CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Prospectus Q&A: Tony F... (04/23)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Smoak Mo... (04/23)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Weeks At... (04/26)
Next Article >>
Premium Article On the Beat: Friday Up... (04/23)

April 23, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers

by Bill Baer

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

Value Picks 2010 PECOTA Games '10
Starting Pitchers Throws W Sv IP H HR ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 Starts Relief
Jeff Niemann RH 1 0 15.1 13 2 3.94 1.11 4.1 2.3 1.2 5.9 3.2 1.0 3 0
Randy Wolf LH 1 0 24.1 25 3 3.70 1.40 6.7 3.3 1.1 7.0 2.9 1.2 4 0
Kevin Correia RH 2 0 17.1 14 3 3.12 1.15 8.8 3.1 1.6 6.3 3.3 0.8 3 0
Doug Fister RH 2 0 19.0 12 0 1.42 0.84 4.3 1.9 0.0 7.1 2.5 1.2 3 0
Jason Vargas LH 2 0 18.1 16 2 3.93 1.04 7.9 1.5 1.0 8.8 3.2 1.3 3 0
Ian Kennedy RH 0 0 14.1 14 4 5.65 1.40 10.7 3.8 2.5 9.6 4.5 1.1 3 0
Subscribe to Heater 2007-09 in Rotation 4.43 1.39 6.6 3.1 1.1  
Heater Magazine 2007-09 in Relief 3.94 1.36 7.7 3.8 0.9  

Over the last two weeks, I have detailed some pitchers who I think would provide most fantasy baseball players with some decent value. As we go further and further into the season, the list will be constantly updated as players rise and fall in value and rise and fall in fantasy ownership. You may wonder why some patently good pitchers were omitted from the list. That is because you will not need me to beat the "Pick up Brad Penny" drum throughout the season when he will end up being owned by everybody eventually anyway. I will be identifying the less obvious value picks.

Still a good value:

Jeff Niemann, Tampa Bay Rays: Somehow, Niemann is still not owned in most fantasy leagues. He performed well in Monday's start against the Red Sox, holding them to two runs over seven innings. As mentioned last week, he is simply a steady performer with decent K and BB numbers (do not panic -- his 4.1 K/9 will start to rise). Stability is a good thing in fantasy baseball. He may even surprise you as he did many last year when he tossed two complete game shut-outs. His blase repertoire will tell you he does not have it in him, but he has been able to mix up his pitches very well, enough so that opposing hitters are swinging at roughly every other pitch he throws on average.

Randy Wolf, Milwaukee Brewers: Wolf went from 35 percent ownership to 22 percent after a mediocre start against the Washington Nationals. Assuming ESPN leagues are representative of the population, there is a chance that Wolf may have been dropped by someone in your fantasy league after Saturday's start in Washington and has since cleared waivers. His popularity may shoot back up following yesterday's start against the Pittsburgh Pirates. As he did yesterday, Wolf went at least six innings in 29 of his 34 starts last year. He is an innings-eater with above-average strikeout ability.

Kevin Correia, San Diego Padres: Check your league's free agent pool for Kevin Correia, he of the 3.37 SIERA. People are starting to catch on that he is a good pitcher, but he is still available in 95 percent of ESPN leagues. In his last two starts, he has failed to pitch through six innings, but he struck out eight, walked two, and allowed two runs in five and two-thirds innings Saturday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He pitches today against the Cincinnati Reds, who have hit him hard in limited at-bats.

New to the list:

Doug Fister, Seattle Mariners: Fister, owned in two percent of ESPN leagues (and most likely broadcaster Chip Caray's favorite baseball player), has burst out of the gate with a 1.42 ERA in three starts. He has had a very low BABIP (.212) and a high strand rate (82.4%) as well as allowing zero home runs, so he will regress to the mean for sure. However, Fister should still provide some value to your fantasy roster with great projected K and BB rates and a mid-four ERA. You may want to avoid starting him against lefty-heavy line-ups. In a small sample of 80 innings, lefties hit for about slugging percentage of about one hundred points higher than right-handers.

