Tout MIXED, Minnix says: “No better place to be than on top…”

Nick Minnix of reports on the Tout Wars Mixed pennant race:

There’s no better place to be than on top. In roto baseball, anyway. Unless you’re on top and you have a sinking feeling. It won’t take much for everything that my competition – Fred and Tim – needs to happen … to happen. I picked up five points this past week, not a bad time to do it, but I entered Monday sitting on the most precarious four-point lead you can imagine. I’m just hoping that each of these dudes is second-guessing himself (and experiencing an unsettled stomach) as much as I am.

Of course, when you’re talking about three teams that are so tightly knit in the standings of a roto league, several categories hang in the balance between just the three of you. Scenarios like this past Saturday’s are what has made this race terribly – terribly – exciting, for me, anyway. On Saturday, Fred was 0.001 behind me in ERA – really, who does the calculations for this crap? – and I’d already received a solid start from Jeff Niemann that netted me a victory without doing a bit for my place in earned-run average. The Angels-Orioles matchup that night was going to make the end to this past week awfully entertaining, then, because Fred’s pitcher (Ervin Santana) was toeing the rubber against mine (Zach Britton – yeah, I took a gamble on his two-start week).

I was beyond geeked: The O’s touched up Santana for five runs in seven frames while Britton logged seven innings, gave up only one run and fanned seven to earn a W. Matt Harrison’s Sunday gem ensured that I entered this crucial with a huge … 0.013-point lead in ERA. Oh boy. It makes me feel so much better, since Fred is behind me in batting average by 0.004 points. Aaaaand, his team is off to a rousing start to the week.

I’ve wrestled with more lineup decisions this week than I did in the previous 10, which makes me think that I shouldn’t mess with success. But is it ever that easy? The tense positions (mostly mine) in strikeouts and wins, not to mention ERA and WHIP (in the latter of which Tim is trailing me 1.1574 to 1.1630 – does this get less harrowing at some point?), have had me going back and forth and forth and back on which of my pitchers to deploy for the week of Sept. 19 to Sept. 25. I’ve changed it 37 times. In the past 10 minutes. I can’t speak on the battle between Fred and Tim in wins and saves. Mostly because I’ve done enough agonizing for myself already.

I finally settled on Cory Luebke as my last pitcher. Maybe it takes cojones to start a guy at Colorado and then against Clayton Kershaw, maybe it doesn’t. I have an affinity for Luebke and his strikeout prowess, in spite of his recent sputterings, one of which came at the hands of the Rockies – at PETCO. Attempting to predict what will happen in one start versus another is a fool’s errand, though. What has aided me to this point is patience with my lineup through sour times because of my expectation that corrections are lying just beyond them. There’s a little statistical evidence that Luebke will be successful in his trip to the Mile High City, too. And finally – this isn’t much of a reason, but it’s a damn delightful defense – Fred decided to take a shot on Kevin Millwood’s two-start stretch, which also begins tonight, in this one. That pits two of his pitchers – the other, the LA’s lefty – against my Luebke in the same week. Who can resist two more head-to-head battles in a game like rotisserie baseball that doesn’t often present many opportunities to go toe to toe with one of your closest competitors? If it’s not fun, then why play? And so, I sure as hell hope that this is at least a little fun.