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Every time a young pitcher plays well, fantasy owners always have to take into account the innings limit the team has decided to keep him to that year. Inning limits fluctuate greatly from player to player and are usually based on how many innings the pitcher has thrown in the past. Regardless of how you feel about the inaccuracy of counting innings rather than batters faced or another metric, it’s important to consider if you’re on a playoff run and Jose Fernandez sits out most of September. Let’s take a look at some young stars that might run into an innings cap down the stretch.
Matt Harvey (215-220): Harvey pitched 135 minor league innings in 2011and 170 innings last season, split between Triple-A and the Majors. Harvey is currently at 160 innings, about 55-60 innings short of what his cap might be. Harvey averages nearly seven innings per start which would give him about nine to ten starts the rest of the way, only about two to three short of what he would do either way. The Mets don’t plan to shut him down early like the Nats did with Stephen Strasburg, opting to go with a pseudo-six man rotation to give Harvey an extra day off inbetween starts. The innings limit won’t be much of factor for Harvey owners, save for maybe 15-20 strikeouts less than he would have gotten otherwise. You can live with that considering he has a league-leading 178 K right now.
Fearless Prediction: 13-5, 2.15 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 238 K
Jose Fernandez (170): I have Jose Fernandez on two different teams and losing his 2.58 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 9.7 K/9 is going to be devastating. He hasn’t given up more than three runs in a game since April 23 and has struck out 27 batters over his last two starts coming into Thursday. The one bright side is that the Marlins limited his innings early in the year and he’s at a reasonable 132.2 innings right now. The Marlins have Fernandez pegged at around 170 innings. Fernandez has been averaging around six innings per start since the Marlins started letting him go deeper into games which puts him at just six to seven starts the rest of the way. It’s a tough loss but the kid is 21 and only has one minor league season under his belt in which he tossed 134 innings. What are the Marlins supposed to do, keep trotting him out there for their late season run at a .400 record? I’d try to trade him now to another owner who isn’t paying as much attention.
Fearless Prediction: 11-7, 2.59 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 184 K
Zack Wheeler (180-185): Wheeler pitched 149 innings last year and is currently at 119 on the season between Triple-A and the Majors. He’s averaging five to six innings per start which would give him ten to eleven more starts so the innings cap shouldn’t be an issue for him unless he really overachieves and starts going deeper into games. He’s only gone past the fifth in four of his nine starts this year.
Fearless Prediction: 7-4, 3.78 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 79 K
Gerrit Cole (~170): Cole pitched 132 innings in his first minor league season last year. This season, Cole is at 129 innings between Triple-A and the Majors, putting him about 41 or so innings from his cap. He’s averaging about six innings per start this year, giving him about seven more starts on the season. This one will be interesting since, unlike Harvey, Fernandez, and Wheeler, Cole’s Pirates are very likely to be in the playoffs. He might not have the strikeout rate of an elite fantasy pitcher (6.3 K/9) but his 1.12 WHIP and 3.07 K/BB are very impressive for a rookie.
Fearless Prediction: 9-7, 3.59 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 73 K
Shelby Miller (~190-200): Miller pitched nearly 150 innings last season so he doesn’t have the low-cap that someone like Jose Fernandez or Gerrit Cole have. He’s currently at 121 innings and only averaging 5.5 innings per start. The Cardinals will certainly keep his innings in check since they’ll likely want to keep him available for the playoffs.
Fearless Prediction: 15-9, 2.98 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 204 K
Wily Peralta (~190): Peralta has thrown about 150 innings in each of his last three minor league seasons so he has a cap similar to Miller. Unlike Miller, he’s already pitched 136 innings but is also averaging about 5.6 innings per start. He might miss one or two games but Peralta likely won’t be shut down early, no matter how bad the Brewers are.
Fearless Prediction: 11-13, 4.04 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 128 K
Julio Teheran (200-ish): Teheran pitched 164 innings in 2011 so his current 137 innings (6.2 IP/GS) is going to let him get at least 10 more starts in. Like Miller and Cole, it’ll be interesting to see how Atlanta uses Teheran as they head for an obvious playoff berth.
Fearless Prediction: 14-7, 3.02 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 176 K
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