CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Collateral Damage Dail... (05/31)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Value Picks: Relief Pi... (05/30)
Next Column >>
Value Picks: Second, S... (06/04)
Next Article >>
The Lineup Card: 10 Th... (05/31)

May 31, 2012

Value Picks

Starting Pitchers for 5/31/12

by Paul Sporer

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.

a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

Ervin Santana (Yahoo! 67%, ESPN 66%, CBS 87%) has finally seen his ESPN percentage surge, leaving him available in very few leagues now—as it should be in light of his May performance (2.91 ERA in 34 innings), although the timing here isn’t the best as he comes off his worst start of the month during which he walked seven Mariners while allowing four runs in five innings.  Everyone is entitled to a hiccup here and there, though, even if it is against Seattle (just ask Derek Holland), and the important part is that he has allowed just three home runs for the month after allowing 10 in April. 

Ross Detwiler (Yahoo! 20%, ESPN 14%, CBS 24%) labored through a trio of iffy starts (8.16 ERA in 14 innings) which either outright cost him his rotation spot or contributed heavily to him losing his rotation spot.  Either way, Chien-Ming Wang is in and Detwiler is moving to the bullpen.  Don’t completely remove him from your radar, however. There are no guarantees that Wang recaptures his 2006-2007 magic, but for now you can safely cut him in just about all formats. 

Last Chance
Ivan Nova (Yahoo! 48%, ESPN 38%, CBS 81%) and his 2011 success drew plenty of skeptics; his 16-4 record propped him up higher than he deserved when paired with his 5.3 K/9 and 1.7 K/BB.  Flash forward to 2012 and Nova has added nearly four strikeouts to his rate (up to an even 9.0 K/9) while cutting into his walk rate (down to 2.7 BB/9), yielding a sharp 3.3 K/BB in 56 innings. 

At the same time, his BABIP and HR/FB rates have skyrocketed, resulting in an ugly 5.46 ERA and 1.57 WHIP.  His 3.61 xFIP points to how well things could be going if he weren’t as unlucky this year as he was lucky a year ago.  A strikeout per inning arm on the Yankees doesn’t pop up on the waiver wire often, so I would pounce on this likely limited opportunity.  Of course, Wednesday’s outing might leave him available a bit longer.

In Case You Missed It
Speaking of the Yankees, Felipe Paulino (Yahoo! 21%, ESPN 19%, CBS 47%) has bested them twice for six shutout innings within his first five starts, yet he remains widely available.  He has certainly garnered some attention since the last time he was featured here when his ownership rates were 1, 3, and 16 percent, but I am surprised to see that he is still underutilized. 

He had his first bump in the road the second time he faced Baltimore this year, but even with five walks he was just an out from netting a baseline quality start.  I realize the enhanced pitching age we have been in the last few years leaves some enticing options on the wire seemingly at all times, but I don’t think the pool is deep enough that a guy with a 9.9 K/9 should just be left alone after five strong starts. 

Homer Bailey (Yahoo! 12%, ESPN 15%, CBS 46%) is the latest to join the VP ranks after stringing together four straight solid starts, capped off with a complete game in Pittsburgh during which he allowed just a run on four hits and a walk.  In fact, he had just one stumble in May, which he has sandwiched with eight quality starts dating back to April 14.

Though he has been around seemingly forever, he is still just 26 years old in the midst of his ninth season in professional baseball.  He isn’t the flamethrower we thought we were getting back in his early minor league days, but he has really refined his control and command, resulting in a 2.4 BB/9 in his last 195 innings dating back to 2011. 

Dillon Gee (Yahoo! 7%, ESPN 4%, CBS 22%) has seen massive improvement in his skills profile this season, including an 8.3 K/9, 3.3 K/BB, and a 55 percent groundball rate in 57 innings, all career bests.  Unfortunately, the results haven’t followed; his 4.92 ERA is a career worst while his 1.38 WHIP matches last year’s, which was his career-to-date worst too.  The 3.25 xFIP says there is light at the end of the tunnel, but he needs to get better with men on base (67 percent LOB%) and in limiting home runs (1.1 HR/9 and 16 percent HR/FB rate). 

A.J. Burnett (Yahoo! 19%, ESPN 15%, CBS 47%) threw seven more shutout innings on Wednesday night, lowering his ERA to 3.60—nearly four and a half runs lower than it was a month ago after the Cardinals obliterated him for 12 runs in 2 2/3 innings on May 2.  He chiseled away at the 8.04 ERA with three straight two-run outings across 22 innings followed by 12 shutout innings over his past two starts, including Wednesday’s at home against the Reds.  I don’t know what you are waiting for, folks. 

Tom Milone (Yahoo! 24%, ESPN 13%, CBS 50%) is a lot different from Paulino and Burnett in that he doesn’t really strike anybody out.  Okay, anybody is a bit of an exaggeration—especially when Derek Lowe is the one toting a sub-3.0 K/9—but Milone’s 4.9 K/9 is hardly an asset.  The upside is that he doesn’t really walk anybody either; his 2.2 BB/9 helps keep his WHIP nice and low. 

He has been knocked around a few times, including during back-to-back outings in Boston and Tampa Bay, but it is pretty impressive that his ERA is just 3.64 having faced those two, Texas on the road, the Yankees, the Tigers, and the Angels (during the latter part of May when they were actually playing quite well).  If you can secure your strikeouts elsewhere, Milone is a nice asset to pair with an Edinson Volquez type. 

Brian Matusz (Yahoo! 7%, ESPN 7%, CBS 26%) had a big spring training, which some believed would translate into a return to his late-2010 form that showed why he was the number 18 prospect in baseball that year, according to Kevin Goldstein.  I wasn’t sold.  I am never sold by spring training numbers.  Okay, enough bragging.

