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.

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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.

27 Responses to “Buy and Sell: Starting Pitchers”

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  1. Danny says:

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

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  2. Clock says:

    no one is buying simon! help!!!!1

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  3. TonyTuTone says:

    Your 3B buy and sell link is broken.

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  4. fkdal says:

    Can we please add more names? Every one of these buy sell articles has one name listed under “buy”

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  5. Brian says:

    Fg community, can you please pick a keeper side? Adam Jones and Yuuuuuuu or puig and polanco?

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    • Josh B says:

      Puig and Polanco are great players. Adam Jones and Darvish are very good players that everyone thinks are great players.

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      • Isaac Newton says:

        How the hell can you conclude that Polanco is a great player after only around 1600 MiLB and 80 MLB plate appearances, only 600ish of which are above A-ball? And the 286 of those that came in AA were quite frankly pretty crappy, even regressed upwards for his low BABIP (as DC said about Gary Sanchez a few days ago, 120 wRC+ in AA doesn’t project that great to MLB). Plus this year his BABIP is hovering around .390 when you combine his AAA and MLB numbers. He’s got a great reputation and may well turn out to be a star in the making.

        But saying that he is “great” only to turn around and say a 27-year-old pitcher whose career K-BB% is 20% and FIP is 3.18 is “very good?” In 5×5 Darvish is slightly better than average in WHIP because of the walks (and above-normal BABIP), but gives you 50-60% more strikeouts than average and forecasts to kill it in ERA too. That’s a top-8 fantasy pitcher there.

        Can you really project Polanco to be a top-40 overall player in the future based on what he’s shown so far (he would need to be something like last year Shin-Soo Choo)? He hasn’t proven he has the power, on-base ability AND speed that he would need. The only thing that we know is that he doesn’t strike out much, and he stole 40 bases once in A ball, and that his MiLB ISO was around .150. Sounds like he is still just a prospect to me, and prospects don’t always pan out.

        I still like the Puig/Polanco side, but because I think Puig is that good. But it’s close so I would go with the area of greatest need.

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      • Spa City says:

        I concur in full with Josh B.

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    • SF 55 for life says:


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    • Paul Johnson says:

      Im taking the Puig and Polanco side. Pitching is very risky and Adam Jones has likely had his 3 best years already. I think I would do that trade for just this year and def in a keeper league

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  6. KilleBrews says:

    12 team keeper points league. Contending team gives $6 Eaton & $1 Heaney for $11 Hamels. Too much?

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  7. stonepie says:

    how about homer bailey? low xfip and increasing swtrk% despite some terrible surface numbers

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  8. big red machine says:

    “Simon has had a nice little year, so nice that it’s caused coach Bryan Price to lose faith in wunderkind Tony Cingrani.”

    I could read that sentence and think Cingrani was demoted simply because Simon has a good ERA/WHIP so far, and there is therefore no room for Cingrani in the rotation. But then I see Cingrani’s 4.95 BB/9 and 1.71 HR/9 and think he may have earned that demotion…

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  9. fivehead says:

    Love the article, but would love to see more pitchers (at least 2 and 2 for symmetry’s sake) and less writeup (if need be). Maybe I’m just an addict…or am in too many leagues.

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  10. Capt. Hook says:

    This is the time of year when you need to be careful about buying or trading if you are in an “only” league. Kennedy could be pitching in the AL a month from now.

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  11. RMR says:

    Simon is a pumpkin, yes, but Price’s lake of “faith” in Cingrani has everything to do with Cingrani losing velocity and command due to weakness in his shoulder.

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  12. pete says:

    how about mike minor? be patient or sell

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  13. STEEV says:

    Just moved Matt Cain for Miller in my 12tm keeper. Good move? I’m thinking so…

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  14. Swfcdan says:

    Kennedy the best buy? Cmon….what about Gio for one.

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  15. Data says:

    Simon = lohse to me. Has some value considering you picked him up off the scrap heap.

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  16. ddietz2004 says:

    I just traded Garrett Jones for Ian Kennedy and I am pretty thrilled about that. Carry on, lads.

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