Trust the Process: You’re Using the 10-Day DL Wrong

Written by: Andrew Lowe (@ALowe710)

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Things are moving slowly in my league, so I’m taking a quick break from the series to address something that is causing rampant panic among the fantasy world – the 10-day disabled list. But this is still about using reason and TTP’ing.

The new 10-day DL is wreaking havoc on fantasy rosters. DL’s are overflowing, mostly with pitchers who feel any twinge of pain. Major league teams are abusing the DL because they can, and too many fantasy players are attempting to do the same. I’m here to tell you that you are doing it wrong.

This article by FanGraphs’ Jeff Zimmerman summarizes my feelings: “I just think more players are going onto and off the DL…With the DL designation, owners are wanting to put the injured players into their already full DL slots. In previous seasons, these players would have just been sitting on the owner’s bench not contributing. Pitchers would have their starts skipped because of a small injury. Now they just go on the DL so the team can bring up a bullpen arm.

I’m going to focus on pitchers because replacing a hitter on the DL is largely the same – pick up the hitter taking over the injured player’s role or at least pick up one whom plays the same position and won’t negatively affect your team. Pitchers are somewhat different because there’s more variance and they are more volatile: bad pitchers can pitch well, good matchups are more easy to find, good matchups on paper can sometimes blow up, and vice versa. There are also many pitchers to choose from and there are two types – starters and relievers.

To be clear, I’m not focusing on pitchers slated to miss an extended period of time. I am talking about the pitcher who goes on the DL for close to the minimum of 10 days, where it almost seems like they are rehabbing in the minor leagues the next day. In the meantime, there is a real chance for you to get ahead of your competition when your pitchers go on the DL for a short stay.

What do you do when one of your pitchers goes on the DL? You probably look for his real-life replacement. That might work, particularly when it is a prospect that was pitching well in the minor leagues. Other times, you are just picking up waiver wire fodder. You may be looking for the best matchup or the best skills, but these guys will likely hurt you. After all, there’s a reason that pitcher was on the waiver wire. Check out this tweet from Rob Silver, 2016 NFBC overall champion:

Picking up waiver wire castaways to fill the role of a DL-ed pitcher is basically the same as streaming. and with good starting pitching even harder to come by,  they are blowing up your stats. However, there is a way around this: Go where your league won’t and pick up relievers.

In those ten-ish days, you probably would have only gotten one start from your pitcher (considering off days or pushing starts back since your pitcher is injury-prone). In those ten-ish days with relievers in a daily transaction league, you get more chances at wins and holds, maybe more Ks and innings, and (usually) much better ratios. Sure, in most leagues, you’re not going to pick up a closer or an elite setup man because they won’t be available. And in lots of dynasty leagues, relievers are basically shunned; however, this notion can go too far. Think about the starting pitcher that is “demoted” to the bullpen. Think about the prospect that is deemed to have a high “risk” of being a reliever. Those are words with negative connotations that affect our behaviors as fantasy players drastically. Those pitchers are frequently banished to your waiver wire and dropped down rest-of-season rankings. However, there are plenty of instances in which these pitchers find success, whether it happen in the bullpen or back in the starting rotation. Picking guys up when they are down (like buying low, except it’s free of cost for you) is what being successful in dynasty baseball is all about. And as I’ve already mentioned, you are giving yourself a good boost in stats, too.

Relievers are even more volatile than starters you say? Of course they are! Starting pitchers are definitely more valuable than relievers, both in real baseball and fantasy. Relievers have less of an impact on your innings pitched. But you’re not looking for a long-term fix; instead, you’re looking for a band-aid. Simply look for relievers with the stat(s) you need the most help with and that have not pitched an excessive amount recently.

These guys may not get saves or even holds right now, but their excellent performance in low-leverage situations will probably get them into higher-leverage situations later on in the season. Even without injuries, I employ electric middle relievers because in a 20-team daily league that counts holds, they are better than the waiver wire SPs. I had Felipe Rivero before he came a closer and a valuable trade piece. You might also have to get creative with dual-eligible pitchers if your league has those roster requirements. That’s how I found Mike Montgomery and Alex Colome last year.

In dynasty baseball, it’s all about control. The DL allows you to carry an extra player, which does two things: it gives you another player to potentially keep, and it also thins the waiver wire. The DL is not something to be scared of. Players get hurt. Use it to your advantage.

Thanks for following along!

Featured image courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

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