In every fantasy season, there arises a slew of pitchers and hitters who have not ‘done it before.’ These newcomers arrive in all shapes and sizes. Some flameout ‘can’t misses’ who have stopped missing the strike zone. Some are young guys still proving themselves in the league. Others come out of nowhere. I’m here today to offer some advice on these young guns.
In fantasy, you know the stud pitchers, the top tier guys. These are the Roy Halladays of the world. But I argue that championships are not won with these individuals. Rather, fantasy seasons are won and lost by the young guy you pick up (or miss on) in March. Think about Jon Lester, arguably the best pitcher on the Red Sox right now. He had to build up, and no one would have drafted him as a top flight pitcher. Rome was not built in a day. Roy Oswalt did not just appear on the fantasy scene as Roy Oswalt. Tim Lincecum was not called up to win the Cy Young. The point being, there are always guys dot drafted late or not drafted at all that will end up carrying a fantasy team. So without further ado, I’ve put together a rotation of such guys for this season. Some I own (Buchholz, obviously). Some I wish I owned (Scherzer). All show the promise of being excellent fantasy options, if they are not already. So without further ado, the Young Gun all-stars, managed by Emilio Estevez:
I have the privilege of owning David Price. Let me tell you, as an owner and AL East-watcher I can attest: David Price is an ace. Great for my fantasy team, not for my Red Sox. Price has excellent command of 4 pitches and a dynamite fastball. His last start against the Sox was excellent, as he routinely painted the corners with 95-97 MPH heat. Price came up and was all ‘stuff.’ His struggles in the past seasons have come from both fatigue and a lack of nuanced pitching. Not so anymore. Price skillfully mixes speeds now, making that 97 MPH fastball on the outside corner all but unhittable for even good right handed batters. But enough anecdotal evidence, how about some data?
Price has 100 K’s in 115 innings (7.8 K/9, to go with only 43 BB’s, control is no longer his downfall). His WHIP is roughly 1.20. Lefties hit a paltry .194 against him while righties have managed a still-not-good-at-all .233. He has yet to surrender a homer to a left handed batter this year. In his last 3 starts, he has gone 8 innings, 8 innings, and 7 2/3 innings, with 11, 6, and 10 strikeouts, respectively. Don’t these sound like numbers you can anchor around? I say so. looking ahead, it appears Price is only getting better as he figures himself and the league out. I’m riding him to the finish, and I say he’s the top dog of the young guns- He could start the All-Star game!!!
(NOTE: Price is different from, say, Yovani Gallardo in my mind because few drafted Price thinking he would be the ace of their staff, while I know people drafted Gallardo with that in mind)
Buchholz would probably be mad to see he was #2 behind Price, but the two are really 1 and 1a. Call me biased, call me a homer, but watch Buchholz pitch against a good team and tell me if you still don’t agree with me. His stuff, like Price’s (only right handed), is phenomenal. The change from locating low 80’s and mid to high 90’s has made all the difference for both pitchers. Buchholz has seen steady decline in his K/9 as he has become more successful, as he has matured from a ‘thrower’ to an actual honest to goodness ‘did-you-just-see-that-pitch-sequence’ stud. The kid came up and threw a no-no, everyone knew his stuff was electric. But something has clicked with Buchholz now where, again like Price, batters often look extremely uncomfortable swinging when his stuff is full on. With all of these players, the common theme is maturity, and Buchholz looks to have turned a corner. Don’t believe me? That’s ok, I’ll be the one with him on my championship staff, throwing these numbers out at you:
– Buchholz is 10-4. On the Red Sox. Who the other night threw out Bill Hall and some guy from Taco Bell in their infield.
– He has struck out 64 while walking 38, allowing 77 hits, for a 1.25 WHIP. This K ratio may seem off, however coupled with the following statistics…
He has allowed 3 homers in 92 innings. Righties vs. Buchholz hit .210. Lefties .247.
…This appears to me that people do not hit him very well, but maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. Wait, no I do.
– He currently leads the American League in ERA+. Let’s put that in perspective: he pitches in the AL East, where the top 4 teams would ALL be playoff contenders in other situations (e.g. the NL West)
-He was named an All-Star
–He dates smokeshows … and I’m done.
Latos is very good. He makes batters miss. He pitches in the NL West. He pitches at Petco half of the time. I fell as though I should stop there with my rationale. I’ll press on. After last season’s stint with the friars, people were talking about Latos. After his first two starts this year they were still talking, only now in hushed whispers (10.2 IP, 13 hits, 7 runs, 4 homers, 2 walks, 7 K’s – nothing to write home about). Then Latos hit a groove. Since April, Latos has a WHIP of .833, dominating all kinds of teams in all kinds of situations. Lefties, Righties, home, away, day and night. You name the split and Latos has polished it off. So let’s take a look:
Versus LH batters: 0.83 WHIP, .189 BAA, 45 K : 7 BB
Versus RH batters: 1.09 WHIP, .197 BAA, 54 K : 21 BB
In his 2 July starts, Latos has gone 15 innings with 15 K’s (two walks), allowing 9 hits and no earned runs
At Home (lovely spacious PETCO): WHIP- 1.02
Places other than PETCO: WHIP- 0.93
Again, this man pitches in a notorious pitchers park with an OUTSTANDING BULLPEN (honestly, no All-Stars but Heath Bell just shows that we don’t need reps from each team- sorry Evan Meek…). his K/9 is rising (7.9 now) as he figures his on stuff out. if this were an NL-only blog, he’d be atop my list. Enough said.
Romero is hurt by three things: location, location, and pitching for the Blue Jays. He lives and dies with his change-up, which is devastating most of the time. If it is not, or he misses, he has trouble. Also, I am not sure if you heard this, but he pitches for the Toronto Blue Jays. Romero is a K machine, striking out 106 batters in 114 innings (8.4K/9) to go with only 43 walks. Romero is a pretty solid bet for 5 K’s a game, averaging 6.2 K’s a start, and that type of K consistency can be crucial, especially in the back end of my imaginary rotation. What is more important with Romero, however, is his durability. When he’s throwing right, he has demonstrated the ability to go 7+ innings with no problem. This coupled with his high strikeout rate makes him a consistently excellent matchup starter (i.e. NOT against the Yankees) who will give you good K numbers, even in a bad start.
The issue with Scherzer is the gopher-ball (13 in 93 2/3 IP). But what no one can deny is his strikeout ability. If you saw even the highlight of his return from the minors, you saw his skill firsthand(check it out HERE). The A’s didn’t know what hit them. Like any young strikeout pitcher, Scherzer is still harnessing his stuff. When he’s on, you have to wonder how anyone hits him. But he hasn’t had a stretch when he consistently harnessed his great stuff. until now. Like his aforementioned peers, Scherzer has turned a corner. As he works out the kinks, pitch count will still be an issue as he still could walk 4 guys in a game while striking out 10 – but that’s an issue of controlling his ridiculous stuff more so than Daniel Cabrera-esque wildness. Since being recalled (8 starts) Scherzer has been dominant. Here’s his line:
51 2/3 Innings, 39 Hits, 14 Earned Runs, 3 homers (excellent improvement), 19 BB (also improvement) and 57 STRIKEOUTS…That’s a WHIP of 1.12, an ERA of 3.69 and a K/9 of 10.10! I just grabbed him- I suggest you follow.
So there you have it folks, 5 young arms I am telling you with as much certainty as my considerable brain can muster will continue to improve and dominate after the All-Star break. Grab them, target them in trade, I’m telling you, one if not all of them can make the difference.
Until next time, go watch Step Brothers– it’s an American cinema classic. Fact.