June 24, 2012 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

2012 Fantasy Baseball: Leaders and Laggards Pitchers’ K:BB

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Derek Lowe, SP, Cleveland Indians

Strikeouts and walks matter in fantasy baseball. They especially matter when someone like Brian Matusz has a tasty match up against some team like Oakland or Seattle. You add him to your roster and expect, at the minimum, a few solid innings with high K’s, low walks and maybe, if the offense and bullpen help him out, a nice fat W. The only problem is that Matusz walks the bases loaded in the first,  gives up a bunch of runs and roasts your ratios. Strikeouts and walks matter.

Some men lead us to glory by striking out dozens and never even thinking about walking a batter. Others…seem to enjoy giving up walks and appear allergic to strike three. Sadly, this list will be populated by a group of “pitchers” who probably won’t help your fantasy team this year.


1. Kyle Drabek 1.00
2. Derek Lowe 1.11
3. Ubaldo Jiminez 1.18
4. Kevin Correia 1.23
5. Barry Zito 1.25
6. Henderson Alvarez 1.35
7. Edinson Volquez 1.49
8. Carlos Zambrano 1.50
9. Ricky Romero 1.50
10. Randy Wolf 1.55


Kyle Drabek wouldn’t be someone you would want on your fantasy team even if he wasn’t out for the year with a blown-up elbow. He’s a WHIP killer who walks as many as he strikes out. No thank you.

Derek Lowe’s 2.90 BB/9 isn’t terrible, but his 3.23 K/9 is. The key to Lowe has always been his ability to generate ground balls and that’s a skill that stays into the twilight of a pitcher’s career. Lowe’s 2.95 GB:FB ratio isn’t that far off his 3.03 career average. He’s a useful innings eater in very deep leagues or AL-only leagues, but his lack of strikeouts will hurt more than his other numbers will help in standard, mixed-league formats.

Ubaldo Jimenez is actually worth taking a look at again. Ubaldo slogged through a terrible April and May, but he’s posting a 8.54 K/9 and 2.39 BB/9 in June. Those numbers are useful! The days of the 96 MPH heat appear to be over, but that doesn’t mean that Ubaldo can’t be a contributor in fantasy baseball!  Actually, he probably still can, but there’s a deeper issue with Ubaldo. He’s not getting ground balls the way he used to. Ubaldo was putting up GB:FB ratios over 1.50 when he was making fantasy GMs drool over his ridiculous stuff. Now? It’s down around 1.03 and his line drive rate has been over 20% each of the first three months of the year. Ubaldo is basically a league average guy without his radar gun busting velocity and absurd movement. He’s a stay away in most mixed league formats.

Kevin Correia? No. Just no. He’s a guy who can throw baseballs every fifth day for an awful team. Do not own Kevin Correia in any format.

Remember when everyone said Barry Zito’s “hot” start wouldn’t last? Yeah. His ERA is sitting at 4.35 and his WHIP is at 1.40. Not horrible, you say? He’d actually be hurting you with his 5.02 K/9. The only way a fantasy GM should use Barry Zito is in a deep league against San Diego on the road and even then it’s only if you’re desperate.

Here’s another “do you remember”… Remember when Henderson Alvarez was skating by with ERA’s in the mid-3.00’s with a BABIP in the low .200’s? Yeah? How did that work out? Alvarez has a 6.29 ERA and a .333 BABIP in the month of June. He’s posting a 2.00+ GB:FB ratio this month, but those ground balls aren’t finding gloves the same way they did in April or May. Alvarez is incapable of posting the strikeout numbers to pitch over his luck. Alvarez is waiver wire fodder until he can post something close to a league average K/9. It’s actually kind of amazing the Blue Jays have stuck with him this long.

Edinson Volquez is actually ownable in NL-only leagues or deep leagues because he owns a 7.80 K/9. What’s keeping him from being mixed league ownable is his 5.24 BB/9. He’s been better at home(8.94 K/9 and 4.89 BB/9) than on the road(6.03 K/9 and 5.77 BB/9). Make sure you use him at home if you absolutely feel the need to stream Volquez in a standard league. The good news is that his velocity is basically the same as its always been, so it’s safe to say that he’s healthy. For the immediate future…like the next couple days or so.

Did you know that Carlos Zambrano is only 31 years old? (According to his listed birthdate) It seems like he should be 42. For Zambrano’s sake, he’s only pitching like he’s 42. His velocity is down(career low 90.0 average fastball velocity), his walks are up and his K’s are down. Miami is currently squeezing some of the last useful innings out of Zambrano. He’s been taking on a full, major-league level workload since he was 22 years old. That workload appears to have caught up to Zambrano. He’s waiver wire fodder in anything except NL-only leagues.

Ricky Romero managed to get by last year with a crazy low BABIP(.242) and a competent K/9(7.12) and BB/9(3.20). This year? The BABIP is still crazy low(.251), but his K/9 is only 6.51 and his BB/9 is a gross 4.34. What’s the problem with Romero? He’s missing fewer bats(his swinging strike % is only 8.0% this year) and he’s not getting as many first pitch strikes. His first pitch strike % is only 52.8%, down from 57.9%. So, he’s not getting as many swings and misses and he’s starting behind in the count more often. He’s still getting lucky with his defense and his velocity is basically the same as its always been. He’s not a victim of bad luck and he’s not hurt. This could be one of those dreaded “between the ears” problems that are impossible to quanitfy sabrmetrically…for now.

We’ll end this with Randy Wolf because the Wolf Man is basically at the end of his career. Actually Randy is still basically the same guy he’s always been from a velocity standpoint. The difference this year is that his BABIP is 30 points over his (lengthy) career average and he’s only posting a 5.33 K/9. He’s getting beaten up thanks to some bad luck and he’s not capable of getting the strikeout numbers to pitch over it. He’s a stay away in anything except a NL-only league.


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