Stutes, Watson, Lecure, Takahashi: SP/RP Relievers

Over a month ago, I looked at relievers that have SP qualification. For leagues that have daily transactions, these pitchers can fit in nicely for real starting pitchers on their off days. They are must haves in leagues that count holds. Also, they may vulture a save or win here and there and help pad your rate stats. Today, I am going to look at a few more of these pitchers.

Mike Stutes, Phi – In late April, Stutes joined the Phillies and was mainly used in low leverage situations. As the Phillies pen has gone through several changes, he has moved into the role as one of the main setup men.

The main reason for his climb has been his ability to strike more than 1 batter per IP (9.13 K/9). The high number of K’s,low BABIP (0.200) and low HR/FB (6.7 HR/FB) has lead to his ERA of 2.00. His FIP (3.93) and xFIP (4.27) are both about twice his ERA and the increase is mainly do to his BB/9 of 5.3.

Stutes seems like a nice option for holds and a vulture and win now and then (3 in the last 4 games he has appeared in), but his ERA does not look sustainable at this low level.

Tony Watson, Pit – Since pitching his first MLB game on Jun 8, Watson has been lights out for the Pirates with an ERA of 0.94. Also he is almost striking out 1 batter per inning (8.4 K/9). This strikeout rate may not be sustainable since he only averaged 7.4 K/9 in minors.

Besides the higher than normal K numbers, he is walking over 4.5 batters per nine innings. Also, he has a low BABIP (0.200) and HR/FB rate (0.0). These values can be seen with his his FIP (2.64) and xFIP (3.70) being multiple times higher than his ERA.

He is currently being used in late inning situations so there will be chances for Holds and vulture wins as the season goes on. Watson seems to be a nice option for SP/RP, but his ERA and K/9 will regress a bit.

Sam LeCure, Cin – After 4 games in April as a starter, LeCure has been moved to the pen where his results look like he has excelled. As a starter his ERA was 4.79, but as a reliever it is 0.56. Don’t let these numbers fool you. His K/9 and BB/9 as a starter (8.27, 2.18) were better than those as a reliever (7.88, 2.25). As a reliever he has been helped out with a lower BABIP (0.158 vs 0.268) and HR/FB rate (6.3% vs 18.2%).

As a whole though, LeCure seems to be a fairly servicable reliever with a K/BB over 3.5 and an ERA that should be near the 3.50 range. One area currently that doesn’t bode well for him is that he doesn’t look to be a designated setup men, so the number of holds he gets may be limited.

Hisanori Takahashi, LAA – At the beginning of the season, I looked at Takahashi as a SP/RP to target this season. He started the season performing horribly (6.59 ERA, 6.6 K/9, 4.6 BB/9). Since May 7th, he has seemed to turn the season around (1.33 ERA, 8.0 K/9, 1.8 BB/9). I could understand why some owners dumped him, but it may be time to look at possibly picking him up again.




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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.


5 Responses to “Stutes, Watson, Lecure, Takahashi: SP/RP Relievers”

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  1. Tony says:

    Aaron Crow is another one with SP eligibitly.

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  2. johnnycuff says:

    watson’s k/9 in the minors is probably a bit misleading since he was primarily a starter until 2010, when he made the transition to a full time reliever. since then, his k/9 hasn’t been below about 8.5.

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  3. Brad Johnson says:

    A note on Stutes, he’s a much better control pitcher than his walk rate suggests. Count on about 3.5 BB/9 going forward with upside for a lower rate. He could eventually mature into a guy with a walk rate around 2.5 BB/9.

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  4. david says:

    Stutes doesn’t have SP eligibility in Yahoo leagues.

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