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Fantasy sports: Is it time to punt on a category?

Punting or grunting?

You might remember me telling you not to panic 3 weeks ago. My logic was, in the grand scheme of fantasy things, we were still in the first inning.

Now that we’re in the bottom of the second, panic still isn’t warranted. But there’s nothing wrong with taking an honest look at your team and considering punting on a category if, in doing so, you can fortify multiple others.

Punting hinges on the stat categories in your league. Did you wait on closers, but haven’t won the waiver wire race yet, leaving your season total a bagel, while everyone else has at least eight? Maybe it’s not worth diminishing potential in other categories in order to compete in that race.

In that instance, punting just requires acceptance. My issue calls for more of a proactive approach.

My pitching in my NL-only league stinks. I banked on Stephen Strasburg and filled in around him in the middle to late rounds. Standard practice. I believe it’s easier to find pitching on a daily basis than hitting.

But my starters and relievers alike have been abysmal and find me dead last in ERA. If I can swing a few deals, the plan is to make ERA a zero priority while rocketing up the charts in wins, losses and Ks.

My marks? High-volume strikeout pitchers. Ideally, they’ll play for teams that will win, despite their robust ERAs.

My ideal rotation

Giants freak Tim Lincecum: Imagine how much gaudier that 4.75 ERA would be without that San Fran defense – and the ocean – behind him. But that 9.7 Ks-per-9 rate is calling me, not to mention the wins he’ll get just by playing by the bay.

Brewers gopher-ball machine Marco Estrada: The 11 bombs he’s given up in 38 2/3 innings would be the thing of nightmares for most managers. Not this guy. He’s got more strikeouts than innings pitched in his career (302 Ks in 301 IP). Best of all, I’ve already got him. Lemme put my my fanboy hat on for a moment and say, “Get him some wins, Crew!”

Nationals underachiever Stephen Strasburg: Also already in my rotation, Strasburg needs to be cut some slack. Dude seems to often be the victim of bad luck, be it bad defense or duck-snort RBI doubles. Despite him often seemingly having no idea where the pitch is going, he’s still been all right (3.45 ERA, 44 Ks in 44 1/3 IP), and the Nats are getting hot, so that 1-4 record is due for a boon. Say it with me: “It’s going to get better.” Repeat.

Pirates Pirate A.J. Burnett: I like that fact that the longer he pitches for the Pirates, the more he resembles one, too. But on a pragmatic level, I love his 12.1 Ks per 9, and I’m buying the Pirates’ ability to hang around. With 32 and 31 starts in the last two seasons, the brittle label has worn off, in my eyes.

Momentary Cub Matt Garza: Coming off my DL soon. Obviously won’t win many games, but he’s struck out nearly a batter per inning in recent seasons. Let’s hope he doesn’t come out like a man on fire and end up a Yankee.

Brewers “savior” Kyle Lohse: No, I haven’t been drinking. I’m aware of his career 5.7 Ks-per-9 rate. But of the hangers on in my rotation – Lohse, Dan Haren and Brandon McCarthy – I’m clinging to Lohse, if only because I drafted him in the last round. One of our prop bets is the owner of the highest-rated player taken in the last round gets a few jellybeans.

Needs not apply

Dodger pudgy guy Hyun-Jin Ryu: I don’t see the Dodgers figuring it out. Not to mention Ryu doesn’t have the plus pitches to maintain his 10 Ks-per-9 rate. Batters will figure him out. Too bad. His owner is a known wheeler/dealer.

The Hot Corner

This week’s topic: What’s your favorite moment in baseball history?

Last week’s banter: How do you feel about the designated hitter rule?

Matt Gingrich (Sterling): Don’t have a preference either way. My only opinion on the DH is that both leagues should have the same rule, especially considering how much interleague play there is.

Ryan Cigler (Madison, Wis.): I’m against it. It takes a HUGE amount of strategy out of the game. On a good day, an AL Manager doesn’t need to even think about a substitution until the 5th or 6th inning, because it doesn’t affect the batting order at all. The DH turns chess into checkers.

Ron Rop (Muskegon, Mich.): I like it ... Better to see a guy who can hit stand in there instead of a pitcher ... aka Anibal Sanchez the other day.

Pitch the Commish: The commish selects Nolan Arenado, Rockies rookie 3B. Pick from one of these four rookies and, if he rates higher, you’re in the SVM league next season:

Oswaldo Arcia, Twins OF

Marcell Ozuna, Marlins OF

Didi Gregorious, Diamondbacks SS

Evan Gattis, Braves C/1B/OF

Market Survey

Buy low: Jason Heyward, Braves OF: Coming off the DL shortly. Once he locks in, he’s a Fantasy Snuggie, covering all the categories.

Sell high: Anthony Rizzo, Cubs 1B: Not a Cubs fan? There’s likely one in your league who wlil swap two top-35 players for the top-25 Rizzo.

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