In PART III of my three part look at players to Buy Low on, I’ll wrap up things by taking a look at starting pitchers. Here are five names I would suggest kicking the tires on. Maybe you can buy them at .70 cents on the dollar.
Ryan Dempster: 6-6, 5.01 ERA, 102 Ks, 1.44 WHIP in 111.1 IP
First it was a horrible ERA, and now it’s back woes that have conspired to keep the value of Dempster down. Still, the ERA continues to come down. It was at 6.91 nine starts ago. It should continue to come tumble as his xFIP suggests it will. In fact, his current xFIP of 3.43 would be a career best while his FIP is 3.92, right in line with his marks the last two years (3.87 and 3.99). Dempster also has a K/9 rate of 8.25, an amongst pitchers who have thrown 95 innings this year, that’s 19th best in baseball. His BABIP also figures to come down. It’s currently at .326 after 7-straight years under .313. It also appears possible that he could be dealt to another club, and that certainly wouldn’t harm his outlook at all.
Ubaldo Jimenez: 4-8, 4.14 ERA, 95 Ks, 1.30 WHIP in 104.1 IP
On May 28th his ERA was 5.86. Since then he’s made eight starts with an ERA of 2.25. As a result of his recent run, he has allowed two or fewer runs in six of those eight games, his ERA is slowly moving back to the realm of the respectable. Even more telling with his work of late is the fact that he’s walked just 11 batters in those eight starts. As a result of that, and this is bound to surprise most, he’s current K/9 rate (8.19) and BB/9 rate (3.54) are better than his career averages (8.11 and 3.90), as is his FIP (3.46 compared to 3.57). Oh, and his xFIP is 3.59. Know what it was last year? Try 3.60. Is he “back?” Sure seems that way to me, though don’t expect a run to equal what he did in the first half last year.
Ted Lilly: 6-9, 4.79 ERA, 78 Ks, 1.29 WHIP in 107 IP
This is the one guy on this list that can be had on the cheap (he might even be on waivers in your league). I’ll be the first to admit that there isn’t considerable upside to be mined here, but even with his poor work this year he still has a better WHIP than Chris Carpenter (1.30), Matt Garza (1.34) and Madison Bumgarner (1.34). Lilly is apt to let you down, he’s allowed at least five earned runs in three of his last five starts, but over his last 10 starts the other seven times he has taken the hill have results in five games of two or fewer earned runs allowed. He hasn’t pitched appreciably different than he has the past three years (here are his xFIP numbers – 3.90, 3.95 and 3.99 this year), and his 3.55 K/BB ratio is a very strong number (it’s 13th in baseball amongst pitchers with at least 95 innings pitched). There are worse options for your final starting spot in mixed leagues.
Ervin Santana: 4-8, 3.89 ERA, 106 Ks, 1.24 WHIP in 125 IP
This one is all about record. Most people, for whatever reason, stick to the old adage that you can judge a pitcher by his win-loss record. Even those that don’t buy into this line of thought are still going to have a hard time getting past his 4-8 record. What you should see though is an ERA that is better than his career mark (4.34), a WHIP that is better than his career mark (1.31), a K/9 rate that is nearly a batter better than his mark the past two years (6.85 compared to 7.63 this year), and a three year low in his walk rate (2.59 per nine). The stuff is there, the results are there, it’s just that his record hasn’t obliged and followed along.
Max Scherzer: 10-4, 4.69 ERA, 96 Ks, 1.44 WHIP in 111.1 IP
Unlike the others on this list, Scherzer’s numbers look poor while his record looks sharp. There’s no denying that he has been a major letdown this year, but the arm is still dynamic which is why I’d suggest buying low (if you are running guys like Kevin Correia, Jason Hammel and Mike Leake out there, do yourself a favor an add Scherzer). Scherzer has actually improved his walk rate slightly, his 3.07 mark would be a three year low, and his current line drive rate is also slightly below his career 20.0 percent mark (his HR/F ratio is only up 0.4 points as well to 10.7 percent). A few less fly balls would help to even things out a bit, as would a few more Ks (his 7.76 mark is a batter below his 8.78 career level). Will he turn things around in the second half? I honestly don’t know, but I do know that I’ll take the chance on his right wing over others with similarly successful seasons to this point.
By Ray Flowers