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
Baseball ProGUESTus: T... (03/04)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Some Lov... (03/04)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Pi... (03/07)
Next Article >>
Divide and Conquer, NL... (03/04)

March 4, 2011

Fantasy Beat

Value Picks in the Rotation

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.

In the wake of injuries to Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, the St. Louis Cardinals are scrambling to patch together a complete starting rotation. Wainwright will miss the entire season due to Tommy John surgery, but Carpenter's strained left hamstring is not serious and he should have plenty of time to heal before the start of the regular season. The Cardinals will be scanning the trade market and waiver wire for replacement candidates, but are also looking from within. Let us investigate some of those internal options.

McClellan has never started a game at the Major League level, but was a starter early in his minor league career. In 2007, the Cardinals organization decided to convert him to a reliever. The switch caused McClellan's strikeout rate to increase quite a bit, which makes sense—starters have to ration their stuff since they pitch five-plus innings every outing, while relievers can let it all hang out in their one-inning stints. Nate Silver covered this back in 2006 when Jonathan Papelbon was teetering between the bullpen and the rotation, and R.J. Anderson took a look at McClellan recently to see how he would do heading in the opposite direction, utilizing the Rule of 17.

Should the Cardinals opt to use McClellan in the rotation, expect his K/9 to drop slightly, from around 7.0 down to around 6.0. He should maintain a BB/9 north of 3.0. In auction leagues, you can do much worse for $1. In NL-only leagues, his value is all the better.

If there is anyone on the planet who can fix Ian Snell, it would be Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan. Many a bad pitcher has passed under the Gateway Arch, only to transform into a capable starter under the tutelage of Duncan.

Snell, however, is quite a project. He has been a veritable disaster over the last three seasons with a BB/9 hanging around 5.0 while his K/9 has plummeted from 8.2 in '06 to 5.1 last year. Even worse is that he is a fly ball pitcher, an uncommon trait in successful Cardinals pitchers. Let's not forget that he already had an opportunity to pitch well in the weak NL Central in his pre-Mariner days, and the results weren't impressive (a 5.06 Run Average, 1.9 K/BB ratio, and 1.1 homers per nine over 693 innings with Pittsburgh).

Duncan will most likely try to alter Snell's approach such that he induces more grounders, as he has done to so many pitchers before. Using that as a starting point, the long road to recovery can begin. For fantasy baseball purposes, however, Snell offers exponentially more risk than reward and should be avoided entirely in all formats. If, on the off-chance he gets the opportunity to start and there is legitimate improvement, he should be available in every free agent pool, ripe for your picking.

Miguel Batista, a 21-year veteran of professional baseball, is another candidate for a starting rotation job. Like Snell, he just does not strike out enough hitters anymore and he has suspect control. Furthermore, he has not been used as an exclusive starter since 2008 with the Mariners—his 7.66 RA through his 19 starts in the rotation that year may have had something to do with the move to the bullpen.

Batista had limited success as a reliever for the Nationals, but he had a .256 BABIP to thank for that, and his 4.71 SIERA agreed that it wasn't sustainable. In all fantasy formats that reward actual production on the field, Batista should be ignored.

The Arizona Diamondbacks will also have some competition at the back of their starting rotation. Armando Galarraga and Barry Enright, two of the candidates, were discussed here at the end of January and Zach Duke was covered in early December. There is, however, one more candidate: Aaron Heilman.

For some reason, some teams are keen on giving relief pitchers opportunities to win a starting rotation job. Heilman has not started a game since 2005 with the New York Mets. In the last three years, he has been a marginally-effective reliever with three different teams.

Oddly enough, both Heilman's K/9 and BB/9 have dropped significantly since '08. His K/9 trend has been 9.5, 8.1, and 6.9 while his BB/9 has been 5.5, 4.2, and 3.3. Heilman is also a fly ball pitcher with a hitter-friendly home ballpark.

With five consecutive years as an exclusive reliever, one has to question Heilman's conditioning and endurance, whether it is good enough to handle pitching five or six innings every five days, which would roughly double his typical innings output.

The verdict? If the Diamondbacks somehow decide to let Heilman start, do not expect the experiment to work, so skip over Heilman in your fantasy 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:  Starting Rotation

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

BP Comment Quick Links


The 2 middle cards are not viewable on my end, can others see the 2 middle cards?

Mar 04, 2011 05:44 AM
rating: 0

BTW, I'm using Chrome.

Mar 04, 2011 05:45 AM
rating: 0

Lance Lynn will win the 5th starter spot, and he'll be this year's version of Jaime Garcia. Maybe not with the amazing ERA, but in terms of peripherals and FIP.

That's my bold prediction for the year!

Regardless of how realistic it is, any analysis of the Cardinals 5th starter competition without mentioning Lance Lynn is lacking, especially after his spring debut yesterday went so well.

Mar 04, 2011 14:45 PM
rating: 0
Sal T

McClellan will surprise.

Mar 06, 2011 22:16 PM
rating: 0
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Baseball ProGUESTus: T... (03/04)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Some Lov... (03/04)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Pi... (03/07)
Next Article >>
Divide and Conquer, NL... (03/04)

Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of Wednesday, May...
Premium Article Painting the Black: Stealing Signs
Fantasy Rounders: Statistical Crossroads
Eyewitness Accounts: May 28, 2015
Premium Article Pitching Backward: Started From the Bottom, ...
Premium Article The Call-Up: Eduardo Rodriguez
Premium Article Some Projection Left: Ask the Industry: Catc...

Premium Article Purpose Pitches: Mourning for Morneau?
Prospect Profile: Brett Jackson
Premium Article On the Beat: Rays of Sunshine
Premium Article Collateral Damage: Missing the Meniscus
Divide and Conquer, NL Central: Wait Till Th...
Baseball ProGUESTus: The Impact of World Ser...
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Some Love for E5

2011-03-14 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Know Your Enemy
2011-03-11 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Picks in the Rotation
2011-03-09 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Picks in the Outfield
2011-03-04 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Picks in the Rotation
2011-02-25 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Picks in the Rotation
2011-02-22 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Cain's Gains
2011-02-18 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Picks in the Rotation

2011-03-08 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: The Art of Auction
2011-03-08 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Picks at Catcher, Second...
2011-03-07 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Picks at First, Third, a...
2011-03-04 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Picks in the Rotation
2011-03-04 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Some Love for E5
2011-03-03 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Picks in the Bullpen
2011-03-02 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Getting to Know Tsuyoshi Nishi...