Strasburg Joins Nationals

Stephen Strasburg is set to make his first start of the season September 7th against the Dodgers. There has been much speculation on whether Strasburg would start on the sixth, however, what really matters here is picking this guy up off the waiver wire.

Analysis: Strasburg is still available in about twenty percent of leagues nationwide and in two days time it will be virtually impossible to own this guy. Strasburg’s average fastball velocity last year was a shade over 97 MPH and this year he’s averaging about 95-96 in his minor leagues appearances. He has command, break and velocity on all his other pitches and he looks the part of an ace once again. He’s a great addition for any fantasy squad and he will provide ERA, WHIP and strikeout help but he won’t be going deep into games to get as many wins as you would like.

As for next year, you have to consider Strasburg a second tier SP1. He does have all the tools to be the best pitcher in the game but we need to see him eat some innings like a Halladay or a Verlander to be considered a first tier SP1.

MLB: National League Pitchers


There was a time when my entire pitching strategy was to take National League pitchers when competing in a mixed league. One of the reasons remains legit; they don’t have to face the designated hitter. It used to be the NL parks were also more pitcher friendly, and while some remain, others like Minute Made Park have replaced cavernous old parks like the Astrodome.  As we have with each position, we will break down the different tiers. Several elite starters are already out for the season and are addressed later. St.Louis’ Chris Carpenter and the Philadelphia big four of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are at the top. The next tier are top tandems from four teams that figure to compete for division crowns in ’11. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain of the World Champion Giants, Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley from LA, Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson of Atlanta and Milwaukee’s Zac Grienke and Yovani Gollardo. A trio of “young guns” continue to make their mark; Florida’s Josh Johnson, Colorado’s Ubaldo Jiminez and Arizona’s Daniel Hudson. If you can end up with any combination of these, you should be on your way. Youngsters for your consideration; San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner, Colorado’s Jholys Chacin, Arizona’s Ian Kennedy and Washington’s Jordan Zimmerman.

When figuring out your budget, allocate at least 60% for hitting, leaving 40% for pitching. I would recommend making sure you get saves with that 40% first, then getting best pitching available with what’s left. With that in mind, no $20+ starters should be on your roster. From a draft perspective, certainly none in your first five picks. Just my opinion, pitching is too volatile.

How do you handle closers? Much depends on your league’s categories. If you are in a standard roto league then they are quite valuable. 5×5 leagues which include strikeouts as a category put more emphasis on the starter. There are more question marks than in recent memory when looking at bullpens. I really can’t say anyone is a sure thing. New York’s Francisco Rodriguez, LA’s Jonathan Broxton, Chicago’s Carlos Marmol, San Diego’s Heath Bell and San Francisco’s Brian Wilson appear to be the most reliable.  All, with the possible exception of Bell, have questions marks entering 2011.  An older trio appear to be in the next tier; Cincinnati’s Francisco Cordero, Arizona’s JJ Putz and Ryan Franklin of St.Louis. Those three may come at good value. Also to keep an eye on, three relative newcomers on the scene; Atlanta’s fire balling Craig Kimbrel, Pittsburgh’s Joel Hanrahan and Washington’s Drew Storen.  Four setup men should also be on your radar, they will pick up lots of wins, an occasional save and often are next in line if a change is made at closer. Washington’s Tyler Clippard, San Diego’s Mike Adams, Cincinnati flamethrower Aroldis Chapman and Atlanta’s Jonny Venters fit that bill.

A number of pitchers will begin the season on the disabled list. You will need to bid accordingly, then also plan for a replacement in their place until they heal. The premiere hurlers that will begin on the shelf include: New York’s Johan Santana, San Diego’s Matt Latos, Kansas City’s Zac Grienke, Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto and closers Wilson of San Francisco and Philadelphia’s Brad Lidge.

If you are in a keeper league, there are a number of injured studs you may want to set money aside for. If Stephen Strasburg is available, grab him, worst case he is throwing smoke in Spring training 2012. Adam Wainwright is another long term option. While he won’t contribute this year, he should be returning early next season.