The Z Files: Drafting a Pitching Staff
The Z Files: Drafting a Pitching Staff

This article is part of our The Z Files series.

One of the more popular draft prep tools is pitching tiers – or pitching tears for some. Today I'll present my initial tiers, with a twist. I tie my tiers to a drafting process, using them to construct a fantasy staff targeted to meet specific expectations. So first, I'll review the method, then reveal my early tiers.

While I oppose the concept of target drafting (a story for another day), I have a target ERA in mind when assembling my fantasy staff. Admittedly, ERA isn't the best metric to use since there's a good deal of luck-based variance to it, but we intuitively recognize what a particular ERA is "worth" more easily than WHIP. After reading the procedure, if you want to undertake it with WHIP instead, go for it. Generally, unless you draft an excess of groundball or fly ball pitchers, WHIP dovetails closely with ERA, at least using projections. In-season, good or bad luck for a high-innings starter can skew the correlation. As will be explained, I've designed the process such that strikeouts also fall in an acceptable range.

The method will be described using data from the National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) 15-team mixed contest. One reason is NBFC drafts are already underway, so there's a practical application, but also because the necessary information is available. The principles transcend all leagues, so you can customize it by plugging in your own league parameters.

Based on recent NFBC results, I'm targeting a 3.60 ERA, looking for 12 points.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Todd Zola
Todd has been writing about fantasy baseball since 1997. He won NL Tout Wars and Mixed LABR in 2016 as well as a multi-time league winner in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Todd is now setting his sights even higher: The Rotowire Staff League. Lord Zola, as he's known in the industry, won the 2013 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Article of the Year award and was named the 2017 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year. Todd is a five-time FSWA awards finalist.
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