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Rain, Miasmas, and Pitching Speculation

After a bonny weekend, rain coats the northeast. I grind some Bolivian to drip.

My miasmal ERA and WHIP in the MLBTR league (due in no small part to a highly dubious Philip Humber post-perfect game spot start) forced me back to the waiver wire well. I dropped the bucket down and caught an Anthony Bass. Good colleague Mike "Giancarlo" Axisa recently wrote on Bass over at Rotographs, so I will not deliberate here. A good park, obviously, and he continues to miss bats.

Glancing today at the wire, the pickings are noticably slim. There is Trevor Bauer, but the Diamondbacks rotation is documentedly logjammed. Bauer's first start in Triple-A scintillated: 8 IP, 4 H, 11 K, 1 BB, and there has been talk that the Diamondbacks could shop Joe Saunders. With Daniel Hudson coming back from injury, however, a potential Bauer call-up remains difficult to predict. 

There was Bud Norris, but Tim Dierkes scooped him up. Mike Podhorzer notes that Norris's F-Strike% is nearly identical to last year's (58.9% in 2011, 60.2% in 2012), and suggests that Norris will not finish with a BB/9 under 3.00. Still, if Norris can maintain a K/9 near 9.00 and a BB/9 around 3.00, while having more luck with wins, he should finish as a very nice pitcher. 

Wade Miley has fared very well, with a 5-1 record and a 2.19 ERA, but I would stay away. ZiPS projects a 4.79 ERA for Miley for the season's remainder, and a current 4.06 SIERA justifies this predicted regression. PITCHf/x does show improved fastball velocity (90.3 in 2011, 91.2 in in '12), yet a decrease in SwStr% (7.8% in '11, 7.5% in'12) gives little reason for excitement. 

I started Jason Hammel for both of his two worst starts and disgustedly cast him back into the fray. Yes, he's a mean sinkerballer now, but I can't stomach him in the AL East. Still, if he maintains the 60% ground ball rate, a high SwStr%, and solid control, he should at least be serviceable. 

Does it make sense to hold on any these players? Perhaps a more logical strategy is to hold four solid SP and two elite middle relievers, while using a seventh starting pitcher spot to stream. As the MLBTR league includes holds and saves as rotisserie categories, I currently have seven relief pitchers on my roster.  In a league with an innings pitched limit, however, streaming is not particularly viable. 

I have not yet conceived of the best strategical approach to a league such as this, with a 1500 innings pitched limit and both holds and saves as rotisserie categories. Entering the draft, I placed a high priority on elite holds relievers with clearly defined roles (Tyler Clippard, Jonny Venters, Vinnie Pestano), as I felt these players were unique in their projectibility for contributions in four categories. Several weeks into the season, however, I see that paying for holds is nearly as folly as paying for saves. Consider Josh Lindblom or Pedro Strop

One has to conceive of a particular threshhold for these waiver wire starting pitchers. How many bad starts do you give them before you drop them? One start is not enough, and four bad starts is too many. Ratios and other wire possibilities are the expense. Do you wait two starts, or three? This is seemingly quite an important strategic decision, and I do not have an answer steeped in analysis. Far from it. If you have the patience, I say wait three starts. If the performances are bad, bad, good, bad, bad (and you will have to decide what your criteria are for a good start) that is also clearly a drop. I'm not doing the math here, but if any of you number theorists want to give it a go in the comments, surprise me. 


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