Low-Ownership Starters for Thursday (9/13)

After the feedback from yesterday’s post on low ownership starters, I may continue this series until the season’s end. All these pitchers featured are owned in less than 10% of Yahoo! leagues.

Additionally, I’ve added the opposing team’s strikeout rate for reference. The league average is 21.6%.

Chad Bettis (5% owned) vs Arizona (Zack Godley, 23.9% K%))

After returning from beating cancer, Bettis is not throwing his best. His fastball velocity is down ~2 mph from last season (91.7 mph to 89.8 mph). The velocity loss could explain why his home run rate (2.1 HR/9) is at a career high.

Besides giving up a ton of home runs, the velocity loss has pushed his strikeout rate (6.0 K/9) to a career low. One favorable aspect is a career low walk rate (1.3 BB/9). Pulling the preceding data points together, he’s a below average starter with little chance for strikeout and ERA help (WHIP could be OK with the low number of walks).

The Rockies are trying to secure a Wild Card spot and that is what Bettis is now, a chance for a Win. Not much else.

Daniel Gossett (1% owned) at Red Sox (Drew Pomeranz, 19.2% K%)

Early this season, I did a Quick Look at Gossett and came away with the following conclusion:

Gossett has a lot of sort of OK stuff but nothing great besides the slider. He can throw four pitches but they are inconsistent. He hung too many of his breakers allowing solid contact (1.7 HR/9 on the season). He’s got enough ability to be in the majors and that’s it. Something got to change for him to take a step forward. Velocity. Better fastball movement. Something. For now, he’s a match-up pitcher.

And it is matchup time and this matchup sucks. It will be tough for him to go into Boston and come out with the Win.

Since that start, he’s made one adjustment, he’s upped both his strikeouts (5.9 K/9 to 8.4 K/9) and walks (1.5 BB/9 to 3.8 BB/9). Of these low ownership starters, he may be the best strikeout play.

Chad Bell (0% owned) vs White Sox (James Shields, 23.0% K%)

I wonder if the 0% ownership is a little too high considering his talent profile. Let me start with the good, the 28-year-old lefty throws a 93-mph fastball and an above average slider (18% SwStr%). Now onto the bad.

He has several issues but the biggest is giving up free passes. On the season his walk rate is at 4.4 BB/9 and the two times he started a game, it jumped to 5.2 BB/9. His problems stem from throwing only 41% of pitches into the strike zone with league average at 45%. While his overall strikeout rate seems reasonable (7.7 K/9), it’s only 6.2 K/9 as a starter. When he finally does throw strikes, he has been getting hit around with a .344 BABIP and 1.6 HR/9. He’s just not a good pitcher.

I am tempted to roll with him against the White Sox for a Win but in his two starts, he hasn’t thrown five innings yet (4.0 and 4.2). Few strikeouts. No Win. No start.

Seth Lugo (5% owned) at Cubs (Mike Montgomery, 22.3%)

I like starting him the best of these lowly owned pitchers. I don’t expect great numbers from him but I don’t expect him to murder my ratios. He looks to be a 7.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 pitcher with an ERA around 4.00. He improved from a 2.1 K/BB in the season’s first half to 3.7 in the second half. Those number won’t win a league but they also won’t lose it. He is probably streamable for all teams in all formats.

Amir Garrett (3% owned) at Cardinals (Luke Weaver, 21.8%)

At one time, I had some faith in Garrett but not anymore. He just can’t throw strikes yet. While he has dropped his walk rate from 4.5 BB/9 in the first half to 3.6 BB/9 in the second half, it’s still high. Besides the walks, he’s given up a ton of home runs (3.1 HR/9).

Now, he is projected for around 8.0 K/9 so he will provide some strikeouts if he stays in the game. He has only been able to make it five innings in eight of his 13 starts. With his limited innings per start, the chances of a Win drops.

It will take a desperate owner to go just for the strikeouts.

Ricky Nolasco (6%) vs Astros (Brad Peacock, 17.2% K%)

I will gladly celebrate the day I don’t have to write depressing reports on Nolasco. He’s the same pitcher he has been for years but this season his peripheral stats back the poor performance, mainly from his 1.9 HR/9. His career line of 7.2 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and 4.58 ERA is a reasonable estimate of the 34-year-old’s talent. If those numbers are helpful, feel free to start him.

Jake Thompson (0% owned) vs Miami (Jose Urena, 20.5%)

The 23-year-old righty has a 5.23 ERA and he’s lucky it is that low. Most of his ERA estimators point to an ERA around 6.00. I’m am a little amazed he has been given five starts but it was at least for the Phillies. I don’t think he would be getting the opportunity to pitch if he wasn’t 2nd round pick in 2012.

Looking over his pitches, his four-seam fastball is horrible (3.7 SwStr%) and he may see some improvement if he went with just his sinker (63% GB%). There is no way to know for sure if and/or when the change will occur, so just stay away for now.

Brett Anderson (2% owned) at Minnesota (Jose Berrios, 21.2%)

While Anderson has an inflated 5.90 ERA, his ERA estimators point to an ERA closer to 4.50. He has never been a huge strikeout pitcher (6.1 K/9). He was known for his 60% GB% which has shrunk to the ~50% the past two seasons. The 29-year-old is who he is which is a fifth starter on a below average team. He’s not good or horrible. He just is.

Rankings for Thursday
Seth Lugo
.
..

Daniel Gossett (strikeout play)
Chad Bettis
Ricky Nolasco
Brett Anderson
Amir Garrett
.
..

Chad Bell
Jake Thompson



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Jeff writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Mike Montgomery over all of them?