This column might be slightly late, but itâ€™s still early in the 2013 fantasy baseball season! Thereâ€™s almost 100 games left on the schedule for most teams in Major League Baseball. That means there is still more than enough time to acquire pieces for your stretch run to a league title or bring in guys to replace the sad sacks you drafted in March.
Some fantasy GMs chose to invest in guys like Yovani Gallardo, Jon Lester and Matt Cain in March. It looked like a good idea at the time, but having those guys on your fantasy staff has likely left teams in the middle of the standings…or worse.
Itâ€™s about that time on the calendar when fantasy GMs need to look for pitchers who have a chance to rebound from a mediocre first half and lead your team in the late summer.
Roberto Hernandez (the guy who was walking around with Fausto Carmonaâ€™s ID) has overcome his visa/identity issues and is turning in a competent season. Heâ€™s striking out 19.6% of the batters he faces and only walking 6.0%. He still gets a ton of ground balls (50.0% GB % this year, 57.9% for his career) and there is still useful baseball in him. The problem is that heâ€™s sporting a gross 5.02 ERA.
Most of Hernandezâ€™ issues come from two sources.
First, heâ€™s getting murdered on balls hit in the air. He only gives up fly balls 25.2% of the time, but they leave the yard at a 20.0% clip. One out of every five fly balls hit off Hernandez leave the yard. He owns a career HR:FB ratio of 11.9%. Heâ€™s due for a regression to the mean and his ERA should come down along with his HR:FB ratio.
Secondly, Hernandez owns a 24.8% line drive rate. Thatâ€™s a career high by a wide, wide margin. Heâ€™s typically around the high teens and owns a 16.2% line drive rate for his career. He finished 2009 with a 6.32 ERA and only had a 17.8% line drive rate then. There arenâ€™t any red flags in his swing metrics. Heâ€™s right around his career averages in almost every category.
These numbers appear to be outliers in Hernandezâ€™ data set. Theyâ€™re also supported by his 3.53 xFIP. Hernandez is by no means a sexy name. Heâ€™s even lost the uniqueness of being â€œFausto Carmonaâ€ and is stuck with a name that makes him sound like a computer generated character in a baseball sim game, but he is a name to know for the second half. He can also be acquired for little to nothing at this point in the season. That is, of course, assuming heâ€™s not on the waiver wire in your league.
Brewers starter/trendy fantasy sleeper in March Marco Estrada is likely to be back in 7-10 days and he can be plucked from a frustrated fantasy GM for pennies on the dollar.
Marco is still posting excellent strikeout numbers (20.7 K %) and competent walk numbers (6.0% BB%). Much like Hernandez, Estrada has struggled with balls hit in the air. He gives up fly balls 41.8% of the time and owns a 15.7% HR:FB ratio. He owns a 12.3% career average, so a 15.7% HR:FB ratio isnâ€™t a ridiculous number for Estrada to post.
Where it gets weird for Estrada is that he doesnâ€™t really have any red flags other than his fly ball issues. His BABIP is in-line with his career average. His plate discipline against numbers are all within a standard deviation of his career averages. There isnâ€™t an obvious reason as to why Estrada has struggled in the metrics. As far as the advanced metrics go, Estrada is essentially the same pitcher that had a mini-breakout last year.
He could be betrayed by a mediocre Brewers defense, but that would show up in his BABIP. Heâ€™s currently posting a .305 BABIP and owns a .297 career average. His 3.94 xFIP indicates that his 5.32 actual ERA is a mirage. Heâ€™s a solid bet to improve on his mediocre first half and should be a target once heâ€™s set to make his return from a hamstring strain.
Mets starter Dillon Gee appeared to turn a corner on his career last year. Then he was taken down with a damaged artery in his left shoulder. He had legit sleeper buzz during the off-season, but he struggled out of the gate and wound up on the waiver wire in most leagues. He shouldnâ€™t be there now.
Geeâ€™s .336 BABIP (.289 career average) and 3.82 xFIP (versus his 4.56 actual ERA) indicate that heâ€™s being betrayed by his defense. His line drive % is basically the same as last year, but heâ€™s getting more fly balls (29.6% FB% last year vs. 35.1% this year) and fewer ground balls (50.3% last year vs. 43.4% this year). His BABIP should be lower than average and heâ€™s due for a correction.
Geeâ€™s K% and BB% are virtually identical to last season. He strikes out batter 19.8% of the time and only walks 6.0%. Gee needs to be owned for the stretch run. Everything about him screams improvement in the late summer.