MLB: Five Cheap Pitchers to Target in Fantasy Baseball
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So, you lost Adam Wainwright.
What do you do?
Well, first you have to question yourself as to why you held your draft so early. Are you really that impatient?
Let this be a lesson to you all—sometimes procrastination works. Last weekend drafts are always better because the season is right around the corner.
But also, what if you owned him in a keeper league? I happen to own him in such a league, where I was planning on him being my ace for years to come. I was feeling good about it as he was coming off a two-year stretch where he amassed 39 wins, two sub-3.00 ERAs and 425 strikeouts over 463 1/3 innings.
As Charlie Sheen would say, "Winning!"
Now, we're left with nothing for 2011 and possibly more. You just never know.
Below, I focused on five pitchers and did my best, short of a hug, to help you deal with the loss of the best pitcher over the last two seasons. Obviously, these options won't be as good, but they can help fill the void left on your roster.
These pitchers all have one thing in common—they're all going undrafted in ESPN mock drafts and should be available in most standard leagues.
Which pitcher do you like the best?
Mike Minor, Atlanta Braves
Minor should win the last spot in the Braves' rotation and I wouldn't be surprised if he outperformed everyone but Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson (must be something with the initials T.H.).
Minor has always been an elite strikeout pitcher in the minors and it was nice to see him carry that success over into the Major Leagues. However, the most encouraging sign was his improved control.
Last year, he went from walking 3.24 batters per nine in the minors to 2.43 in the Majors and his 1.57 WHIP was no indication of the talent he has on the mound. Minor posted an extremely unlucky .379 BABIP and while he doesn't induce ground balls at a high rate (34.9%), his line drive percentage allowed (17.5%) did not warrant that high of a BABIP. Look for Minor, who is more polished than most realize, to strikeout close to one batter per inning, which gives him great value late in the draft.
Derek Holland, Texas Rangers
Save for a worse-than-average walk rate (3.77 BB/9), Holland can help your fantasy team.
For starters, his 8.48 K/9 rate is about where he should be given that he was a strikeout machine in the minors. Also, he is a pretty good ground ball pitcher (42.1 percent) and should get better as he learns to use his changeup more.
Last year, Holland's changeup went from eight runs below average to right around zero, and while it's still not a great pitch, the improvement of eight runs shows that there is an upward trend that could continue.
If he can add a good off speed pitch to his arsenal, we could finally see Holland put a nice season together.
We know the Rangers will give him the chance because they have some holes at the back of their rotation.
Scott Baker, Minnesota Twins
Baker has always been a favorite of mine because of his great control. In his six years, his highest his walk rate has been is 2.35 and he's no slouch when it comes to strikeouts either.
Last year, Baker posted his best strikeout numbers (7.82 K/9), but his tendency to allow the occasional home run was, and always has been, his major downfall. He isn't a guy who will induce ground balls (career 34.1 GB percent) so he relies heavily on luck on fly balls allowed.
If they stay in the park like in 2008 (8.5 percent HR/FB) then he will put up great numbers (3.45 ERA/1.18 WHIP). If not, you could be in for a long season.
Jason Hammel, Colorado Rockies
There's something interesting about Hammel. In his last two seasons, he has posted two very different ERAs (4.33 in 2009 and 4.81 in 2010).
However, if you look at his FIP/xFIP splits in both those seasons you will see that he pitched the same both times (3.71/3.81 FIP/xFIP in 2009 and 3.70/3.81 in 2010). Hammel's problem has always been that he is too hittable, which is why his WHIP is in the upper 1.30's.
He has given up line drives over 20 percent of the time for three straight seasons. Still, if you're getting this guy in the very late rounds, he has decent strikeout potential and if he puts up an ERA more like 2009 (4.33) then you will be getting a bargain.
Kyle Drabek, Toronto Blue Jays
Drabek came over in the big Roy Halladay trade and Blue Jays fans could see their return very soon.
Drabek made big strides, especially in his velocity, last year and he should make the team as the fifth starter. As with any rookie pitcher in the American League East, you should draft with caution, but the upside is there.
In 17 innings last year, Drabek had a 62 percent ground ball rate. Yes, it's a small sample size, but it's a good sign and Drabek has a very good breaking pitch that induces ground balls at a high rate.
You could go safe and draft a low-risk/low-reward veteran or shoot for the skies with Drabek.
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