Jason Vargas, Seattle Mariners: There is no intention on promoting only Seattle pitchers, but Vargas is a steal right now. He is owned in less than half of one percent of ESPN leagues, and he has thus far pitched very well with a 3.27 SIERA. He has not benefited from batted ball luck or a significant lack of home runs allowed. Vargas has simply pitched very well with great control. Between his time with the Florida Marlins, New York Mets, and Seattle Mariners from 2005-09, Vargas never really put it together, but this could be his year. He is absolutely dominating left-handed hitters this year; right-handers have accounted for all six of the extra-base hits he has allowed thus far (four doubles and two home runs).

Ian Kennedy, Arizona Diamondbacks: Yes, that 5.65 ERA of his is misleading. Kennedy, owned in just one percent of ESPN leagues, has pitched much better than it appears, given his 3.29 SIERA. He has struck out 17 batters in 14 and one-third innings while only walking six. He has yet to reach the sixth inning due to an inability to end innings quickly, averaging about 21 pitches per inning. Additionally, he has allowed four home runs already this year and does not have the ability to induce ground balls at will. That said, as long as he is striking out eight-plus hitters per nine innings and walking fewer than four per nine, he should be a solid pick-up for you given expected regression to the mean.

As an aside, make sure you stay away from Livan Hernandez, despite the great start to the season. It's all smoke and mirrors.

Bill Baer is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Bill's other articles. You can contact Bill by clicking here

Related Content:  Jeff Niemann,  Doug Fister

18 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

CRP13

Come on, Livan has great upside. :)

Apr 23, 2010 05:57 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Bill Baer
BP staff

I think the word you're looking for is 'backside'. ;-)

Apr 23, 2010 06:04 AM
 
CRP13

Great backside? Hmmm....I think we've all just learned something about Bill today. :)

Apr 23, 2010 06:37 AM
rating: 2
 
CRP13

I think there are people around here that just live to minus people.

Apr 23, 2010 08:06 AM
rating: -2
 
jrfukudome

Ha!

Apr 23, 2010 10:06 AM
rating: 0
 
Nate Sheetz

What do you think of Phil Hughes now that he has a pretty secure hold on a starting job? I picked him up yesterday, and I'm looking for validation ;)

Apr 23, 2010 07:14 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Bill Baer
BP staff

He has benefited from a very low .138 BABIP and his walk rate is concerning at 5.1 per nine innings. He is also fly ball prone, which means he's going to give up some home runs.

The strikeout rate is nice so far but that's about all I really like about him at present, although he has otherwise pitched well as ERA estimators will testify.

If he is still in the free agent pool in your league, he is likely a great option. For instance, in the Baseball Daily Digest roto league, if Hughes were available, he would be the fourth-best pitcher behind Carlos Silva, Livan Hernandez, and Doug Fister using Yahoo!'s ranking system. Obviously, I would take Hughes over all three of them with only a split-second of trepidation that Livan might win the 2010 NL Cy Young award.

I would advise against trading for him as you would be buying high, a bad idea given his expected regression.

Apr 23, 2010 07:27 AM
 
Nate Sheetz

He was a free agent. I definitely wouldn't have traded for him. Thanks for your thoughts!

Apr 23, 2010 11:07 AM
rating: 0
 
jrfukudome

Bill,

If you had to drop either Ian Kennedy or Bud Norris, who would you drop and why?

Thanks!

Apr 23, 2010 10:10 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Rob McQuown
BP staff

I'd drop Norris, personally. Sure, the Berkman-led offense will score more than it did without him, and Kennedy's home games don't offer a great situation for pitching. But the D-backs should score some runs for Kennedy, and getting the more frequent starts at Petco is a great bonus. I guess Norris at Pittsburgh is nice, but I'd have a hard time making him active in any other situation. I'd probably activate Kennedy at both SF and SD now, and maybe some other times as well. As a general plan, I'd also rather have the starting pitcher with control in roto formats. Guys who walk a lot can have "effective" outings which still really cripple a team's WHIP, as they pitch around their walks. No thanks.

Apr 23, 2010 16:12 PM
 
BP staff member Bill Baer
BP staff

It's really close, as they're similar pitchers. I would keep Kennedy over Norris for the following reasons:

- Kennedy plays for a team with a decent offense. At present, the D-Backs' offense ranks fourth in the NL while the Astros rank dead last. Even if Kennedy hurls a clunker, he may still walk away with a win.

