New Rotation Faces: Fernandez, Corbin & Ross

BASEBALL! The season is officially under way and that means that I will have absolutely no life outside of watching and analyzing this wonderful game through October. Over the past couple of days, roster decisions were made, position battles sorted out and rotation slots won. Some of those rotation spot winners were quite the shock. Let’s discuss a few of them, shall we?

Jose Fernandez | MIA

Whaaaaat? It wasn’t enough to bat Placido Polanco clean up, now the team has named the top prospect to the starting rotation despite having never thrown a pitch above High-A! Insanity. I feel like this could potentially be an early April Fools joke. But assuming this is not actually the case, it’s worth trying to figure out if Fernandez will earn any value in shallower leagues. In NL-Only formats, any pitcher who has any kind of potential is an automatic pick-up with fingers crossed. But in the shallower 12-team mixers, that isn’t the case. Oh, and obviously this analysis is for non-keeper leagues. In keepers, he is likely already on a team or is an obvious add.

In his short minor league time, Fernandez has shown excellent strikeout ability and good control, along with a rather neutral batted ball distribution. I have not been fortunate enough to watch him pitch yet, but scouting reports tell us that he possesses a mid-to-high 90s fastball, plus change-up and very good curve ball and slider. That sounds like quite the arsenal for a 20-year-old.

So the negatives: the kid is just 20, has absolutely no upper minors experience and will be backed by a team that is going to struggle to score runs. In my very unscientific projected line, I guessed at a 7.9 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 and 150 innings. That yields a 4.08 projected ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 8 wins and 132 strikeouts. That certainly has value in deep leagues, but is not worth wasting a roster spot on in shallow leagues. No doubt someone in your league (probably the prospect hoarder) will dive right in and perhaps splurge with his FAAB, but you’re better off ignoring him.

Patrick Corbin | ARI

At the beginning of spring training, Corbin was locked in a battle for the fifth rotation spot in Arizona with Tyler Skaggs and offseason acquisition Randall Delgado. Back in mid-February, I analyzed the situation and each member of the trio, ultimately suggesting that NL-Only leaguers speculate on Corbin as he possessed the best skills. Now that he has officially won the job, I will upgrade that recommendation, as I think he could even earn a bit of value in shallow mixed leagues.

Corbin’s 2012 season was marred by a somewhat high BABIP and inflated HR/FB rate, but his SIERA sat at a solid 3.71 mark. He has good control, slightly above average strikeout potential and a ground ball tilt. It all adds up to a pitcher who should be a bit above replacement level in those shallow leagues with upside due to his age and minor league record.

Tyson Ross | SD

The last several days could not have gone any worse for me. First, it is announced that Tyson Ross will open the season in the Padres bullpen, meaning Podhorzer super duper sleeper deluxe Andrew Cashner will begin the year in the bullpen. That makes it quite difficult for the man to earn the type of value I was projecting. Then yesterday, Justin Ruggiano finds himself on the short side of a platoon with Chris Coghlan, ruining my hitting side super sleeper. Ughh. But this is about Tyson Ross, so let’s get back to him.

The positives: he pitches in San Diego and in the National League after spending last year with the Athletics; his ground ball tendency, which of course isn’t worth as much as in a more hitter friendly park
The negatives: his actual pitching ability

He has shown below average strikeout ability and poor control and has had an uninspiring minor league career. Basically, as soon as Cashner has gotten enough innings under his belt in relief and the Padres realize their goal is to actually win games and not make fantasy owners bang their heads against the wall, he will be back in the rotation in no time.

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Mike Podhorzer produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

17 Responses to “New Rotation Faces: Fernandez, Corbin & Ross”

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  1. patk says:

    great article! too bad it was soiled by a Newsmax add. I’m seriously not coming to this site anymore if you guys are taking money from fox news/newsmax.

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    • Lftfiytciyrihfcjgfkugfkugfukggufuk says:

      I think you don’t understand how Internet advertising works.

