Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Building a fantasy pitching staff is like playing a poker hand. We'd all like to have four aces every deal but there are only so many to go around.
Unlike poker, fantasy owners can't afford to fold and wait for a re-deal.
We have to fill out our staff with some solid but extremely flawed middle-tier starters who are just as likely to give up four runs in the first inning as they are to throw a quality start. Such is the fun, and the soul-sucking madness, of fantasy baseball.
But there's a way to maximize the performances of these mid-level hurlers because some of them make it easier to ascertain when they are going to throw like an ace.
Use any explanation you want -- maybe a pitcher feels more comfortable sleeping in his own bed or eating at his favorite establishment the night before a start, or perhaps a starter has to deal with a homer haven of a home ballpark and can't wait board a plane for a nine-game road trip -- but some pitchers have dramatic home-road splits.
Only using these starters where they have proven to pitch effectively is a good way to avoid having one of your mid-tier pitchers undo a Justin Verlander complete game shutout by allowing eight runs in four innings.
Here is a 13-spot of pitchers with the widest disparity between home and road statistics. You might want to consider adding or streaming these hurlers when they have a start coming up in their comfort zone.
If you owned every pitcher in the first group and only used them when they were pitching at home, you would have received 430 1/3 innings, 20 wins, a 2.89 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 343 strikeouts. Meanwhile, the pitchers in the second group have provided owners with 361 2/3 innings, 20 wins, a 2.91 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 261 strikeouts away from their home confines.
That is elite production that cannot be ignored in fantasy leagues, especially those that have innings limits. This strategy will allow you to maximize your pitching staff's innings and get the best performance out of every player you use.
Not every pitcher can throw like Verlander over the course of a season, but this strategy proves that any pitcher can put up Verlander-like stats under certain conditions. Having a way to predict when those starts will occur allows us to wring every last drop of value out of a mid-level pitcher without having to deal with the burden their guaranteed tribulations cause.