 20, Pham is hitting .148/.266/.270. Truly dreadful stuff. In his place, I’m using Josh Rojas, Jo Adell, or Chas McCormick most days.

D.J. Short (NBC Sports Edge, @djshort): We’ve definitely reached that time. There are certainly the obvious injured players who no longer warrant your patience, but it’s also about admitting defeat with players you had high expectations for going into the year. For me, that would be the likes of Dom Smith and Jarred Kelenic. With Smith, he’s being pushed into part-time duty now that Jeff McNeil is playing a lot of left field. And with Kelenic, at this stage in his development I don’t have the confidence that he can do any better than a hunch waiver wire pickup. So yes, we’re just at the time of year where you are being realistic about opportunity and production.

Nick Pollack (Pitcher List, @PitcherList): It’s the hardest decision we have to make in September. Sadly, there’s a gaunlet of tough opponents of the horizon for many arms (e.g. Anthony DeSclafani and Chris Paddack) and it would be unwise to not scour the wire before blindly keeping them on your roster.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): I’ve had to bench Dansby Swanson which I thought I would never have to do this season. Like the Atlanta Braves, he’s slipped into the abyss. Once a top 10 player this season, he has not been the same player after Ronald Acuna Jr. went out with a season ending injury.

Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): Generally no – between injuries and COVID, most lineup decisions are pretty clear-cut, even when you’re targeting a specific category or two. In an AL-only league I’m in I benched Craig Kimbrel recently because I need Wins and Saves more than the ratio and K help he provides.

Geoff Pontes (Razzball, @ProspectJesus): I traded for Nick Pivetta in a keeper league due to his RP+SP eligibility. With limited DL spots and a competitive roster in a head to head points leagueI had to cut bait. Knowing I moved capital to add him and then cutting him during the semi-finals week was a tough pill. On the bright side I added Joe Ryan.

Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): Nothing too terrible thankfully this year. I suspect though that the majority of these decisions arise from injury rather than poor play.

Glenn Colton (Fantasy Alarm, @GlennColton1): Rick Wolf and I had to decide by August 31 whether to take the FAAB rebate on Shane Beiber in Tout AL. Tough to lose your ace (70% of our pitching expense on draft day) but we decided that the Cleveland baseball franchise was either unlikely to push Shane back or unlikely to push him to 5+ IP needed for wins if he did come back. We fear he goes out and does his thing for 3-4 starts and get 5+ K even in short outings but the opportunity to have the FAAB hammer in September was too much to pass up. We shall see how it works out.

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): Operative word for me is “tough”–nothing tough about it, you just have to make the best call you can with the information you have. Easy to do in redraft leagues–no time left for putzing around. In my dynasty, it is not drops as much as benching active players who are not getting it done (Bellinger and Hendricks are primary among those) but these are not hard decisions, really, imo.

Jason Collette (Rotowire, @jasoncollette): Through September 8th, 59% of wins have been assigned to relief pitchers in September. That has flipped the script from the first half of the season when 60% of wins went to starters. I’m taking the stance that 1-start pitchers, regardless of pedigree, are not auto-starts this week over high-performing relievers on contending teams.

Zach Steinhorn (CreativeSports2, @zachsteinhorn): Mike Moustakas might not fall under the “top player” category but when I spent $14 to roster him in Mixed Auction Tout Wars, I didn’t expect to bench a healthy Moose under any circumstances. But I also didn’t expect him to lose everyday player status, sitting against left-handed pitching. I’ve already benched him in weeks where the Reds faced three or more southpaws and will continue to do so over the season’s final three weeks. Maybe being without Moustakas for most of the year due to injury has made this lineup decision easier.

Derek VanRiper (The Athletic, @DerekVanRiper): Add me to the list of people who have had to make the difficult decision to drop Shane Bieber. The circumstances for me were a keeper league where I’m battling three other teams for the title, the added roster flexibility to max out in whatever category I wanted to chase in a particular week outweighed the limited value of a few late-season innings, which are no guarantee. Back in the first half, I strongly considered dropping Mike Trout for a billion in FAAB for the mixed Tout Wars auction, but talked myself out of it since the timetables at then pointed toward an August return. Going forward, I’m wondering how much team quality needs to be in the calculus with injuries that carry 8+ week timetables. Regardless, I was wrong about waiting it out with Trout in this instance, and even more wrong about the direction of Anaheim back in June.

