Which Pitchers Should I Target?
I'm continually asked a few questions over and over again.
What should my draft strategy be? Which “sleepers” should I target late in drafts? Which setup man will become a closer this season? How can you give away such great information for free? How is it possible that you're still single?
I always have answers for those questions, at least the first four anyway, but there is a sixth question that I get all the time as well – which pitchers should I target on draft day after the top mound aces are off the board? That's what I'm going to breakdown in this entry.
I've already touched on this topic previously, so I'll quickly highlight those pieces before digging a bit deeper today.
The Strikeout: Relievers This article breaks down the top relievers in 2010 based on K/9 marks.
The Strikeout: Starters This article breaks down the top starters in 2010 based on K/9 marks while also delving a bit deeper by adding into the mix how a pitchers' walk rate also needs to be looked at as well.
Here is an excerpt from that piece.
The following group of pitchers are those starters you should target, ones with a K/9 of 7.00 and a K/BB above 2.75 last season (min. 100 IP). There were only 26 such hurlers in 2010 (clink on the link to the piece to find out who they are).
How to Evaluate Relievers This article gives some hints as to what type of skills you should look at when deciding which bullpen arms to roster.
Here is an excerpt from that piece.
Amongst relievers that tossed 60-innings last year, which pitchers racked up a K/9 mark over 7.50 with a BB/9 mark under 3.00? Clink on the link to the piece to find out who they are.
Here are the “rules” that I try follow when drafting pitchers.
STARTERS Target at least a 6.50 K/9 mark. Target a BB/9 mark below 3.30.
RELIEVERS Target at least a 7.50 K/9 mark. Target a BB/9 mark below 3.00.
There are certainly plenty of examples of pitchers who have success despite missing on one, or both, of those baselines, but if you're asking me the optimal way to put together a pitching staff, then those are the marks I would be shooting for.
What does this mean in practical terms? It means that I would never reach for any of the following hurlers: Mark Buehrle, Rick Porcello, Carl Pavano, Doug Fister, Mike Pelfrey, Bronson Arroyo, Jeremy Guthrie, Dallas Braden, Fausto Carmona, R.A. Dickey, Trevor Cahill, Jon Garland, Derek Lowe or Randy Wells.
To be clear I'm not saying that there aren't situations in which I would still call out these pitchers names – i.e. in a league specific scenario or very late in a mixed league draft – but there's no chance I'm gonna target them to be one of my top four starters in a mixed league, and no, I don't care how good they were last year.
At the other end of the spectrum here are some hurlers who I would look to call out at the end of a draft, even if they don't seem to be as stable an option as the names I just listed. Remember, there will always be “average” guys on waivers in mixed leagues. I'm going to target high upside arms late, an if they flame out I'll just grab one of those above guys to fill out my rotation.
Jorge de la Rosa: A dominating power hurler who has a a 8.95 K/9 mark since joining the Rockies in 2008, DLR's issue is an inability to stay healthy and to locate his pitches at times. Given his K per inning rate the past three years, and the fact that he is a ground ball hurler, I'm willing to cut him a wee bit of slack even though his BB-rate is terrible at 4.12 per nine. Still, I'd rather take a shot on his ceiling than call out the name of a guy like Jon Garland.
Jhoulys Chacin: Like his Rockies' teammate, Chacin dominated hitters with the K posting a 9.04 K/9 mark, but he also allowed far too many walks at 4.00 per nine. However, he also keeps the ball on the ground like DLR, and K's plus grounders usually equals a lot of success – even in Colorado.
Bud Norris: This Astros' hurler was 10th in baseball last year amongst pitchers who threw at least 100-innings with a 9.25 K/9 mark. He does come with a lot of risk though. First off, he often can't throw strikes (4.51 walks per nine), and second he could always be moved back to the bullpen because he really doesn't have very good secondary stuff. I'm still greatly intrigued by that power arm though.
Homer Bailey: A star prospect who was going to break through what, each of the last three years, it might finally be his time. Bailey posted a strong 8.26 K/9 mark last season with a 3.30 BB/9 rate, not to mention that he was able produce a 3.55 ERA an a 1.27 WHIP over his last 10 starts.
Jonathon Niese: I don't think there will be many leagues this year where he will be taken before Pelfrey and Dickey, but I see no reason why that should be the case. Niese was really good last year until a final month meltdown when he wore out from his heavy workload (his ERA was 3.76 on Sept 18th before finishing at 4.20).
Chris Narveson: I've written about him before, but in case you missed it, did you realize that over his last 14 starts last year he had a 3.89 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and a 7.33 K/9 mark with a 2.67 BB/9 rate?
Travis Wood: Rookies who post a 7.54 K/9 rate and a 2.28 BB/9 mark should certainly grab your attention, especially when the back of their ball card says that they were a 2nd round draft pick hinting that it's not unreasonable to expect there to be enough talent to sustain that level of production.
Let me repeat my oft-heard refrain: TARGET SKILLS AND NOT ROLES
In the long run you'll end up ahead if you follow this mantra. You'll just have to target the right skills and have the patience to allow things to develop.
By Ray Flowers
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 7-10 PM EDT), Ray also hosts his own show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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