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If you made it big in the restaurant business, you got a Chef’s Table.

At Fantasy Alarm we have one too. Expect here you don’t need a reservation. Or a fat stack to pay for it.

The best part about the Chef’s Table is that you get to watch the preparation of your food from start to finish. Seeing every intricate detail that goes into your dish while enjoying the company of family and friends. Well, that’s what I’m gonna give you here.

Each week I will profile a player based on increased street cred throughout the industry.  Whether because of a recent hot streak, increased playing time or a promotion because of an injury. From there I will break down the recipe for that player’s success and determine if he is just a flash in the pan or someone who is gonna bring home the bacon.

Today’s Special: Collin McHugh

I may not be the oldest guy on the block, hell I’m only 28-years-old, but I do know that some pitchers take longer to develop than others. That’s pretty obvious. Some need 10 starts to get acclimated to big league hitters, and some need 40. In the case of Collin McHugh, it is really hard to judge whether or not he has the staying power to build off of his hot start.

Through his first two starts of 2014, he is now 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA and 0.52 WHIP while owning an astounding 11.15 K/9. As I have preached time and time again, it is all about sample size. He is through only 15.1 innings up to this point, and had just nine starts (0-8 w/ 8.94 ERA) under his belt prior to this year’s early season breakout. Meaning we need to know more before running to the waiver wire to place a claim on his services.

After being placed on waivers by the Rockies following the 2013 season, the writing was on the wall that he would either be a career-minor leaguer or soon be out of baseball if he didn’t turn things around, and fast. Just days before Christmas, the Astros decided to give McHugh a chance, but they would be lying if they told you they expected to get this type of production from him this fast. In four appearances for Triple-A Oklahoma City, McHugh posted a 4.50 ERA while striking out only eight batters over 14.0 innings of work, which is a far cry from what we have seen from him thus far.

The Astros use what’s called a “tandem” approach with their pitchers in the minor leagues, in which two pitchers are scheduled to be used on a given day, with one pitcher ideally throwing the first five innings and the other finishing the final four. This is done to allow the team to have more pitchers ready to become starters at the next level, while limiting the innings pitched by both starters and relievers alike. Whether or not this system is going to translate into success down the road is anyone’s guess, but the fact that McHugh had yet to throw over 73 pitches in a game at Triple-A and then reach 89 and 114 pitches respectively in his first two big league starts is rather alarming.

Sometimes early season success can be attributed to some luck as well. Through his first 15.1 innings, McHugh has induced only nine ground balls, while forcing 22 fly balls, which has resulted in a ground ball to-fly ball rate of 0.41. That isn’t very good to say the least.  In fact, that ranks him ahead of only three pitchers who have started a game in 2014 (Michael Pineda, Chris Young and Trevor Bauer). This too should be alarming, considering he has had his issues with home runs prior to his 2014 debut (11 HR through 47.1 IP from 2012-13).

The Wrap-Up

When a player is promoted and reaches doubled-digit strikeouts in just his first start, he is going to create a buzz. Whether that buzz is short-lived or long-lasting depends on the player. And in the case of the Astros righty I am sorry to say that this storybook beginning is going to come to an end. Whether in his next start or a month from now, the REAL Collin McHugh is going to grace us with his presence and burn out just as fast as he bursted onto the scene.

I mean, doesn’t anyone else find it odd that a guy that topped out at 93 MPH is striking out batters at this high of a rate? Outside of knuckleballers, who are few and far between, this is rather unusual. Not to mention that high fly ball rate that will likely come back to bite him as the season progresses. Either way his hot start has earned him at least a few more starts before the return of Scott Feldman, so hopefully we will learn the verdict one way or another.

Currently, McHugh is owned in less than 30 percent of fantasy leagues throughout the major providers (Yahoo!, ESPN, CBS), but that number is expect to continue to climb as his second start against the Mariners approaches (12 K in April 22 start). It’s my guess that this will be the game in which the luck of the Irish will not be on his side, considering how poorly pitchers usually pan out facing the same team with little or no turnover in between. If anything, he's an AL-only add, just don't come crying to me when the wheels start falling off. Then again, I could be wrong. No one is perfect. And that goes for McHugh as well, especially at pace he is on. 

Until next time, study hard and eat plenty!

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