Yesterday, we examined a couple of pitcher’s whose value is on the rise, and let you know what exactly you should be buying. Today, we’ll flip to the negative side of things with three hurlers who have endured a rough start to the 2013 season. Are you buying low, holding tight or cutting bait? Read on to find out just what we would do.
Justin Verlander (DET)
10 starts, 59.0 IP, 5 wins, 3.66 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 69 Ks
JV got off to a fine start to the year, but has been just awful over his past three turns while watching his ERA jump from 1.55 to 3.66 in just 11 days. He’s lost two of those three starts (after hanging around through an hour plus rain delay last night to finish off the fifth and get a W) while allowing 16 earned runs in 12.2 innings pitched. He did manage to strike out nine batters with just one walk in Wednesday nights’ affair, an improvement from the shaky control that he displayed in his previous two outings. Simply put, we are not concerned. Verlander boasts a 2.47 FIP and 3.05 xFIP, his BABIP is currently sky-high at .358 and let me assure you, those numbers will bear out over the course of the season. If you can get Verlander for any starter in the league not named Clayton (well, maybe I’d do it for Clayton Richard)… you make that move.
Cole Hamels (PHI)
10 starts, 62.2 IP, 1 win, 4.45 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 57 Ks
Hamels bounced back to an extent in his last start, though poor run support has been the story if his season. Yes, Cole is not helping himself allowing 9 home runs in his first 10 starts, but he is also getting pretty unlucky out on the field. His numbers are not fantastic, but the lack of wins is what truly is damaging his fantasy value. Problem is, pitchers have little control over wins and losses and it’s awful difficult to base fantasy decisions based on this. Take the performance of Hamels and teammate Cliff Lee in 2012 as an example. Both pitcher put up comparable numbers across the board, number expected of a fantasy ace. Still, Cliff Lee failed to earn his first victory until July 4, while Hamels cruised to 17 wins. All of this doesn’t completely excuse Hamels’ nightmarish start to the season, but if you look at his work over his previous 8 turns in the rotation, you find a 3.12 ERA,a 1.13 WHIP and 50 stirkeouts vs. 19 walks in 52.0 innings pitched… not too shabby. Expect the run support, and the wins, to come in bunches as the weather warms.
Marco Estrada (TB)
9 starts, 51.1 IP, 3 wins, 5.54 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 46 Ks
Estrada was a waiver wire wonder in 2012 for fantasy owners, bringing elite strikeout upside (9.3 K/9) at little or no investment cost. his encouraging performance had him firmly entrenched on our sleepers lists and as a result, I personally have been staring at his lousy numbers all year on a bunch of my fantasy teams. Estrada’s K-rate is down (25.4 K% in 2012, 20.4 k% in 2013), his walk rate is up (5.2 BB%in 2012, 7.6 BB% in 2013) and he’s become far too hittable. His velocity is down just a touch, but the real concern is that Estrada is getting hammered by right-handed batters, yielding a 1.013 OPS to opposing righties. Last season, Estrada stuck out 11 right-handed batter per each walk allowed and this season, it has just been a struggle for the veteran hurler. He was showing some signs of improvement in his last start against Pittsburgh but a mediocre effort in his last start (5.2 IP, 4 ER, 4 BB, 2 K) has us just about ready to jump ship on Marco. Fortunately, Estrada does get the Pirates again in his next start and appears in line to face the Twins after that, so the competition will be suitable for a turnaround, but if he fails to impress in either start, dump away.