Toby Guevin (BatFlipCrazy Podcast, @batflipcrazy): The most difficult drops have been moving on from the elite starting pitchers with some uncertainty about their possible return, particularly deGrom and Bieber, both of whom I dropped a month ago. You always risk missing out on good starts if they come back in time, but in the majority of instances, most pitchers in situations like Bieber and deGrom won’t come back to pitch meaningful regular season innings and the roster slot in non-IL leagues is important. The other tough drop was Kyle Hendricks, who I dropped a couple weeks ago in 15-team league. Hendricks hasn’t been himself with his control and with his Ks down and now on a bad team, there just aren’t a lot of ways for him to contribute. I’d rather have a RP who can give me similar Ks with less risk of a gnarly start. Finally, there have been some decent hitters who’ve found themselves in platoons, and at this point in the season, every day PAs can give you an important advantage, so I’ve moved on (Eugenio Suarez comes to mind as an example).

Shelly Verougstraete (Dynasty Guru, @ShellyV_643): I’ve been lucky and haven’t had to bench ‘stars’ like Cody Bellinger. However, in some leagues with wins as a catagory, I’ve been benching ‘ho-hum’ starters for relievers that have been picking up wins.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): My toughest drop was Xander Bogaerts, as soon as it appeared he was going to be out a bit with COVID-19. Bogaerts has seemingly been playing with a sore wrist over the second half which greased the skids a bit. Further, I was able to pick up Nicky Lopez and since I needed steals, the move was rather serenpipitous. In retrospect, maybe dropping Bogaerts wasn’t so difficult after all.

Tout Wars FAB Results: September 12

Football shmootball – there are still three weeks left in the MLB regular season and the Touts have work to do.

Here are the winning bids for this week’s free agent run. If you want to check out the standings, roster and all the moves, just click on the league header and you’ll be transported through cyberspace onto the OnRoto web site.

American League

AAlexy, TexLarry Schechter 94
LGil, NYYRick Wolf/Glenn Colton 56
PNaughton, LAARob Leibowitz 53
HRobles, BosChris Liss 35
MPineda, MinDoug Dennis 35
JSuarez, LAARick Wolf/Glenn Colton 22
DEnns, TBRyan Bloomfield 5
SZavala, CWSJason Collette 4
NPearson, TorChris Liss 3
LLuetge, NYYJason Collette 2
TWalls, TBRick Wolf/Glenn Colton 2
LRengifo, LAARick Wolf/Glenn Colton 2
TDuffey, MinPatrick Davitt 0
TWade, NYYPatrick Davitt 0
DRobertson, TBPatrick Davitt 0
TMayza, TorPatrick Davitt 0

National League

MDubon, SFPeter Kreutzer 53
LDiaz, MiaDerek Carty 31
CWelker, ColTristan H. Cockcroft 20
SBeer, AriTodd Zola 17
VCaratini, SDLenny Melnick  11
HRamos, AriPeter Kreutzer 8
JKelly, LADPhil Hertz 3
AVesia, LADPhil Hertz 3

Mixed Salary Cap

LThomas, WasJeff Zimmerman 101
DPeters, TexBrent Hershey 37
LGil, NYYIan Kahn 36
DSteckenrider, SeaZach Steinhorn 22
AChafin, OakBrent Hershey 12
TRogers, SFZach Steinhorn 12
RWick, ChCJeff Zimmerman 11

Mixed Draft

SBeer, AriShelly Verougstraete 25
JMayfield, LAACharlie Wiegert 23
JLester, StLCharlie Wiegert 23
MMinor, KCSeth Trachtman 4
AAshby, MilShelly Verougstraete 3
CHeuer, ChCShelly Verougstraete 3
PNaughton, LAATim McLeod 2
KRuiz, WasScott White 0
JGray, ColScott White 0
JSuarez, LAATim McLeod 0

Head to Head

JRyan, MinFrank Stampfl 47
DFloro, MiaAriel Cohen 36
LThomas, WasFrank Stampfl 12
AAlexy, TexClay Link 0
JSuarez, LAAClay Link 0

Mixed with IP & Saves+Holds

BBuxton, MinRay Flowers 18
LGil, NYYJennifer Piacenti 13
RDevers, BosBrian Entrekin 5
BMiller, PhiRay Flowers 3
HNeris, PhiRay Flowers 2
LThomas, WasBrian Entrekin 1
DPeters, TexBrian Entrekin 0

Tout Wars Head 2 Head Brackets

The play-in round is complete.

