This weekly column will look at some good Starting Pitchers you should look to add over the next month. The quality of the pitchers will range between thin and deep leagues, and may include some two-start pitchers, in order to reach the largest spectrum of players and potential sleepers. Each pitcher will be dissected from a sabermetrics level to truly see their value and show if their hot streaks are likely to continue or not. With that in mind, let’s get into the Week 5 edition of the Starting Pitcher Waiver Wire column.
NOTE: Stats that will be used include GB/FB (How many ground balls to fly balls are hit) Swinging Strike %, HR/FB% (how many times a fly ball hit against him is a Homerun) and K/BB.
Starting Pitchers To Consider
Tyler Skaggs (SP) - Los Angeles Angels
At 22 and in his first full season in the majors, Tyler Skaggs is showing the promise that made the Angels trade for him this offseason. Two stats that stand out to me to show Skaggs is improving and worth owning in fantasy teams are his GB/FB and his HR/FB%. Last season he was getting his opponents to hit only 1.27 grounders as opposed to fly balls, and this season that number has improved almost a whole point to 2.23. As for his HR/FB%, his number has almost been cut in half from 17.1% to 9.1%, which in simple terms means less homeruns are going to be hit against him.
His velocity has gone up, with his fastball averaging as low as 87.7 MPH his last two years, whereas in 2014 he is averaging 92 MPH. That with his curveball and changeup also picking up speed shows he is getting stronger with age, and in turn becoming a more dangerous pitcher despite just the 3 pitches. His one stat that might cause concern is his strikeouts. Last season his K% was 21.8%, and has now dipped to 14.4%. It is still early in the year, so I would cut him some slack that not all his stats are promising. Skaggs is owned in 26% of leagues, but is definitely worth at least a look in mixed leagues, and a sure fire add in deep leagues.
Nathan Eovaldi (SP) - Miami Marlins
At the beginning of the year, when asked about Nathan Eovaldi’s 2014 fantasy outlook, my first reaction was “who?” and after his first start was “nobody on Miami’s rotation not named Jose is worth adding.” However, the 26 year old looks to be legit, and in his second year in the majors, his sabermetrics are backing that up. Eovaldi’s K/9 is at 8.62, up from 6.60 in 2013 while is walking batters less, with his BB/9 more than cut in half to 1.15 from last year’s 3.39. That adds up to a 7.5 K/BB, meaning he walks 1 batter after striking out over 7.
His velocity has held steady at around 95-96 MPH for his fastball, which obviously is not the reason for his newfound success. I would attribute his Swing% going up from last season’s 46.6% to today’s 52.3% as a major point of focus. Eovaldi has also been using his slider more, as almost a quarter of his pitches have been sliders at 24.6% after only utilizing the pitch on 18.2% of his pitches in 2013. When a pitcher is on a team like Miami and succeeding, you can mostly assume it won’t be coming from run support. In Eovaldi’s case, it seems he has matured to the point that he will be worth adding in mixed leagues. Being owned in only 31% of Yahoo leagues, that number will surely be going up if Eovaldi can continue what has brought him success in 2014.
Aaron Harang (SP) - Atlanta Braves
Unlike Skaggs and Eovaldi, Aaron Harang is not a young pitcher who is making a nice start to their careers. He is a seasoned veteran who is pitching like a new man. After losing Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, Harang is sitting on a 0.85 ERA with 33K’s and) HR’s in 31 2/3 innings. I personally saw him live when he pitched 7 innings of a No-Hitter before being pulled due to throwing over 130 pitches. Harang’s K/9 is sitting at 9.38, which he has never finished a season at and has a career average of 7.76.
Despite the nice face value stats, there is plenty of evidence that says Harang will eventually crumble. His BB% is at a near career high of 10.7% with a BB/9 rate of 3.69. Also, his BG/FB rate is at .54, a career low. With his FB% at a dangerous 52.9%, he has simply gotten lucky that he has not given up a round-tripper all season. Turning 37 next week, Harang should not be looked at in any sort of a keeper league. While I’ll bet his current hot streak might not last, that does mean he can’t still contribute until he burns out. He has been added in 23% of Yahoo leagues in the past day, so I would grab him while you can.
While none of the stats I used in this column are stats for your fantasy league, that does not mean they are irrelevant in looking at who to add. Sabremetric numbers are the equivalent of when on math test, after getting the correct answer your teacher put “explain.” While it might not be the easiest way to go about it, when looking at who to add from the waiver wire, examining the player’s sabermetrics could show you the right answer when the main stats leave you stumped.
That's it for now. Make sure to stay tuned each week for this column examining the sabermetrics of Starting Pitchers on the waiver wire. Be sure to follow Justin on Twitter @JustBerglund and @Rotoballer for all your fantasy baseball insights.