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2013 Draft Prep: Scott White's Roto strategies

Senior Fantasy Writer
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More Rotisserie strategies: Al Melchior | Nando Di Fino

As Fantasy Baseball formats go, Rotisserie is old school.

None of those walks or doubles or other newfangled statistics that some guy at Topps probably invented to fill out the back of a baseball card. This is a man's game. Meat and potatoes! Mustaches and stirrup socks! Home runs and stolen bases! Woo!

Woo?

To play a man's game, you'll need a man's help. I'm the closest you'll get right now. I would have said woo, too.

In the interest of helping, I've outlined some of the strategies I find most useful in those leagues where only a handful of stats matter, avoiding the ones already covered by my esteemed colleagues, Al Melchior and Nando Di Fino.

They're also men, you see.

1. Maintaining the delicate balance

Delicate? Balance? So much for Rotisserie being a man's game.

Because of the way the scoring works, with points awarded based on where your team finishes in each of 10 categories, a standard Rotisserie league is like 10 mini-competitions in one. The competition in batting average is separate from the competition in home runs is separate from the competition in ERA. Yet because they're all happening simultaneously, you can't divert your attention from any of them. You have to balance all 10, which can become a brain strain if you let it.

Fortunately, some of those stats work in tandem, allowing you to shortcut the process. Base stealers generally bat at the top of the lineup and, therefore, score more runs. Home run hitters generally bat in the middle of the lineup and, therefore, drive in more runs. Sure, you'll find some exceptions, but the correlation is strong enough that you can use it as a crutch on Draft Day. Likewise, you can whittle the pitching categories down to just strikeouts and WHIP. If a pitcher misses bats and keeps runners off base, he won't allow many runs, and if he doesn't allow many runs, he'll win his share of games.

Granted, luck has some say, but as long as you balance the stats a player can directly control -- meaning the home runs, stolen bases, strikeouts and WHIP -- the others should fall into place. Well, maybe not batting average or saves. But batting average you can cover just by making sure you don't load up on a bunch of B.J. Upton/Danny Espinosa types, and saves are a specialty stat that only a specific type of player can provide.

2. Saves are saves are saves

That specific type of player, of course, is a closer, and while teams will occasionally experiment with several different relievers in the role, they all eventually settle on one. So that's 30 players in all capable of making a worthwhile contribution in the saves. Safe to say you can get shut out if you're not careful.

But being careful is different from obsessing. Just because you want to lock up a certain number of saves on Draft Day doesn't mean you should pay for them. No doubt, some closers are better than others, but with the exception of Craig Kimbrel, are any so good that you'd be drafting them over a worthwhile starting pitcher if they weren't getting saves? In mixed leagues, the answer is no. And so, the only reason you draft them is for the saves.

If that's the case, then you shouldn't really care which closer you get. As long as you trust him to keep getting saves -- or to keep his job, in other words -- he'll do exactly what you need him to do.

So instead of focusing on quality with closers, focus on quantity. If you play in a 12-team mixed league, for example, simple arithmetic tells you not every team can have three closers. You want to be one of the ones that does. Greg Holland, Glen Perkins and Casey Janssen will almost certainly combine for more saves than Jonathan Papelbon and Joe Nathan.

3. Five outfielders are significantly more than three

Fantasy owners, particularly those most familiar with Head-to-Head play, consider the outfield a deep position. And relative to most of the infield positions, it is. But if you've conditioned yourself to think of it in terms of threes, you've probably gotten comfortable waiting on it. And in a league with five outfield spots to fill instead of three, that's a surefire way to a cast of nobodies.

In a 12-team league, it's the difference between Michael Morse being the last of the starting outfielders and Carlos Quentin being the last of the starting outfielders, according to my rankings. Jason Kubel, Coco Crisp, Michael Cuddyer and Brandon Moss are all likely starters in a five-outfielder league compared to Carlos Beltran, Nick Markakis, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford in a three-outfielder league. The contrast is startling.

Of course, the contrast applies to everyone in the league, so the solution isn't to overextend yourself and have all five outfield spots filled by the time the Markakis types start going off the board. Kubel, Crisp, Cuddyer and Moss are all perfectly suitable fifth outfielders. But just so none winds up as your first outfielder, you'll want to make sure you've filled a couple of those outfield spots by the end of, say, 10 rounds.

4. High-end pitching is for suckers

At a point in the draft when big-name hitters such as Edwin Encarnacion, Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Holliday are still available, some of the best starting pitchers, such as Felix Hernandez, Madison Bumgarner and CC Sabathia, will start going off the board.

But you know the main thing separating them from the Kris Medlens, Jeff Samardzijas and Doug Fisters of the world? Innings. That's it. In terms of ERA, WHIP and strikeout rate, the two sides are comparable. And while innings are crucial for Head-to-Head owners, they don't have a direct impact in the Rotisserie standings.

True, more innings typically mean more wins and more strikeouts, but innings tend to increase with experience. So over time -- potentially as soon as this year -- the Medlens, Samardzijas and Fisters will close the gap on the Hernandezes, Bumgarners and Sabathias. And then what will separate them?

Now, you may point to Justin Verlander's and Clayton Kershaw's other-worldly numbers as justification for taking a pitcher early, but the fact of the matter is the value you get from an early round pitcher isn't the same as from an early round hitter, not when the middle-round alternatives offer so much promise.

