August 2, 2012
Starting Pitchers for 8/2/12
This week’s Value Picks will have a slightly different feel, with an injury flavor to them; a host of arms are out on rehab assignments, making now the prime time to get them on the cheap. Don’t worry; I sprinkled in some able-bodied arms as well.
Mixed League Options
Brandon McCarthy (Yahoo! 44%, ESPN 46%, CBS 73%) was originally hoping to skip rehab altogether, but he made one already this week and is slated for another this weekend. When he has been on the mound this year, he has been excellent, posting a 2.54 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 78 innings of work. He was on fire before hitting the disabled list this most recent time with a 1.35 ERA and 0.80 WHIP in 20 innings across three outings. Strikeouts aren’t really his primary asset (his K/9 usually falls in 6.0-6.5 range, which is average-to-slightly below, depending on year), but he doesn’t walk anybody either (2.2 BB/9 this year after a filthy 1.3 in 2011). You have to love that park, plus the A’s offense has been supporting their pitchers a bit more of late.
Jaime Garcia (Yahoo! 38%, ESPN 28%, CBS 55%) had a couple of brutal starts leading into his DL stint, but before that he was the Garcia we have come to expect: a solid ERA, a usable strikeout total, and above-average win potential as a Cardinal. All of these things negated his below average WHIP. He was clearly laboring through those final two starts, and they have inflated his season numbers a good bit. He started his rehab on Monday and is expected to make another pair of rehab starts before returning to the ballclub. If WHIP isn’t a primary need for your team, he should be a nice asset down the road who you might actually be able to get for free.
Single League Options
Heading back to Oakland, Brett Anderson (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 0%, CBS 18%) is working his way back from Tommy John surgery and could be this year’s Tim Hudson, who put together seven strong starts down the stretch in his 2009 return from TJS. Jordan Zimmermann wasn’t bad from a real-life perspective in his seven starts in 2010, but he wasn’t a huge fantasy asset. Meanwhile, Stephen Strasburg was unreal in five outings a year ago, but he’s on a different level than those other guys.
The issue for Anderson is where he fits into the rotation, especially with McCarthy on the way back. Even McCarthy will have to squeeze out someone of consequence; the current rotation of Bartolo Colon, Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, and Travis Blackley have been clicking on all cylinders. Of course, neither McCarthy nor Bartolo Colon is a model of health, so I’m sure the situation will work itself out by the time Anderson is officially back.
Coming back from a non-arm injury gives Jeff Niemann (Yahoo! 3%, ESPN 0%, CBS 21%) a leg up on the others listed since it may be easier to get back to 100 percent of his capability, but he is still looking at a late-August return, so there won’t be as much time for him to contribute once he is back. He was in the midst of following up his strong second half from 2011 before the freak accident (broken leg) derailed his 2012 season. He may still be stashed in the leagues where he would be most applicable, but take a look just in case. The rash of injuries across the league makes it difficult to store three or four injured guys at once unless your league has a lot of DL spots.
On the heels of a 13-strikeout gem, Hisashi Iwakuma(Yahoo! 2%, ESPN 1%, CBS16%) is popping up on more radars this week, but he was solid throughout July, putting together five outings with a 3.41 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 29 innings of work. He gave up three or fewer runs in four of the five outings, tossing in 27 strikeouts too. Depending on how your league works, you could have a bidding frenzy this weekend focused on Zack Greinke and Ryan Dempster, and Iwakuma could be a low-budget consolation prize while everyone tries for the big guns. In one of my AL-onlys, we bid every two weeks, so Greinke, Dempster, and Anibal Sanchez will be available at once. In a league like that, someone like Iwakuma will be completely overlooked.
Speaking of those involved in deadline trades, Nathan Eovaldi (Yahoo! 3%, ESPN 1%, CBS12%) wasn’t seen as a major return for Hanley Ramirez because of the superstar name value tied to Ramirez. But Eovaldi isn’t terrible (what a compliment, huh?) and just finished up a strong July in which he posted a 2.61 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 21 innings. The 1.50 WHIP is vomit-inducing as a result of too many hits, but there is some legitimate talent here, and he will get an uninterrupted opportunity to succeed for the also-ran Marlins.
Paul Sporer is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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