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      • juan pierres mustache says:

        for me the last straw was when they started taking money from zombie women offering to lower my credit score.

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      • bSpittle says:

        newsmax is right-wing swill.
        propaganda for stupid people who claim to love america, but at the same time advocate for policies that harm america.

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      • bSpittle says:

        and by the way – a website can control which ads get placed on the site.

        The original comment has merit.
        Yours does not.

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      • Lftfiytciyrihfcjgfkugfkugfukggufuk says:

        How can you have so much hate for your fellow Americans on Opening Day. So sad.

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    • JBJ says:

      Dont let the door hit you in the @$$

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  2. jesse says:

    The cashner thing works for me, in a league that uses k/9 over total ks using one of my starter spots on cashner out of the bpen will be great for my rate stats

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  3. MLB Rainmaker says:

    The bigger question is what to do with Cashner now — Are they going to give him a few more weeks then transition him into the rotation? Is it a situation like last season where they pitch him out of the pen for a few months, then send to the minors?

    In either case, do I burn a roster spot on him or dump him and just hawk the newswire for his eventual trip to the minors to stretch out?

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    • johnnycuff says:

      if a good reliever has value in your league, he’s a decent guy to have but otherwise i’m waiting until he gets sent down for 2 weeks. best case it could be something like kris medlen last year, where he dominates the 2nd half for your team.

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    • Personally, I did not draft Cashner in my final 2 drafts (local auction on Sat. morning, radio show draft last night), and someone else took him as a reserve. Both are shallowish 12-team mixers, so I didn’t want to burn a reserve spot on a middle reliever. If you already drafted him, hold him until you are forced to make a drop. But if he’s on free agency, I wouldn’t bother picking him up yet.

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  4. Guy says:

    A Jose Fernandez pick up seems to be pased on the league type. I know in my league, there is not a starter out there that could post a strike out rate of 8 per 9 or higher.

    I used about 8% of my FAAB to pick up Jose Fernandez. No one else placed a real bid, so knowing that kinda sucks. However, if he has even a decent 150-170 innings with a strong strike-out rate, his value can go up considerably in leagues that have keepers based on rounds, and auction leagues with limited/average inflation.

    Assuming he posts decent lines with some flashed and shows growth, he will probably have a lot of buzz going into next season.

    If he posts 140 KS in 160 innings with a 4.15 era and 1.30 whip, there are leagues than can find that useful, especially in keeper leagues.

    The risk-reward seems to be so low. Maybe 5% of your FAAB makes more sense, but considering most other top prospects wont be up until after June, it seems like a modest gamble to see if we have something special here.

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  5. dirck says:

    I have Cashner in all of my 16 team dynasty leagues . For me the question is whether the Padres see Cashner as an eventual closer or as a starter.I am afraid that they see him as a closer. Why else would they give the rotation spot to an obviously much inferior pitcher and bury Cashner in the bullpen ? I would much rather see him as a starter because I think closer is the most over-hyped position in baseball. For the time being I am holding on to him but that roster space might become too valuable to waste on a mistake by the Padres .

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  6. Corey says:

    I got Fernandez in my NL only 12 team keeper league last night for $11 towards the end of the draft. I thought I was bidding on a minor league future pick, only after the draft did I realize I had acquired a major leaguer.

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  7. Matthew Bultitude says:

    Was looking for info on Tyson Ross and stumbled on this article. None of these three SPs got a ringing endorsement here, but now it is August and all three have held their rotation spots with sub-3.00 ERAs. Wow.

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    • Yes, I was wrong about Fernandez, though I can’t imagine anyone expected this level of dominance at such a young age. Tyson Ross has a 3.92 SIERA, and that’s even with the majority of his games coming in relief.

      I was actually optimistic on Corbin, and probably liked him more than nearly everyone. I had all positive things to say. His SIERA is 3.55, so he’s been a little better than I expected, but you can’t account for amazing luck (check out that BABIP and LOB%) that has kept his ERA below 3.00.

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