The results

Clay Link advances in a close match that was nip and tuck all Sunday to face Ariel Cohen, in a matchup of last year’s finalists.

And Frank Stampfl bests Nick Pollack to face Ralph Lifshitz in Round Two.

Recent results suggest that regular season champ and 2020 champ Ariel Cohen has to be favored. Point totals for recent weeks?

Cohen: 477, 421, 500.5, 329.5
Link: 315, 274, 343.5, 296.5

Stampf: 407, 300, 450.5, 322
Lifshitz: 380, 307.5, 342.5, 400.5

Give the edge to Cohen, but in Head 2 Head anything can happen. (Ask Andrea LaMont, who this year scored the second-highest number of points and didn’t make the playoffs. Her recent totals?

LaMont: 397.5, 440, 379.5, 454.5.

Wait til next year Andrea. You had a great season.

Tout Wars FAB Report: September 5

It may be a holiday weekend, but that didn’t stop the Touts from fortifying their rosters. Here are the winning bids. As always, click on the league headers to be magically transported to each league’s standings, rosters and fill slate of moves on OnRoto, our scoring service.

American League

JKowar, KCRick Wolf/Glenn Colton 62
GSheets, CWSLarry Schechter 61
JMarmolejos, SeaLarry Schechter 61
HCastro, DetRick Wolf/Glenn Colton 27
SBieber, ClePatrick Davitt 22
KDavis, OakRyan Bloomfield 21
MMaldonado, HouRyan Bloomfield 14
JRyan, MinJeff Erickson 13
SArmstrong, TBRyan Bloomfield 5
LAllen, CleDoug Dennis 4
DanJohnson, CleRick Wolf/Glenn Colton 2
JBrentz, KCRob Leibowitz 0
ACimber, TorRob Leibowitz 0
JArauz, BosMike Gianella 0

National League

CTucker, PitPhil Hertz 63
HHembree, NYMLenny Melnick  50
HPark, PitPeter Kreutzer 33
ZMcKinstry, LADSteve Gardner 30
JWoodford, StLTodd Zola 17
JFamilia, NYMPhil Hertz 11
MSchrock, CinTodd Zola 7
MVierling, PhiScott Wilderman 7
PEvans, PitPeter Kreutzer 3
RMarchan, PhiPeter Kreutzer 3
LJackson, AtlPeter Kreutzer 2
DDeShields, CinTristan H. Cockcroft 0
PMazeika, NYMTristan H. Cockcroft 0

Mixed Salary Cap

YTsutsugo, PitIan Kahn 41
JRyan, MinZach Steinhorn 38
ESosa, StLDerek VanRiper 22
DRuf, SFIan Kahn 16
CEstevez, ColZach Steinhorn 13

Mixed Draft

LTaveras, TexCharlie Wiegert 131
RWick, ChCCharlie Wiegert 111
YDiaz, TBRudy Gamble 27
LThomas, WasShelly Verougstraete 25
JKowar, KCShelly Verougstraete 25
PEspino, WasPerry Van Hook 23
BWilson, PitD.J. Short 18
HBader, StLScott White 8
KArihara, TexPerry Van Hook 7
JMeyers, HouScott White 6
AAlexy, TexAdam Ronis 6
JRyan, MinAdam Ronis 6
AStevenson, WasPerry Van Hook 3
LSims, CinTim McCullough 3
AChafin, OakTim McCullough 2
SAlcantara, ChCPerry Van Hook 1
GSheets, CWSSeth Trachtman 1
ERosario, AtlSeth Trachtman 1
JLuzardo, MiaSeth Trachtman 1

