Buy and Sell: Starting Pitchers

Earlier this week, I suggested some names to buy and sell at third base and today I’ll turn my attention to the bump. There are actually a lot of pitchers who occupy my “sell” list, but a couple names jump out as prime candidates that you might want to jettison before they turn into pumpkins.


Alfredo Simon

Simon has had a nice little year, so nice that it’s caused coach Bryan Price to lose faith in wunderkind Tony Cingrani. With a plethora of options in the Reds stable, Price gave a nod of confidence to Simon due in large part to a sparkling 2.92 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. And for fantasy owners, he’s certainly provided those ridiculous elusive wins with ten on the season thus far. He doesn’t strike out many opponents, he’s holding opponents to a .240 BABIP, and his strand rate sits at 84%. Only one of these things is going to last, and it’s neither of the ones you want. FIP suggests something similar to a 4.42 for his work to date, and the projection systems seem to agree that he’s pitching above his ability.

But what about last year, you grouse. He performed far better than his predictors! Indeed he did, but none of those games were as a starter. The last time he was a regular starter, his FIP was, ahem, 4.42 and his ERA sat at 4.90. New pitch, change of scenery, yoga, whatever — I’m not buying it. His ERA and WHIP are so pretty right now, you should stick him on the reel and cast to see who is biting.

Shelby Miller

Miller had a stellar rookie campaign, posting a 3.06 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP and a 23.4% strikeout rate. He demonstrated a heavy fastball reliance but it didn’t seem to matter much as he had excellent control and plenty of batters still whiffed even if they knew what was coming. Not so much in 2014, however.

Miller still has the same fastball heavy repertoire, and his velocity has maintained a tick above 93 mph. But his O-Swing rate has dropped six percent to just over 23%, his contact rates are up across the board and his swinging strike rate has fallen from 9% to just 6.9% resulting in a measly 16.5% K rate. Hitters are simply not fooled anymore.

Still, his stats aren’t that awful. His 3.75 ERA shouldn’t scare too many would-be owners away, although that 1.40 WHIP might. Overall, his numbers could look pretty crooked by now. His May was buoyed by a 95% strand rate, leaving just about everyone on the bases who managed to reach, which simply couldn’t last. His BABIP was just .237 despite allowing oodles of line drives. Yet inexplicably, he came in with a 3.15 ERA while FIP thought he pitched to a 6.16. Baseball!

He’s had a complete game shutout at Toronto and then a solid start versus Washington within his last four starts and his back issues don’t appear to be serious enough to deter people. There could be many owners viewing Miller as a good buy-low candidate and you should pounce on that notion.


Ian Kennedy

Kennedy has had a resurgence in San Diego, which many had predicted. A flyball pitcher by nature, he had one great year and two disappointing years in Arizona but his profile plays well in spacious Petco Park. His strikeout rate is at a career high 26% and his walk rate at a near low of 6.3%. His fastball has never had more life than it does this year, averaging about 92 mph after hovering around 90 since 2010.

His five wins and 4.01 ERA aren’t likely to impress most owners in standard formats, but with a 9.67 K/9 and a 2.92 FIP there’s a lot of latent value here. Kennedy could of course get moved to a place where his flyball will start to hurt him again, so keep an eye on that. Staying in the National League would be ideal for his strikeouts and if he moves back to a team like the Yankees or maybe the Orioles, his value will take a hit. But then again, who knows, he could be a Mariner or even a Marlin (gasp!) and then not only should his wins come along, but he can give up flyballs like he’s Chris Young and get away with it.

We hoped you liked reading Buy and Sell: Starting Pitchers by Michael Barr!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs

Michael was born in Massachusetts and grew up in the Seattle area but had nothing to do with the Heathcliff Slocumb trade although Boston fans are welcome to thank him. You can find him on twitter at @michaelcbarr.

newest oldest most voted

Miller for Kennedy? I might try that in my keeper league.