- Kennedy plays in an offensively weak division with a lot of pitcher-friendly road parks. The L.A. Dodgers lead the NL in RPG, but their offense is due to regress.

- Kennedy is harder to predict. He has four pitches: fastball (64.5%), change-up (17%), curve (14%), and slider (8.5%). Norris is essentially fastball-slider, at 56% and 37% respectively. Norris' fastball is a few MPH higher on average, but it won't mean much if hitters know it's coming.

They're really very similar players, so to differentiate I had to nitpick. I don't think you can make a disastrously wrong decision here.

By the way, I almost included Norris on this week's value picks. He may be on there next Friday.

Apr 23, 2010 16:22 PM
 
jrfukudome

Thanks to you both!

Apr 24, 2010 22:00 PM
rating: 0
 
ccweinmann

There seem to be a whole bunch of potential breakout, or at least solid, pitchers out there right now. I've been debating the following guys in my league and am having a hard time deciding who to stick with:

Masterson
Gorzellany
Latos
Jaime Garcia
Ervin Santana
Volstad
Gio Gonzalez
Bud Norris
Kennedy

The bottom three are probably not quite as good as the others, but man... there is a lot of potential there.




Apr 23, 2010 13:11 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Rob McQuown
BP staff

I wouldn't even consider dropping Latos. Garcia is almost in that category, too, especially if you aren't in a great situation with wins.

Apr 23, 2010 16:14 PM
 
BP staff member Bill Baer
BP staff

I would rank them:

Ervin Santana
Jaime Garcia
Mat Latos
Gio Gonzalez
Tom Gorzelanny
Ian Kennedy
Bud Norris
Chris Volstad
Justin Masterson

That's just based on a quick surface scan of their stats. I'd be happy to answer any other specific questions as well.

Apr 23, 2010 16:28 PM
 
evaldi

Isn't Ervin pitching with a tear in his elbow? Seems like a time bomb. And I do not trust Bud Norris. I want to trust Ian Kennedy but no.

Apr 24, 2010 00:08 AM
rating: 0
 
pobothecat

Glad to see a nod there to Gio in your off-the-cuff list.

Saw him the other night in an outing that looked bad on paper (5-5-5 ish) but was impressed by his stuff. Plenty of pace, changed eye levels nicely, wasn't afraid to come inside and occasionally showed startling movement.

And I like the mojo in Oakland: Anderson, Duch, Braden, Ross, Bailey. Fascinating variety of styles. With a 3.07 staff E.R.A.

Apr 24, 2010 01:21 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Bill Baer
BP staff

I don't believe so, evaldi. I did some searching and couldn't find anything recent regarding an elbow tear. He did have elbow inflammation during the last week of spring training, but I can't find anything that cites it as a lingering issue.

Apr 24, 2010 03:57 AM
 
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Premium Article Prospectus Q&A: Tony F... (04/23)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Smoak Mo... (04/23)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Weeks At... (04/26)
Next Article >>
Premium Article On the Beat: Friday Up... (04/23)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Fantasy Article Expert League Auction Recap: CBS AL-Only
Fantasy Article State of the Position: Relief Pitcher
Fantasy Article The Quinton: Market Corrections and Underval...
The Week in Quotes: February 23-March 1, 201...
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: You Can't Predict Padres
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: It's the Latest Johan ...
Fantasy Article Fantasy Players to Target: Relief Pitchers

MORE FROM APRIL 23, 2010
Premium Article Under The Knife: Checking Out Aroldis Chapma...
Premium Article Ahead in the Count: Methodology of The New M...
Premium Article Transaction Action: National League Roundup
Premium Article Prospectus Hit List: Welcome Back
Premium Article On the Beat: Friday Update
Changing Speeds: A Town Called Panic
Premium Article Prospectus Q&A: Tony Franklin

MORE BY BILL BAER
2010-05-14 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-05-07 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-04-30 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-04-23 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-04-16 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-04-09 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-04-02 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
More...

MORE FANTASY BEAT
2010-04-27 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Iannetta Demoted
2010-04-26 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: First Base, Third B...
2010-04-26 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Weeks At A Time
2010-04-23 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-04-23 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Smoak Monster Cometh
2010-04-23 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Weekly Planner #4
2010-04-22 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Relief Pitchers
More...

INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2010-07-16 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers