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Fantasy Baseball Spring Training Stat Trends: Control Issues

Igor Derysh looks at some starting pitchers already struggling with their control in spring training and what fantasy baseball owners can expect in 2014.

Matt Moore

 

Matt Moore

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, we looked at some pitchers who are already striking out batters at a mid-season rate through spring. Now we turn to the other side of the coin, pitchers who are dealing with some control issues in the early goings.

In a league where pitching is this deep, no one wants to end up with a guy with a 1.30+ WHIP when it can be easily avoided. Let’s take a look at a few starters dealing with control issues and what fantasy owners can expect in the regular season.

Matt Moore (9.4 BB/9): Matt Moore has always put a lot of batters on base but has managed to post strong numbers in spite of his 4+ BB/9 rate. This spring, Moore has walked more batters than anyone, giving 15 free passes over just 14.1 innings. Still, he has once again been able to strand runners and only has a 3.77 ERA despite a sky-high 1.95 WHIP.

Moore posted a 4.5 BB/9 last year, which is far from good, but still provided fantasy owners 17 wins, a 3.29 ERA, and 8.6 K/9. Those are all great numbers but his WHIP (1.30 last year) certainly means there are pitchers far more worthy of being drafted ahead of him as there is always the chance for a blowup like we saw in last year’s playoffs against the Red Sox.

Dan Straily (6.8 BB/9): Since coming up in 2012, Straily has posted a 3.4 BB/9 rate. Not great but a far cry from the 10 free passes he’s allowed over 13.1 spring innings. It’s not a big sample size, however, and Straily has never been a big strikeout or walk pitcher. I would expect a similar 3.5 BB/9 and 7.3 K/9 rate from him this year. His high-3 ERA over his first 34 Major League starts places him toward the bottom of drafts and he’s hardly a pitcher to target given his middle-of-the-road numbers.

R.A. Dickey (6.4 BB/9): Dickey is as much a question mark as any pitcher this year after following his 2012 Cy Young campaign with a 4.21 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 2013. He’s struggled this spring, surrendering nine earned runs and 20 base runners over just 14 innings which can’t inspire a lot of optimism in the fantasy world.

Personally, I would avoid Dickey since the position is so stacked but there is hope for him. In the second half last year, Dickey improved significantly, posting a 3.56 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in his final 14 starts. Still, it doesn’t look like Dickey is going to set the world on fire like he did with the Mets two seasons ago.

Tony Cingrani (5.2 BB/9): It’s alarming to see that Cingrani has allowed 12 earned runs and 27 baserunners over just 17.1 innings this spring after he posted a 2.92 ERA and 1.10 WHIP last season. We know Cingrani can walk some guys, posting a 3.9 BB/9 in Double-A and a 3.7 BB/9 over his first 26 Major League appearances but I wouldn’t worry too much given his low hit numbers and stellar strikeout numbers.

We know what Cardinals pitching can do year in and year out and, given Cingrani’s 1.65 ERA in the minors and 2.87 ERA in the Majors, Cingrani is a guy to target since his ADP is well below what his potential production will be.

Tim Hudson (4.7 BB/9): Hudson hasn’t walked more than 2.9 batters per nine innings since 2006. Despite his 10 walks over 19 innings this spring, he has a solid 3.72 ERA to show for it. Ultimately, though, we know what Hudson gives us. A mid-to-high 3.00 ERA, a solid 1.15-1.20 WHIP, and about 5.5-6 K/9. Given his low strikeout numbers, Hudson is late-rounder/undrafted starter but he’s a solid waiver wire grab that can help you get through injury problems or high WHIP mid-season.

Tyler Skaggs (4.5 BB/9): Skaggs has only pitched 68 Major League innings over the last two seasons, posting a 5.43 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. His spring walks aren’t that much higher than his 3.7 BB/9 in the regular season. He’s still entering his rookie year and given his regular season and spring training struggles, I’d avoid him completely until he shows he can be a Major League caliber starter.

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