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Fantasy Baseball Buy and Sell: Starting Pitchers for Week 15

We’ve made it to July and it’s time to take a realistic look at your fantasy roster. If your team resides close to the bottom of the pack it’s time for you to make some serious moves. Even if your team is in last place you still have a chance to manipulate your roster and turn your team into a contender. Make some shrewd moves, but some sleepers, and who knows your fantasy team could be fighting for a playoff spot by September. With that in mind I have identified another six pitchers, four that you should buy and two that you should sell. Check em out right here.


Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitchers To Buy

Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox

rotoballer-fantasy-baseball-advice-jose-quintanaJose Quintana is hands down one of the most underrated starting pitchers in baseball. He has strung together four straight quality starts and has given up three runs or less in fifteen of his eighteen starts so far this season.

Fantasy baseball owners are sometimes taken aback by his mediocre 5-7 won/loss record, and his 3.20 ERA and 100:32 K:BB ratio in 112 1/3 innings suggest that he should have a better winning percentage, but unfortunately he has been victimized by a subpar White Sox bullpen. His SIERA, an ERA stand-in designed to measure how well a pitcher actually performs, is currently at a well above average 3.49 and his first strike rate of 65.2% shows that he regularly gets ahead of opposing hitters.

Quintana is also doing a better job of keeping the ball in the park having lowered his HR/9 rate from last year’s 1.04 to this year’s .48. He has also raised his K% to 21.5 from last year’s 19.7 rate. At just 25 years of age Quintana seems to be getting better with each passing year. You should trade for him if you can. With youth on his side he will only continue to develop and he can be potentially valuable in keeper leagues.


Jeff Locke, Pittsburgh Pirates

I want to believe in Jeff Locke. I want to believe that his late season drop off last season was simply the result of growing pains. You can buy Jeff Locke very cheaply right now. He may even be available on your waiver wire. If your fantasy baseball team is in need of pitching help, and considering what it would take to get him on your team, adding Locke to your team is a no brainer.

Although we only have a small sample size from which to judge him by, he’s got some great stats so far this season. With a 3.08 ERA to go along with his .926 WHIP, Locke’s pitching woes from last season seem to be behind him. He has also demonstrated superb control having walked just six batters while striking out 30 in 49.7 innings of work. He’s lowered last year’s BB/9 rate from 4.55 to its current sparkling rate of 1.09. By more frequently utilizing his two-seam fastball this season he has done a better job of getting ahead of hitters as evidenced by his 60.2% first strike rate. He has also raised his swinging strike rate up a full point from 8.3% last year to its current rate of 9.3%.

Locke is also throwing his change-up a bit more this season causing hitters to swing and miss at his pitches out of the strike zone at a higher rate and he has lowered his HR/FB percentage by just about two full points to a dazzling 6.8. Once Pittsburgh’s injured starters like Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano are fully healthy there is no lock that Locke will remain in the Pirates starting rotation but if he keeps performing the way he has, he will likely avoid being demoted. He is an absolute bargain right now. Pick him up if you can.


Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs

Jake-Arrieta-MLB-fantasy-baseball-waiver-wire-pitchersThe fact that Jake Arrieta is having a career year made it a bit easier for the Cubs to trade Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. There aren’t nearly enough fantasy baseball owners who have paid enough attention to Arrieta, as evidenced by his still-too-low 76% ownership rate in Yahoo leagues, but here we are in early July and he is sitting pretty with a 5-1 win/loss record, 1.78 ERA and 1.02 WHIP.

He has upped his K rate by striking out 79 batters in just over 70 innings of work. Arrieta has really turned his career around after a disappointing 2013 season in which he pitched to a 4.78 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. What has been the difference this year? He is relying less on his fastball and making better use of his slider this season and that has helped him up his swinging strike rate from last season’s below average 6.8%, to a well above average 9.2% rate this season. His SIERA of 2.74 is so good it’s practically off the charts!

