June 7, 2012
Starting Pitchers for 6/7/12
With a big wave of interleague on the horizon, pitcher values vary in a way we haven’t seen yet this year as they face new teams in new venues. For example, the Angels and Athletics have featured some useful starting pitchers this year, the former more so than the latter, but as they each head into Coors Field to face the Rockies over the next week, there could be some trouble on the horizon. This could be especially problemsome for Ervin Santana, Bartolo Colon, and Tom Milone given their home run rates.
Meanwhile, a trip into San Diego will enhance the back end of the Seattle rotation should their turns fall during that trip. Jason Vargas has a great composite line, but he has built it on his home performance (1.91 ERA at home; 4.53 ERA on the road) and this is a nice spot to get him a road start in your lineup if he gets a shot in PETCO Park.
This isn’t some flash-in-the-pan, out-of-nowhere performer. Jackson has been getting better yearly since 2009, incrementally improving his skills, leading to this year’s 3.1 K/BB built on a solid 7.3 K/9 and a career-best 2.4 BB/9. Despite this, he is just 2-3, partially because his team is giving him a measly 3.7 runs per game of support, which is second-worst among 118 qualified starting pitchers (poor Edison Volquez gets a full run less at 2.8 R/G). I’m not sure what it is going to take for his rates to be at 90 percent or better at all outlets.
The problem is that Hughes remains a heavy flyball pitcher, which has left him prone to the long ball, as evidenced by his 1.9 HR/9. In fact, he has given up at least one home run in every one of his 11 starts, five of which have come on the road, so you can’t just blame it on Yankee Stadium. The homers are a concern, but I think the skills and the win potential on this team give him more value than the fantasy community is currently seeing from him.
Given the penchant of the fantasy community to overrate youngsters on the whole, I am surprised that Drew Hutchison (Yahoo! 5%, ESPN 1%, CBS 22%) has been overlooked. The 21 year old is more widely available than teammate Henderson Alvarez and his utterly worthless 2.6 K/9. Sorry folks, that is a failing on the part of the fantasy community. Hutchison’s 20 extra strikeouts and three extra wins are worth more than Alvarez’s ERA and WHIP edges, especially if you play in a league with any sort of starts or innings cap. In these leagues, Alvarez has wasted 11 starts and 72 innings with that poor strikeout rate, since those are essentially K/9 leagues.
Hutchison is our focus here, though. Not only does he have some appealing skills, but he also traversed his way through the AL East in his last four starts with only the Rays getting the best of him (they tagged him for six runs in four innings). The remaining three divisional foes managed a whopping two runs in 20 innings, giving Hutchison a 3.00 ERA across 24 innings with a 3-1 record. Impressive work from the 21 year old.
Also looking sharp of late is Mike Leake (Yahoo! 8%, ESPN 2%, CBS 25%), posting a 2.19 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, and 3.1 K/BB in 24 2/3 innings of work. His composite numbers are still pretty ugly, though, as his ERA was 7.11 before the four start stretch. He put together a nice sophomore season last year after a solid rookie campaign (made more solid by the fact that he had zero minor league experience), and this year has been a blend of the two, skills-wise. His 2.1 K/BB won’t knock anyone over, and home runs have always been an issue, but his 3.91 xFIP is more than a full run lower than his 4.95 ERA, suggesting even more good work is on the horizon.