In today’s fantasy game, you can bet that in any given season, the MLB version of death and taxes will play out: closers will lose jobs and starting pitchers will get injured.
And, in AL and NL-only leagues, you may start the year with a pitching staff you liked but the wear and tear will eventually have you scrambling for more pitchers.
In one AL-only league, I have Jake Odorizzi and James Paxton on the DL, so even if I had picked the right non-closing relievers each week to plug those holes, I am still going to fall behind in strikeouts and wins. Last week, the available starting pitchers were Tommy Milone, Brett Oberholtzer, Joe Blanton and Kyle Ryan. At least Ryan, Milone and Blanton had two-start weeks, having one might be able to produce one win and two starts worth of strikeouts, even if the ratios make you wince.
Blanton last pitched in the Majors in 2013 when he was with the Angels. The 34-year old tried to quit baseball last year and was working at a Napa Valley winery. But, when he got the baseball itch this spring and was given a minor league contract by the Royals, Blanton reported to spring training 35 pounds lighter than as a member of the Angels.
Blanton didn’t make the club out of spring training but was willing to continue his comeback in the minors. He started off well and was promoted to the Royals in mid-May, and in his first relief appearance, allowed just one run over four innings. Blanton got his first start last week when the club decided to give Yordano Ventura more rest, pitching five innings while giving up five hits and one run and striking out four.
Nice story, but none of that would have made me pick up Blanton. However, as I noted earlier, he would have two starts this week, one against the hapless Mariners and the other against the Athletics. So I outbid a couple of teams in my league and crossed my fingers. Up against King Felix on Monday, the revitalized Blanton gave up two hits and no walks while fanning seven and earning the win.
Lucky? Yes. Now I have to light a candle for the Sunday start in Oakland.
At this point, I am not sure if Joe will still be on my team next week, but I have been suckered in before. Pitching desperation will do that.