Efficiency in your rotation is how you win leagues. Cheap, replaceable, effective starting pitchers mean more picks and/or budget for bats and closers. In order to be successful most of your rotation needs to be composed of pitchers that can be acquired at a value. Here are some to target on draft day – if the price is right.
1. Brandon Morrow, TOR – FIP and xFIP say he got unlucky last year, which may be creating the last chance to make Morrow a value pick. He has established an elite 10+ K per 9 and his BB rate in 2011 was a career best.Â He looks like he has a Cy Young in his future; buy now and try to cash in.
2. Roy Oswalt, – He’s aging, injury prone and his fastball is in decline, so he should come cheap. He knows how to use four pitches, generates a minimum of mid-40s GB% and had a BB% in 2011 that was in line with his career peak. Oswalt may not be a wire to wire starter for you but there’s value here.
3. Ubaldo Jimenez, CLE – The sabermetrics say he was never as good as 2010 but he was much better than 2011. The K, BB and GB rates were all identical year-to-year. This is what buy low looks like. Project something in between and if you pay anything less you’ll profit.
4. Scott Baker, MIN – ‘Compensates’ for being injury prone with extreme fly ball tendencies. Still, elite control and career 3.4 K/BB ratio keep me interested. Our editor always thought he was a Cy Young caliber pitcher.
5. Blake Beavan, SEA – Say it with me “We love any pitcher in Seattle’s rotation.” Youth creates upside but elite control and Safeco are enough to bank on for right now. Could be a very useful spot starter and should be practically free on draft day.
6. Chris Capuano, FA – The poster boy for why we care about sabermetrics. They indicated he could be good again despite two TJ surgeries. A 42% GB rate and 3 to 1 K/BB in 2011 means he’s a useful fantasy pitcher and should improve on last season. His value is partly tied to where he lands.
7. Marco Estrada, MIL – At 28 he’s clearly not an elite prospect, but the 3 to 1 K/BB rate and 8 Ks per 9 means he’s worth a second look. He could be bullpen fodder but actually pitched better out of the rotation last year. FIP and xFIP indicate that he was a victim of bad luck that further depresses his value. A sneaky pick that will be overlooked by all but the most astute fantasy experts.
8. Liam Hendricks, MIN – He has little experience in the upper levels of the minors or in the majors so it’s tough to read. If the skills translate he combines elite control with solid K and GB rates. Even at 23 that could equate to fairly studly fantasy production.
9. Philip Humber, CHW – The skill growth has come really late but the GB, K and BB rates say 2011 was the real deal. FIP and xFIP are remarkably consistent with actual results. Out of nowhere he threw a slider 18% of the time last season. Sometimes a new pitch is all guys need for the lights to go on. Consider the switch flipped.
10. Juan Nicasio, COL – The most memorable highlight from 2011 for Nicasio was the horrifying line drive that he took off his head, resulting in a broken neck. He’s expected to make a full recovery at this point so the perspective is skewed when we say his skills were masked by some bad luck. He has a BB/K rate which topped 3 to 1 and a GB% approaching 50%. If he’s healthy and gets a rotation spot, go for it!