The other day I found myself wondering what the downside risk of any starting pitcher was. If I could be relatively assured that a starter would throw a couple innings and get a couple of strikeouts, was it worth grabbing someone at a wild discount?
The player I was considering was Donovan Hand, on Thursday. He was about $5k cheaper than any other starter on a day without many options on the slate. I passed, and that turned out to be a good thing, as Hand allowed 11 baserunners and four earned over five innings. Even then, though, he managed 0.8 points on the day.
So, if Hand comes cheap and manages positive points in a terrible outing, does that make really cheap starters a better use of resources than, say, a cheap hitter who could rack up whiffs and post a negative?
It turns out that starters aren’t really that safe. Hand had the benefit of going five innings, striking out four and dancing around some trouble to keep it to four earned. Had he been a little worse, he could have joined more than 500 other starters to post a negative point total this year. A negative outing, it turns out, is just as likely as an outing with over nine points, as starter points are close to normally distributed.
The Daily Five
Mike Pelfrey – $6,359
Yes, Big Pelf could fall under that some Hand category I just discussed. However, he draws the White Sox, who are one of the league’s worst offenses and just lost Alex Rios, one of their top weapons. Pelfrey’s peripheral stats are much better than his 5.23 ERA, too, so even though he might not rack up the strikeouts, I don’t expect a bad outing, either. (For what it’s worth, there’s also a 10MPH wind blowing in to first base.)
Michael Wacha – $9,189
The Cardinals are putting all their prospects on display this week, and here’s hoping Wacha shows up stronger than Carlos Martinez did. Wacha draws the Cubs at home, with a light inward wind. The Cubs are roughly average against righties but Wacha brings some strikeout upside and the potential (but unproven) “first time they’ve seen him” advantage.
Pedro Alvarez – $7,745
Yes, Juan Nicasio has far better numbers at home than on the road, but looking at his career pattern that’s likely a mirage. Do you know who smashes righties and hits a bunch of fly balls and was basically tailor made for Coors Field? That’d be Alvarez.
Jimmy Rollins – $7,060
This isn’t a slight on Taylor Jordan, who I like a few starts in, but a slight on the Nationals catchers, who have been terrible preventing the run. Rollins has 15 stolen bases on the year (three this week), while Nats catchers have only thrown out 11 of 86 would-be runners. That’s not Tommy Hanson friendly, but it’s pretty friendly.
Colby Rasmus – $6,631
I’m not sure if he’s priced low because Oakland hadn’t announced a starter or DraftStreet is afraid of Sonny Gray. Gray has excellent K-potential which makes Rasmus a risk, but Clobby Smashmus reappeared on Friday with a few great swings. His red-hot July gave way to a slow-ish start to August but Rasmus has been too good to avoid in a L-R showdown at a below-average price.
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