Fantasy baseball: How to navigate injury crisis amid troubling pitching demand

one of the most common debates fantasy baseball Whether to invest in starting pitching early in draft season.

For years, the majority leaned toward using the mid to late rounds to draft hitters first and build a fantasy rotation. About seven years ago the situation began to change and the “pocket aces” strategy of producing elite starting pitching took hold.

This lasted for a few seasons, but as injuries and questions surrounding “juiced-up” baseball increased, only the most hardcore pitching enthusiasts held on. Today, even that group will now tell you that focusing on aggressive categories is the way to go, and if you’re sitting on a niche, you may want to think about selling higher now.

There are currently a large number of pitchers on the injured list. We lost Spencer Strider, Gerrit Cole, Shane Bieber, Blake Snell and Framber Valdez, all of whom were considered top-20 pitchers coming into the season. Add Bobby Miller, Justin Steele, Yuri Perez, and Merrill Kelly, and it’s more than just an epidemic.

The impact of losing a high-end starting pitcher you drafted in the first or second round is huge. If you lose a hitter, you can rally help in various offensive categories. This may take a little extra work, but it is attainable, as the law of averages and the sheer volume of at-bats can help you. For pitching, it’s very different. To lose someone like Strider, it is almost impossible to get strikeouts while maintaining a strong ratio.

It is difficult for fantasy baseball managers to replace the production of Spencer Strider, who is out for the season.
It is difficult for fantasy baseball managers to replace the production of Spencer Strider, who is out for the season. getty images

But you still need a good rotation to win your fantasy league, so learning to identify and avoid the problem is paramount. The problem is that there is a greater demand for pitchers to throw as hard as possible and with as much spin as possible on every pitch. Years ago, greats like Pedro Martínez would hold something throughout the game, only going deep when they absolutely needed to. Nowadays no one goes back.

You also have the issue with current Red Sox GM Craig Breslow and former pitchers like pitching coach Andrew Bailey demanding their starters throw breaking balls almost exclusively. The strain that puts on the arm is why they’ve already lost Lucas Giolito, Nick Pivetta, Garrett Whitlock and Brian Bello. Each of them had increased the number of breaking pitches by at least 12 percent. If you’re riding Cooter Crawford right now, be scared.

Bet on baseball?

Boston isn’t the only culprit here, so it might be time to get some starters off your roster via trade. The Diamondbacks, Astros, Dodgers and Rangers are also guilty.

This doesn’t mean you need to put all your efforts into making up for less talent. You just have to constantly work on the trade phone, and slowly move more of these pitchers in and out of your roster. This does require some extra effort, but certainly less effort than trying to find any type of talent on your waiver wire after injuries pile up.

Howard Bender is head of content fantasyalarm.com, follow him on x @rotobuzzguy And catch him on the award-winning “ Fantasy Alarm Radio Show ” weekdays from 6-8 p.m. on the SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Channel. Visit Fantasy Alarm.com for all yours. Fantasy Baseball News and Advice,