If you're a fan of my work -- and why would you be scoping out my Tout Wars team if you weren't? -- you probably know I have some thoughts about starting pitching.

In fact, I've laid out a pretty detailed plan for how to approach it in this age of The Glob. The gist is that I want four of my top 30 starting pitchers, but I don't want to start taking them until all the MVP-caliber hitters are gone at some point in Round 3. This likely precludes me from drafting any of my top five, at least.

So what business have I taking Gerrit Cole in the first round of my Tout Wars draft Tuesday? How disgusting. What nerve!

You think that's bad? I'll let you in on a little secret: I planned it that way.

OK, before you log off, let me assure you that you're not on the sucker's end of long con. Despite how it may look, I wouldn't say I've led you astray. What I would say is that in deeper leagues of 15 teams or more, pitching is a different animal.

What kind of animal? A ferocious one that will maul you the moment you turn your back on it. I speak from experience. My pitching crushed me in this league last year -- in most of my Rotisserie leagues, in fact, which is why I turned to Globology in the first place. You want to know why I was in a position to take Cole and not, say, Ronald Acuna? I placed 14th last year. I was terrible, and like Jim Halpert being pelted with snowballs, I just want it to stop.

Placing second-to-last afforded me two choices for my draft spot, and I chose 15th ... to get Cole. There was a chance it wouldn't work out, of course, but had I picked 12th instead, the caliber of hitter available to me with my second pick, 19th overall, likely wouldn't be enough for me to justify taking Cole. More specifically, I needed a high OBP guy. That's right: Tout Wars leagues use OBP rather than batting average, and even more so than batting average, a sturdy OBP foundation has to begin early. There just aren't enough true standouts in the category. Matt Olson, who I ultimately paired with Cole at 16th overall, is such a guy. Austin Riley, who actually went 19th overall (to someone else), isn't so much.

But I keep putting off the question: Why Cole? What makes pitching a different animal in 15-team leagues? OK, so you know how I said I want to draft four starting pitchers in the 6-to-30 range of my rankings? It's just not realistic in a league with so many teams. That range doesn't last enough rounds for it to happen. So if I have to settle for only three, I need to make sure at least one is a real humdinger who isn't going to fail me in any one category. And if I pass up Cole in Round 1, I can't be sure that any such pitcher will make it back to me at picks 45 and 46.

But guess what? One of them did. Tarik Skubal somehow slipped through, making him the obvious choice at a point in the draft when the hitters I might have considered were all of the low-OBP variety.

And guess what else? Cole Ragans was still there at the end of Round 5, as in Pick 75 overall. No chance I was going to pass him up there. So just like that, the guy who used his first-round pick on Gerrit Cole, giving him license to wait on pitching thereafter, was also the only guy (or lady) with three starting pitchers after five rounds.

Was it all a big mistake? Well, how can you judge without seeing the final product?

My team is shown below. You can find the full draft results here.

Startling lineup (round number in parentheses): 
C - Jake Rogers, DET (28)
C - Travis d'Arnaud, ATL (29)
1B - Matt Olson, ATL (2)
2B - Zack Gelof, OAK (10)
3B - Jake Burger, MIA (11)
SS - Jackson Holliday, BAL (12)
CI - Vinnie Pasquantino, KC (9)
MI - J.P. Crawford, SEA (18)
OF - Mike Trout, LAA (4)
OF - Evan Carter, TEX (6)
OF - Jackson Chourio, MIL (7)
OF - Christopher Morel, CHC (15)
OF - Tommy Edman, STL (16)
DH - Eloy Jimenez, CHW (17)
P - Gerrit Cole, NYY (1)
P - Tarik Skubal, DET (3)
P - Cole Ragans, KC (5)
P - Paul Sewald, ARI (8)
P - Kodai Senga, NYM (13)
P - Erick Fedde, CHW (19)
P - A.J. Puk, MIA (20)
P - Joe Boyle, OAK (22)
P - Kyle Hendricks, CHC (23)

3B - Noelvi Marte, CIN (14)
SP - Max Scherzer, TEX (21)
SS - Jackson Merrill, SD (24)
RP - Robert Stephenson, LAA (25)
3B - Michael Busch, CHC (26)
DH - Jonathan Aranda, TB (27)

Note: This draft happened before the news of Noelvi Marte's 80-game suspension broke.

I'll reiterate, for those who haven't picked up on it yet, that this is a 15-team Rotisserie league that uses on-base percentage instead of batting average. Gauge the results accordingly.

You see what happened, right? I made that big investment in starting pitching early and then just ignored it forever. Well, "ignore" isn't the right word. Beginning in about Round 15, I would queue up pitchers I liked and then watch as they disappeared one by one. When my turn finally came to pick, it would be clear that the hitters were the better choices, and since I had ground to make up in the hitting categories from all my early pitcher picks, I was OK with it ... for a while.