Head to Head

LTaveras, TexRalph Lifshitz 68
LUrias, MilAriel Cohen 43
PEspino, WasAriel Cohen 35
AOttavino, BosAriel Cohen 33
NSolak, TexGreg Jewett 27
JVillar, NYMFrank Stampfl 17
JSteele, ChCFrank Stampfl 13
RMarchan, PhiRalph Lifshitz 12
AKirk, TorGreg Jewett 9
KFinnegan, WasGreg Jewett 3
BBelt, SFGreg Jewett 1
ECabrera, MiaClay Link 0

Mixed with IP & Saves+Holds

LGurriel, TorJennifer Piacenti 31
JBarlow, TexAndy Behrens 21
JKowar, KCJennifer Piacenti 21
CRodon, CWSAlex Fast 20
MGivens, CinAndy Behrens 16
NSolak, TexRay Flowers 11
SMatz, TorRay Flowers 9
ECabrera, MiaBrian Entrekin 7
MCanha, OakBrian Entrekin 6
THouck, BosBrian Entrekin 4
RUrias, BalAl Melchior 1

Tout Table: Choosing Bats Down the Stretch

As a follow up to the last Tout Table on Pitching, the Touts were asked:

How do you go about deciding what hitters to have active and is the process any different now than it was earlier in the season?

Brent Hershey (Baseball HQ, @BrentHQ): I start reading the tea leaves from an MLB-team playing time perspective more than earlier in the season. Much more consideration this time of year to which MLB squads are in the playoff hunt, and which ones are not, and how that affects MLB playing time. It’s not the only example, but many gains to be had from ID’ing out-of-the-race teams and looking for which positions they are holding early 2022 auditions for. Rangers outfielders; Nationals infielders, etc. And note that the players getting longer looks might not always be prospects.

Brad Johnson (Patreon/BaseballATeam, @BaseballATeam): I think the biggest difference relates to playing the scoreboard. We know exactly where we have leads and deficits in the standings and should be able to calculate which of those can change. Generally (though not always), I’ll use more volatile players over safe choices if I need to overcome specific deficits. An example of that would look something like using Hunter Renfroe over Bryan Reynolds if I know I need to max out power. Conversely, if I’m preserving leads, I’ll check the standings often and plan accordingly – you never know when a rival is going to catch a huge performance and change your plans.

Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): Playing time decisions are pretty periodic in nature, so the best bet is to look at your players’ teams **at the moment** to decide who might play and who might not. In general, it might be true that teams in playoff contention are less enthusiastic about bringing in new young talent, and that teams out of the running will want to “see what they have” for next year and/or want to protect their veterans from adding wear and tear in a lost cause. But while those factors are generally probably true, they are rules that are bound to have a ton of exceptions because of specific circumstances. So in a weekly-moves league, sit down on Sunday (or whenever) and go through your player’s teams and see if there are any extenuating circumstances that supercede the general rules.

Peter Kreutzer (Ask Rotoman, Fantasy Baseball Guide, @kroyte): As we come to the end of the season my attention shifts from bulk at bats to plate appearances that are going to help. Depending on the standings this can mean benching homer hitters with bad averages, or playing them. Depends on how the categories break. The goal is to maximize where one can without giving the points away elsewhere. Also, weekly pitching matchups indicate whose chances are better or worse, though that isn’t so much an edge that you won’t get burned at times.

Jeff Zimmerman (Fangraphs, The Process, @jeffwzimmerman): In all fairness, it’s probably too late to make a move. Altering the roster’s makeup should have happened around the All-Star break to make progress in certain categories. The only players I may target a little more are regulars on contending teams. The team is hoping to make the playoffs, so they’ll play their best hitters

Rudy Gamble (Razzball, @RudyGamble): My primary process is still looking at the Razzball weekly hitter values and picking the best possible starting 14. These 14 are likely to also have the most projected PAs. If there are some coin flip decisions, I’m more likely this time of year to use the Roto standings to pick the best option (especially for SB-centric players).

Jock Thompson (Baseball HQ, @JOCKatHQ): At the beginning of the season, it’s mostly about playing time and my general valuation of the hitter, opposing SPs maybe a little. Now it’s immediate playing time,immediate schedule friendliness (opposition pitching staff) and how hot/cold the hitter might be.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): I pay more attention to hitters by 7 day, 14 day, and 30 day statistics versus what they have done on the season. I also try to spot the hitters that are trending in the right direction and not fading down the stretch. That can be masked in their overall stats, versus a smaller sample size in reverse chronological order.

Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports): Schedule is a major concern, 7 games is better than 5! I’m realistically looking at the categories I can improve in, and trying to use players who should produce what I need. Somehow I’m overloaded in stolen bases and need RBI. I also look at the upcoming pitchers and try to stay away from the aces, and still try to get guys in going to Colorado,

Greg Jewett (Fantasy Alarm, @gjewett9): In leagues where counting statistics provide an opportunity for points gained, getting as many at-bats possible and targeting team needs remains tantamount down the stretch. Bradley Zimmer getting a combo meal on Wednesday helps in two categories. Discerning the best match-ups each Monday and Friday based on opponent along with if a hitter resides in a platoon makes a difference with five weeks remaning.

Bret Sayre (Baseball Prospectus, @BretSayreBP): In my opinion, there’s a lot of overthinking about lineup construction when it comes to the end of the season. I’m going with my best hitters regardless of who they match up with, but in the case of a tiebreaker situation, I will look for players who are facing teams that are out of the playoff hunt. Additionally, making sure you’re on top of playing time tendencies in August/September is important because when we get to the end of the season, counting stats matter more than rate stats.

Toby Guevin (BatFlipCrazy Podcast, @batflipcrazy): I look at the upcoming schedule, especially any difference in number of games playes, as well as opposition. This time of year it’s important to know as much as possible about how teams construct their lineup, so you know about likely platoons and how many games each player is likely to get. With any very close calls, I also look at projections for that week/half week to see what they say and whether I think they’re based on the right playing time.

Eric Cross (Fantrax, @EricCross04): It’s all about maximizing games and prioritizing which hitters have performed well of late. Stop hoping for Player X to turn it around and play the hitters that are currently performing well and/or have a favorable upcoming schedule.

Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): With injuries having decimated many fantasy teams’ hitting lineups, I’d be surprised if most owners will need to deliberate as much re which hitters to start as which pitchers to start. That said, if you’re deciding between two hitters of similar talent levels, I’d base my decision on a combination of (1) the number of games their team will be playing for the upcoming week, (2) the handed-ness of the starting pitchers their team will be facing for the upcoming week (esp. if the player is in a platoon), and (3) categorical needs.

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): Not really a lot of change to the process. Trying to maximize PAs and if I have a category that I must take over others, I aim to do that. September is often a weird month for teams who are out of contention, as others have pointed out.

Shelly Verougstraete (Dynasty Guru, @ShellyV_643): I’ll echo everyone pretty much everyone else at the Table. You have to maximize those PAs and IPs. Those zeros can kill your chance at the raising that championship flag this year.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): I’ll get a little more specific. Matchups are paramount with fringe players, especially when looking at platoon matchups. One of the dangers come September is looking at the probable pitching list and planning accordingly. The problem is pitching plans change on a whim, so be especially careful when using a player mostly on matchup since that could flip on a manager’s whim. I hate to be the bad guy here, but similar to what I said last week, playing the hot bats isn’t prudent. Back to platoons and playing time — another thing to monitor is how players are being managed down the stretch as often, they’ll be lifted for a pinch-hitter, though with limited roster expansion (just two slots), this is less worrisome.

Tout Wars FAB Report: August 29

It was a relatively quiet week, with the exception of the AL only brethren as they were quite busy.

This also marks the end of the H2H regular season. Congrats to Ariel Cohen, Ralph Lifshitz, Nick Pollack, Greg Jewett, Frank Stampfl and Clay Link for making the playoffs.

To see the rosters, standings and entire set of moves for any of the Tout Leagues, click on the headers below.

American League

CKluber, NYYJeff Erickson 103
GOtto, TexChris Liss 101
CArcher, TBMike Podhorzer 32
BSinger, KCMike Podhorzer 28
KGraveman, HouChris Liss 10
YGarcia, HouPatrick Davitt 9
RTepera, CWSPatrick Davitt 9
JMayfield, LAARyan Bloomfield 8
TAlexander, DetDoug Dennis 7
MManning, DetRick Wolf/Glenn Colton 7
KGutierrez, BalRyan Bloomfield 5
JAlcala, MinPatrick Davitt 5
AHedges, CleChris Liss 5
GStubbs, HouJason Collette 2
THearn, TexRick Wolf/Glenn Colton 1
CHolmes, NYYRob Leibowitz 1
PNaughton, LAAMike Gianella 0
NGordon, MinMike Gianella 0
JLatz, TexMike Gianella 0
JLagares, LAARick Wolf/Glenn Colton 0
JBauers, SeaRick Wolf/Glenn Colton 0
AAlbers, MinMike Gianella 0

