It’s Wednesday, and that means it’s time to go fishing in the dark, murky waters of the free agent pool. Today I look at two starting pitchers, one of which I am extremely surprised to see such a low ownership percentage for, the other, not so much. If you are in need of pitching help, read on.
Felipe Paulino | KC SP | 14% Owned
I have been a big fan of Paulino back during his Astros days, specifically heading into the 2010 season despite coming off of an ugly 6.27 ERA. He displayed strong strikeout ability backed by a mid-90s fastball and an excellent SwStk%, along with respectable enough control. Unfortunately, shoulder problems, a regression in his control and poor luck ruined his 2010 campaign and then he was shipped off to the Rockies to pitch in middle relief in 2011. As a result, he promptly fell off my radar, but then reemerged upon his move to Kansas City.
He induces ground balls at a slightly above league average rate and while his control isn’t great, it’s good enough, as his F-Strike% has generally sat just below the average. The most exciting part of his game is obviously his potential for punchouts, as he sports a career 9.8% SwStk% and his fastball has averaged over 95.0 miles per hour every season of his career. After being slowed by a strained forearm that forced him to miss the first month of the season, it is good to see that his fastball was just as good as always during his first start upon his activation from the DL. In fact, his velocity had actually gained over a mile per hour. Having posted a 3.65 SIERA last year and nice strikeout upside, he still possesses breakout potential and should even be considered in 12-team mixed leagues.
Jeanmar Gomez | CLE SP | 12% Owned
I have always felt that ground ball pitchers were underappreciated in real baseball, which ends up getting them left off of prospect lists, eventually resulting in undervaluation in fantasy leagues. Of course, ground ballers usually have lower strikeout rates and since most leagues use strikeouts as a category, they are rightly valued less. That said, over 138.1 career innings with the Indians, Gomez has posted a 50% ground ball rate, while displaying good control. His F-Strike% confirms that he should remain a bit better than league average in walk rate, though that also means he won’t sustain a sub-2.00 BB/9 all season.
As with many ground ballers, Gomez hasn’t been much of a strikeout pitcher in the past and has just a 5.2 career K/9 in the Majors. However, his strikeout rate has jumped to just a smidge over 6.0 this year, which would really help his potential fantasy value if maintained. The good news is that it might very well be sustainable. He has increased the usage of his slider at the expense of his fastball/sinker, and his SwStk% has spiked from a weak 5.6% to a league average 8.7% mark. That could lead to a decent skill set and a sub-4.00 ERA, generating some value in deeper and AL-Only leagues. I would still pass in a mixed league though.