February 15, 2012 posted by Paul Greco

Fantasy Baseball 2012 – Starting Pitcher Scouting Report, Part 4 of 5

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Brandon Morrow, Toronto Blue Jays Starting Pitcher

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.  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!

Paul finished the 2011-2012 Fantasy Football season as the #1 Weekly Rankings & Projections winner of the 411Fantasy Expert Challenge. He also finished 2nd in the Expert Draft Accuracy Challenge in 2011. Top 10 Finisher in the FSWA Fantasy Football Draft Projections. Paul is also apart of baseballs elite as a member of Tout Wars. You can follow me on Twitter @PaulGreco

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