Saturday, May 11, 2013

HIRED ARMS: Dynamite Mine II: Weekend at Bernie's

Felipe M

Currently, my baseball team needs some pitching help.  Then again, I knew my team would perpetually have pitching problems so this is nothing new.  However, this week, J.J. Putz went down, Tim Hudson was shelled in his last start, and Andy Pettitte has been struggling of late.  

So while I search for some pitching help, I thought I would post a second installment of our "Dynamite Mine" series where I unearth some of the more overlooked pitchers on the waiver wire and try to figure out if some of these pitchers can turn out to be real gems for the rest of the season.  Again, sometimes when looking for rare stones, you have to dig deep.

The following pitchers are owned in less than 25% of CBS leagues.

Ricky Nolasco--Miami Marlins--25%: Nolasco's K/9 peaked in 2009 and has been decreasing ever since.  On the bright side, the flyball pitcher has tried his best to induce more grounders and has actually decreased his homerun totals in the last two seasons.  His current 3:1 K/BB actually makes him good enough to be considered an "Add" in a lot of leagues and he's always  had good control of his walks, sporting a career BB/9 of 2.1.  The problem is that he also has a career 1.30 WHIP.  Since 2009, he's never posted a H/9 of 9.1 or below.  This year, he has a H/9 of 8.4.  Again, his current numbers, even with the dip in K/9 make him serviceable in fantasy leagues except for the fact that his BABIP is at a career low of .271 and his line-drive% is currently at a career high, 25%.  Unless you're extremely desperate for starting pitching, I would still be too reluctant to consider Nolasco.  His next start is against a tough, Cincinnati Reds' lineup. 

Aaron Harang--Seattle Mariners--5%: In his last 2 starts, Harang has found himself in a good pitching groove, striking out 11 and allowing only one walk in 12 innings of work.  Harang recently turned 35 and has seen his K/9 drop and BB/9 rise since 2010.  He hasn't had a respectable WHIP since 2007.  So one would think to bypass Harang as his prime has been left in his past.  Nevertheless, there's always consideration for a guy that's only given up 5 walks in 5 pitching starts.  His WHIP is still high however as he has given up 30 base hits so far this season, the results of a BABIP of .320 to go along with a line-drive% of 25% and a homerun/flyball rate of 13.6%--a career high.  These numbers don't bode well for the career, flyball pitcher.  Nevertheless, he has not given up a homerun in his last 2 starts. I acknowledge that he's given up 5 doubles in that same span, but Harang's control might make him, if anything, a cheap, short-term solution for your pitching staff.  Unfortunately, his next start is at Yankee Stadium so you might want to hold off on him for awhile longer.

Eric Stults--San Diego Padres--12%: We've mentioned Stults in the last installment of "Dynamite Mine" so this is more of an update than anything.  In his start against the San Francisco Giants on April 21, 2013, Stults pitched 7 innings, but gave up 8 hits and 5 earned runs, striking out 2 batters.  He only lasted 4 innings in his next start against the Giants--so perhaps the Giants have his number?  He has pitched better in his last two starts,  though he did face the struggling Chicago Cubs and Marlins.  Like a recurring theme, Stults is an intriguing pitcher because of his control, but does have a H/9 of 10.4, but that could be attributed to his BABIP of .325.  The flyball pitcher has an 8.8% HR/FB rate, but despite the lack of luck on his side, 21% of his flyballs don't go beyond the infield (pop-ups) and only has a line-drive rate of 15%.  So Stults might be the best option of the three pitchers named so far, but has two, pretty tough match-ups in his next two scheduled starts.

Jonathan Pettibone--Philadelphia Phillies--10%: The Phillies' prospect has gone 2-0 in four starts since being called up, but outside of the win-loss record, he's been an underwhelming pitcher so far.  Even though he has controlled his walks (although he gave up 4 in his May 8, 2013 start against--yes, those pesky--Giants), his K/9 is a paltry 5.6 and has been struggling with the long ball, posting a 1.6 HR/9.  An .852 OPS against while posting a BABIP of .304 gives him a similar profile as Joe Saunders.  However, the kid has pedigree and scouts have marveled at his command, but it's worth noting that despite being a top 5 prospect in the Phillies' system, he was only projected to be a middle of the rotation pitcher.  

David Phelps--New York Yankees--23%: Summoned from the bullpen to take over for the injured Ivan Nova, Phelps has only made two starts so far this season.  In 11 and 2/3 innings pitched, he has struck out 9 and walked only 2.  Command has been a problem, but he actually pitched very well at Coors Field this week.  It's tough to gauge a player's potential based on only two starts, but he does pitch for the Yankees so the run support will be there, the strikeouts are respectable, and control makes him a very intriguing choice.  His next start is at Cleveland

Roberto Hernandez--Tampa Rays--11%: Formerly known as Fausto Carmona, Hernandez has pitched surprisingly well, even posting an adequate 1.26 WHIP.  The biggest weakness for the groundball pitcher is a terrible HR/9 of 1.5.  Hernandez's HR/FB is tied for 7th worst among qualifying starting pitchers and has been also crippled by extra base-hits.  A silver lining is that Hernandez is pitching similar to teammate Alex Cobb: both are groundball pitchers with similar strikeout and walk rates.  Both have had issues with the longball this season as well.  Unfortunately, Cobb has better percentages against extra base-hits and OPS against despite having the higher BABIP over Hernandez.  Hernandez has never posted a K/9 of 6+, but it's too tough to ignore his good K/BB and therefore, is worth taking a chance on.  

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