National League

KRuiz, WasFred Zinkie 60
JMcCarthy, AriTodd Zola 57
KKim, StLTristan H. Cockcroft 45
AYoung, AriPhil Hertz 23
CEstevez, ColGrey Albright 12
AAshby, MilGrey Albright 7
AAlford, PitGrey Albright 7
TBarrera, WasBrian Walton 2
MCarpenter, StLTristan H. Cockcroft 1
RRuiz, ColTristan H. Cockcroft 1

Mixed Salary Cap

ECabrera, MiaIan Kahn 70
AOttavino, BosScott Swanay 44
JSanchez, MiaZach Steinhorn 28
GOtto, TexZach Steinhorn 23
RLopez, CWSBrent Hershey 22
PGosselin, LAABrent Hershey 15
NSolak, TexScott Swanay 14
MPina, MilBrent Hershey 3

Mixed Draft

CEstevez, ColSeth Trachtman 50
ECabrera, MiaAdam Ronis 28
CDickerson, TorPerry Van Hook 23
DPeters, TexRudy Gamble 18
AOttavino, BosAdam Ronis 17
JTrevino, TexRay Murphy 14
BDalbec, BosAdam Ronis 12
GOtto, TexShelly Verougstraete 12
JProfar, SDSeth Trachtman 11
DRasmussen, TBPerry Van Hook 11
GWhitlock, BosRay Murphy 10
MChavis, PitPerry Van Hook 7
BMarsh, LAAShelly Verougstraete 3
AMinter, AtlShelly Verougstraete 0

Head to Head

GOtto, TexFrank Stampfl 27
IHapp, ChCGreg Jewett 27
JAlfaro, MiaGreg Jewett 18
CJoe, ColFrank Stampfl 17
AIbanez, TexNick Pollack 14
KRuiz, WasClay Link 11
RLopez, CWSGreg Jewett 9
EHaase, DetAriel Cohen 8
MMoore, PhiAriel Cohen 4
DRasmussen, TBClay Link 2
GWhitlock, BosGreg Jewett 1

Mixed with IP & Saves+Holds

IHapp, ChCDoug Anderson 27
ECabrera, MiaRon Shandler 27
AHouser, MilAndy Behrens 26
BDalbec, BosDoug Anderson 19
BOber, MinJeff Boggis 16
BMarsh, LAARay Flowers 12
LJackson, AtlJennifer Piacenti 11
EOlivares, KCRay Flowers 9
CWalker, AriRay Flowers 8
ESosa, StLBrian Entrekin 4
FSchwindel, ChCBrian Entrekin 4
GOtto, TexBrian Entrekin 3
JMeyers, HouBrian Entrekin 2
TMatzek, AtlDoug Anderson 1

Tout Table: Choosing Pitchers Down the Stretch

Setting your active lineup is always important. However, with Labor Day fast upon us, there is less time to make up for choices not working as planned. With that in mind, the Touts were asked:

With the understanding moves at this time of the season are driven by team needs, what other factors do you look at when deciding who to use as your pitchers in a given week? 

Jeff Zimmerman (Fangraphs, The Process, @jeffwzimmerman): I try not to overthink it. If the pitcher was viable for first 90% of the season, they are fine to start at the end. The only time I’d consider changing that take is if the team comes out and says something different.

Perry Van Hook (Mastersball, @): I would look at opponent; ballpark; and win (or save) percentage. Strikeouts are only a consideration now if that column can give me more points.

