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 Under The Knife: A Leg... (09/10)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: The Rece... (09/10)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Vazquez'... (09/13)
Next Article >>
Prospectus Q&A: Dave N... (09/10)

September 10, 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.

Let us wrap up Keepers Week with the most interesting fantasy baseball people: starting pitchers. (Okay, I may be biased a little.) In keeper leagues, you have to be ruthless with your pitching staff, willing to cut anybody at any time. That is why, earlier this season, I suggested that Johan Santana is someone you may consider passing onto somebody else before he explodes, despite the fact that he has a sub-three ERA. The National League pitchers I will be naming below are those I feel are good bets to provide solid production not only in 2011 but in years beyond.

Click graphic for more stats

Mike Minor, Atlanta Braves

Although his ERA is bloated at 5.33 (thanks, BABIP!), Minor has impressed a lot of people in his first 27 innings in the Majors. Overall, he struck out 31 batters including 12 in one game on August 22 against the Chicago Cubs. He walked just seven batters, giving him a strikeout-to-walk ratio of about 4.5 -- very good, especially for a young pitcher.

Minor induces swings-and-misses with a heavy dose of fastballs and change-ups with a velocity differential surpassing ten MPH. His stuff is so good that he reached Triple-A Gwinnett in only his second year of professional baseball, and he dominated.

If he had enough innings to qualify, his 2.96 SIERA would be fourth-best in the Majors behind Jered Weaver, Roy Halladay, and Mat Latos. Among those with at least 27 innings of work, Minor's SIERA still ranks 30th with most of the additional competition being relief pitchers.

The Braves may be uneasy about his ERA, but Minor should get every available opportunity to prove himself both for the rest of the regular season and in spring training next year.

Click graphic for more stats

Jordan Zimmermann, Washington Nationals

Zim rebounded quickly from Tommy John surgery, enjoying tremendous success at four different levels of the Minors this season in just 40 innings combined. He averaged 7.0 strikeouts and 1.4 walks per nine innings and earned a promotion to the Majors on August 26.

Right now, his arm strength may not be where the Nationals would prefer it to be as he has gone into the fifth inning only once and has yet to surpass 86 pitches in any start. In his last start against the New York Mets, he walked four in four innings, something that is certainly not indicative of the Jordan Zimmermann the Nationals expect.

You may be nervous about investing in him given his TJ surgery but in a keeper league, pitchers of his caliber are worth the risk. Getting five more starts before the end of the season should help, and then he has the whole off-season to build up arm strength and endurance. If he is healthy, there is about a zero percent chance that Zimmermann leaves spring training without a spot in the Nationals' starting rotation, especially given Stephen Strasburg's recently-completed Tommy John surgery.

Click graphic for more stats

Daniel Hudson, Arizona Diamondbacks

Hudson is a must-own in any format already, with just 91 innings of work in the Major Leagues under his belt. He compiled great numbers in his brief Minor League career as well, consistently averaging double-digit strikeouts per nine innings with above-average control.

Hudson made an instant impact for fantasy baseball players when he was sent to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Edwin Jackson trade. He used a heavy dose of fastballs and change-ups with an occasional slider to confuse opposing hitters. So far, Hudson has gone at least six innings in all eight of his starts while allowing two runs or fewer in seven of them. He also struck out nine or more batters while only walking three total in three consecutive starts from August 11-22, good for a strikeout-to-walk ratio over nine.

Click graphic for more stats

Cory Luebke, San Diego Padres

Luebke dazzled on Wednesday night, shutting out the Los Angeles Dodgers in six innings of work, earning seven punch-outs in the process. Unlike the pitchers listed above, Luebke is not as much of a strikeout machine, instead using his fastball-slider-change-up arsenal to induce ground balls, which he did at a 48 percent clip over his Minor League career.

Obviously, Luebke's home ballpark will have a lot of say in his success as Petco Park is arguably the most pitcher-friendly ballpark in baseball. For example, StatCorner.com gives Petco a home run park factor of 59 for left-handed hitters, a staggering figure to say the least (100 is average; below 100 favors pitchers).

Luebke is a good candidate in deeper keeper leagues where the combination of a low ERA and WHIP is harder to partner with average to slightly above-average strikeout rates.

Click graphic for more stats

James McDonald, Pittsburgh Pirates

After spending a lot of time pitching out of the bullpen for the Dodgers, McDonald is finally being given a chance to start regularly for the Pirates. Throughout his Minor League career, he posted great strikeout numbers and that has translated to his success thus far in Pittsburgh, currently averaging 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings.

The problem that has always plagued McDonald is control. In only Minor League one season at the Single-A level or greater did he average fewer than three walks per nine. He is currently close to four per nine in the Majors this season. However, as with pitchers like Jhoulys Chacin, Brandon Morrow, and Bud Norris from "Value Picks", McDonald's prodigious strikeout total makes his shaky control tolerable in an NL-only format. With coaching and some maturity, McDonald's walk rate should decrease in the coming years.

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:  Cory Luebke

2 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Under The Knife: A Leg... (09/10)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: The Rece... (09/10)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Vazquez'... (09/13)
Next Article >>
Prospectus Q&A: Dave N... (09/10)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article The View from the Loge Level: The Alex Jacks...
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Power Outage
Premium Article What You Need to Know: September 19, 2014
Premium Article Raising Aces: Carlos in Charge
Notes About Baseball: The Second-Hardest Par...
Premium Article Pebble Hunting: Cueto's Quirks
Premium Article Moonshot: Detecting the Best Medicine

MORE FROM SEPTEMBER 10, 2010
Premium Article Prospectus Perspective: Man Up, Mariners!
Prospectus Q&A: Dave Niehaus and Rick Rizzs
Prospectus Hit List: AL: September Song
Premium Article Under The Knife: A Leg and a Prayer
Premium Article Seidnotes: Loney Loves Ribeyes
Premium Article Ahead in the Count: The Biggest ERA-SIERA Di...
Premium Article On the Beat: Going Out with Class

MORE BY BILL BAER
2010-10-01 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-09-24 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-09-17 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-09-10 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-09-03 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-08-27 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-08-20 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
More...

MORE FANTASY BEAT
2010-09-14 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Bas...
2010-09-13 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: First Base, Third B...
2010-09-13 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Vazquez's Decline of Velocity ...
2010-09-10 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
2010-09-10 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: The Recent Happenings of J.A. ...
2010-09-10 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Weekly Planner #24
2010-09-09 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Relief Pitchers
More...