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July 15, 2011

Value Picks

Starting Pitchers for 7/15/11

by Bill Baer

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Given the All-Star break, not much has changed since the last column. Perhaps with another look, though, you can find someone to help you out in your fantasy leagues.

Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox (22% Yahoo!, 20% ESPN, 67% CBS)
Buehrle uncharacteristically struck out eight batters in his most recent outing against the Minnesota Twins, but that likely says more about the futility of the Twins' offense than of Buehrle's skill. The lefty certainly has not made his living on missing bats; rather, he has defied DIPS to a degree (3.83 ERA to 4.22 xFIP in nearly 2,400 career innings).

There is nothing to worry about with Buehrle's peripherals. Strikeout and walk rates, batted ball splits, BABIP, LOB%, HR/FB rate, etc. are all close to his career averages. If you can deal with the lack of strikeouts, he makes a solid addition to a deep mixed league roster

Carlos Villanueva, Toronto Blue Jays (15% Yahoo!, 4% ESPN, 31% CBS)
Villanueva was previously suggested as an AL-only pick, but he has graduated to being viable in mixed leagues. His 2.99 ERA defies his 4.31 SIERA, but his 6.2 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 can certainly help in deep mixed leagues. It will hurt when his .248 BABIP and 5 percent HR/FB rate regress, but he is about as good as any pitcher still freely available in most leagues.

Saying Goodbye
Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds (16% Yahoo!, 7% ESPN, 41% CBS)
I spoke highly of Bailey last week, and I continue to feel that way. I cannot, however, recommend him for mixed leagues until he shows a bit more consistency. He is worth the gamble in NL-only leagues, but you can look elsewhere in mixed. Bailey will likely end up back on the Value Picks list in the future once he figures it out.

Sticking Around

Brandon McCarthy, Oakland Athletics (5% Yahoo!, 2% ESPN, 24% CBS)
McCarthy got hit around a bit in his most recent outing against the Texas Rangers, his second start since being activated from the disabled list. The good news is that he did not issue any walks, and he struck out four in his six innings of work, both of which are characteristic of the right-hander. Health issues aside, McCarthy is a more reliable version of Buehrle as he has shown a slightly better ability to miss bats and has not issued as many walks, but both rates will still be below the league average.

Felipe Paulino, Kansas City Royals (1% Yahoo!, 0% ESPN, 7% CBS)
Paulino has not started since the last Value Picks column, so I will just reiterate what I said last week: Paulino has been excellent since joining the Kansas City Royals. In his seven starts, spanning 43.2 innings, he has compiled a 3.71 ERA with an 8.7 K/9 and a 2.5 BB/9. Even better, a .357 BABIP has actually made him appear worse than he has actually been. Paulino's underwhelming track record does not indicate it, but I think he is a sneaky-good pick this late in the season as long as he gets starts.

Chris Capuano, New York Mets (17% Yahoo!, 9% ESPN, 36% CBS)
Capuano is one of the most heartwarming stories of the 2011 season. The lefty showed promise coming up with the Milwaukee Brewers, but injuries put a damper on his future for a long time. He has finally been able to put together a string of consecutive starts, and he has been solid all season long: a 3.84 SIERA along with a 7.6 K/9 and a 2.6 BB/9. The Mets signed him at a relatively cheap price; you may still be able to pick him up on the cheap as well, given his current ownership rates. He is usable in all mixed leagues.

Chris Narveson, Milwaukee Brewers (13% Yahoo!, 6% ESPN, 33% CBS)
Narveson bounced back from an ugly start against the Minnesota Twins by holding the Cincinnati Reds to two runs over six innings of work last Thursday. He struck out five and walked two, getting back to his swing-and-miss stuff that had eluded him. Narveson has always been an inconsistent one, something that perhaps the DIPS stats cannot pick up, but his strikeout rate makes him valuable in fantasy baseball regardless. His peripherals are very similar to Capuano's but with a higher walk rate. Like Capuano, Narveson is usable in all but shallow mixed leagues.

Doug Fister, Seattle Mariners (15% Yahoo!, 8% ESPN, 39% CBS)
He is still here! I cannot get him off the Value Picks list. His offense has rarely been able to support him enough to earn a win, which has hurt his value somewhat in standard roto leagues, but everything else has been fantastic. His peripherals are similar to that of McCarthy: low whiffs, low walks, average-ish ground balls, and both even play in pitcher-friendly parks. All mixed leaguers, go look for him. I might remove him from VP just on principle.

AL-only VP

Rich Harden, Oakland Athletics (9% Yahoo!, 7% ESPN, 42% CBS)
Harden was the AL-only VP last week, and he is still here despite a mediocre showing in his last outing against the Texas Rangers. What was encouraging, though, was the mere two walks in five innings. Not encouraging: only two strikeouts in five innings. The big key for Harden, in my estimation, is the walk rate. If he can keep the walks low, everything else, including the strikeout rate, should fall in place. It is hard to project Harden at this point, but he is almost all upside in AL-only leagues.

NL-only VP

Livan Hernandez, Washington Nationals (6% Yahoo!, 3% ESPN, 19% CBS)
Livan makes a return to VP. Nothing special here, just a standard NL-only VP. His entire profile induces a great yawn, but he is a solid pick-up in NL-only leagues. His next four starts come against the Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, Florida Marlins, and Braves again, all below-average offenses in the National League.

Bill Baer is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Bill's other articles. You can contact Bill by clicking here

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Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run... (07/14)
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