Clay Link (Rotowire, @claywlink): I’ll look at my standing in individual pitching categories, and if it makes sense to pivot away from one or two, I may do that. But typically I’m just trying to put forth my best possible lineup and most of the time that “best” lineup is pretty obvious between injuries/poor matchups, etc.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Matchups are still king for me and even though the sample size is small, especially for offenses facing lefthanders, I’ll pay more heed to what opponents have done since the trade deadline to get a better feel for the lineup potential after deadline deals. We also have more data on the pitchers and even though I don’t rely on stabilization points since their usage is faulty, I will look for tangible skills changes and try to find what is driving it (in either direction) to get an idea if the pitcher is different than what his season-long numbers suggest. Spin rate is a tricky indicator, but I’ll use that, velo, pitch arsenal and pitch mix and look for any in-season changes.

Jon Hegglund (Baseball Prospectus, @JonHegglund): Depends on the category needs, but I’m really all about the starters that have at least a chance to get to five innings. With starter length, and hence starter wins, at historic lows, I have no use for marginal guys if they’re going to be tandem starters or the opener of a more-or-less bullpen game–even if the ratios and Ks can be tempting. I suppose I’m also looking at team context in terms of win potential–for the back of my rotation I would prefer a Nestor Cortes type over, say, a Merrill Kelly type.

Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): I wish I could be like Jeff and not overthink it, because when I do, I am usually too clever by half. I think you should use the best pitchers you have and if you are too afraid of harming ERA/WHIP because of a given matchup, then ok, don’t use them, but that was true in May, too. Maybe too simple, but if this has gotten you this far, why change it to something less optimal now?

Brad Johnson (Patreon/BaseballATeam, @BaseballATeam): I’m sure this will be a standard refrain – pick on weak offenses. Using large samples (i.e. the full season) is always a good idea, but keep an eye out for changing circumstances. For instance, the Cubs now have a bunch of fly ball hitting, all-or-nothing sluggers so be careful using any pitch-to-contact types against them – especially when the wind is blowing out at Wrigley. Otherwise, you’re probably picking on their high strikeout rate every day. Off in another direction, there’s usually a veteran or three who struggled earlier in the year and will finish strong. J.A. Happ might be trending that direction. Conversely, watch out for young guys who turn up exhausted in September.

Michael Beller (The Athletic, @MBeller): I’m going to double down on what Jeff Zimmerman said. Don’t get too cute with things just because it’s the end of the season. If we were good enough to reliably predict pitcher performance to the extent that we’d be comfortable with Pitcher X from April through August, but no longer comfortable with him in certain spots in September, we’d all be living in beachside mansions in Malibu. If you trusted a guy two weeks ago and there isn’t an obvious reason to not trust him now (injury, multiple bad performances that appear to be a pattern, etc.), you should trust him today, tomorrow, and for the rest of the season.

Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): Like everyone else: Stick with your generally good guys, play matchups (platoon, opponent strength, park, etc.) or tarot cards or goat entrails on the rest.

Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports): In a couple of my leagues where I will not gain or lose points in the saves category, I’ve benched and dropped closers for additional starting pitchers , focusing on two start pitchers to maximize strike outs.

Toby Guevin (BatFlipCrazy Podcast, @batflipcrazy): With starting pitchers it’s schedule (opponent, home/away) and I try to identify any skills changes (velocity, pitch mix) that might explain why they’ve gotten better or worse. I also look at weekly projections via Razzball. For relievers, I look at numbers of games and opponent if they are borderline. Closers are generally in all the time.

Jim Bowden (Fantasy Alarm, @JimBowdenGM): Hottest pitchers last 3 starts vs weakest offenses

Peter Kreutzer (Ask Rotoman, Fantasy Baseball Guide, @kroyte): Totally driven by the standings situation. If I need wins and strikeouts, load up on starts and hope I get luck with ERA and WHIP. If I’m protecting ERA and WHIP, load up on relievers and hope I get lucky with wins. Making up ground at this point is all about putting as many pieces in place and hope your guys get hot. Traditional roster expansion in September often created opportunities for pitchers to face mostly Triple-A quality lineups. This year rosters expand to just 28, so that should be less of a factor, but something to keep an eye on if you set daily lineups.

Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): It all revolves around where I can realistically gain ground without jeopardizing my current lead in other pitching categories. If it is WHIP or ERA then middle relievers are in the mix, if wins are what I need, then starting pitchers that have favorable matchups are in store. If it is saves, then that is where I have to be smart and find setup men that may get an occasional save.

