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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.