Part One - The Draft
Part Two - The Start of the Season
Part Three - Becoming a Seller
Part Four - The Rebuild
Part Five - The Trade Deadline
So did all of my moves pay off? Immediately, things were looking pretty good. I was facing a playoff team with the likes of Stanton, Altuve, and Felix, but my team took them behind the woodshed and put a beating on them. Chris Carter led the offense by providing 6 runs, two home runs, seven RBI, and even a stolen base all while batting over .300. On the pitching side, Odorizzi, Salazar, Hamels, Arrieta, and Stroman were all on point. It was an 8-1-1 victory and my fifth straight win.
That matchup was the beginning of the toughest stretch of the season, as it was the first of five straight weeks against every team that would be in the playoffs. Next up was the team that I traded Carlos Gomez to (whoops) as well as Longoria, Greinke, and Uehara. He had won four in a row, and we were tied in the standings so I needed this one. Luckily I had Chris Carter to hit three homers, and Utley, Sandoval, and recent acquisition, JJ Hardy, to add two apiece. The pitching was nearly as good with Eovaldi, Odorizzi, Stroman, and Hamels all adding dominant starts to carry my team to a dominant 7-1-2 victory.
After that, it was time to play the first place team. They hadn't lost in seven weeks. Chris Carter came up big again as he hit four home runs during the week. Jake Arrieta led the pitching staff with two strong starts during the week, yet it was still close going into Sunday. I held a slight lead going into Sunday, but luck was not on my side. I scored a solid 6 runs on Sunday, but he scored 10 to take the lead in that category. While I hit .269 on the final day, he hit .365 to take a .007 advantage in batting average. And finally, despite having Salazar and Arrieta giving up a combined two runs, neither got a win, while he managed to get a win out of Neftali Feliz to take over the lead in that category. My team put up a strong week, but it was not enough, as we lost 6-4.
I was tied for third, but just a game out of second place with three weeks left. Luckily, I would be playing that second place team the following week, and my team was not one to let a single loss get them down, it just made them more determined. This week wasn't pretty, but we managed a solid enough performance. Justin Upton had 11 RBI, and Ben Revere and Leonys Martin combined for five stolen bases to help the offense, while Hector Rondon managed four saves to give me the 7-6 edge, and a 6-4 victory.
Unfortunately, that week also marked Gregory Polanco getting sent down the minors. Since I knew he would be called up in about a week when rosters expanded, I was not ready to get rid of him. My DL spots got filled up by Sean Doolittle getting hurt, so it was time to get rid of some wasted space and boost my outfield. Luckily, the perfect guy just called up to the majors.
I dropped Matt Cain and acquired Jorge Soler in free agency.
I was down to only two moves, and unfortunately, Wilin Rosario was hitting the DL meaning that I would have to get another catcher, so I picked up Travis d'Arnaud while finally ridding my team of Joey Votto.
He had won four in a row, but my team would not let him make it five. Soler and Carter both hit three home runs. Carter did it while hitting .222 while Soler batted .538. Eovaldi, Odorizzi, and Cobb all got double digit strikeouts for the week, which was enough to give me a couple pitching categories. Stolen bases from Ben Revere and Jose Abreu on Sunday were enough to get me a tie in that category for a gritty 5-4-1 victory.
With one week left, there was a three-way tie for second place and an all-important bye in the first round. There would be no drama for my team, as we were playing the worst team in the league, nearly all of my pitchers dominated and Chris Carter added three home runs, while d'Arnaud hit a bomb of his own while hitting over .500. The other two teams won as well, but I had the tiebreaker. This infuriated another member of the league as he felt he should have been #2 or #3 but was instead given the #4 seed. Maybe my favorite moment of the year was him calling me to tell me that he had just talked to ESPN Customer Support to figure out the tiebreakers (turns out it was whoever won the most categories in their matchups throughout the year).
But all that means is that I won nine out of my last ten matchups to earn a bye in the first round despite having the same record as two other teams in the league. It was time to take the week off and let my team rest for the journey ahead, because this Cinderella was ready to wear her slipper. But we will get to all of that in part seven.