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March 27, 2014

The Darkhorses

Strikeouts

by BP Fantasy Staff


One of the fun ways we all try to outsmart our opponents in fantasy is by searching for hidden value in players who, for one reason or another, we suspect have the ability to outpace their projections (and, relatedly, their draft cost). Our Darkhorses series features staff picks for players who could very well outpace their PECOTA projections for the year and provide the top overall production in one of the standard five-by-five categories. We’ve all picked one player currently projected by PECOTA to fall outside of the top 10 and one longer-shot player currently projected outside of the top 25. We’re taking a look at pitching this week, following our run on offense a week ago. To read the earlier editions in this series, click below:

In this installment, we cover everyone's favorite pitching category: strikeouts.

OUTSIDE THE TOP 10

Homer Bailey, Reds
People say, “Bailey has gone from being a thrower, to a pitcher.” I would say and I am saying that he is now a better pitcher than he used to be. This improved version of Homer Bailey, throws his fastball harder and his splitter more often. Many are wary of the fastball velocity spike, but he actually gained velocity as the season wore on (as most pitchers do) and there was no major drop or spike in any month. The real story for me is not whether or not he is a real life Benjamin Button, but rather the improvement of his splitter. He threw it more than ever in 2013 and also got more whiffs-per-swing than ever on the pitch in 2013. If he furthers his mastery over the splitter, he has a chance to make a run at the strikeout crown. —Jeff Quinton

Gio Gonzalez, Nationals
Gonzalez has whiffed 596 batters since 2011; only nine pitchers in the majors have struck out more during that time. Gio will need more total innings than he has put up in the past to win a strikeout title, which means he’ll need to reduce his walk rate and maximize his pitch effectiveness to do so. It’s a bit of a long shot, but the punch-out ability for Gio is definitely there. —Mike Gianella

Zack Greinke, Dodgers
Health is the real key to Greinke having a shot to lead the league in strikeouts, as the pitcher will need to avoid the type of injuries that have led to him missing 10-12 total starts over the past three seasons. If Greinke is healthy all year, though, he has a decent shot at well over 200 strikeouts, as the right-hander has a long history of fanning between 20 and 28 percent of his opponents over the better part of the past seven years. While Greinke's strikeout rate of 20.6 percent was his lowest full-season total since 2010, there's no reason to think the 30-year-old can't bounce back to his 2012 ways of a 23 percent clip, and if he can repeat his magic 28.1 percent rate from 2011, he very well could creep into the 220-strikeout range. His fastball, curveball and changeup are still well above average pitches, and with the added bonus of getting to face pitchers a few dozen times per year, Greinke could challenge for something just short of his career-best strikeout total of 242. —Ben Carsley

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<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Thr... (03/27)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article The Darkhorses: WHIP (03/26)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article The Darkhorses: Saves (03/28)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Minor League Update: S... (03/27)

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