Buying low and selling high is the most basic strategy in fantasy sports. Everyone knows to do this, and identifying the proper players whom to buy low or sell high is among the keys to any successful fantasy season. It’s a little more complicated than just looking for players either playing below their capabilities, or those who are playing over their heads. Sometimes, players playing poorly aren’t going to get better, or players who are off to hot starts really aren’t going to slow down.
Conversely, figuring when to buy high or sell low can be just as important as the most basic tenant of fantasy sports. Today, I’m going to look at a couple of pitchers who came into the season with relatively high expectations and have been bad to this point. Generally, with the samples still being small, these are guys you want to buy or hold. In these specific cases, though, the value could very well get worse, and selling now instead of hoping for a turnaround could be the best call.
This spring, the Braves ace was being taken as the No. 25 starting pitcher and just outside of the top 100 in NFBC drafts. As of this writing, he is the No. 120 starting pitcher on the ESPN Player Rater. To say things haven’t gone according to plan for Teheran would be an understatement. With seven starts under his belt, he has pitched to a 4.69 ERA. To make matters worse, the peripherals don’t paint a prettier picture. He boasts a 4.89 FIP, a 5.68 DRA and a 119 cFIP. To put it simply, Teheran has gotten worse at just about everything. His K/9 is down below 7.0 for the first time in his career, and his 4.7 BB/9 is 1.4 higher than his career-high over a full season.
The issues for Teheran are kind of all over the place. For one thing, he’s missing the zone more than ever before while not really inducing any more swings on those pitches. Meanwhile, when he does induce a swing—whether it be on a pitch in or out of the zone—batters making contact at a much higher rate this season. The velocity is down slightly, but that doesn’t seem to be the driving factor. The thing that stands out the most to me is his changeup. Teheran has used that pitch much more often in 2017 than he did last season, and it hasn’t worked. The off-speed offering hasn’t induced whiffs (3.75% whiff rate, per Brooks Baseball) and has gone for a ball 35 percent of the time. Perhaps moving away from that pitch will help slightly, but the problems are too widespread for me to have big-time confidence in Teheran moving forward.
The Orioles de-facto ace heading into the year wasn’t quite as highly sought after as Teheran before the season, but he was still the No. 33 starting pitcher in NFBC drafts. Right now, he is the number 199 pitcher on the ESPN Player Rater. This is where the idea of selling low gets kind of hazy. I don’t think Gausman is going to be among the worst pitchers in all of baseball for the entire season, but rather he won’t get all that close to where we expected him. Some people could still be expecting that guy for the rest of season, and that might not stay the case for long.
To Gausman’s credit, he pitched really well his previous time out against a good Nationals lineup. In that start, he allowed just two runs in seven innings with eight strikeouts and one walk. Even with that outing, he has a 6.63 ERA, a 5.15 FIP, a 7.52 DRA and a 108 cFIP. He’s walking way too many batters thanks to a career-low O-Swing RT. Gausman has added a slider to his repertoire from a year ago, and it’s going as a ball over half of the time he throws it, and isn’t getting nearly enough whiffs to justify its continued usage. People could be ready to buy on Gausman, and this could be the time to pull the trigger.
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