May 31, 2013 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

Fantasy Baseball Singles Only: Week 8 Edition

Fantasy Baseball Singles Only: Week 8 Edition
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Rookie pitchers can win a league. It’s a fact that fantasy GMs have to reconcile at some point. Some rookie pitcher can come into the league, dominate for a half dozen starts and skew the pitching categories in a league.

The problem is that for every Shelby Miller or Tony Cingrani, there’s a lot of guys most of us will never hear from again. There are only so many guys who are blessed to throw a baseball at the major league level, but there are a lot of guys who are meant to be selling insurance or whatever else it is that failed prospects end up doing.

Most of rookie pitchers are over-hyped and probably over-owned, but a few of these guys fly under the radar. These are the guys that could be useful to a fantasy GM in need of an extra arm.

Justin Grimm is one of the least-heralded, reasonably successful rookies in Major League Baseball. Grimm isn’t flashy. He’s stuck on a rotation that has a massive Japanese-Iranian shadow. He also came into the season with absolutely zero hype. At the beginning of the season, Grimm was basically a name on a roster to most fantasy GMs. He was waiver wire fodder.

Grimm has got five wins to his name. His team managed to score enough runs while limiting the opposition five times! Grimm managed to get credit for what his team did!  Woo-hoo!

The data that fantasy GMs need to concern themselves with is that Grimm is striking out 19.0% of hitters faced and only walking 6.0%. It’s only in 52 2/3 innings this year, so there is a small sample size alert.

The only red flag appears to be his line drive rate. He’s giving up line drives 22.7% of the time he puts a ball in play. It’s hard to know if it’s a result of the small sample size or if Grimm gets tagged that often.

Grimm is posting a .339 BABIP which actually makes sense given his inflated line drive rate and his 1.42 GB:FB ratio. What’s odd is that he’s not carrying an inflated LOB % along with the higher than average BABIP. This is an issue worth keeping an eye on, but it’s not enough to keep Grimm off a roster.

Julio Teheran is owned in way too many leagues. He’s a competent pitcher, but he’s actually hurting fantasy teams in leagues with innings caps. Teheran is only striking out 14.5% of hitters with a 5.45 K/9. Getting as many K’s as possible in as few innings as possible is an important strategy in capped leagues.

Teheran also owns an ERA slightly above his weight class. His 4.24 xFIP indicates that his 3.67 actual ERA is due for a correction. He’s getting away with an 82.6% LOB %. Teheran hasn’t posted a LOB % over 80% since 2010 in Single-A. Teheran puts a ton of balls in play and eventually those balls are going to start missing gloves, those runners won’t be stranded as often and Teheran doesn’t strike out enough batters to pitch over it.

Teheran is owned in 42% of Yahoo! leagues and Grimm is only owned in 4% of Yahoo! leagues. The biggest difference between the two appears to be the four years of hype that Teheran received as a top prospect.

Rookies have shown over the past few years that they can step into the role as closer and hang on to it. There might be an opportunity in Cleveland with an injury putting Chris Perez on the shelf and Vinnie Pestano still recovering from an elbow injury.

Pestano isn’t nearly as effective as he’s been in the past few seasons. It’s safe to throw away the “Free Vinnie” t-shirts and buy a “Free Cody” t-shirt. There’s a new bandwagon in town and it has Cody Allen’s name written on the side with hearts and stars around it.

All Cody Allen has done this year is strikeout 33.0% of hitters this year. He’s got the velocity and movement that fantasy GMs look for in a closer candidate and he might have an opportunity. Allen is only owned in 4% of Yahoo! leagues, so most fantasy GMs aren’t wise to him yet.

How is Dan Straily a post-hype sleeper already? He’s only 24 years old and only has 14 starts at the major league level. Wasn’t his hype train just pulling out of the station last year? It’s odd that Straily is ignored by so many after being so hyped last year. Straily is only owned in 13% of Yahoo! leagues.

Straily has only thrown 39 innings at the major league level this year. He has a lower than average BABIP (.264), a lower than average HR:FB ratio (6.1%), but his actual ERA is an out-of-control 5.08.

The issue facing Straily is one of statistical variance. His LOB % is a shockingly low 57.1% this year. Every runner that Straily has allowed this year has an almost 50% chance of scoring. That’s simply too many and should normalize soon. Straily is a worthy streamer candidate and deserves to be rostered in more than 13% of leagues. Everything in Straily’s peripheral data suggests he’s better than this.


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