The Diamondbacks are in the interesting position of being in ‘rebuilding’ mode while having some very interesting pieces which in case you couldn’t tell, I find very… interesting. Knew I should’ve bought that thesaurus…
With young talent like Chris B. Young, Justin Upton, and yes, Brandon Allen (Gotcha post right here), not to mention Miguel Montenero, Kelly Johnson and Stephen Drew, the offense is looking up and could use its own separate post. I, however, am not interested in the offense. They are interesting (hah) for fantasy purposes, suffice to say. Where there’s more room for intrigue, for depth, for some fantasy detective work is on the pitching staff. With six good-not-great arms who could surprise and provide fantasy depth, it is time for a closer inspection. No one appears to be an ‘ace’ in the rotation. And since I just finished watching 10 Things I Hate About You (arguably the finest High School movie of all time), never wrote for the paper or yearbook, and needed a gimmick to organize the contenders, voila! Superlatives:
Daniel Hudson just sounds like a handsome pilgrim name. He also happens to be a fine, fine pitcher. Dave and I were discussing young pitchers and we agreed- K/9 is one of the best indicators for a young pitcher’s future success. The ability at a young age to miss bats means the pitcher will be able to mature into a better pitcher while always having the K card in his back pocket (my example was Clay Buchholz who has become a better pitcher though his K numbers have declined as he learned the league). Hudson fits the bill. With a K/9 of 7.93 last year and a projected (Bill James) K/9 of 8.19 in 2011, the kid knows how to make guys whiff. He was lucky in some senses with an amazing BABIP (.241) and less than a homer/9 (0.76), but even if those become more regular, as most predictors have him down for, he should still keep the ball in the park and have a mid-3’s ERA. Bill James has him down for a 1.35 WHIP. CAIRO has him down for 1.18. I think it is a safe assumption that his WHIP will fall somewhere in between. So let’s review: a sub 4 ERA, 1.2-ish WHIP, a K/9 around 8 and a good young offense? Does that sound like a solid pitcher to you? It certainly does to me. Throw on the double digit wins and near 200 innings everyone expects and I say this man is draftable. And I’m usually one to shy away from young pitchers. Unless the Diamondbacks rapidly improve, Hudson won’t win more than 15 games. But if you need a solid guy at the back of your rotation, I recommend you look at Hudson.
Most Likely to Succeed
Much like Hudson, Kennedy’s peripherals suggest he will be just fine at the major league level. What he has on Hudson is that he has actually been successful in the Majors for a full season. Also with a K/9 around 8 and a BABIP below .300 (a very very good .256), Kennedy profiles as a pitcher who guys don’t hit the ball well off of (I think that is proper English). Did you realize he threw 194 innings last year? In my opinion, any pitcher who can eat innings (read: get close to 200 in a season), have a good K/9 and an ERA at or below 4 is worth having on your staff. Those are the numbers that will consistently help you on a week to week basis. Think of the old Aaron Harang, when even on a bad day he’d go 6 and K 8… ah the good ol’ days. Kennedy just needs to keep the ball on the ground. He gave up a large number of homers (26), but this actually makes his other stats more impressive to me. If he can bring the homers down (no small feat at the BOB), his ERA will plummet and he becomes even more valuable. Following Dave’s idea of K/9 being a good indicator and my belief that innings eaters are worth owning even on mediocre teams, you arrive at the same conclusion: Ian Kennedy is a guy to have on your team (in most leagues) or top on your list of streamers (in some leagues). Plus, he’s years removed from that Yankee stink, so he’s smelling rosy for 2011.
Most Likely to go Into Politics
Completely unrelated to this blog (honestly), Chris Cwik over at Fangraphs has an article about Armando joining the DBacks rotation. I merely wanted to use the title ‘Raising Arizona’ and write about Barry Enright, his article goes into the rotation sucking a bit. I have little to say about Galarraga, as he is an intensely boring fantasy baseball pitcher. If he doesn’t keep his walks down (as Cwik mentions), he doesn’t have the stuff like Kennedy or Hudson to make guys miss and pays accordingly. But I have an immense amount of respect for him for the way he handled the whole ‘near-perfect’ game situation, so he gets a blurb. Who knows, maybe the move to the NL will be for the best and Galarraga become a useful spot starter in fantasy. Stranger things have happened, like an ump stealing a perfect game from a young man…
I in no way mean to insinuate that these two are a couple, merely that I was going to write the same thing about both, so I’ll conserve space by coupling them. Political correctness crisis averted. Remember how I talked about K/9 being a good indicator of future success? Yeah, these guys are kind of the opposite. Both have (miraculously) had good seasons while posting atrocious K/9 rates, Duke in 2009 and Saunders in 2008 ( he had a decent 2009, with 16 wins but poor other numbers). Neither wows you with stuff, both relying on smarts from the left side of the rubber and the hopes of a ground ball. Both are capable of going many innings (both have 200 inning campaigns under their belts) when they are on their game. But they are both the classic case of being a perfectly decent real pitcher yet next to worthless in fantasy. With the exception of the occasional spot pickup, I’d stay away from both dudes.
With the (smart) signing of J.J. Putz in Arizona to close (SAVE ALERT! Bad team in the NL West- the best kind of closer!), Heilman will get his shot to start… or go back to his super-long man role he plays to perfection. I can’t figure Heilman out. He seems to have a rubber arm (innings, check), has good enough K numbers (check) and generally keeps the ball on the ground/in the ballpark. He just cannot seem to put it all together as a starter. As a 2-3 inning man, he was ownable a few years ago, putting up some extremely useful numbers. With his move to the rotation though, there was something lost in translation. I’ll watch him this year if he wins a spot because I owned him in 2005 and he helped my team, but my reason for hope is out of loyalty more than anything.
Enright is an interesting case. Our buddy out in California goes to school with his brother so we had the inside scoop as he ascended to the Majors and surprised a lot of people with his immediate success. An excellent BABIP helped him to a 1.27 WHIP and allowing a staggering 20 homers (I had to triple check to make sure that was right) in just 99 innings did nothing to help his 3.91 ERA, which is actually impressive if you think that he was giving up 1.82 homers/ 9 innings- that means he wasn’t giving up too many runs other ways, or allowing many homers with men on base. Like Saunders and Duke, Enright must control his walks and lessen his homer burden. Unlike those two jamokes, scouts think he has some life to his ball though. If he can drop the homers and get his GB rate up from around 35% to closer to 50%, he could prove to be a valuable matchup play during the year. Again, I’m a bit biased in my optimism, but what fun is it to look forward on a fantasy season like a Debbie Downer?
So there you have it, 1200 words about a relatively crappy rotation. Hey, when you’re good, you’re good.
Enjoy the prospect show tonight! If you haven’t seen it recently, go watch 10 Things I Hate About You, it’s a delight.