The great thing about having a weak pitching staff, as opposed to a poor offense, is that there are always new pitchers being called up who could potentially generate some fantasy value. This is why I have always trumpeted going cheaper than everyone else on your pitching staff during your draft/auction. Let’s take a look at some of the younger guys who have
After making nine starts for the Rays last year, Cobb is back in the Majors to replace the injured Jeff Niemann in the rotation. Though his 4.14 ERA at Triple-A before his promotion is uninspiring, that came along with a .355 BABIP, so it can be ignored. He posted a pretty good K% of 23.7% and also carried strong rates in previous minor league stops. He has also been a ground ball pitcher, having posted a mark above 50% every single year, which is always a plus. His fastball so far this season has been rather underwhelming, averaging just under 90.0 miles per hour and he has thrown his change-up a whopping 41% of the time. So far his SwStk% hasn’t translated and for a guy with a below average fastball, you always have to wonder if the minor league skills will show up. However, I do think he makes for an excellent AL-Only pickup and I wouldn’t be surprised if he also generates a bit of mixed league value.
The former Diamondbacks top prospect has made quite the debut in Oakland…on the surface. His 2.88 is pretty, but there are alarm bells ringing all over. His SIERA is about two full runs above his ERA, as both his K% and BB% are worse than league average, his BB% being significantly so. The one aspect of his game that tempered my pessimism was his ground ball tendency in the minors. But so far, all he’s doing is allowing line drives. What’s amazing is that his LD% is actually higher than his BABIP! You rarely see that and it suggests that something has to give- my bet is the BABIP jumps from its current .270 mark. Of course, the LD% will come down too, but it’s not a good sign for a rookie hurler. His SwStk% is below league average and supports his mediocre K% and his F-Strike% is poor, backing up his unacceptable walk rate. His Triple-A stats give us some hope though, but he has only thrown 20.2 innings at the level. In keeper leagues, I think his superficially strong start makes him a prime sell-high candidate. I wouldn’t touch him in a mixed league.
Diamond was recently called up by the Twins and has shown decent enough skills for a look in deep leagues an AL-Onlys. Though he has typically posted pretty good ground ball rates in the minors, they were closer to the 50% mark, rather than the above 60% level he has posted so far this year. His minor league strikeout rates and current SwStk% confirm that there is little upside here and his F-Strike%, while solid, isn’t good enough to possibly maintain a sub-2.00 walk rate. That said, a ground ball pitcher with a strikeout rate around 6.0 and a walk rate around 2.50 is plenty good enough to generate fantasy value.
A month ago, Marc Hulet provided a nice summary on Hutchison from a scouting perspective. While the 4.84 ERA is unsightly, a 4.01 SIERA and 95 xFIP- is much more palatable. Hutchison has actually never thrown a pitch at the Triple-A level and has only thrown 31.2 innings at Double-A. This is somewhat shocking for a pitcher who wasn’t exactly an elite prospect. Why he would be rushed to the Majors so quickly is not something I know the answer to. He has shown fantastic control in the minors, but that has not translated so far, as his F-Strike% is well below league average. His pitch selection also leaves something to be desired, as he has thrown his mediocre fastball 77% of the time. If he was throwing in the mid-90s, this might be forgiven, but when you only average a smidge over 91.0 MPH, then you should be mixing in some off-speed and breaking stuff. I don’t see him lasting in the rotation all season and expect him to be demoted to Triple-A at some point.
Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.