Revisiting My $9 Pitching Staff by Mike Podhorzer December 31, 2014 Before the season began, I decided to have a little fun by constructing a fictional $9 pitching staff using the winning bids from the 15 team Tout Wars mixed auction league. I didn’t bother to consider any relievers as speculating on starting pitching breakouts in significantly more exciting. So without further ado, let’s take a look at how my selections panned out, with Zach Sanders’ dollar values indicated. It’s not perfect since his values are based on 12 team leagues, but good enough. James Paxton – ($3) Paxton’s value loss certainly wasn’t due to ineffectiveness on the mound. Instead, the southpaw was limited to just 74.0 innings due to a strained lat. But he was quite good when healthy, posting a 3.04 ERA and a solid overall skill set highlighted by a 55% ground ball rate. His injury shortened season will depress his price in 2015 and should make him a good purchase. Tommy Milone – ($9) A strikeout rate collapse was behind Milone’s poor fantasy season, as his already poor velocity declined even further and he missed time late in the year with a sore shoulder. It’s not crazy to believe that the shoulder affected him all year. If healthy, he could earn a bit of value in AL-Only leagues, but the Twins defense isn’t going to do him any favors. I wouldn’t touch him in a mixed league given his soft skill set. Ubaldo Jimenez – ($12) Three for three so far in picking negative earners, awesome! Jimenez proved that his rebound in 2013 was a fluke as his strikeout rate dropped right back to pre-2013 levels and his walk rate ballooned. His fastball velocity dropped yet again, now for the fourth straight season. Without the ground ball skills he possessed earlier in his career and a big fastball, he has little else to lean on since his control has never been good. If you haven’t already, I think it’s time to move along for good. Tanner Roark – $14 It’s about time I picked a winner. Frankly, I’m surprised I even picked him at all, as he’s not the type I’m typically a fan of. Oddly, I liked him in part due to his ground ball tendency, but that completely disappeared this season. His strikeout rate also fell, while his walk rate dropped only slightly, and not enough to offset the loss of grounders and strikeouts. Yet, he was fortunate enough to post an ERA more than a full run below his SIERA. Hey, I’ll take it, whether his results are sustainable or not! But he’s an easy bust candidate next year. Wily Peralta – $6 Two in a row, I’m on a roll! I reviewed Peralta’s season a couple of weeks ago and there are the seeds for something exciting here. But as with many young pitchers, the key will be the progress of his control and development of a third pitch (his change-up). Tanner Scheppers – ($16) I looked at Scheppers yesterday when reviewing my spring K% breakout candidates and unfortunately elbow issues limited him to just 23.0 innings. His 9.00 ERA was due to poor luck all around over a tiny sample. Garrett Richards – $15 Boom. Richards was one of this year’s biggest breakouts as he was finally able to turn his quality stuff into boat loads of strikeouts. His knee injury, though, makes him a risk as we won’t know exactly how that will affect his velocity and repertoire. Jon Niese – $1 The first $1 guy to actually earn exactly $1! Niese did exactly what he has been doing since 2012 — deliver solid ratios that excite few, but remain a stabilizing force on fantasy squads across the land. But remember that the fences are coming in again at Citi Field, so Mets pitchers are a bit less attractive now than they had been. Ricky Nolasco – ($17) This is what happens when you scavenge from the bargain bin. It wasn’t just the 5.39 ERA that hurt, but the fact that he posted those putrid results over 159.0 innings. We could mostly blame his horrendous .351 BABIP, as you combine a guy who typically suffered from a high BABIP with a poor defense, and disaster strikes. So four of the nine pitchers earned positive value, two of which earned their owners significant profits en route to top 20 pitcher status. This is a perfect example of why it’s worth stockpiling cheap pitching, whether on the back half of your staff or on your bench. It’s much less rare that a cheap pitcher delivers a top 20 season than it is for a hitter.