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A major blow was experienced by fantasy baseball owners on Sunday when it was announced that 23 year-old Gerrit Cole would be going on the disabled list with “shoulder fatigue.” The super soph was having a solid season for the Pittsburgh Pirates and fantasy owners alike. Now owners are forced to scramble around for replacement options.
The following is a list of pitchers that should still be available in most leagues. Ownership rates are based on CBS Sports fantasy leagues. A lot of these pitchers show up in our previous list of fantasy baseball free agent pitchers.
STEAL THESE PITCHERS
Our best available starters this week were also the best available last week. Pitchers Collin McHugh and Henderson Alvarez have contrasting pitching styles, but have identical ownership rates (67 percent). How good is McHugh? His Strikeout Rate (K%) of 27.1 would rank him in the top 10 among qualified starting pitchers. His Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) is still suspiciously low, going from .261 last week, to .248 this week. Line Drive Percentage (LD%) is still a concern, but it has yet to negatively affect McHugh. He also induces plenty of pop ups so that has helped decrease his BABIP. It’s a matter of time until we see his BABIP increase to normal levels. Until then, he can become the easiest choice to replace a pitcher like Cole.
Meanwhile, Alvarez is your prototypical, pitch-to-contact, ground ball pitcher. Alvarez ranks 12th among qualified starters in Ground Ball Rate (GB%). He won’t strike out many hitters, but he won’t kill you with walks either. Despite his BABIP of .314, he still has a good Field Independent Pitching (FIP–basically takes into account a pitcher’s ability to strikeout hitters, limit walks and home runs). His Skills-Interactive ERA (SIERA–like FIP, but also accounts for balls in play), however, has increased since last time so that’s a red flag. Nevertheless, you know what you’re getting with Alvarez. He’s a safe pick as long as he continues to induce plenty of ground balls.
Tanner Roark–65 percent: Just like Alvarez, Roark is a pitch-to-contact pitcher. He’ll limit his walks, his home runs, and even his line drives. He doesn’t induce as many grounders as Alvarez, and Roark is not a strikeout pitcher. However, he did strikeout 11 against the San Diego Padres in his last start (though we all know how bad the Padres’ offense has been all season long). We mentioned that Roark is a pitcher that is at his “best when utilized under favorable matchups.” That would be a prime example of a favorable matchup. Just like McHugh, Roark has a low BABIP and that should be a concern, but because his LD% is low, Roark may still prove to be an effective, long-term pitcher.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Bartolo Colon–55 percent: How low is Colon’s Walk Rate (BB%)? It is the fifth lowest in the majors. Despite keeping his walks in check, Colon still has a WHIP of 1.32. Not bad, but not good either as his high BABIP of .323 has contributed to the mediocre WHIP. A concern last time was his home run balls. However, due to his recent performances, based on the fact that he has done a better job of keeping the ball down, he has not given up a home run in his last three starts. His FIP of 3.55 ranks better than 60 percent of qualified pitchers. If he continues to limit the walks and long balls, he should continue to provide much needed aid to fantasy owners.
WHERE’S THE FAITH?
Josh Tomlin–25 percent: You would think that a guy that sports an FIP of 3.65 and a SIERA of 3.29 would be of use in fantasy circles. Apparently not. His 21.7 K% is identical to Jeff Samardzija. His control has been outstanding since being summoned from the minors in early May. Concerns that he’s been doing this with the aid of an incredibly low BABIP (.235) are understandable. We know the Cleveland Indians’ defense is porous at best. There’s also concerns with the long ball, but once again, Tomlin has been pitching outstanding and is to be taken advantage of until his hot streak comes to an end.
REST OF THE FIELD:
Jake Odorizzi–29 percent
Good: Despite high ERA, has an FIP of 3.14 and a SIERA of 3.34…K% of 27.4 would rank him sixth among all qualified starting pitchers…
Bad: High BABIP of .372 is the main culprit of his problems…struggles with walks as well…high LD%…
Roenis Elias–49 percent
Good: Respectable strikeout totals…Induces enough grounders…limits line drives…Forces a lot of pop ups…
Bad: Needs to cut back on walks…FIP of 4.01…SIERA of 3.85…home runs are a concern…
Wade Miley–43 percent
Good: 3.63 SIERA suggest balls in play could be handled better…decent K%…can limit walks…induces plenty of grounders…
Bad: High FIP…struggling to keep the ball in the park…
SMALL SAMPLE SIZE PITCHERS
The following is a list of pitchers that have yet to reach the 35 innings pitched mark this season:
Jacob deGrom–34 percent: Has strikeout potential, but walks will cause headaches and the home runs will get him in trouble.
Jaime Garcia–60 percent: In his four starts since coming back to the Cardinals’ rotation, he had yet to give up a walk. Has nice strikeout numbers, but despite being a ground ball pitcher, the home runs have been a concern.
Chase Anderson–15 percent: Owners love the 4-0 start, but outside of low walks, he won’t impress with strikeouts and has given up too many home runs.
Marcus Stroman–54 percent: Only two starts under his belt, he has looked impressive from a strikeout and walk standpoint. While keeping the ball on the ground, it has created a high BABIP, which has helped raise a high WHIP.
Rubby de la Rosa–31 percent: Like Stroman, de la Rosa only has two starts, but has kept the strikeouts high and the walks low. Unfortunately, despite being a ground ball pitcher in his starts, the home run ball has been an issue.
Kevin Gausman–32 percent: Will earn another start on Thursday, after pitching a great game on Saturday, possibly against Mark Buehrle and the Toronto Blue Jays. We’ve talked about Gausman’s high potential before and his pedigree is impressive. Not enough data has been compiled for Gausman, but if he continues this way, and pitches close to his potential, we might have something interesting brewing for the summer.
All stats are courtesy of fangraphs.com and are good through June 7, 2014.
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