Beat the Shift Podcast – Starting Pitcher Episode (Part II) w/ Nick Pollack

The Starting Pitcher Episode (Part II) of the Beat the Shift Podcast – a baseball podcast for fantasy baseball players.

Guest: Nick Pollack

Strategy Section

  • Simple analytics vs. advanced analytics.
  • Offseason information – what is noise, what is real?
  • Blind spots of projections for pitchers.
  • 2021 Season
    • 6-man roations
    • Starting pitcher inning limits
    • The Tampa Bay Rays
    • What if the season is delayed?
    • Ramp-up from 2020 short season

Starting Pitcher Strategy

  • General strategy
  • Pitchers that we would more likely roster in auctions vs. snake drafts (& vice versa).

ATC Player Discussion


  • Effect of deadining the ball in 2021 on starting pitchers for fantasy.
  • How much is too much to pay for an elite starting pitcher in auctions?


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Ariel is the 2019 FSWA Baseball Writer of the Year. Ariel is also the winner of the 2020 FSWA Baseball Article of the Year award. He is the creator of the ATC (Average Total Cost) Projection System. Ariel was ranked by FantasyPros as the #1 fantasy baseball expert in 2019. His ATC Projections were ranked as the #1 most accurate projection system in 2019. Ariel also writes for CBS Sports, SportsLine, RotoBaller, and is the host of the Beat the Shift Podcast (@Beat_Shift_Pod). Ariel is a member of the inaugural Tout Wars Draft & Hold league, a member of the inaugural Mixed LABR Auction league and plays high stakes contests in the NFBC. Ariel is the 2020 Tout Wars Head to Head League Champion. Ariel Cohen is a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) and the Society of Actuaries (SOA). He is a Vice President of Risk Management for a large international insurance and reinsurance company. Follow Ariel on Twitter at @ATCNY.

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A deadened ball (and more humidors) will also reduce strikeouts and walks and increase balls in play. Pitchers will “nibble” less (and the best pitchers can pitch more innings) and hitters will have less incentive to wait because more pitches will be strikes. There will also be a few more sacrifice bunts and steals, which shorten the game and add some variety for fans. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world because there is always action and scoring is “special”, not because the typical team scores several goals every game.


That is a very optimistic view of how the ball will shift strategy. I think with more than anecdote, you could argue that could happen over the long term. Otherwise, I don’t think it incentivizes players and teams to avoid the strategies they had been trending towards. The league would need to keep addressing something each year or make a huge change to curb this boom-bust behavior.

And while I don’t agree with Reuven’s take about more HRs are better for the game as I can appreciate the scarcity argument, I think there is more meta involved with viewers’ perception that complicates everything from being so simple.

What I think the league is actually trying to accomplish with this change is three things. First, to pull back on the league’s recent ‘juiced-ball’ tag that is spoiling the product’s reputation by addressing the drag coefficient and hopefully disincentivizing pitchers using ‘foreign’ stuff with those higher seems. Second, to answer the calls from the media to finally standardize the most important part of the game. Having the ball standardized should end a lot of negative discussions surrounding the last few years of the league manipulating the game.

My unvarnished reason as to why this change will help the game: speed up the game. I don’t know by how much. But these extra flyouts could help pitchers avoid being yanked too often, fewer 30 second trots around the diamond, and quicker innings. The evidence remains very much to be seen. But I am hopeful.