Flags fly forever, or so they say. And yet…not really. I mean, they kind of do, but how many Giants fans out there are like, “Eh, we had our run, good on the Dodgers!” Right.
So in fantasy, particularly keeper or dynasty leagues, you have to make a tough call when that title is in reach – how do you maximize your chances at that eternal flag without ensuring a collapse the next year? I am struggling with a situation right now that puts that balance to the test.
I play in one H2H league each year, with a group of friends from my Chicago days, and I have had limited success. I took over a bad roster three seasons ago and it took some work to get into contention. This year, though, I dominated. The gap between 2nd and 6th (top 6 make the playoffs) was smaller than my lead over 2nd. But the playoffs could not have come at a worse time.
Carlos Carrasco missed a couple starts, but should be back now (I hope). Yasmani Grandal is playing (or not playing) hurt. Matt Harvey is nearing a shut down. Joey Votto is facing a two game suspension (which would be a killer in a one-week matchup). Now Edwin Encarnacion is hurt. So I have some choices to make. With the trade deadline in the past, my only option to solve these issues it to make some cuts.
In this league, we can keep 14 players, but not until two players are voted off your team into the FA pool. So you want to end the season with 16 keepers on a 25 man roster. I am sitting on 20 guys who could be theoretically kept, including 14 clear keepers. There is an added rule that players added after 9/1 cannot be kept, which means a) if I add someone cheap to replace Harvey, I cannot keep that player, but also b) if I drop Harvey, no one else can pick him up as a keeper.
The flags-fly-forever crowd would (I think) say you go for broke – drop the broken Grandal and add the red-hot Blake Swihart; drop the out-of-innings Harvey and stream 2-start SP; drop an OF (I have 7, all of whom could be kept, potentially) for a 1B/CI to backup Votto and Encarnacion.
The balance-and-long-term-thinking crowd (which needs to rebrand) would say to be more balanced and think long-term – hold Harvey, but drop a less enticing keeper to stream a pitcher, even if you have to go with a shorter bench to do it; let Anthony Rendon fill in at CI for two games, with Rougned Odor moving off the bench to start at 2B; live with Grandal’s injury, he’s only one guy and you’ll miss him in 2016.
My semi-final match-up starts today, and we have waivers that happen Sunday nights and Wednesday nights. Last night, I struck a middle ground. With Harvey, I stood pat. He’s set to start next weekend, so I’ll get a start (though maybe a short one) out of him this week anyway. He may well get dropped after that start, though.
I’ll roll with Grandal, as well. There are catcher options out there, but Swihart is playing part-time, and Grandal is about to face the weak-pitching Rockies (sadly, in Chavez Ravine), so I’ll live with him.
But instead of living with Odor as a Votto/EE replacement, I’ve put in a waiver claim on a couple guys – Travis Shaw or Eduardo Escobar. Shaw would be my best option to fill in for EE and Votto for a few days, as needed. Escobar could do that but also back up SS (I have only one SS on my roster) if needed. The move will cost me Jacoby Ellsbury, but he was my least keepable OF, anyway.
If it turns out I need a start from a SP, I’ll drop Shaw during the Wednesday waiver and add my best streaming option. As it stands now, I am set for 8 starts, with my opponent getting 9, and that assumes nothing from Harvey. If that plays out, I’ll take my SP over his.
The frustrating thing here, is these are moves at the very margins. I’m unlikely to lose because Swihart outperforms Grandal; I am unlikely to win because Shaw outperforms Odor. And my team is unlikely to win or lose in 2016 because I dropped Ellsbury or held Grandal.
Now we just have to hope I pulled the right levers.
Chad Young is a product manager at Amazon by day and a baseball writer (RotoGraphs, Let's Go Tribe), sports fan and digital enthusiast at all times. Follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.