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Split Squad: Potential Playoff Matchup

Conan Hines

Conan Hines writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Justin Green

Justin Green writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

When it comes to rivalries, nothing is less interesting than Justin and I typically battling it out for fifth place. But this year, we actually might be battling for the Head-to-Head crown! We wonít be meeting in the championship, but we will have to go through one another to get there. Since there is not much more advice to provide at this point of the season, we figured we would break down our impending matchup in the semifinals and tell you why the other team will win the matchup.
Our league is a 2-keeper, 5x5 Mixed League. Please post your thoughts/opinions/predicted winner in the comments section below. Thanks!

JustWin Green (by Conan Hines)

Hey, thatís a pretty good title right? Just win ďgreenĒ. Green referring to money. Just win money Ė thatís the goal right? Well for the first time in my life, I hope I am wrong and Justin is right. Drawing on past experience, I donít like those odds. Of course, Justin is in first place while I sit in fourth, and I still have yet to officially clinch the final playoff spot. However, I am playing the last place team this week and have jumped out to a nice lead, and I have full confidence I will be in Greenís backyard for Game 1 of the first round.

Letís talk weaknesses first, as in Justin's pitching staff. He has solid depth, but I wouldnít say the top of his rotation is scary. Jered Weaver is his ace, and while most may not consider him in that category, he has certainly performed like one in 2010. Beyond that Justin is relying on young arms in Jaime Garcia and Ricky Romero. This is certainly not a veteran rotation, and the lack of experience and reliability means Justin is more susceptible to an ERA blow-up. Besides the youth issue, he has filled out his rotation nicely with C.J. Wilson, Jeremy Guthrie, Jhoulys Chacin and Dallas Braden Ė all have pitched well as of late. Justin's bullpen is solid, but he probably canít match my depth, so he will have to hope for big week from Ryan Franklin, Brian Wilson and John Axford. However, what he lacks in depth comes back in quality - Wilson and Franklin have been two of the best closers in the league and have combined for 59 saves in 65 opportunities. With Justinís plethora of starters, he should be able to compete in wins and strikeouts quite easily. If he can scoop up those two categories, he should put himself in position to win.

This brings me to the offense Ė and man, itís a scary one. Joe Mauer at catcher Ė enough said. Paul Konerko, Robinson Cano, David Wright and Alexei Ramirez round out a potent infield. The talent doesnít stop there. Justin has Shane Victorino in CF and Nelson Cruz and Ryan Braun in the OF. Throw in Elvis Andrus for speed and Michael Cuddyer or Nick Swisher for pop and you have one heck of an offense. As good as Iíve been, I could be in for a blanking. I certainly believe I can hold my own on the basepaths, but not so much in the power department. If I canít win SBs and either Runs or AVG, I might as well say bye-bye to the crown.

As much as I hate to say it, Justin is in first for a reason. Heís gone the traditional route by drafting a high-powered offense and picking up pitching when he could. This was the perfect year to conduct this strategy and he should be able to ride it all the way to the top. Oh, baseball gods, please let the balls bounce my way, if only for just one week.

Conan Time (by Justin Green)

I was going to name this segment ďStop, Conan Time,Ē as an ode to the great MC Hammer, but figured: a) that is a bad joke; and b) no one will probably get said joke. The title is fitting however because, as strange as it sounded when Springfield flooded and Millhouse was wearing highwaters, ďeverything is coming up Millhouse.Ē And by Millhouse, I mean Conan.

What does Conesha (a loving nickname my sisters gave him) have going for him? Lots. Off the bat, he has four two-start pitchers going Monday. Edwin Jackson, Madison Bumgarner, and Francisco Liriano face the Tigers, D-Backs, and Royals respectively. Not a bad way to start the week. That is essentially two guaranteed wins, and given the way the Tigers are playing, Jackson stands a good chance of making it three wins to start the week for Conan. He also has Yovani Gallardo going Monday, but the Brewers face the Cardinals. As anemic as the Cardsí offense has been, the Brewers have been even weaker at the plate. Combine that with Gallardoís recent struggles and a potential burnout as the season ends and Yoga doesnít appear to be in a position to help Conan Monday. Tim Hudson, Gavin Floyd, and Adam Wainwright round out Conanís rotation; and even though they don't have great matchups, they are still formidable.

Bullpen depth is a generally a positive, but Conanís depth may actually be a negative. Bobby Jenks, Jonathan Broxton, and Luke Gregerson eat up roster spots (two saves for Jenks in the last 14 days, one for Broxton, and zero for Gregerson), and Huston Street, Hong-Chih Kuo and Koji Uehera can't be counted on for much as the season winds up. I think I have the upper hand there.

On the offensive side, guys like Joey Votto, Martin Prado, Hanley Ramirez, and Rickie Weeks will strike fear in any opponent. Votto will be destroying baseballs in Colorado for a four-game series, and Prado will be pounding the hapless Pirates at the same time. Those are great players, with great matchups. Conan also has Aramis Ramirez, Justin Upton, and Omar Infante, who have been all been hot lately and have combined for 13 HR and 21 RBI in the last 14 days. Conan will get steals from Ramirez, Brett Gardner, and Weeks. I can match that with Andrus, Victorino, and Franklin Gutierrez (if I start him). With the pennant and wild card races heating up, steals could be a difference maker in the matchup. I can see the Yankees and Phillies running a bit, but the Brewers and Mariners donít have much to gain and may hold their runners back. Either way, I think Conan has a slight advantage in team speed.

Conan has lots of two-start pitchers, and he has some favorable real-life matchups for his fantasy players. His pitching is solid, he has shaky bullpen depth, but also has some solid offensive producers who can move around the bases when the battery isnít paying attention. I like my chances, but I like Conanís better.