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May 7, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers

by Bill Baer

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Value Picks 2010 PECOTA Games '10
Starting Pitchers Throws W IP H HR ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 Starts SIERA
Gio Gonzalez LH 3 28.2 23 1 3.45 1.29 8.5 4.4 0.3 10.7 5.7 1.4 5 3.88
Brett Myers RH 1 40.0 47 4 3.60 1.45 6.5 2.5 0.9 9.4 3.6 1.3 6 3.89
Aaron Harang RH 1 33.2 44 7 6.68 1.52 7.2 1.9 1.9 9.4 3.0 1.6 6 3.75
Jeff Niemann RH 1 36.1 25 4 2.23 0.99 5.9 2.7 1.0 7.5 3.9 1.4 6 4.39
Doug Fister RH 2 35.0 23 0 1.29 0.80 4.1 1.3 0.0 6.5 2.9 1.3 5 4.10
Colby Lewis LH 3 38.2 28 3 3.03 1.14 10.2 3.7 0.7 9.5 3.0 1.3 6 3.17
Ian Kennedy RH 2 37.0 32 7 3.65 1.14 7.3 2.4 1.7 9.8 5.1 1.3 6 3.87
Tom Gorzelanny LH 1 29.0 22 1 2.48 1.10 8.4 3.1 0.3 9.0 4.6 1.2 5 3.59
Jason Vargas RH 2 31.2 24 3 3.69 1.04 7.7 2.6 0.9 7.0 3.8 1.4 5 3.75
Subscribe to Heater 2007-09 in Rotation 1.39 6.6 3.1 1.1  
Heater Magazine 2007-09 in Relief 1.36 7.7 3.8 0.9  

(Remember: Green indicates the player has been added to the list; Yellow indicates the player has been removed; and White indicates the player is remaining on the list.)

Removed from the list

Jeff Niemann, Tampa Bay Rays: After a great start to the 2010 season, Niemann is due for a regression given his .211 BABIP. He has pitched into the seventh inning and has allowed no more than three earned runs in each of his last five starts. However, none of the ERA estimators speak highly of his April performance. For instance, his to-date SIERA of 4.61 ranks 64th among all pitchers who have thrown at least 30 innings. Though to be fair, he has decent strikeout and walk numbers which explains his increased popularity, from 20 percent to 43 percent ownership in ESPN leagues over the last week, and it is time to sell high. His perceived value is higher than his actual value.

Doug Fister, Seattle Mariners: Mister Fister has burst onto fantasy players' radars with a microscopic 1.29 ERA and a couple no-hit bids. As you may expect, his bandwagon is getting full as his ownership rate in ESPN leagues jumped from 16 to 43 percent over the last week. As with Niemann, you have to love Fister's low walk rate of 1.3 per nine so far, but his strikeout rate is worrisome at just over four per nine. His 4.10 SIERA is acceptable in deep mixed leagues, and I certainly do not recommend dropping Fister just because he is due to regress particularly due to his pitching in a large ballpark with a great defense behind him. However, he is certainly not the value he was two weeks ago. Sell high on Fister if you can find a taker, hold if the free agent pool is dry, or sell if you can find any of the values in the table above.

Colby Lewis, Texas Rangers: Among pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched, Colby is fourth in the American League with a 3.17 SIERA. His 3.03 ERA is not far off, built on a solid foundation of a well above-average strikeout rate (10.2 per nine) and an average walk rate (3.7 per nine). He is ESPN's hottest commodity with a striking 53 percent increase in ownership over the week, from 32 percent to 85 percent. Chances are he is not available in your league and you are going to have to overpay to acquire him in a trade. As with Niemann, his perceived value is higher than his actual fantasy baseball value, though his actual fantasy baseball value is nothing at which to sneeze.

Added to the list

Gio Gonzalez, Oakland Athletics: Gonzalez struggles with control, but he makes up for it with great swing-and-miss stuff. He will make his start today against David Price and the powerful Tampa Bay Rays offense. I would suggest not starting him today if you have him, but against less-patient offenses (like the Angels and Rangers), he should be good to go. A disciplined Yankees offense picked him apart on April 20, forcing him out of the game after four and one-third innings and 97 pitches. Gonzalez is a must-have in AL-only leagues and likely an upgrade somewhere on your roster in a deep mixed league. Surprisingly, he is only owned in 8.5 percent of ESPN leagues.

Brett Myers, Houston Astros: With an impotent Astros offense, Myers probably will not help you in the wins department but should help in other areas. He has been BABIP unlucky which explains the high WHIP despite the career-low walk rate of 2.5 per nine. He no longer has the strikeout stuff he had in his prime with the Phillies, but average K's with improved control and neutral BABIP luck should be just fine as his 3.89 SIERA attests.  Myers is owned in just one percent of ESPN leagues, so he should be yours for the taking.

Aaron Harang, Cincinnati Reds: His 6.68 ERA looks very unattractive but 14 of the 25 earned runs he has allowed this year came in a span of one week and two starts. Half of his starts have been of the quality variety, and he has compiled great strikeout and walk rates—7.2 and 1.9 per nine innings, respectively. Like Myers, he drew the short BABIP straw as it currently sits at .353. Harang is owned in 31 percent of ESPN leagues, but if you are unable to acquire him from the free agent pool, you can likely trade for him at a bargain price. Use his 3.75 SIERA to your advantage.

Results

April was a good month for taking "Value Picks" advice on starting pitchers. If you took all of the starting pitching suggestions from the start of "Value Picks" until now (adding them when they were suggested and dropping them when they were removed), you would have picked up 14 wins, 153 strikeouts, and 63 walks in 210 and one-third innings along with a 2.87 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and per-nine rates of 6.5 strikeouts, 2.7 walks, and 0.7 home runs.

Here's hoping May is just as prosperous for you!

Pitcher On Off W IP ER H BB K HR ERA BB/9 K/9 HR/9 WHIP
Penny 4/9 4/23 2 14.0 2 11 1 9 0 1.29 0.6 5.8 0.0 0.86
Millwood 4/16 4/23 0 14.0 7 15 3 13 0 4.50 1.9 8.4 0.0 1.29
Rowland-Smith 4/16 4/23 0 11.3 5 10 4 3 4 3.97 3.2 2.4 3.2 1.24
Masterson 4/16 4/23 0 4.0 2 5 5 6 0 4.50 11.3 13.5 0.0 2.50
Pavano 4/16 4/23 1 10.3 9 15 0 7 2 7.84 0.0 6.1 1.7 1.45
Wolf 4/9 4/30 1 25.7 8 26 10 14 3 2.80 3.5 4.9 1.1 1.40
Correia 4/9 4/30 4 22.0 8 18 10 20 1 3.27 4.1 8.2 0.4 1.27
Niemann 4/16 5/7 1 21.0 6 13 8 15 3 2.57 3.4 6.4 1.3 1.00
Fister 4/23 5/7 0 16.0 2 11 1 7 0 1.13 0.6 3.9 0.0 0.75
Lewis 4/30 5/7 1 15.0 3 8 4 16 1 1.80 2.4 9.6 0.6 0.80
Vargas 4/23   0 13.3 5 8 6 11 1 3.38 4.1 7.4 0.7 1.05
Kennedy 4/23   2 22.7 6 18 4 13 3 2.38 1.6 5.2 1.2 0.97
Gorzelanny 4/30   1 14.0 4 11 5 13 1 2.57 3.2 8.4 0.6 1.14
TOTAL 14 210.3 67 173 63 153 16 2.87 2.7 6.5 0.7 1.12

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

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