Scott Swanay (FantasyBaseballSherpa, @fantasy_sherpa): Matchups for starting pitchers – taking into consideration both the offensive prowess (or lack thereof) of the opposing lineup, and the opposing starting pitcher. The latter is obviously less important if I’m not chasing Wins, but even if you aren’t, there’s a greater chance your starting pitcher playing in an NL park will be lifted if his team’s behind in the game, which could cost him an inning or two. For Middle Relievers, I try to assess both the likelihood of a Win and their expected impact on Ks and ratios. For Closers I’m less likely to play matchups simply because my decision whether to include them in my lineup for a given week is dictated primarily by whether I’m prioritizing Saves or not.

Tim McCullough (Baseball Prospectus, @TimsTenz): I’m paying much more attention to starting pitcher matchups than I typically do at this time of year. Since I’m in a tight race in all three counting stat pitching categories I look for sound reasons to sit starting pitchers and keep all my closers and middle relievers in there. I’m pretty stable in the ratio categories, so I can pretty much pitch whoever I want and not worry much. We’re also in this odd situation in which saves are almost easier to come by than wins. I’ve pretty much decided that September will likely see me use those closers and middle relievers much more often than my starters (several of whom are clearly mediocre anyway). I also expect we’ll see an even higher percentage of the wins going to those middle relievers in September. Innings will be spread out amongst the whole staff on most of the teams whether they’re contenders or not.

Jeff Erickson (Rotowire, @Jeff_Erickson): I look at all the decisions I’ve made in Tout this season, think about the reasoning I made in that league, and then do exactly the opposite in my other leagues.

Greg Jewett (Fantasy Alarm, @gjewett9): Match-ups, especially in leagues with ratio categories closely bunched. Reading about reduced workloads, innings limits on the horizon. It takes due diligence over this marathon of a season, but it may pay off in the end. Targeting pitchers like Collin McHugh, Codi Heuer and other relievers capable of logging multiple inning outings with win potential prove beneficial down the stretch.

Shelly Verougstraete (Dynasty Guru, @ShellyV_643): I’m going to echo what many other Touts have said. Don’t get cute. Also, if your ‘stud’ pitcher had an unexpected bad outing, pull up the quick wrap-up video on MLB. For example, Zack Wheeler was cruising through eight innings against the Rays. The manager put him back out their in the ninth and then gave up 5 earned runs. If he would have only threw 8 innings, the start would have looked 100% better.

Michael A. Stein (Fantasy Judgment, @FantasyJudgment): I am looking at matchups for starting pitchers, specifically for teams that are in or out of contention. At this point in the season, teams that are out of playoff contention are more likely going to give chances to younger, unproven hitters which makes a matchup more appetizing. I am also looking for any pitchers that are against the Mets because they couldn’t hit water if they fell off a bridge. Saves are always more volatile, so I would only prioritize closers on teams that have something to play for over the final month.

Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Oh yeah, one more thing. While batting streaks are largely non-predictive, pitchers genuinely throwing well tend to continue throwing well. Of course, it eventually ends, but the odds are better then 50% for a pitcher in a groove to stay in the groove. While this is important to understand all season, there is more data now to analyze the skills and delineate from the happenstance.

Note: We’ll answer the same question for batters on Monday.

Tout Daily Championship Tournament

The first of eight Tout Wars champions will be crowned next week as the three-day Tout Daily Championship Tournament commences on Tuesday evening. Sixteen entries were awarded over the 20-week regular season. The year was divided into five four-week periods with the top-three in each period earning a Golden Ticket. The 16th went to Derek Carty as the points leaders over the entire competition.

The three-day tourney is played in modified survivor form. The top-eight scores from Day 1 advance to Day 2. The points from Day 1 and Day 2 are combined and the top-four totals play in Day 3 with the three-day total leader being crowned Tout Daily champ.

Two Touts have multiple tickets: Carty and Scott Pianowski. If either have multiple lineups advancing to Day 2, they’re required to designate which Day 2 roster is tied to which Day 1 roster.

Here are the combatants:

Andy Behrens
Brian Entrekin
Charlie Wiegert
Dan Strafford
Derek Carty (4 entries)
Howard Bender
Jeff Boggis
Jeff Erickson
Ray Murphy
Ryan Bloomfield
Scott Pianowski (2 entries)
Tristan Cockcroft

Good luck everyone!