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Value Picks 2010 PECOTA Games '10
Starting Pitchers Throws W Sv IP H HR ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 Starts Relief
Jeff Niemann RH 1 0 15.1 13 2 3.94 1.11 4.1 2.3 1.2 5.9 3.2 1.0 3 0
Randy Wolf LH 1 0 24.1 25 3 3.70 1.40 6.7 3.3 1.1 7.0 2.9 1.2 4 0
Kevin Correia RH 2 0 17.1 14 3 3.12 1.15 8.8 3.1 1.6 6.3 3.3 0.8 3 0
Doug Fister RH 2 0 19.0 12 0 1.42 0.84 4.3 1.9 0.0 7.1 2.5 1.2 3 0
Jason Vargas LH 2 0 18.1 16 2 3.93 1.04 7.9 1.5 1.0 8.8 3.2 1.3 3 0
Ian Kennedy RH 0 0 14.1 14 4 5.65 1.40 10.7 3.8 2.5 9.6 4.5 1.1 3 0
Subscribe to Heater 2007-09 in Rotation 4.43 1.39 6.6 3.1 1.1  
Heater Magazine 2007-09 in Relief 3.94 1.36 7.7 3.8 0.9  

Over the last two weeks, I have detailed some pitchers who I think would provide most fantasy baseball players with some decent value. As we go further and further into the season, the list will be constantly updated as players rise and fall in value and rise and fall in fantasy ownership. You may wonder why some patently good pitchers were omitted from the list. That is because you will not need me to beat the "Pick up Brad Penny" drum throughout the season when he will end up being owned by everybody eventually anyway. I will be identifying the less obvious value picks.

Still a good value:

Jeff Niemann, Tampa Bay Rays: Somehow, Niemann is still not owned in most fantasy leagues. He performed well in Monday's start against the Red Sox, holding them to two runs over seven innings. As mentioned last week, he is simply a steady performer with decent K and BB numbers (do not panic — his 4.1 K/9 will start to rise). Stability is a good thing in fantasy baseball. He may even surprise you as he did many last year when he tossed two complete game shut-outs. His blase repertoire will tell you he does not have it in him, but he has been able to mix up his pitches very well, enough so that opposing hitters are swinging at roughly every other pitch he throws on average.

Randy Wolf, Milwaukee Brewers: Wolf went from 35 percent ownership to 22 percent after a mediocre start against the Washington Nationals. Assuming ESPN leagues are representative of the population, there is a chance that Wolf may have been dropped by someone in your fantasy league after Saturday's start in Washington and has since cleared waivers. His popularity may shoot back up following yesterday's start against the Pittsburgh Pirates. As he did yesterday, Wolf went at least six innings in 29 of his 34 starts last year. He is an innings-eater with above-average strikeout ability.

Kevin Correia, San Diego Padres: Check your league's free agent pool for Kevin Correia, he of the 3.37 SIERA. People are starting to catch on that he is a good pitcher, but he is still available in 95 percent of ESPN leagues. In his last two starts, he has failed to pitch through six innings, but he struck out eight, walked two, and allowed two runs in five and two-thirds innings Saturday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He pitches today against the Cincinnati Reds, who have hit him hard in limited at-bats.

New to the list:

Doug Fister, Seattle Mariners: Fister, owned in two percent of ESPN leagues (and most likely broadcaster Chip Caray's favorite baseball player), has burst out of the gate with a 1.42 ERA in three starts. He has had a very low BABIP (.212) and a high strand rate (82.4%) as well as allowing zero home runs, so he will regress to the mean for sure. However, Fister should still provide some value to your fantasy roster with great projected K and BB rates and a mid-four ERA. You may want to avoid starting him against lefty-heavy line-ups. In a small sample of 80 innings, lefties hit for about slugging percentage of about one hundred points higher than right-handers.

Jason Vargas, Seattle Mariners: There is no intention on promoting only Seattle pitchers, but Vargas is a steal right now. He is owned in less than half of one percent of ESPN leagues, and he has thus far pitched very well with a 3.27 SIERA. He has not benefited from batted ball luck or a significant lack of home runs allowed. Vargas has simply pitched very well with great control. Between his time with the Florida Marlins, New York Mets, and Seattle Mariners from 2005-09, Vargas never really put it together, but this could be his year. He is absolutely dominating left-handed hitters this year; right-handers have accounted for all six of the extra-base hits he has allowed thus far (four doubles and two home runs).

Ian Kennedy, Arizona Diamondbacks: Yes, that 5.65 ERA of his is misleading. Kennedy, owned in just one percent of ESPN leagues, has pitched much better than it appears, given his 3.29 SIERA. He has struck out 17 batters in 14 and one-third innings while only walking six. He has yet to reach the sixth inning due to an inability to end innings quickly, averaging about 21 pitches per inning. Additionally, he has allowed four home runs already this year and does not have the ability to induce ground balls at will. That said, as long as he is striking out eight-plus hitters per nine innings and walking fewer than four per nine, he should be a solid pick-up for you given expected regression to the mean.

