Fantasy Baseball Today

Trying to pick up more innings in weekly leagues

By Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com

Making pitching decisions in weekly leagues can be agonizing for Fantasy owners. It's hard enough to pick the requisite number of starters, but owners must also decide when it's worth it to risk a low-ranked two-start pitcher over a stud with one start.

Despite the fact that most of these leagues cap the number of starters an owner can use, there's a point in the season where certain owners fall behind in innings pitched. This can be due to a number of reasons. They may have lost a pitcher start due to injury, or relied heavily on one start pitchers. Having a low innings pitched number isn't a bad thing if you pick your starters well. At the same time, innings typically provide opportunities for points, and even if you are making smart decisions, missing out on those innings can hurt.

Take one of my current leagues as an example.

TeamINNGSQSCGWLSBSKBBIHAERAWHIPFPTSFP/IP
Chris Cwik364554012418162390963113.2141.11817071.94
Team A364513733215134306803022.9671.04957041.93
Team B414603842518110421993893.2171.17877681.85
Team C403.76037224171714021353323.3671.15697401.83
Team D3986035426221853631123663.5731.2017161.79
Team E4056043121211634181373553.3561.21487161.76
Team F384.35841222211523541223563.3961.24376551.70
Team G369.35929024251723461173944.2891.38365971.62
Team H4016234123221623521044173.9731.29936211.54
Team I365.75432218251212941193703.3971.33735511.51

You can find the following chart fairly easily in your leagues. To do so, click the "stats" link in the Players tab. In the little dropdown where it says "choose a team" select "team totals." That should give you a chart with the offensive and pitching stats in your league. As you can see, I added the FP/IP category in Excel so I could do some extra work.

Look at the row labeled "Chris Cwik." You'll see that while my fantasy points per innings pitched is the best in the league, I rank fifth in total pitching points. A large part of this is due to the fact that I have the lowest innings pitched total in the league.

The point of this is to focus on team's facing similar problems, not necessarily to talk about my Fantasy team (no one wants to hear that). So, the question is, how can owners in this position add innings without seeing their performance decline?

There may not be a solid answer. The most likely solution would be to focus on starting more two-start pitchers each week. Theoretically, this should lead to more points. But that's not exactly how it works. Players in this position have likely been willing to start studs with one start over questionable pitchers with two starts. While the two-start options provide more opportunities for points, they can also be riskier options. Take Week 11, for example, would you rather start a riskier two-start A.J. Burnett, or go with the safer one-start Scott Kazmir? These are the questions you'll face weekly.

Other than that, there's not much an owner can do (if there are, please share them in the comments). You could do some pitcher evaluating. Maybe you have guys who aren't capable of going deep into games. That could play a role here. Still, though, pitchers who can guarantee seven innings per start are rare. Because of that, they are typically elite, and would cost a ton in a trade. It's a tough position to be in.

Is there an answer to this problem? Does it pay off to make riskier plays just to get more innings? Should owners just hope for better luck with starts? The Fantasy world waits with bated breath to hear your answers in the comments.

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