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
Prospectus Q&A: Don Zi... (07/09)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: So, Aaro... (07/09)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Beat: The Fant... (07/12)
Next Article >>
Premium Article You Could Look It Up: ... (07/09)

July 9, 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 IP H HR ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 Starts SIERA
Randy Wells RH 4 105.1 119 8 4.61 1.40 7.1 2.4 0.7 6.9 2.3 0.8 18 3.86
J.D. Martin RH 1 40.1 47 6 3.35 1.29 5.8 1.1 1.3 5.3 2.4 1.1 7 4.13
Tom Gorzelanny LH 3 68.0 62 4 3.31 1.43 9.1 4.6 0.5 8.1 4.0 0.8 11 3.89
Bud Norris RH 2 55.2 63 6 5.98 1.67 10.5 4.9 1.0 8.9 4.5 1.1 11 3.65
Marc Rzepczynski LH 0 5.2 8 2 6.35 1.59 11.1 1.6 3.2 7.6 4.1 1.1 1 2.32
Manny Parra LH 3 69.2 86 9 4.65 1.71 9.2 4.3 1.2 7.8 4.5 1.1 9 3.81
Jhoulys Chacin RH 5 75.2 65 7 3.93 1.32 9.4 4.2 0.8 7.7 4.3 0.9 12 3.64
Vicente Padilla RH 3 47.2 45 10 4.72 1.13 9.1 1.7 1.9 7.0 3.1 1.4 8 3.05
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  


Players added to the list

Marc Rzepczynski: If you cannot find Rzepczynski in your league's free agent pool, you probably spelled his name wrong. Known more casually as "Scrabble" or "Eyechart", Rzepczynski made his season debut on Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins. Despite giving up four runs in five and two-thirds innings, he struck out seven and walked only one batter.

I caught up with a Blue Jays devotee, Ian Hunter of the blog Blue Jay Hunter, for some insight on the lefty. He noted that Eyechart throws a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup.

"Hands down, Rzepczynski's best pitch is his slider. His ability to throw that pitch definitely helps induce those ground balls. In the Minor Leagues, his ground ball percentage was 64 percent.

The most interesting stat about him from last year was his O-Contact (61 percent) to Z-Contact percentage (94 percent), which actually lead all starters in the Majors last season."

[O-Contact refers to contact on pitches outside of the strike zone; Z-Contact refers to contact on pitches inside the strike zone.]

Eyechart was added to the Jays' rotation when Shaun Marcum was placed on the disabled list. That leaves us wondering if he can secure a spot in the rotation even when Marcum returns. Hunter notes that if Rzepczynski pitches well, Jesse Litsch could be the one receiving a demotion. Furthermore, Hunter said that the Jays intended to have Rzepczynski in the rotation at the start of the season but he took a line drive off of his finger during spring training, placing him on the sidelines.

As a hurler who compiled good strikeout numbers in the Minors despite an ERA at Triple-A Las Vegas that was adversely affected by abnormally a high BABIP, Rzepczynski is a good long-term option. He can rack up the strikeouts and unlike a lot of the hurlers who have made the "Value Picks list", his average walk rate should not weigh down his WHIP.

Vicente Padilla: You may look at me funny when you read this, but I swear that it is true: in his eight starts this season, Padilla has been one of the better starting pitchers in baseball. He is averaging a strikeout per inning and under two walks per nine innings. His 5.33 K/BB would be up there with Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Dan Haren but, of course, he does not have enough innings to qualify. His 3.05 SIERA speaks to his great pitching performances thus far, despite the ugly 4.72 ERA. Padilla is a free man in 95 percent of ESPN leagues.

Players removed from the list

Manny Parra: Parra could be demoted to the bullpen again after a shaky few starts. Going into yesterday's start against the San Francisco Giants, he had struck out a lot of hitters -- 41 in 36 and two-thirds innings -- but a high walk rate (4.7 per nine) and BABIP (.369) contributed to some poor outings. He struggled again yesterday, allowing six runs (four earned) on ten hits and two walks with five strikeouts. The Brewers have been trying to right the ship with the pitching staff and demoting Parra to the bullpen may be another such effort. Nothing is official yet, but it seems inevitable.

