One with a bullet: valuing the trendy starter pickups

Kris Medlen; Ownership up 45.1 percent

It wasn’t long ago when Kris Medlen was paired with Tommy Hanson as the Braves’ one-two punch of the upcoming decade. But, 2009 seems so long ago now, as Medlen’s rise to stardom has been harassed by a multitude of injuries and disappointment.

2012 has been a revitalization as Medlen has put together 80 strong innings and four very strong starts in as many tries. His command has been good (50.9 Zone percentage), he’s getting swings out of the zone (32.8 O-Swing percentage), and he is getting just enough swings and misses (81.9 Contact percentage).

Ben Duronio has a good writeup of Medlen’s chances at remaining in the Braves’ rotation over the rest of the season, and I’m inclined to agree that he should remain there.

If you have an opportunity to acquire him, I’d go ahead and make the move.

Projection: 3.450 ERA, 1.223 WHIP, 7.152 K/9, 12.12 W per 33 GS

Jaime Garcia; Ownership up 24.8 percent

If you’re asking around for opinions on Jaime Garcia, you’ll inevitably run into two competing camps: one who thinks he’s maddeningly inconsistent; the other who swears by his talent and patiently awaits that complete season a la 2010.

Unfortunately, I find myself firmly in that second category—which has cost me dearly on a few occasions (including a July 2011 trade where I was the benefactor of his 6.84 ERA month of August).

Nevertheless, the stats don’t lie—and Jaime looking like the pitcher everybody wants him to be. The groundballs are there (27.5 flyball percentage), the Contact percentage is outstanding (75.0 percent) and he is keeping the ball in the zone (49.3 Zone percentage, 34.2 O-Swing percentage).

I think you can get him on the cheap right now, and you should have no qualms about doing so.

Projection: 3.302 ERA, 1.249 WHIP, 8.103 K/9, 13.51 W per 33 GS

Matt Harvey; Ownership up 18.0 percent

Since his debut less than a month ago on July 26, Harvey has had no problem delivering on that considerable preseason promise. He’s throwing Ks, keeping the walks at a reasonable level, and doesn’t have any terrible problems with BABIP or HR/FB percentage.

You’ve got to love his 72.7 Contact percentage, which is fueling the excellent K-rate. On top of that, he looks like he can keep the walks under control with a 31.2 percent O-Swing percentage.

His minor league track record, his pedigree, and his stuff all suggested he’d be good and—now that he’s doing it on the big stage—I think its safe to say he’ll continue to do so.

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Projection: 3.571 ERA, 1.304 WHIP, 9.487 K/9, 12.60 W per 33 GS

Hisashi Iwakuma; Ownership up 17.6 percent

Through some improbable combination of events, Iwakuma has been able to maintain a sub 4.00 ERA despite carrying 21.0 HR/FB and 3.68 BB/9 rates. Nevertheless, what’s in the past is in the past, and he seems capable of maintaining reasonable rates from here on out.

His flyball percentage is excellent (27.8 percent) and I see his BB rate falling somewhat going forward—his 48.9 Zone percentage and 32.6 O-Swing percentage are more than good enough.

Iwakuma might be serviceable as a number five or number six starter, but doesn’t look to be worth much more than that.

Projection: 3.938 ERA, 1.358 WHIP, 7.533 K/9, 10.81 W per 33 GS

Patrick Corbin; Ownership up 11.2 percent

Corbin is doing his best to stick in the rotation this time around, posting three quality starts in his last four. The Diamondbacks want him to take a spot in their rotation for 2013, so an extended look should benefit both parties.

The debut of Tyler Skaggs crowds the rotation, but Corbin is slated to start Friday’s game, along with the 29th after that, so he looks OK.

When it comes to fantasy, however, I don’t think there’s much here for owners. It doesn’t look like he’ll be able to top 7.00 K/9 while his ERA and WHIP numbers should be below-average.

Projection: 4.004 ERA, 1.409 WHIP, 6.88 K/9, 11.31 W per 33 GS

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