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RotoAuthority League Update: Early Drops

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 3 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he’s not one of them.

We hear it all the time, but it’s worth saying again: the MLB season is a marathon, not a sprint. We’re just finishing up the first mile on this marathon, yet many fantasy owners respond to the first week as if a handful of games means something. In reality, though, we’ve learned hardly anything at this point. Indeed, the best course of action for a fantasy owner in early April is probably no action at all.

In the RotoAuthority League we don't see short-sighted moves all that often, and this year is no different. At this point just one player who was drafted in the first 20 rounds has been released. Most of the early acquisitions consist of spot starters and next-in-line setup men. With just three bench spots in this league, however, the choice as to whom to drop will become increasingly challenging as the season moves forward. Let's take a look at a few interesting drops thus far.

Dan Haren

Say It Ain't So, Cano drafted Haren with the 160th overall selection of the RotoAuthority League Draft. As such, he's by far the highest draft pick to be dropped so far. On the one hand, outside of a significant injury, there's practically no reason to drop a player a week into the season if you spent a draft pick on him in the 14th round. On the other hand, I can't really blame this owner, as Haren hasn't given any reason for optimism. After posting a 6.39 ERA this spring, the former ace continued his struggles in his first start of the season, as the Reds pounded him for six runs over just four innings pitched. What's more, Cincinnatti connected for four long balls against Haren. Velocity doesn't appear to be the problem, as he worked in the upper 80s, not dramatically different from the past couple seasons. It's possible, though, that he's still pitching at less than full health. Whatever the case may be, clearly something just isn't right for this once incredibly reliable starting pitcher. It remains to be seen whether Say It Ain't So Cano was prescient with this quick release or will later regret the decision. I lean toward the former.

Jeremy Hellickson

Hellboy slipped all the way to the 23rd round in the RotoAuthority League Draft until he was scooped up by the Gramma Nutt Crushers. Like Matt Cain and Jered Weaver, Hellickson is a poster child for the fact that there's more to pitching than peripherals. After all, he boasts a career ERA of 3.13 despite a career SIERA of 4.49.  Simply put, Hellickson just isn't your typical pitcher. In fact, he leads all qualified starting pitchers since 2011 with not only the lowest BABIP at .243 but also the highest LOB% at 81.8%. While some of this may be due to good fortune, Hellboy does seem to have a knack for inducing outs on balls put into play as well as pitching from the stretch. The stellar Rays defense certainly helps, too. Overall then, here's one pitcher I'm relatively bullish on going forward. While the schedule doesn't do him any favors with the next couple of starts at Texas and then at Boston, Hellickson should be able to put together a nice run of solid outings at home against the A's and the Yankees and then at Kansas City.

Andrew Cashner

E-Z Sliders drafted Cashner in the 24th round but then recently dropped him. It's understandable, given that Cashner is currently working out of the bullpen yet not a consideration for the closer role. That being said, Cashner has flashed signs of brilliance during his brief MLB career thus far. Here's a special talent capable of hitting triple digits on the radar gun. The batted ball data is also promising, as this young arm has consistently posted high groundball rates. While the fences may be moving in, Petco should still play as a favorable park for pitchers. Despite choosing Tyson Ross over him for the 5th starter role, Manager Bud Black still views Cashner as a starting pitcher. Accordingly, one would expect that the young fireballer will join the rotation within a month or two. Ultimately, I think this drop was warranted in the RotoAuthority League, which only allows for three bench slots; however, this is precisely the type of player worth stashing in mixed leagues with deep benches.

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