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July 23, 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
Randy Wells RH 4 112.1 126 8 4.33 1.39 7.1 2.4 0.6 6.9 2.3 0.8 19 3.84
J.D. Martin RH 1 45.2 53 8 4.14 1.34 5.5 1.6 1.6 5.3 2.4 1.1 8 4.39
Tom Gorzelanny LH 5 80.2 73 4 3.12 1.41 9.0 4.6 0.4 8.1 4.0 0.8 13 3.93
Bud Norris RH 2 68.0 79 9 6.09 1.65 9.7 4.4 0.9 8.9 4.5 1.1 13 3.77
Marc Rzepczynski LH 0 11.1 18 2 7.15 1.76 10.3 1.6 1.6 7.6 4.1 1.1 2 2.91
Vance Worley RH - - - - - - - - - 5.4 3.8 1.2 - -
Barry Enright RH 2 23.2 20 3 2.66 1.14 8.0 2.7 1.1 6.0 3.0 1.5 4 3.58
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  

Added to the list

Vance Worley: Worley was called up following the injury to Jamie Moyer and the poor performance of Andrew Carpenter during Tuesday's game when the Phillies faced the Cardinals. His present title is "long reliever", but the Phillies have a three-man rotation at the moment with Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Joe Blanton. The Phillies have not liked what they have seen from J.A. Happ, still rehabbing in the Minor Leagues. Kyle Kendrick was demoted as was Carpenter. GM Ruben Amaro said that Saturday's starter will likely be acquired in the trade, but since the Phillies are not likely to trade for two starting pitchers (unless... Roy Oswalt and Brett Myers?!) and are even more unlikely to go with a four-man rotation, Worley seems like the logical option as the #5 starter.

I would not recommend picking up Worley now (at least not until he is officially slated to start a game), but pay close attention to what is going on in Philadelphia. Worley is not anything special but can provide a lot of value this late in the season. In the Minors, Worley showed above-average control and slightly below-average strikeout ability and has a penchant for inducing ground balls. His curve and change-up are not five-star pitches by any stretch of the imagination but has been able to put them to good use with his recent hot streak with Double-A Reading. Think of him as a 4.25-4.50 ERA pitcher with a 5.5 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.

(Note: Amaro tabbed Happ and Kendrick as this weekend's starters but they are certainly not permanent fixtures.)

Barry Enright: Enright showed very good control and above-average strikeout stuff in his three-plus seasons in the Minors. He was at Double-A Mobile before being called up by the Diamondbacks. He held a potent Cardinals offense to one run in five innings in his Major League debut on June 30 and most recently dominated the Mets for eight innings on Tuesday. In his 23 and two-thirds innings of work in four Major League starts, he has a 3.0 K/BB rate. The one concern is that he does not induce enough ground balls and thus is prone to the home run.

Enright is taken in less than half of one percent of ESPN leagues. Plenty of seats available on his bandwagon.

Removed from the list

J.D. Martin: Consider swapping Martin for Enright if you can. Enright is simply better. Martin does not strike out enough hitters nor does he induce enough ground balls. He is prone to both BABIP and fly ball luck, not a great combination for stability.

Marc Rzepczynski: In two starts and two relief appearances, Scrabble has a 6.5 K/BB and a 2.91 SIERA. The problem that has led to his 7.15 ERABABIP. He has allowed 18 hits in 11 and one-third innings of work, good for a .458 BABIP.

If I am GM Alex Anthopoulos and manager Cito Gaston (at the same time), I am not concerned with Scrabble's hits allowed unless he is allowing only line drives. That is not the case, however, as he has a line drive rate at 24 percent (per FanGraphs). He has actually been lucky on line drives and very unlucky on ground balls and very, very unlucky on fly balls. This is due to the sub-par Blue Jay defense, but particularly the outfielders.

  Rate MR BABIP AL BABIP
LD 24% 0.600 0.722
GB 35% 0.462 0.226
FB 41% 0.412 0.143

(Yes, "MR BABIP" is hilarious. But MR just stands for Scrabble's initials. "MR BABIP" is not, in fact, an actual person.)

The Jays are concerned about Scrabble, though. As such, they demoted him to Triple-A Las Vegas and as such, you should swap him for a useful pitcher, such as those mentioned above.

Staying on the list

Randy Wells: Wells, in his last four starts: 27.2 IP, 21 H, 5 ER (1.63 ERA), 8 BB (2.6 BB/9), 23 K (7.5 K/9). He can be found in the free agent pool in 93 percent of ESPN leagues, so you still may have a free shot at him. His ERA is gradually coming down and will eventually meet his 3.84 SIERA.

Tom Gorzelanny: Like Wells, Gorzelanny has been on a roll as of late, earning three wins in his last three starts. Over his last four starts, he has a 2.38 ERA but he has also walked 15 batters in 22 and two-thirds innings, a rate of nearly six walks per nine innings. That he has had such a low ERA with that walk rate is entirely fluky but the increased walk rate is itself fluky. Gorzelanny is not a maven of control as he has averaged more than four walks per nine all season, but his recent performances are unlike even him.

Gorz will make his next start tomorrow against the Cardinals. This is probably a good opportunity to skip his start and take some notes. The Cards have an above-average offense and they hit left-handed starters better than right-handers, .778 to .742 in terms of OPS. If his control problems persist, you may want to be conservative and drop Gorzelanny for another pitcher such as Barry Enright.

Bud Norris: Norris has not pitched poorly enough to warrant the runs he has allowed in his last 12 and one-third innings of work. The poor Astros defense behind him is largely to blame for the 28 hits he has allowed in his last four starts. However, his strikeout rate has dropped significantly, down to about seven per nine innings in that span of time. The drop in strikeouts may simply be attributed to the necessity of throwing legitimate strikes with runners on base. His last two starts should not shake your confidence in his ability.

You can still find Norris in over 99 percent of ESPN leagues. Fortunately, you will miss his roll-of-the-dice start against the Reds today as most leagues do not allow you to pick up and use a player in the same day (at least, that is the case in every league in which I have played).

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:  Tom Gorzelanny

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