Jhoulys Chacin: As reader xavier pointed out last week, Jhoulys Chacin will be losing his spot in the rotation today as Jorge de la Rosa will be activated from the disabled list. Chacin definitely opened some eyes with some great pitching performances and a K/9 of 9.4. It seems ludicrous to remove his production from the rotation, but with veterans Aaron Cook and Jeff Francis and the even better, more surprising production of Jason Hammel, Chacin was going to have a hard time keeping his job. He will be the Rockies' first line of defense in the event of an injury, so remember to keep him on your radar.

Players staying on the list

Randy Wells: Last week, it was mentioned that Wells had not strung together back-to-back quality starts frequently this season. He has accrued quality starts now in back-to-back-to-back starts. He tossed 13 and two-thirds innings at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds, relinquishing only one run to each with 11 strikeouts and five walks. Last night, he allowed three runs over seven innings in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. He struck out seven and walked only one -- a great sign from a pitcher who has pitched too well to have experienced such early failure.

Wells' popularity in ESPN fantasy leagues had been on the decline but given his recent success, expect his bandwagon to fill up quickly. He is still available in 93 percent of ESPN leagues but act now before it is too late.

J.D. Martin: The 27-year-old may finally have figured this pitching thing out. He has been a boost to an otherwise lackluster pitching staff after Stephen Strasburg. While he is no Nolan Ryan, he has great control and is very WHIP-friendly. He currently owns a 3.35 ERA but you should expect him to be more like a 4.00 ERA pitcher going forward as his 4.13 SIERA indicates. As with all of the players on the "Value Picks" list, Martin is still available in an overwhelming majority (99.8 percent) of ESPN fantasy leagues.

Tom Gorzelanny: Gorz struggled on Monday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, walking six in five innings of work. He was never expected to have great control but he was exceptionally wild that day. He has also gone only five innings in each of his last two starts, but he should start going deeper into games as he becomes more accustomed to starting, as he was recently moved to the rotation from the bullpen due to Carlos Zambrano's crazy antics. You can still find Tommy G in 97 percent of ESPN leagues. Take him for the strikeouts as he is averaging one per inning of work.

Bud Norris: Norris was brilliant his last time out on Saturday in San Diego against the Padres, holding them scoreless in seven innings. His offense, though, provided him with zero run support and he was left with a no decision. There is no reason to expect that to change, especially as the trade deadline nears and the Astros are likely to deal some of their bigger bats such as Lance Berkman. Norris is similar to Brandon Morrow and teammate Felipe Paulino, both "Value Picks" alumni, as he strikes out hitters at a very high rate but also walks a few too many. Thus, Norris is a great option for some easy strikeouts and, if he continues performing as well as he has, he should add a boost to your ERA as well. He is still virtually unknown as he is available in 99.6 percent of ESPN leagues.

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:  Bud Norris,  Chacin,  Jhoulys Chacin

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

BP Comment Quick Links

BP staff member Bill Baer
BP staff

No comments on this article -- anybody have any questions or suggestions?

How did you like the addition of a team-specific blogger's insight on a new player? I'm trying to make these articles a bit more interesting.

Jul 09, 2010 19:24 PM

It would be nice if we can access a quick link to your value picks on a weekly basis. Very interesting article.

Jul 10, 2010 03:25 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Bill Baer
BP staff

Good idea. I'll create a list in next week's article. In the meantime, you can quickly find the value picks with this Google search:

Click here

Jul 10, 2010 07:03 AM


Finding obscure starters is one of the best parts of playing in deep mixed leagues. Any help I can get from my BP subscription is greatly appreciated.

Jul 11, 2010 03:01 AM
rating: 0

What are your thoughts on Scott Olson?

Jul 10, 2010 08:54 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Bill Baer
BP staff

From what I can tell, he is not expected to return for a while -- he is just now starting to throw.

After 2006, he completely lost his ability to strike out hitters. His K/9 since '07 has been average to below-average and as such, he has been a mediocre fantasy option. His SIERA, by year:

2007: 4.76
2008: 4.99
2009 (injured): 4.83
2010 (injured): 4.21

He was much-improved this year due to an increase in strikeouts, a decrease in walks, a slightly below-average HR/FB rate, a jump in ground balls induced, and a fluky strand rate that did not match up with a .320 BABIP.

I think there will be better options available, but you could keep an eye on him. When he returns to the Majors, note his fastball velocity. It should be in the 88-91 range. If it is consistently lower than that, let someone else gamble with him.

For the record, I have the same stinginess with Phillies lefty J.A. Happ, who is surprisingly being hoarded in 39 percent of ESPN leagues.

