Oracle Report: Mid-Level Starting Pitchers
The Oracle reviews a handful of starting pitchers that don't possess the name but might possess the skills to help your fantasy squad.
Johnny Cueto, Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale... we all know what those guys are at this point. But what about the guys that round out your staff? I'm not talking about the Corey Kluber's and Ervin Santana's of the world either, I'm talking about the guys who are your last starter in mixed leagues, the guys you add off waivers to help out as streaming options. In this piece I will be reviewing those type of arms, the guys that often make the difference between winning and losing.
Jacob deGrom of the Mets had a nice outing last time he took the bump with seven shutout innings. The effort lowered his ERA to 3.75 and his WHIP to 1.42. And that should tell you a lot about this guy. He goes out and tosses a shutout and he's still not even league average in the ratio categories. There's more to pitching than those two numbers though, so let's keep digging. His K/9 mark is 7.69. That's barely better than average. His 3.94 walk rate per nine is three quarters of a point above the league average. His homer per nine mark is 0.94. Just a tick below the league average. His BABIP is .307. His GB/FB is 1.10. Fact is, this is about as average a skill set as you're gonna find.
Mixed League Relevance: Streamer at best.
League Specific Relevance: Solid depth starter, nothing more.
Bud Norris might be a great closer or at least a reliever. He's got a strong, hard to hit power arsenal (fastball, slider). As a starter he's merely average. I say that despite the 3.62 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, solid ratios no doubt. However, in five seasons he's never posted numbers that strong, his career ratios are 4.29 and 1.39. More telling is the 6.21 K/9 mark. That's, literally, two full batters below his career mark of 8.27. Even last year when he struggled with the strikeout he still had a K/9 mark of 7.49. He's throwing harder than he has in years, it's not a loss of velocity that's hurting him. The problem is batters just aren't swinging and missing. His swinging strike ratio is at 6.8, well below his 10.0 career mark, and this would be his 5th straight year with a declining number. His contract rate, never before over 79 percent, is up at 84.7 percent this year, another sign that all is not well.
Mixed League Relevance: Streamer.
League Specific Relevance: He's a decent AL-only arm, but the lack of strikeouts is still troubling.
Jake Odorizzi will likely maintain his rotation spot over Erik Bedard when Jeremy Hellickson is ready to return. That's the good news. There's also his impressive 10.55 K/9 mark that grabs your attention and smacks you in the face. But, his swinging strike percent of 9.8 is only league average, his 79.4 percent contract rate is league average, and his strikeout number in 41 outings at Triple-A was just 8.2. Also of concern is his 3.48 BB/9 mark and the fact that despite a mere 0.86 GB/FB ratio he's only sitting with a 0.81 HR/9 mark. He's pitched well, but it's more likely he'll continue to be a moderate ratio arm (4.29 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) than one that will significantly improve.
Mixed League Relevance: Last starter on a staff and a great source of strikeouts.
League Specific Relevance: You'll take moderate ratios with strikeout totals like this, no questions asked.
Wily Peralta has an 8-5 record, 3.02 ERA and 1.23 WHIP through 15 starts. Going back further, looking at his last 24 starts, he's got a 3.33 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. It's not just a 2014 breakout – this started in the second half last year. Peralta also gets tons of grounders, 52.5 percent is the ground ball rate for his career, and that is a great thing to see, as is his 1.94 career GB/FB ratio. Peralta has also shaved a full batter off his walk rate (2.17). The only negative? Despite a “big” arm Wily has a mere 6.51 K/9 mark at the moment.
Mixed League Relevance: Should be able to continue the work we've seen to this point, though the ERA might continue to drift upward.
League Specific Relevance: Given his draft day cost, he's turning into a big win.
Jason Vargas is a solid big leaguer. He's a better real life arm than a fantasy player though. Why? Despite a 7-3 record this year he's never been a winner with a career mark of 58-61. He never strikes anyone out. His current 6.06 per nine mark is the second highest mark he has ever had in a season of 75 innings. There is no upside with Vargas. He won't kill your WHIP, he doesn't walk many, but it's still a bit hard to envision him doing anything but regress in WHIP (currently 1.21). And the 3.16 ERA? Not only is that a full run below his career mark it's also not indicative of how he has pitched this year(4.14 SIERA, 4.11 xFIP).
Mixed League Relevance: Fine for now, but really, he's a streamer.
League Specific Relevance: A nice hurler given his cost. He should continue to be effective but realize this is as good as it gets.
Ryan Vogelsong looked washed up last year. He's rebounded nicely. Still, after a superb May (2.29 ERA) he's bombed in June (6.04 ERA). All told that leaves him with a 4.13 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 7.52 K/9 mark and 2.45 K/BB ratio. Like others on this list, that's all league average stuff. Given the fact that he's been really bad in two of the three months this season, and that he had a 5.73 ERA and 1.35 WHP last year, and that he's nearly 37 years old, well, what you see is what you get.
Mixed League Relevance: Not worth rostering unless you're in a 15 team league.
League Specific Relevance: With so little upside, while struggling like he is, your likely better served to go with a reliever in your starting lineup.
Vance Worley went 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA as a rookie in 2011. The last two years he kinda failed to match that work. A little bit. The last two seasons Worley went 7-14 with a 5.00 ERA and 1.64 WHIP over 181.2 innings. In two starts this season though he's looked like the rookie that excited some as he's allowed three runs and only walked one. Great stuff. Problem is Vance Worley and “great stuff” are never used in the same sentence by a scout. Worley's a pitcher, but he's simply not able to dominate big leaguers. He wasn't pitching extremely well in Triple-A this season with a 4.30 ERA, though he did have a 1.11 WHIP and a solid 43 Ks in 46 innings (he also allowed 47 hits to blunt the excitement).
Mixed League Relevance: Nothing to see here.
League Specific Relevance: Can hope, but he's more likely to disappoint than excel.