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July 9, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers

by Bill Baer

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Value Picks 2010 PECOTA Games '10
Starting Pitchers Throws W IP H HR ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 Starts SIERA
Randy Wells RH 4 105.1 119 8 4.61 1.40 7.1 2.4 0.7 6.9 2.3 0.8 18 3.86
J.D. Martin RH 1 40.1 47 6 3.35 1.29 5.8 1.1 1.3 5.3 2.4 1.1 7 4.13
Tom Gorzelanny LH 3 68.0 62 4 3.31 1.43 9.1 4.6 0.5 8.1 4.0 0.8 11 3.89
Bud Norris RH 2 55.2 63 6 5.98 1.67 10.5 4.9 1.0 8.9 4.5 1.1 11 3.65
Marc Rzepczynski LH 0 5.2 8 2 6.35 1.59 11.1 1.6 3.2 7.6 4.1 1.1 1 2.32
Manny Parra LH 3 69.2 86 9 4.65 1.71 9.2 4.3 1.2 7.8 4.5 1.1 9 3.81
Jhoulys Chacin RH 5 75.2 65 7 3.93 1.32 9.4 4.2 0.8 7.7 4.3 0.9 12 3.64
Vicente Padilla RH 3 47.2 45 10 4.72 1.13 9.1 1.7 1.9 7.0 3.1 1.4 8 3.05
Subscribe to Heater 2007-09 in Rotation 1.39 6.6 3.1 1.1  
Heater Magazine 2007-09 in Relief 1.36 7.7 3.8 0.9  


Players added to the list

Marc Rzepczynski: If you cannot find Rzepczynski in your league's free agent pool, you probably spelled his name wrong. Known more casually as "Scrabble" or "Eyechart", Rzepczynski made his season debut on Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins. Despite giving up four runs in five and two-thirds innings, he struck out seven and walked only one batter.

I caught up with a Blue Jays devotee, Ian Hunter of the blog Blue Jay Hunter, for some insight on the lefty. He noted that Eyechart throws a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup.

"Hands down, Rzepczynski's best pitch is his slider. His ability to throw that pitch definitely helps induce those ground balls. In the Minor Leagues, his ground ball percentage was 64 percent.

The most interesting stat about him from last year was his O-Contact (61 percent) to Z-Contact percentage (94 percent), which actually lead all starters in the Majors last season."

[O-Contact refers to contact on pitches outside of the strike zone; Z-Contact refers to contact on pitches inside the strike zone.]

Eyechart was added to the Jays' rotation when Shaun Marcum was placed on the disabled list. That leaves us wondering if he can secure a spot in the rotation even when Marcum returns. Hunter notes that if Rzepczynski pitches well, Jesse Litsch could be the one receiving a demotion. Furthermore, Hunter said that the Jays intended to have Rzepczynski in the rotation at the start of the season but he took a line drive off of his finger during spring training, placing him on the sidelines.

As a hurler who compiled good strikeout numbers in the Minors despite an ERA at Triple-A Las Vegas that was adversely affected by abnormally a high BABIP, Rzepczynski is a good long-term option. He can rack up the strikeouts and unlike a lot of the hurlers who have made the "Value Picks list", his average walk rate should not weigh down his WHIP.

Vicente Padilla: You may look at me funny when you read this, but I swear that it is true: in his eight starts this season, Padilla has been one of the better starting pitchers in baseball. He is averaging a strikeout per inning and under two walks per nine innings. His 5.33 K/BB would be up there with Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Dan Haren but, of course, he does not have enough innings to qualify. His 3.05 SIERA speaks to his great pitching performances thus far, despite the ugly 4.72 ERA. Padilla is a free man in 95 percent of ESPN leagues.

Players removed from the list

Manny Parra: Parra could be demoted to the bullpen again after a shaky few starts. Going into yesterday's start against the San Francisco Giants, he had struck out a lot of hitters -- 41 in 36 and two-thirds innings -- but a high walk rate (4.7 per nine) and BABIP (.369) contributed to some poor outings. He struggled again yesterday, allowing six runs (four earned) on ten hits and two walks with five strikeouts. The Brewers have been trying to right the ship with the pitching staff and demoting Parra to the bullpen may be another such effort. Nothing is official yet, but it seems inevitable.

Jhoulys Chacin: As reader xavier pointed out last week, Jhoulys Chacin will be losing his spot in the rotation today as Jorge de la Rosa will be activated from the disabled list. Chacin definitely opened some eyes with some great pitching performances and a K/9 of 9.4. It seems ludicrous to remove his production from the rotation, but with veterans Aaron Cook and Jeff Francis and the even better, more surprising production of Jason Hammel, Chacin was going to have a hard time keeping his job. He will be the Rockies' first line of defense in the event of an injury, so remember to keep him on your radar.

Players staying on the list

Randy Wells: Last week, it was mentioned that Wells had not strung together back-to-back quality starts frequently this season. He has accrued quality starts now in back-to-back-to-back starts. He tossed 13 and two-thirds innings at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds, relinquishing only one run to each with 11 strikeouts and five walks. Last night, he allowed three runs over seven innings in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. He struck out seven and walked only one -- a great sign from a pitcher who has pitched too well to have experienced such early failure.

Wells' popularity in ESPN fantasy leagues had been on the decline but given his recent success, expect his bandwagon to fill up quickly. He is still available in 93 percent of ESPN leagues but act now before it is too late.

J.D. Martin: The 27-year-old may finally have figured this pitching thing out. He has been a boost to an otherwise lackluster pitching staff after Stephen Strasburg. While he is no Nolan Ryan, he has great control and is very WHIP-friendly. He currently owns a 3.35 ERA but you should expect him to be more like a 4.00 ERA pitcher going forward as his 4.13 SIERA indicates. As with all of the players on the "Value Picks" list, Martin is still available in an overwhelming majority (99.8 percent) of ESPN fantasy leagues.

Tom Gorzelanny: Gorz struggled on Monday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, walking six in five innings of work. He was never expected to have great control but he was exceptionally wild that day. He has also gone only five innings in each of his last two starts, but he should start going deeper into games as he becomes more accustomed to starting, as he was recently moved to the rotation from the bullpen due to Carlos Zambrano's crazy antics. You can still find Tommy G in 97 percent of ESPN leagues. Take him for the strikeouts as he is averaging one per inning of work.

Bud Norris: Norris was brilliant his last time out on Saturday in San Diego against the Padres, holding them scoreless in seven innings. His offense, though, provided him with zero run support and he was left with a no decision. There is no reason to expect that to change, especially as the trade deadline nears and the Astros are likely to deal some of their bigger bats such as Lance Berkman. Norris is similar to Brandon Morrow and teammate Felipe Paulino, both "Value Picks" alumni, as he strikes out hitters at a very high rate but also walks a few too many. Thus, Norris is a great option for some easy strikeouts and, if he continues performing as well as he has, he should add a boost to your ERA as well. He is still virtually unknown as he is available in 99.6 percent of ESPN 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:  Bud Norris,  Chacin,  Jhoulys Chacin

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