Matusz’s 5.66 ERA in April accentuated how little the spring meant, but after an early May thrashing at the hands of Texas, he has run off four straight quality outings, posting a 3.38 ERA in 24 innings.  He has the Royals twice in that stretch, but the other two outings were against Boston and Tampa Bay, so it was hardly a bunch of walkovers.  I am still leery, which is why he is relegated to an AL-only recommendation, but there is discernible talent here.  The question is whether or not consistency will follow. 

For the second straight season, Nathan Eovaldi (Yahoo! 2%, ESPN 1%, CBS 7%) has skipped past Triple-A en route to the majors.  Part of that is the Dodgers not wanting to subject their top youngsters to the PCL, which can wreak havoc on even the best of prospects with its offensively-charged environment.  Repeating Double-A in 2012, Eovaldi has seen his strikeout rate dip a full strikeout to 7.7 K/9, but his walk rate has come down almost as much, moving from 4.0 BB/9 last year to 3.3 BB/9 in 35 innings this year. 

He has mid-rotation potential, and while I could see him as a high-6.0s/low-7.0s strikeout arm, that will probably take a few years to materialize, leaving him as modest contributor in the short term, best deployed at home and on the road only in favorable matchups (quick tip: avoid Coors Field and anything St. Louis-related for sure).  His walk rate will go a long way toward determining his success.  A pitcher who limits free passes can get by with a high-5.0s/low-6.0s strikeout rate.

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

Related Content:  Espn,  Innings Limits,  Flamethrower

4 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links


Tampa is VERY susceptible to lefties at the moment and Matusz has them this Sunday. A good streaming option, methinks. Without Longoria and Jennings, they have a very lefty-heavy lineup, and those lefties are NOT good vs. lefty hurlers.

May 31, 2012 08:56 AM
rating: 0

I'm not sure this is the best time to grab Milone. He has had a severe home/road split and is headed for a three-week stretch with no home starts, culminating with starts at Arizona and Colorado.
Is Kevin Millwood not eligible for this list? His last four starts (27 IP, 0.67 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, 20 K, 3 Wins) are pretty fantastic, especially when you look at the minefield he threw through to get those numbers - @COL, @NYY, TEX, @TEX.

May 31, 2012 16:52 PM
rating: 0
BP staff member Paul Sporer
BP staff

Milone has the splits, but the Colorado start is the only one that *really* worries me. I'm worried with any non-ace (and I mean ACE) in Colorado, though, so that's not something specific to Milone.

KC and Arizona aren't inherently problematic venues. His near-2.0 HR/9 on the road is a bit of bad luck (silly 20% HR/FB rate). So I'm OK standing by him as a low-end option. His Ks are actually better on the road and his 2.0 K/BB isn't bad.

Re: Millwood, I'm not a believer. Hats off for an excellent stretch against a murderers row, but hasn't he already done his best work? This isn't a growth stock.

It's unlikely to get any better than it has already been especially because he isn't supporting this run with especially good skills. He's still toting a sub-2.0 K/BB and while it has been above 2 during the run, it's still only been 2.5. I don't feel comfortable recommending him. I applaud his great run, but that's it.

May 31, 2012 17:16 PM
BP staff member Derek Carty
BP staff

Agree with Paul. Be careful with home/road splits. They can be very deceiving and usually just noise. Take the individual parks into account, but not how the pitcher has performed in those parks. The parks themselves are much more stable and indicative of future performance.

May 31, 2012 17:45 PM
You must be a Premium subscriber to post a comment.
Not a subscriber? Sign up today!
<< Previous Article
Premium Article Collateral Damage Dail... (05/31)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Value Picks: Relief Pi... (05/30)
Next Column >>
Value Picks: Second, S... (06/04)
Next Article >>
The Lineup Card: 10 Th... (05/31)

Premium Article League Preview Series
Every Team's Moneyball: Minnesota Twins: Reb...
Premium Article Skewed Left: History Repeats Itself
Premium Article League Preview Series
Premium Article Pitching Backward: Why Relievers Get A Free ...
Premium Article Spring Training Notebook: Cactus League
Prospectus Feature: How the Astros do Spring...

MORE FROM MAY 31, 2012
On the Beat: Fireballer in the Hole
The Lineup Card: 10 Things We Learned in May
Premium Article Collateral Damage Daily: Thursday, May 31
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Thursday, May 31
Premium Article The Call-Up: Alex Castellanos
Premium Article The Call-Up: Andrelton Simmons
What You Need to Know: Thursday, May 31

2012-06-07 - Fantasy Article Value Picks: Starting Pitchers for 6/7/12
2012-06-01 - Fantasy Article Weekly Planner: Week 10
2012-06-01 - BP Fantasy Podcast: Episode 6: Pot Meet Kett...
2012-05-31 - Fantasy Article Value Picks: Starting Pitchers for 5/31/12
2012-05-25 - Fantasy Article Weekly Planner: Week Nine
2012-05-24 - Fantasy Article Value Picks: Starting Pitching for 5/24/12
2012-05-18 - Fantasy Article Weekly Planner: Week Eight

2012-06-06 - Fantasy Article Value Picks: Relievers for 6/6/12
2012-06-06 - Fantasy Article Value Picks: First, Third, and DH for 6/6/12
2012-06-04 - Value Picks: Second, Short, and Catcher for ...
2012-05-31 - Fantasy Article Value Picks: Starting Pitchers for 5/31/12
2012-05-30 - Fantasy Article Value Picks: Relief Pitchers for 5/30/12
2012-05-29 - Fantasy Article Value Picks: First, Third, and DH for 5/29/1...
2012-05-24 - Fantasy Article Value Picks: Starting Pitching for 5/24/12

2012-07-06 - Fantasy Article Value Picks: Starting Pitching for 7/6/12