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As the Baseball Prospectus fantasy team enters the home stretch with our Fantasy Categorical Breakdowns series, be sure to catch up with our previous installments over the past couple of weeks. The one and only Wilson Karaman expertly surveyed the overall WHIP landscape last week, while confirmed David Stearns believer, J.P. Breen, examined several notable 2015 over/underachievers yesterday. Today’s final installment profiles several pitchers poised to provide fantasy owners in deeper formats with a boost in WHIP this upcoming season.

The Rebound Candidate

Michael Pineda, RHP, Yankees

Can you believe he’s only 27 years old? It feels like blatant cheating to include a probable top-40 fantasy starter in a deep dive column, but let’s kick this piece off with a casual backstroke in the shallow end of the pool.

Year

Team

IP

H/9

BB/9

K/9

GB%

BABIP

WHIP

DRA

2011

SEA

171

7.0

2.9

9.1

39%

.258

1.10

2.83

2014

NYY

76 1/3

6.6

0.8

7.0

42%

.233

0.83

2.29

2015

NYY

160 2/3

9.9

1.2

8.7

50%

.332

1.23

3.94

Despite a significant increase in both strikeouts and groundballs accompanied by his usual sterling walk rate, Pineda’s WHIP skyrocketed to 1.23 this past season. The explosion was due in large part to a staggeringly high .332 BABIP, the seventh-highest mark of any starter to log 150 innings in 2015. It was also 82 points higher than his .250 career mark (41 starts) coming into the year.

The Yankees’ lackluster defense shoulders a majority of the blame. According to Baseball Info Solutions, New York ranked 28th in defensive runs saved last year. Even a marginal defensive improvement would push Pineda’s WHIP back into elite territory. The rate statistics look ugly on the surface, but baking in a little regression in the BABIP department, should transform Pineda a highly coveted asset (even in shallow formats) thanks to the boost he can provide in WHIP.

The Undervalued One

Hisashi Iwakuma, RHP, Dodgers

We can’t run a three-part categorical breakdown on WHIP without highlighting the newest member of the Dodgers rotation. Iwakuma’s WHIP as a starter, dating back to 2012, is an absurdly low 1.07, which grades out a one of the 10 lowest marks of any starter during that stretch. The injury history and durability concerns, which Craig Goldstein highlighted in his transaction analysis a week ago, are valid. However, the quality of the innings Iwakuma provides far outweighs the lack of quantity, which will undoubtedly suppress his value on draft day in 2016. He’s a no-doubt top-50 fantasy starter this upcoming season, but given his age (34) and health concerns, he’s not a lock to crack the top 30, which is where savvy fantasy owners can take advantage on draft day.

The Relatively Unknown One

Raisel Iglesias, RHP, Reds

We don’t have a lot to go on when it comes to analyzing the soon-to-be 26-year-old Cuban import outside of a handful of appearances with the Reds during his rookie campaign. What we witnessed after he rejoined the Cincinnati rotation in late July was a pitcher who undoubtedly possesses the profile of a future fantasy ace. Over his final 11 starts, Iglesias posted a 3.39 ERA (0.98 WHIP) while striking out 77 (10.45 K/9) and issuing just 19 free passes (2.58 BB/9). Throw in a solid 53 percent groundball rate, just for good measure. What makes Iglesias such an intriguing target in 2016 is that he’s unlikely to be drafted as a top-50 fantasy starter, but he has the upside to finish as a top-30 arm if he picks up where he left off last season. Invest.

The One To Dream On

Rich Hill, LHP, Athletics

September is a strange month. Those small sample performances, the most recent snapshot of a hitter or pitcher in our mind, have the potential to distort our opinions on a player either positively or negatively. When it came to strange this past season, nothing was spookier than the re-emergence of Hill. Nobody improved their stock more in September than the 35-year-old left-hander, who emerged from the minor league abyss to string together a truly remarkable string of four starts. The tantalizing fantasy numbers (1.55 ERA and 0.66 WHIP while striking out over 11 batters per nine) became even more appetizing when he signed with Oakland as a free agent last month.

It would be unrealistic to expect Hill to remain the force of nature he was to close out the 2015 campaign, but there is some tangible fantasy value to be extracted if he can remain healthy enough to eclipse even 100 innings this upcoming season. This performance risk is a relatively minor concern, compared to his durability (or rather lack thereof). He hasn’t thrown even 60 innings at the big league level since 2007, but he did manage to throw nearly 100 between the minors and Boston last year. If the price is right, Hill is worth taking a chance on in deeper mixed leagues in 2016.

