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Don’t let your emotions about a player crowd your judgement

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Though the basic concept is simple, making trades in fantasy baseball can be one of the most difficult aspects of the game.

We understand that players are commodities to be bought low and sold high, but unfortunately, we as human beings, have a tendency to get too attached. We become emotionally invested in our players, and our ability to trade someone who is performing at a high level becomes hindered. We see it all the time, but where it is most glaring is with rookie pitchers.

Now that the Super Two deadline has passed, a significant influx of young, electric arms onto major league rosters has begun. Adding them from your waiver wire is paramount, but having the wherewithal to “get in and get out” becomes extremely difficult, and if you don’t, your team is going to fizzle out down the stretch.

To oversimplify, it’s about innings. A high-level of talent is obviously important, but how many innings a pitcher throws in a season is what it is all about. Are there rare exceptions when a team will push a player beyond his limits to win a championship? Yes, but overall, MLB general managers think about the long-term implications for their prospects and will, regardless of performance, put players on the shelf if it means sparing their arms unnecessary wear and tear.

Young hurlers are gradually brought along to eventually throw 200 innings in a season, but rarely will a rookie call-up get pushed to that point, especially if he hasn’t ever come close to that total before. Even if he is performing well, you have to expect the club to cap his innings.

Bobby Miller
Bobby Miller
Getty Images

Take 24-year-old Dodgers right-hander Bobby Miller, for example. He has made three big league starts this season, has thrown 17 innings and has been an absolute gem for fantasy managers with his 1.06 ERA, 0.76 WHIP and nearly a strikeout per inning. A high groundball rate and better-than-average swinging-strike rate help support his peripherals and the belief that he will continue to pitch at such a high level.

Miller threw 112 innings last season, but he split his time between Double-A and Triple-A and is expected to stay right around that number this season.

Having thrown 30 innings between two levels, we do not expect more than 75-80 innings more from him the rest of the way, which means we can hope to see 12-15 more starts. If he stays on-track, he could reach his limit by mid-August, leaving a month-and-a-half without him. Yes, you can hold him and wait, or you can trade him now while his value is at its peak.

Andrew Abbott of the Reds, AJ Smith-Shawver of the Braves and even the Mariners’ Bryce Miller are all expected to join Bobby Miller atop the pitching ranks, but each player finds himself in a similar boat this season with regard to fantasy.

It’s exciting to acquire these young arms as they are called up, but understanding just how limited their value can be is what wins championships. Keep your emotions in check. Forget about your fandom, and trade them while their value is at its peak. Fantasy baseball is a business, and there is no place in it for your feelings.

Howard Bender is the head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy baseball advice

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