He has also drastically reduced his HR/FB rate down from 12.3% last year to 4.0% this year, not an easy thing to do in the hitter friendly confines of Wrigley Field. Unfortunately for Arrieta since he began his professional career with the Orioles, he has never had the luxury of pitching in pitcher friendly stadiums, but his recent move to the NL from the AL seems to be agreeing with him. Working out a deal for Arrieta may just be agreeable to your team’s future as well.


Marcus Stroman, Toronto Blue Jays

Marcus Stroman’s major league debut was met with great anticipation however his first five appearances were as a reliever and on 5/14, his last appearance coming in from the bullpen, Stroman’s disappointing ERA stood at 12.79. Since then Stroman has moved into the Blue Jays’ starting rotation and in his seven starts he has compiled a 2.08 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

His overall ERA and WHIP now stand at 3.44 and 1.17 respectively. He’s got a dynamite 16.2% line drive rate and his outstanding 3.43 SIERA suggest that his success will continue. Although it seems that the Blue Jay bats have been largely and uncharacteristically silent whenever Stroman pitches, sooner or later he will get the support of his team’s potent offense and that should help him to up his win total. Stroman definitely has some good tools at his disposal. He can regularly reach back and throw a 95 MPH fastball and is also capable of throwing pitches that move and keep hitters off balance including his cutter, slider, curve and change-up. Stroman is definitely a buy candidate and has slowly but surely gotten better with each start. His performance now matches the initial hype that greeted his introduction to the major leagues.


Fantasy Baseball Starting Pitchers To Sell

Lance Lynn, St. Louis Cardinals

Lance Lynn comes from a long line of successful St. Louis Cardinal starting pitchers that have dotted the landscape over the last few years. Lynn’s pedigree, the St. Louis Cardinal farm system, is strong and that should help you work out a deal in which you will receive quality back in return. With a 9-6 won/loss record, 3.167 ERA and 1.314 WHIP Lynn is on pace for 16 wins this year but before the end of the season he is likely to supply you with a whole bunch of agita.

Lynn’s numbers are quite similar to those that he posted during the 2013 campaign and although the end result was pretty good (15-10 won/loss record, 3.97 ERA, 1.31 WHIP) if he was on your roster you were forced to ride a roller coaster which included some huge drops with some very bad streaks followed by some very good streaks. If you’ve got the intestinal fortitude to be able to withstand those types of streaks then hold on to him. If you’re stomach has a tendency to get a bit queasy then you need to trade him now.

Lynn also characteristically tanks it in the second half, making it all that more important that you put him on the trading block as soon as you can. His career first half ERA is 3.56 compared to his 3.95 career second half ERA. In addition, with all of the offensive woes plaguing this season’s Cardinal team, they might not be able to make their customary late season run and that could hurt Lynn’s overall numbers. Don’t let Lynn’s usual late season swan dive take your team down along with it. Move him!


Chris Tillman, Baltimore Orioles

By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "Chris Tillman") [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsWhen you pitch in the weak American League East and you’ve got a lineup that includes major league HR leader Nelson Cruz backing you up, a 4.11 ERA and 1.38 WHIP is acceptable and can even help your team remain in first place.

Chris Tillman is a serviceable number one pitcher for the Orioles but he has no business being on your fantasy roster as one of your starting pitchers. Many fantasy managers expected Tillman to continue to improve this season after his 2013 breakout campaign in which he won 16 games and compiled a 3.71 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. Instead Tillman has actually regressed. His swinging strike rate has gone down in each of the last three seasons and currently sits at a lowly 6.5%. At the same time he’s lost a couple of MPH off of his fastball causing his K% to drop to 14.3% this season, down from 21.2% last season.

Add the fact that his BB% is at its highest rate since 2010 and you’ve got yourself one big hot mess! His SIERA of 4.85 indicates that he is actually pitching a lot worse than his overall 4.11 ERA would suggest and as we are approaching the famed “dog days of summer” keeping a guy like Tillman on your roster can only hurt your fantasy team’s chances of fighting for a playoff spot.


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