Fantasy Baseball Sell High Candidate: Is It Time to Part Ways with Max Scherzer?

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Fantasy Baseball Sell High Candidate: Is It Time to Part Ways with Max Scherzer?
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Entering the season, Max Scherzer was a pitcher that many people had strong feelings about. 

He was viewed as a potential fantasy ace, after he returned from the minor leagues on May 30 to post a 2.55 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 2010.

Over nearly the first two months of the season, Scherzer has done little to persuade fantasy owners that he is not among the better starting pitchers in the league:

  • 6 Wins
  • 63.1 Innings
  • 2.98 ERA
  • 1.37 WHIP
  • 60 Strikeouts (8.53 K/9)
  • 24 Walks (3.41 BB/9)
  • .313 BABIP

The overall numbers are impressive, but that’s not to say that there isn’t a reason to be concerned. His WHIP is clearly elevated and, unfortunately, there is no clear-cut reason to think that he is going to dramatically improve there.

His control is right along the lines of what he has shown over his entire career. In the minor leagues he posted a BB/9 of 3.86.  Over his first three Major League season he has posted marks of 3.38, 3.33 and 3.22. 

In other words, the control is exactly where you would anticipate it being, so he’s not going to improve there.

The BABIP seems like it is elevated, but it is actually right in line with his career numbers. Over his career he has a .304 BABIP. He consistently allows line drives, with rates of 18.3 percent, 19.7 percent and 19.7 percent the past three seasons. Last season the 19.7 percent mark placed him in the bottom 15 of the league among those who qualified. 

Could he improve on his .313 mark? Absolutely. Is it a guarantee? Unfortunately, no.

The other number to look at is his strikeout rate, as the less the ball is put into play, the less impact the BABIP has. He posted an 11.41 K/9 in the minor leagues and has flashed the ability to post a K/9 of greater than 9.00 while pitching in the National League. 

In the American League, without the benefit of the pitcher hitting, however, it’s not a surprise to see him take a small step backwards. In 2010, he was at 8.46, so this may just be the rate that he’s at while pitching for the Tigers.

You put it all together and it is not unthinkable to see him maintain this type of WHIP number.  It’s an ugly number at that, making it an easy call to try and remove him from your roster.

Throw in a beneficial strand rate of 85.9 percent and there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about his ability to post impressive numbers from here on out. 

That’s not to say that he is going to post poor numbers for the remainder of the season. In fact, I continue to believe that he’s going to be a viable pitcher moving forward.

However, I have also reached a realization that he just may not be a great WHIP pitcher. That hurts his potential value and, when other people realize it, could lead to his value falling significantly. That’s really the only reason why I would consider moving him now. 

It’s possible that he isn’t a fantasy ace, and you want to capitalize on value before others realize it. You may not get another chance to move him while his value is high.

There is a caveat, however. I would only trade him if I was getting a significant return back, meaning I am setting my sights on packaging him to acquire an ace.

If I can do that I would do it without a second thought. If I can’t, well then I am going to hold onto him. 

As I have said, he remains a very good option, there are just signs that things may regress (or not improve) from where they currently are.

What are your thoughts of Scherzer? Is he a pitcher you would sell high on? Why or why not?

 

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