ASK ROTOMAN: Pick a pitcher. Pick Two!

Hey Rotoman:

I’m in a 12 team 5×5 Roto League. My pitching staff consists of Adam Wainwright, Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke, Hisashi Iwakuma , Yordano Ventura,  and Tanner Roark, with Alex Cobb and Hyun-Jin Ryu  on The DL. Who do I drop Hyun-Jin Ryu or Yordano Ventura? Cobb will be replacing Tanner Roark.

“U Pick Pitchers”

Dear U:

This is a better problem to have than most. Starting a staff with Wainwright, Scherzer, Greinke and Iwakuma, even in a 12-team mixed league, takes a lot of the pressure off.

You seem pretty certain that Cobb for Roark is the first move, but with Ryu coming off the DL today, I thought it might be worthwhile looking at all four guys. Each has a story.

Here they are. The first number is their composite preseason price. The second is my bid price in preseason. The third is what they’ve earned so far (multiply by 3.5 for a full-season value). These are Only League prices, used as an index of value, not as a measure of worth in your mixed format:

Tanner Roark: ($4, $8, $4) He’s done a fairly good job so far for the Nationals. A fair number of grounders and strikeouts, plus a good defense behind him, has helped. He’s not overpowering enough to feel comfortable yet, but is a fine back of the rotation guy, even in mixed.

Yordano Ventura: ($7, $8, $6) As advertised, more than a strikeout an inning with good control. Very solid performance so far without the wins to gas the value, thanks to the Royals’ weak offense thus far.

Alex Cobb: ($18, $18, $3) He’d only made three starts before he was shut down with an oblique injury, one of the cascade of injuries to pitchers this season. But this wasn’t his arm, and he’s expected to be ready to start Thursday night against the A’s. He’s a groundball pitcher with a reasonable strikeout rate and good control. You have to activate him when he’s ready to go.

Hyun-Jin Ryu: ($15, $17, $3) He was shut down two weeks ago with some soreness in his pitching shoulder. He was supposedly not even given any imaging, the Dodgers just wanted to be careful he didn’t overdo it. He’s a moderate groundball pitcher with a decent but not great strikeout record, and good not great control.

When do they pitch?

Ryu: Tonight, the Mets in NY.
Cobb: Tomorrow, the A’s in Tampa.
Roark: Tonight, the Reds in DC, Monday, Marlins in DC
Ventura: Monday, Houston in KC.

I agree that replacing Roark with Cobb is a no brainer, so do that after tonight’s game. The Reds are crippled and on the road. Get an extra start.

I also agree that Ventura and Ryu is kind of a close call. My sense of adventure wants to say go with Ventura, the emerging ace, but common sense gives the nod to Ryu for a few reasons.

Ryu plays for a better team and should win more games. He has also been round the league a few times and hasn’t stumbled. He’s the safer choice, even as he comes off the DL.

Ventura is the exciting choice. He throws 96 mph consistently, with tough breaking pitches. But he’s young and has made only 12 major league starts. No way I’m predicting that he’s going to stumble in any big way, but he’s had an advantage so far that is going to fade a little. Does he have the moxie to adapt? We don’t know.

And does he have the stamina to throw the 150 or so additional innings he’s on pace for? There’s no way we can know that either.

More excitement or less excitement, that is the question. Your staff is good enough to take the risk, it’s also strong enough you don’t have to.

What a beautiful day. Let’s play Ryu!