His fantasy ownership has already shot up and will surely go up even higher ahead of his first game.
In this case, I would avoid jumping on the potential bandwagon.
That’s not to say Butler can’t or won’t be a quality Major League starter. His limited minor league work shows that he can limit runs and baserunners. Over 286 minor league innings, Butler owns a strong 2.05 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 6.8 hits allowed per nine innings, and 2.6 walks allowed per nine innings.
Those are all very impressive. For fantasy purposes, however, his strikeouts aren’t very good. He has a 7.5 K/9 rate over his minor league career and that number has fallen to 5.2 per nine this season while his WHIP has jumped up to 1.18. Let’s not panic about a 1.18 WHIP but the strikeouts are far from what you want in a fantasy starter.
That’s not his biggest problem, however.
His biggest problem will be pitching in Colorado.
Since Ubaldo Jimenez posted a 2.88 ERA in his stellar 2010 campaign, the team has seen just three starting pitchers make more than 10 starts and post an ERA under 3.60. All three were last year, as Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, and Tyler Chatwood all posted strong ERAs.
Now, Chacin owns a 5.51 ERA in limited work and Chatwood has a 4.50 over just four starts.
This year, only Jordan Lyles owns an ERA under 3.60, a 3.46. Of course, he has a 6.28 ERA over his last three starts and has never posted an ERA under 5.00 in his career, so let’s not assume that things will finish the way they started.
While the team has only seen three starters post ERAs under 3.60, they have seen 12 pitchers start at least 10 games and post ERAs over 5.00 over that stretch. Often, well over 5.00.
We always talk about how teams like Tampa Bay and Oakland can get the most out of their starters, even completely unexciting prospects. Colorado is the opposite. Colorado is where top prospects turn into one-and-done starters before they are exiled back to the minors or, worse, out of the league entirely.
So if Butler were coming up with the Rays, A’s, or just about any team not called the Rockies, the potential to make a fantasy impact would certainly be significant. In Colorado, Butler is doomed to fail at worst and is destined for mediocrity at best.
No one posts sub-3.00 ERAs in Colorado. It just doesn’t happen. Yes, Ubaldo, that one time, before posting a 4.46 ERA the very next year and getting shipped to Cleveland. It just doesn’t happen. Without the strikeout potential, the fantasy potential just isn’t there.