Part of the reason they offer so much promise is because, relative to hitters, so few pitchers are needed in Rotisserie leagues. A standard Rotisserie lineup has 14 hitter slots compared to only nine pitcher slots (three of which, as we've already covered, will be occupied by closers), so even if you use the first seven rounds to fill out half your hitter slots, plenty of high-upside starting pitchers -- the kind with high strikeout rates and low WHIPs -- will still be available.

Of course, that logic only applies for mixed-league owners. If you wait too long for starting pitchers in AL- or NL-only leagues, the few that remain will likely do more harm than good to your ERA and WHIP.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

Want an edge in your draft? Download the Fantasy Draft Kit App.

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Player News
Will Middlebrooks day to day with hamstring tightness
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:09 am ET) Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks is day to day with a tight hamstring after being removed from Tuesday's game as a precaution, WEEI.com reports.


Alex Rios strikes out in only at-bat Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:05 am ET) Rangers outfielder Alex Rios struck out in his only at-bat Tuesday after being scratched from the lineup with a thumb injury before the game.

Rios took the field as part of a double-switch in the bottom of the ninth and struck out in the top of the 10th. The Marlins broke through for a win in the next half-inning. Rios has hit .284/.313/.399 with four home runs, 49 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 444 at-bats.


Ryan Vogelsong allows two runs before long delay Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:55 am ET) Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong surrendered two earned runs on three hits and two walks in four innings while striking out four Tuesday before his team's game against the Cubs was halted by a long delay.

The grounds crew had trouble getting the tarp in place once the game was stopped due to rain, leading to an extremely long delay as they tried to make the field playable after the rain stopped. Vogelsong is scheduled to face the Nationals Sunday.


Zack Greinke may miss Thursday's scheduled start
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:52 am ET) Dodgers manager Don Mattingly indicated after Tuesday's game that pitcher Zack Greinke wasn't a certainty to make his scheduled start Thursday, the Orange County Register reports.

It was reported before the game that Greinke was dealing with minor elbow soreness, and there's a possibility Greinke's availability is linked to his elbow issue. Mattingly said that starting Greinke Thursday is a "possibility."


Tsuyoshi Wada goes five scoreless innings before delay Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:49 am ET) Cubs pitchr Tsuyoshi Wada gave up six hits in five scoreless innings while striking out three Tuesday before his team's game against the Giants went into a long delay in the bottom of the fifth inning.

The rain came down for about 15 minutes at Wrigley Field, but the grounds crew was unable to bring the tarp in before the field got soaked. That led to a massive delay that extended after the rain stopped as the grounds crew tried to get the field in a playable condition. If Wada's line stands, he'll own a 2.75 ERA and 33:10 K:BB ratio in 39 1/3 innings. He's scheduled to pitch again Sunday against the Orioles.


Jedd Gyorko swats three-run home run Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:42 am ET) Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko went 2 for 5 with a three-run home run in his team's 8-6 loss to the Dodgers Tuesday.

Gyorko kicked things off by putting his team up 3-0 with his first-inning blast. He recorded his second hit of the night on the game's final play, as the lead runner was ruled out on a tag after a review of the second baseman's single. Gyorko has hit .203/.256/.342 with nine home runs and 44 RBI in 281 at-bats.


Kenley Jansen records 35th save Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:40 am ET) Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen earned his 35th save Tuesday despite giving up one earned run on two hits and a walk in his team's 8-6 victory over the Padres.

Jansen issued his first walk since July 29 to the first batter he faced Tuesday, and he watched a run come home with one out and a man on second after a bunt single led to a throwing error by the closer. He recorded another out before surrendering a two-out single, but the lead runner was tagged out to end the game. Jansen owns a 2.98 ERA and 81:14 K:BB ratio in 51 1/3 innings.


Carl Crawford homers, steals base in three-hit game Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:36 am ET) Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford went 3 for 3 with a walk, a home run, three RBI and a stolen base in his team's 8-6 win over the Padres Tuesday.

Crawford gave his team an insurance run with a fifth-inning single that extended the lead to 6-4, and he followed that up with a two-run blast in the seventh to put the game out of reach for the Padres. Crawford's home run was his first since coming off the disabled list in mid-July. He owns a .268/.304/.370 line with five home runs, 29 RBI and 19 stolen bases in 254 at-bats


Kevin Correia strikes out six in win vs. Padres
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:35 am ET) Dodgers pitcher Kevin Correia picked up a win Tuesday, allowing four earned runs on eight hits and one walk in five innings and striking out six in his team's 8-6 victory over the Padres.

Correia (7-13) has picked up back-to-back wins since joining the Dodgers, though his debut with the team went much better than Tuesday's outing, which kicked off with a three-run  home run in the top of the first inning. He owns a 4.87 ERA and 72:34 K:BB ratio in 140 1/3 innings. Correia is slated to face the Mets Sunday.


Ian Kennedy struggles in loss vs. Dodgers Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:35 am ET) Padres pitcher Ian Kennedy took a loss Tuesday, giving up six runs (five earned) on seven hits and two walks in five innings while striking out five in his team's 8-6 defeat against the Dodgers.

Kennedy (9-11) hadn't given up more than four earned runs in a start since June 10 before getting hammered Tuesday. He's now walked multiple batters in eight straight starts. Kennedy owns a 3.72 ERA and 168:54 K:BB ratio in 157 1/3 innings. He's scheduled to face the Diamondbacks Sunday.


 
 
 
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