Jul 10, 2010 11:26 AM

It looks like all these guys are less than 10% owned. I think for SP, it might be more valuable to include guys that aren't quite as fringe as these. Even in my deep NL league, I wouldn't look to pick up a guy expecting a 4 era (Martin). I might spot start him but I don't think it's a long term solution.

Jul 10, 2010 09:28 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Bill Baer
BP staff

Our goal with Value Picks -- and I don't want to stuff words in the mouth of our resident Mikes and Rob -- is to highlight players going unnoticed in most fantasy leagues. It is easy to say that Cole Hamels is getting unlucky and that you should go after him, but since he is taken in most leagues, the only way that helps you is if you attempt to trade for him.

Overall, I think "Value Picks" helps a greater amount of people. There are definitely some shallow leagues that do not benefit as much, but it is difficult to cater to every type of league, so we go for the biggest percentage.

Jul 10, 2010 11:16 AM

I understand the rationale and perhaps the under 10% is good for other positions. I'm not suggesting the Cole Hamels types (owned in 95%) but perhaps more like 30% to 40% might have more benefit for the majority of the leagues. These guys are probably available and are more apt to be long term solutions rather than a shot in the dark.

Guys that might fit this are...

Wolf (46% in yahoo) with 4 out of last 5 quality starts.
Arroyo (39%) 3.30 ERA and 1.18 WHIP since June 1
Vargas (37%) 3.09 ERA and 1.19 WHIP for the season
Hammel (27%) 1.95 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 6.6 k/9 since June 1

Jul 10, 2010 11:31 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Bill Baer
BP staff

I will forward this comment to all involved with Value Picks and we'll see if we can relax the thresholds.

Jul 10, 2010 14:31 PM

That said, the real value of Value Picks is in pointing out the non-obvious. Fantasy players can find the Arroyos-of-the-world with a click of the "percentage-owned" header. Telling readers that Randy Wolf might be useful isn't, well, useful.

And, I'd be willing to bet that your average BP reader is in deeper than average leagues.

Jul 10, 2010 16:34 PM
rating: 1

I disagree. Sure there are 16 team leagues out there and NL and AL only. But I'd be willing to bet there are just as many or more standard 10 or 12 team mixed leagues. I happen to be in an NL only and a 12 team mixed league.

All the guys I mentioned are FA in my 12 team mixed and with the exception of Vargas have season numbers that aren't going to knock your socks off. Yet they have been pitching better and can be a long term solid pitcher. Wolf's got a 4.5 ERA and 1.5 whip on the season. However, he's been a solid fantasy pitcher in the past. So, the recent stretch in my mind is worth watching and 46% owned isn't that much. And, because of his season numbers, you could easily pass over him which is what it sounds like is the intent of the value picks.

Jul 10, 2010 17:37 PM
rating: -1

Also, those four guys I found as "examples" consisted of about 2 minutes worth of research. I'd expect authors spend more time researching for their articles. So, if those guys don't exactly fit the Value Pick moniker fine, I still think the bar should be raised for SP at least.

Jul 10, 2010 17:52 PM
rating: -1
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Prospectus Q&A: Don Zi... (07/09)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: So, Aaro... (07/09)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Beat: The Fant... (07/12)
Next Article >>
Premium Article You Could Look It Up: ... (07/09)

West Coast By Us: Whatever, I'm Wearing Jort...
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of Tuesday, May 2...
Fantasy Rounders: Engage the Cutch
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Wednesday, May 27
Premium Article Some Projection Left: Top 100 Draft Prospect...
Premium Article Rubbing Mud: Rubbing Not-Really-Mud
BP Wrigleyville

Premium Article All-Star Discontents
Premium Article On the Beat: Friday Update: Relievers on the...
Premium Article Prospectus Hit List: Nearing the Cliff
Premium Article Overthinking It: Can't Get No Relief?
Premium Article You Could Look It Up: The Point of Deadline ...
Prospectus Q&A: Don Zimmer

2010-07-30 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Rotation Promotions
2010-07-23 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-07-16 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-07-09 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-07-02 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-06-25 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-06-23 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Ailing Starters: Who to Watch

2010-07-13 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Are You Buying The New Corey P...
2010-07-12 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: First Base, Third B...
2010-07-12 - Fantasy Beat: The Fantasy All-Stars
2010-07-09 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-07-09 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: So, Aaron Hill Is Killing Your...
2010-07-09 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Weekly Planner #15 - All-Star ...
2010-07-08 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Relief Pitchers

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