Even though this isn’t officially a mailbag post, the idea for this analysis came from someone with a question, who wishes to remain anonymous:
“I’m in a dynasty league, with no rules about rounds or dollar values for keepers. I have Slowey, Joba, and Cueto as potential keepers, but can only keep two of them. Which one should I trade or drop?”
Kevin Slowey only pitched through June, missing the last three months of the season after undergoing surgery on his wrist. Slowey looks poised to return by the beginning of the season, so his injury isn’t of much concern, especially in dynasty leagues. Slowey has superb control, so his WHIP should benefit from it. His high ERA in 2009 was inflated a bit by a fluky BABIP, but his home run rate will need to go down before he can be considered a top fantasy starter.
Joba Chamberlain is a hard player to project, because his role is up in the air. The Yanks are going to give him every opportunity to be a starter, and will be easing up on the “Joba Rules” next season. His strikeout rate as a starter is 8.40 per 9, while his K/9 as a reliever is 11.9. He also walks more batters as a starter, which is not a good sign of possible future success.
Johnny Cueto just finished up his second season as a starter for the Reds, lowering his ERA 40 points, and lowering his FIP 31 points. He did this by lowering his walk and home run rates, but he sacrificed strikeouts to do so. The Reds defense is good, so Cueto’s increased ground ball rate is another good sign. However, he doesn’t have much of an arsenal, and he looks to be maximizing his potential already, without much more of a ceiling to reach.
Of these three, I am keeping Slowey for sure. He is a safe bet to give you wins and a reasonable ERA and WHIP each year, with a decent strikeout total. This leaves the decision between Chamberlain and Cueto. Chamberlain still has more upside than Cueto does, so I would keep him as well. Cueto is a hard guy to cut loose, but you may be able to find a trade partner for him.
To sum it up, in a vacuum I’d rather keep Slowey and Joba over Cueto.
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