Last post I discussed position strategies for all offensive positions players except catchers. This post I am reviewing strategies for pitchers and catchers.
Catchers- The catchers are tricky this year because the cream of the crop are a little overrated and many other catchers in the league could perform just as well as the top players. For this reason, I would definitely recommend you take a catcher late in the draft. Pablo Sandoval could potentially have season that will almost match Russell Martin. The many rounds in between those two players are not worth the small difference I anticipate in their stats. Since I think it is so important to grab catchers late in the draft, here are a couple of sleepers who may be available: Chris Iannetta, Pablo Sandoval, Mike Napoli, Jorge Posada, and Victor Martinez. There are many other good late steals, but I chose to focus on these players. I chose Iannetta because he has been playing great for the USA in the WBC, Sandoval because he will start at 3B this season (3B generally perform better than catchers) even though he has catcher status, and Posada and Martinez because they can both come back from injury and play like they used to.
Starters- My philosophy on SP is very much like catchers. The ones that are taken earliest are not good enough to justify using up the draft pick. I would want to take Manny Ramirez, who is going to play for me every day, rather than Johan Santana, who will go once every five days, without a doubt. The best pitchers at the very top such as Santana, Tim Lincecum, and C.C. Sabathia are not worth their rank in the draft. SPs are also very unpredictable during the season. I picked up Cliff Lee last year after his first start and he won the Cy Young. Be ready to pick up someone good when the season starts and have solid pitching from the draft to back it up. You should take your first pitcher, the ace of your staff, around the 5th or 6th round. Try to get one of the top second tier starters like Dan Haren, Francisco Liriano, Roy Oswalt, or even Dice-K. It would be best if you could designate two early picks, such as 5th and 6th or 7th to this quality of pitcher. If you were going to get any pitcher in the league before that, take Roy Halladay in about the 4th round. There are tons of good and risky sleepers with pitchers, and I will leave that for a future article. A few good choices are Chris Carpenter, Mark Buehrle, John Smoltz, Oliver Perez, and Aaron Cook. I will almost guarantee that the best SP sleeper in the draft this season will not be drafted. So remember to stay on your toes and be ready to pick up the next potential Cy Young winner.
Relief Pitchers- If there are not Holds in your league's stat categories, my philosophy is to only take closers as your RPs. Setup men do not help very much. They are like starters in that you should probably take one good one early, and then try to take two that have the closing job secure later. The huge difference between the two positions is that there are only about thirty good closers in the league, compared to almost a hundred good SPs. Stay tuned for next week's article, A Closing Conundrum, in which I will analyze which closers to take early and late, who has the closing role, and who is fighting for one.
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