Are pitchers performing as expected? For that matter, will they continue along their current path? In what follows I’ll give my thoughts on five hurlers and let you know whether or not I have faith in them being big time contributors to your fantasy squad the rest of the way.
Madison Bumgarner: The Giants’ young lefty is 0-6 and has started off horribly. Or has he? Each of his last four appearances have resulted in a “quality start” as he has produced a 1.80 ERA an a 1.00 WHIP in that time. MadBum, as he is affectionately known, also has a strong 9.00 K/9 mark and a 4.17 K/BB ratio in those four trips out to the bump. If his current owner is dismayed because of his ghastly record, or middling overall WHIP of 1.42, now is the time to bounce cause Bumgarner is back after a terrible start.
Jeremy Hellickson: The Rays’ rookie has won three straight starts and has gone 14 scoreless innings in his last two outings to drop his ERA to 2.98. All of a sudden, everyone is taking notice again almost as if they forgot that this guy was one of the top-10 prospects in baseball heading into the year. I’m concerned a bit that his K/9 rate is under six, especially when his BB/9 rate is so average (3.57), to say nothing of his poor 0.87 GB/FB. Basically everything he has done to this point suggests a “league average” fantasy performer, despite his wonderful last two outings. Hellickson’s understanding of pitching is elite for someone who hasn’t even thrown 85 innings as a big league so perhaps he will be able to work his way around some less than stellar measurables, but be wary – he’s not yet the pitcher he will be one day.
Phil Humber: The White Sox don’t want to remove Humber from the rotation so they are foolishly going with a 6-man rotation (I yearn for the days of 4-man rotations, so the Sox are going in the wrong direction here). Humber has a 3.18 ERA and 0.95 WHIP so you can see why the Sox want to keep throwing him, but it’s smoke and mirrors. His GB/FB ratio of 0.95 is below league average. His 5.16 K/9 is below big league average. His HR/9 mark of 0.40 is half of his career rate (0.84). His BABIP of .213 is .065 points below his career rate despite a line drive rate that is just one percent off normal. I’m not taking what he has done away from him, I’m just pointing out that it would be a minor miracle if he was able to keep up this level of performance over the course of the season.
Jason Marquis: Really? Do I need to even address Marquis? Quickly – he is a league average pitcher at best. He never strikes anyone out – he hasn’t had a K/9 mark of 6.00 since 2004, and despite his current walk rate of 1.69 per nine, he is completely average in that realm as well (his BB/9 mark has been at least 3.00 every one of his previous 11 seasons). It’s really as simple as that. He’s not the guy who posted a 6.60 ERA last year, but he’s also not going to post his first sub 4.00 ERA since 2004 either. He’s a passable spot starter in a mixed league if you are desperate, but he’s likely to be nothing more than an innings eater in an NL-only format.
Alexei Ogando: One word – phenomenal. Through seven starts Ogando has gone at least six innings each time out, and only once has he allowed more than two earned runs leading to a 2.06 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP. However, you don’t need me to tell you that there is no way he can perform this well all season, but here is the proof. (1) His K/9 rate is down two full batters from last season though he’s somehow managed to lower his walk rate by a batter and a half. (2) His homer rate is triple what it was last season. The two most damning numbers follow. (3) Ogando has a .193 BABIP. There is NO way that number stays that low. I don’t normally make such declarative statements like that, but I’m 100 percent convinced. Why? Somehow Ogando has undershot the big league BABIP average by .100 points even though his line drive rate is two percent above the big league average (21.8 percent). Simply, the dude has been exceedingly lucky. Amazingly so actually. (4) Ogando has a left on base percentage of 95 percent. While the big league average is 70 percent, a couple of guys each year crest 80 percent. Still, 95 percent is a level that is impossible to sustain, a fact that is driven home by his xFIP mark of 3.91. Ogando has been magnificent, but if you can convince someone that he is a top-20 hurler, now is the time to move him.
By Ray Flowers