As an aside, make sure you stay away from Livan Hernandez, despite the great start to the season. It's all smoke and mirrors.

Thank you for reading

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crperry13
4/23
Come on, Livan has great upside. :)
CrashburnAlley
4/23
I think the word you're looking for is 'backside'. ;-)
crperry13
4/23
Great backside? Hmmm....I think we've all just learned something about Bill today. :)
crperry13
4/23
I think there are people around here that just live to minus people.
jrfukudome
4/23
Ha!
ghorsche
4/23
What do you think of Phil Hughes now that he has a pretty secure hold on a starting job? I picked him up yesterday, and I'm looking for validation ;)
CrashburnAlley
4/23
He has benefited from a very low .138 BABIP and his walk rate is concerning at 5.1 per nine innings. He is also fly ball prone, which means he's going to give up some home runs.

The strikeout rate is nice so far but that's about all I really like about him at present, although he has otherwise pitched well as ERA estimators will testify.

If he is still in the free agent pool in your league, he is likely a great option. For instance, in the Baseball Daily Digest roto league, if Hughes were available, he would be the fourth-best pitcher behind Carlos Silva, Livan Hernandez, and Doug Fister using Yahoo!'s ranking system. Obviously, I would take Hughes over all three of them with only a split-second of trepidation that Livan might win the 2010 NL Cy Young award.

I would advise against trading for him as you would be buying high, a bad idea given his expected regression.
ghorsche
4/23
He was a free agent. I definitely wouldn't have traded for him. Thanks for your thoughts!
jrfukudome
4/23
Bill,

If you had to drop either Ian Kennedy or Bud Norris, who would you drop and why?

Thanks!
mcquown
4/23
I'd drop Norris, personally. Sure, the Berkman-led offense will score more than it did without him, and Kennedy's home games don't offer a great situation for pitching. But the D-backs should score some runs for Kennedy, and getting the more frequent starts at Petco is a great bonus. I guess Norris at Pittsburgh is nice, but I'd have a hard time making him active in any other situation. I'd probably activate Kennedy at both SF and SD now, and maybe some other times as well. As a general plan, I'd also rather have the starting pitcher with control in roto formats. Guys who walk a lot can have "effective" outings which still really cripple a team's WHIP, as they pitch around their walks. No thanks.
CrashburnAlley
4/23
It's really close, as they're similar pitchers. I would keep Kennedy over Norris for the following reasons:

- Kennedy plays for a team with a decent offense. At present, the D-Backs' offense ranks fourth in the NL while the Astros rank dead last. Even if Kennedy hurls a clunker, he may still walk away with a win.

- Kennedy plays in an offensively weak division with a lot of pitcher-friendly road parks. The L.A. Dodgers lead the NL in RPG, but their offense is due to regress.

- Kennedy is harder to predict. He has four pitches: fastball (64.5%), change-up (17%), curve (14%), and slider (8.5%). Norris is essentially fastball-slider, at 56% and 37% respectively. Norris' fastball is a few MPH higher on average, but it won't mean much if hitters know it's coming.

They're really very similar players, so to differentiate I had to nitpick. I don't think you can make a disastrously wrong decision here.

By the way, I almost included Norris on this week's value picks. He may be on there next Friday.
jrfukudome
4/25
Thanks to you both!
ccweinmann
4/23
There seem to be a whole bunch of potential breakout, or at least solid, pitchers out there right now. I've been debating the following guys in my league and am having a hard time deciding who to stick with:

Masterson
Gorzellany
Latos
Jaime Garcia
Ervin Santana
Volstad
Gio Gonzalez
Bud Norris
Kennedy

The bottom three are probably not quite as good as the others, but man... there is a lot of potential there.




mcquown
4/23
I wouldn't even consider dropping Latos. Garcia is almost in that category, too, especially if you aren't in a great situation with wins.
CrashburnAlley
4/23
I would rank them:

Ervin Santana
Jaime Garcia
Mat Latos
Gio Gonzalez
Tom Gorzelanny
Ian Kennedy
Bud Norris
Chris Volstad
Justin Masterson

That's just based on a quick surface scan of their stats. I'd be happy to answer any other specific questions as well.
evaldi
4/24
Isn't Ervin pitching with a tear in his elbow? Seems like a time bomb. And I do not trust Bud Norris. I want to trust Ian Kennedy but no.
pobothecat
4/24
Glad to see a nod there to Gio in your off-the-cuff list.

Saw him the other night in an outing that looked bad on paper (5-5-5 ish) but was impressed by his stuff. Plenty of pace, changed eye levels nicely, wasn't afraid to come inside and occasionally showed startling movement.

And I like the mojo in Oakland: Anderson, Duch, Braden, Ross, Bailey. Fascinating variety of styles. With a 3.07 staff E.R.A.
CrashburnAlley
4/24
I don't believe so, evaldi. I did some searching and couldn't find anything recent regarding an elbow tear. He did have elbow inflammation during the last week of spring training, but I can't find anything that cites it as a lingering issue.