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December 17, 2012

Resident Fantasy Genius

Assessing Recent Pitching Moves

by Derek Carty

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I spent Thursday catching up on the speedsters that were on the move this offseason. Today, I’ll put all the major pitching deals under the microscope.

Zack Greinke | Signed with Dodgers | SP
Los Angeles is a much better landing spot than Texas would have been for Greinke’s value, so he gets an up arrow. He returns to the easier league and will pitch in a pitcher-friendly-ish park. His supposed inclination toward returning to being a fly-ball pitcher is a bit odd and may be the subject of a future article. In any case, he’ll have a potentially loaded offense supporting him and figures to be one of the top fantasy options during 2013 drafts.

James Shields | Rays to Royals | SP
Shields loses quite a bit in the move from the Rays to the Royals. The league and park move is pretty much a lateral one, but he loses the support of one of the best defenses in the game (not to mention a very good offense) and one that was capable of turning a lot of his balls in play into outs. Though new target-setter Salvador Perez is a good defender in his own right, Shields loses Jose Molina, who is perhaps the best in baseball.

Wade Davis | Rays to Royals | SP
Davis’ value shift depends entirely upon what you believed his role would be entering 2013. Some thought he’d be a starter even if he weren’t traded, in which case Tampa Bay would have been ideal for all the reasons mentioned in Shields’ blurb. If you thought he was just going to be a back-end reliever again, though, then a move to the Royals is a welcome one. He’ll still get the benefits of a pitcher’s park in the American League while getting to take the mound every fifth day. In any case, Davis is a solid sleeper for next season.

Alex Cobb | Rays | SP
With Shields gone, Cobb becomes the odds-on favorite to be Tampa Bay’s fifth starter this season. He’ll deal with competition from Chris Archer, Alexander Torres, and the newly acquired Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery, but Cobb has long been a favorite of mine and stands to benefit from the deal.

Jake Odorizzi | Royals to Rays | SP
It was becoming clear that Royals didn’t see Odorizzi in their 2013 plans given their activity in the starter market this winter, so while he’ll have to battle for a spot in Tampa Bay, it at least remains more of a possibility than it was in Kansas City. He appears to be sixth or seventh on the totem pole at present, so a few starts midseason remain a strong possibility.

Jason Grilli | Re-signed with Pirates | RP
There was supposedly some interest in Grilli as a closer on the open market this offseason, in which case a return to Pittsburgh might warrant a down arrow, although I’m not sure where he would have been a great fit at this point. As it stands, Grilli still has a shot to close if Pittsburgh moves incumbent Joel Hanrahan to the rotation or out of town in a trade. Grilli is a terrific reliever and, if nothing else, is a worthwhile grab in NL-only leagues. As a closer, he’d make an even better saves sleeper in mixed leagues.

Koji Uehara | Signed with Red Sox | RP
If Uehara wasn’t going to land a job closing, which never seemed like a realistic possibility, Boston was a solid landing spot. Andrew Bailey is the incumbent, but he’s perpetually injured, so if he goes down again this year, Uehara stands a solid chance of grabbing some saves. He has injury issues himself and would have to deal with Alfredo Aceves, Mark Melancon, and maybe Daniel Bard, but he’s definitely the most talented of the group.

Dan Haren | Signed with Nationals | SP
Sam Miller did a great job covering Dan Haren after this signing, so I won’t rehash too much. Basically, he’s been on the decline, but he finds a favorable environment in Washington. He returns to the easier league, will call a nice park home, and will have plenty of offensive and defensive support. He’s become a smarter pitcher as he ages, so while you shouldn’t expect prime-time Haren numbers, he can still be a very solid pitcher.

Brandon McCarthy | Signed with Diamondbacks | SP
Small down arrow for McCarthy. The National League is nice, but he leaves one of the best parks in baseball for pitchers (O.co Coliseum) and a top-notch Oakland defense. The D’Backs are still solid in that regard, however, and may offer a bit more offensively, so he’ll remain a good fantasy option for as long as he’s healthy.

Trevor Bauer | Diamondbacks to Indians | SP
While the league change is unfortunate, Bauer leaves what was becoming an incredibly crowded rotation picture in Arizona to being all but assured of a rotation spot in Cleveland. His command and control are still question marks, so expectations should be tempered, but he will at least call a pitcher’s park home.

Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin | Diamondbacks | SP
These two receive a small bump up from losing Bauer’s competition. Ian Kennedy, McCarthy, Wade Miley, and Trevor Cahill are locks for Arizona’s Opening Day rotation, but these two will be competing for the fifth starter job. Give Skaggs priority over Corbin on draft day, though remember Dan Hudson will be returning around midseason.

Ervin Santana | Angels to Royals | SP
Santana was an absolute mess last year, and although some of that was bad luck, Kansas City may not do a lot to help him turn things around. He doesn’t lose a lot in any one spot, but when you add up the losses in park, offensive support, and defensive support, it matters. He’ll get a bit of a boost at catcher, but that’s about it. If he’s to bounce back, it’ll mostly be on him.

Joe Blanton | Signed with Angels | SP
Blanton returns to the American League for the first time since his days in Oakland (not good), but aside from that, the environment is favorable. He’ll receive near-top-notch offensive and defensive support and will pitch in a great pitcher’s park. Given that Blanton has established himself as a solid mid-rotation pitcher over the past couple seasons (if the peripherals are to be believed, at least), he could have some deep mixed-league value in LA.

Tommy Hanson | Braves to Angels | SP
As much as Blanton may benefit from Anaheim, Hanson’s value actually decreases a little bit. Context is relative like that. The league change hurts, and he’ll be leaving what may have been the league’s best defense in 2012. The park change is slightly favorable and he’ll get more offensive support, though, so this down arrow is a small one.

Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado | Braves | SP
While both have been majorly hyped at one point or another, neither Teheran nor Delgado are sure-fire major leaguers yet. Still, with Hanson traded, that opens up a spot in Atlanta’s rotation, and these two figure to be the prime candidates to fill it (at least until Brandon Beachy is healthy). NL-only value with upside, if nothing else.

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