Get around an innings cap

This is the first time I have played in a fantasy league with a cap on innings after which no stats count — traditional rotisserie leagues have a minimum number of innings to prevent owners from playing it safe with only a couple of top starters rounded about relievers.

I was such a stranger to an innings cap that I didn’t pay it much heed until the start of August, when I noticed Yahoo projected my pitching staff to finish close to 100 innings over the 1,250 cap. If I continued to use the staff as I had, I would hit the cap in the first two weeks of September.

At that point I began to spot-start my pitchers, using them in games in which they were more likely to win because of the opponent and the opponent’s starting pitcher. That strategy has worked well — while I missed a few gems because a starting was on the bench, I’ve missed a lot more losses and no-decisions, quite a few of the higher scoring sort. Spot starting has also enabled me to move ahead of the pack in saves, securing third in that category, and lowered my ERA and WHIP.

I thought I had squeezed all the strategy out of the innings cap until I noticed that some teams were finishing with a few more innings than 1,250. I scratched my head, then checked the rules and found this:

“All players active on the day a maximum is reached will receive credit for their stats.”

That explained the extra innings and it also opened the door to one final strategy I am using today and tomorrow.

At day’s end Sunday I had 1,228 innings, leaving me with 22 more before the cap. Looking at the probably pitchers for the week, I had Brett Anderson going Monday and the trio of Mat Latos, Wandy Rodriguez and Jonathan Sanchez going Tuesday. Between the four I would almost certainly go over the 22 innings on Tuesday, giving me four starts the final week.

But I could do better.

Checking free-agent starters I found a slew of them as is always the case in a mixed-league setting with only 14 owners. I could safely add a second starting pitcher Monday and still use my two closers without hitting 22 innings. And that would place me about five innings short of the cap for Tuesday, allowing me to load up again.

So for Monday I picked up Kevin Slowey who will be pitching in Kansas City against Kyle Davies and for Tuesday I went with Randy Wolf facing the Mets in Citifeld and Anibal Sanchez against the Braves in Atlanta — though I will keep an eye on my WHIP before deciding to go with Wolf and Sanchez.

That gives me up to seven starts the final week and two days with two closers despite having only 22 innings left. By contrast, my nearest rival both overall and in winds has 51 innings left but only five or six scheduled starts. He could follow my approach and negate my advantage, of course, but I suspect he may not.

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  1. Jeffrey Gross said...

    Thanks to a series of misfortunate events, I am last in ERA/WHIP, despite being 1st/2nd in ALL the hitting categories. I’m stuck in a deadheat for third, with Ws being the swing category. With nothing to lose, I’m going to push the innings limit and pick up the max number of starters on the final day I can start pitchers. That way, i might be able to sneak in 3-5 extra wins smile

  2. Jonathan Sher said...

    Jeffrey – Good luck with the strategy!! Let me know how it goes. It’s so nice when a strategic choice is so one-sided; In my other league, an auction leagues, I’ve been clinging to second with a rival on my back and I’m in the difficult spot of having to pick up wins and ERA, which is fine if you have a roster of all-stars but less so when you do not.  I have effectively a one-point margin heading into the last week, my opponent has a chance of gaining some ground, so picking up even a half point could prove critical.

  3. Jeffrey Gross said...

    Will do. Somehow, I’ve been less than successful streaming lately. I’ve stream wade davis 3 times in the past 2 months and those 3 starts have been his only “bad ones” over that span (sigh)…

  4. ACF said...

    Ya, this is a common strategy used in Yahoo innings cap leagues.  I will caution that you that if you have pushed it real close to the cap (say within one start) you have to make sure that a starter in a playoff race doesn’t go on short rest the day before.  This has happened to me before and prematurely pushed me over the innings limit.

  5. Jonathan Sher said...

    Jeffrey — I was burnt a bit too Monday; Slowey was shelled. But I have double-digit lead overall and will win with or without the last week streaming.

    ACF — Good point. It’s a strategy that should be accompanied with close monitoring of who starts.

  6. phil said...

    Shhhhh….you’re not supposed to tell anybody, i’ve been doing this for years in yahoo once I found out about that rule.

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