The Long Shot

Jerad Eickhoff, RHP, Phillies

Among the ancillary pieces shipped to Philadelphia in the blockbuster Cole Hamels deal at the trade deadline, the 25-year-old Eickhoff emerged as a potential back-end cog for years to come. In addition to delivering a 2.65 ERA (2.75 DRA) while striking out nearly a batter per inning (8.6 K/9) over eight starts, no starting pitcher (minimum 100 pitches) generated more whiffs-per-swing on his slider than Eickhoff’s 55.56 percet rate in 2015.

While the Phillies restocked their current (and future) rotation with a flurry of offseason acquisitions, Eickhoff should remain a permanent fixture in the rotation going forward. Fantasy owners in extremely deep formats looking for a boost in WHIP should look no further than the former 15th-round selection, who compiled an impressive 1.04 mark over 51 innings.

The Deep AL/NL-Only Targets

Charlie Furbush, LHP, Mariners

Given a cursory glance of his phenomenal statistics (1.68 DRA) and a lack of innings (21.2) and one would assume that the 29-year-old was used almost exclusively as a LOOGY this past season. Truth is, he faced just as many righties (40) as he did lefties (42) in 2015, incinerating their lumber with equal precision. The eye-popping WHIP (0.65) he compiled before missing the final three months of the season due to a slight tear in his rotator cuff is worth taking notice of in deeper AL-only formats. Projecting middle-reliever performance from season-to-season is notoriously difficult, but given that he will cost next to nothing to acquire on draft day coming off the injury, he’s absolutely worth taking a flyer on in the deepest of formats.

Carter Capps, RHP, Marlins

If you’ve followed my work here at BP, you’re aware that my affinity for Capps is out of control. The prodigious raw stuff combined with an unorthodox/borderline illegal delivery produced video game-like numbers (1.16 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 16.8 K/9) over 31 innings, before he was shut down with elbow soreness in early August. The numbers truly jump off the page in deeper formats, where anyone with a live arm is worthy of a roster spot. The unique delivery is a true double-edged sword. While it’s responsible for transforming him into one of the most unhittable pitchers in the game, the havoc it could potentially wreak on his elbow may preclude him from every reaching 60 innings in a single season. If he does, look out.

Mychal Givens, RHP, Baltimore

An afterthought outside of Baltimore (ranked as the Orioles 27th-best prospect by Baseball America) entering last season, Givens gave fantasy owners a glimpse of how dominant his 95-mph, sinking fastball (6.63 inches of vertical movement) from a sidearm delivery can be in short stints out of the bullpen. The 25-year-old’s emergence has helped the O’s quietly assemble one of the most dominant relief trios in the game, highlighted by closer Zach Britton and setup-man extraordinaire Darren O’Day. It may be unrealistic to expect Givens to post a sub-1.00 WHIP, like he did over 30 innings last season (0.87 to be precise), but there was nothing inherently fluky about his performance.

Thank you for reading

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jj0501
12/15
A slight oops on the Capps profile. He SHOULD never have left Seattle, another Z-Man legacy gift to us all, and it must have been too painful to put Marlins next to his name.
GeorgeBissell
12/15
Yes. I will always associated Capps with the Mariners in my mind and I've probably made this mistake a hundred times in the last year or so. Honest mistake. I still will never understand why they traded him.
statsrath
12/16
Fixed, thanks.
lewist
12/15
Thoughts on Cleveland's Cody Anderson? Can he maintain this low of a WHIP over a full season, or was he a flash in the pan?
GeorgeBissell
12/15
Great question. He was someone I strongly considered for this piece. His 1.11 WHIP over 15 starts last season was impressive. I remain skeptical, however, because that BABIP .237 isn't going to happen again and he just doesn't strike out enough guys (4.3 K/9) to be worth rostering outside of AL-only type leagues. cFIP (119) isn't very high on him either. There are other guys I would want to take a shot on before Anderson in 2016.
sam19041
12/15
Any deep targets for the NL?
GeorgeBissell
12/15
I thought Eickhoff was a pretty deep cut. I really like another pair of young NL East right-handers in Joe Ross and Aaron Nola. They're probably outside the top-60 fantasy starters right now, but I think they will both be assets in WHIP. If you want to go really, really deep, then I would roll the dice on a Yusmeiro Petit resurgence in Washington. It's a bad division and they haven't seen him a ton. A few cheap, younger middle relievers in deeper NL-only that I would take a stab at for their rates would be Brandon Maurer, Yimi Garcia, and Felipe Rivero.
Chef99
12/15
Any sleeper love for Tyler Duffey? Looks to me he has 'Dark Horse' written all over him.
GeorgeBissell
12/15
In an AL-only format? Yes. Outside of that I'm not so sure. The strikeout rate (8.2 K/9) over 10 starts last season and his performance in the minors leading up to his debut are appealing. He's not going to be much of an asset in terms of WHIP. I think he's a top 75-80 range fantasy starter this upcoming season, but I'm not willing to go much higher than that projecting him.