But another way that pitching is different in a 15-team league than a 12-teamer is that it eventually runs out -- and I do mean runs out, as in the only guys left are likely to do more harm than good. I like the upside of Erick Fedde, A.J. Puk and Joe Boyle, as you probably know, but none of them is a sure thing. With little else to fall back on, I run the risk of them undoing all the good that Cole, Skubal and Ragans figure to do for my ERA and WHIP.

So do I regret taking Cole knowing that two of my next four picks would also be starting pitchers? Seeing how the rest of the draft played out, not a chance. I took what came to me at that point in the draft, which allowed me to continue taking what came to me at later points in the draft. That's how you have to play it when you pick at either end of a 15-team draft. You wait so long between each pair of picks that there's no anticipating what might be available to you with the next pair of picks. You have to draft in such a way that keeps you nimble. If you're not nimble, you're reaching, and reaching is death in a league full of people who know what they're doing.

Should I have maybe reached once, though, just to add a reliable innings-eater who would lock in the advantages Cole, Skubal and Ragans figure to offer? The only such pitcher I got was Kyle Hendricks, and by ADP, you could argue he was a reach himself. The irony in me going so pitching-heavy early is that I may not have enough pitching when all is said and done. Or I may. I haven't yet mentioned Kodai Senga and Max Scherzer, two IL stashes in a league with infinite IL spots. There's a chance that they, along with my elite trio, could all be in my starting lineup by early June, which would be utterly ridiculous for a 15-team league.

If I could do just one pick over again -- and I was doubting myself at the time I made it -- I would take Chris Bassitt over Jake Burger at the Round 11-12 turn. I'm a big Burger fan, but his aversion to walks makes him less compelling in an OBP format. Meanwhile, Bassitt would have been the perfect choice to solidify my staff as the envy of the league, being the sort of reliable innings-eater who would prevent me from having to start a real clunker that drags down my ERA and WHIP. He also stands out most in the areas (wins and WHIP) where someone like Ragans might underperform. If I knew I could get Noelvi Marte two rounds later -- and that I wouldn't like any of the pitchers available to me then -- I obviously would have made a different choice.

(Editor's note: Perhaps it's better he didn't make a different choice, given Marte's suspension.)

Here are a few thoughts about the rest of my team:

  • I constructed my outfield much like my pitching staff, building an early surplus and then possibly waiting too long to bring it to completion. As it is, my fifth outfielder (Tommy Edman) won't even be ready for the start of the season, being delayed by his recovery from wrist surgery, and until rookie Jackson Merrill picks up eligibility there, I don't have an alternative on my bench. I'll need to pick up another outfielder for Week 1, and the same is true at pitcher with Senga currently in my lineup.
  • You'll notice I didn't shy away from injured players -- with infinite IL spots, why not take advantage of the discount? -- and one such example is Robert Stephenson, who has yet to pitch this spring because of shoulder soreness. The hope is that he eventually overtakes Carlos Estevez for saves in Anaheim, and I desperately need him to with Paul Sewald being my only closer. I was sure I'd get at least one of Jose Alvarado, Alex Lange, Jose Leclerc, Kyle Finnegan, Yuki Matsui, or Will Smith to go with Sewald, but when you're picking at the end in a 15-teamer, you can't be sure of anything.
  • My favorite pair of picks was Vinnie Pasquantino and Zack Gelof at the Round 9-10 turn. Pasquantino is a potential OBP stud and has no business lasting to Pick 135 in this format. Gelof, meanwhile, was the most perfect player to address both my second base and stolen base needs at that point in the draft
  • I said at one point to those following along with the draft on Twitter that I was in pretty good shape for stolen bases for not having invested in any with my first five picks. Looking back at my roster now, though, I'm not sure that's true. So many of my non-base stealers are virtual zeroes in the category that I'm not sure I can trust this group for more than 140 or so. And judging from Chris Towers' article breaking down what's needed in every category, 140 would have put me in the lower third of the league last year. So I have saves and steals issues, great.
  • Chris asked me on the Fantasy Baseball Today podcast if I gave any thought to taking Esteury Ruiz instead of Noelvi Marte in Round 14, and I immediately shot him down, noting that I've had trouble keeping pace in runs and RBI the past couple years and couldn't afford to use a lineup spot on a one-category standout. Having reflected on it more, though, I think he's right (editor's note: and not just because Marte now has to serve an 80-game suspension). Ruiz would have been a better fit positionally, with me currently having an open outfield spot and too many third basemen, and would have thoroughly addressed my stolen base shortage, to whatever degree it exists.