Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:


Already have an account? Log in here.


Forgot Password


Too Good To Be True - Starting Pitchers Due for Regression

This article aims to highlight starting pitchers who, based off of advanced statistics and predictive analytics, are primed to regress from their early-season fantasy value.  These pitchers currently boast sparkling, yet misleading ERAs with a few of them being aided by distorted Win/Loss records as well.  Cole Hamels, Julio Teheran, Junior Guerra, and Jhoulys Chacin all qualify as prime candidates to regress to less-than-serviceable fantasy options moving forward.

For the purposes of this article, we will be looking at some advanced statistics that aren’t the most commonly known in order to identify pitchers who have been playing above their skillset so far in 2018.  FIP, xFIP, and SIERA are predictive stats that aim to evaluate a pitcher by eliminating the external factors that he can’t control.  Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) focuses solely on the events a pitcher has the most control over – strikeouts, unintentional walks, hit-by-pitches, and home runs.  This stat entirely removes results of balls hit into the field of play. A pitcher with a high FIP but low ERA has most likely experienced a string of good luck on balls in play, and thus would qualify for this regression piece assuming he eventually gets league-average results on balls in play. Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) is closely related to FIP, but uses projected home run rate (based off season’s league-average HR/FB rate) instead of actual home runs allowed.  This stat is useful in the same way that FIP is useful for identifying pitchers who have misleading ERA’s.

Skill-Interactive Earned Run Average (SIERA) also looks to quantify a pitcher’s performance by eliminating factors he can’t control himself, but unlike FIP and xFIP, SIERA considers balls in play and adjusts for the type of ball in play.  For example, if a pitcher has a high xFIP but also induces a high amount of grounders and pop-ups as opposed to line drives, his SIERA will be lower than his xFIP. All three advanced statistics are more useful at assessing a pitcher’s talent and predicting future success than the outdated ERA.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!


SPs Ready to Decline

(all statistics valid as of 6/20/18)

Cole Hamels, Texas Rangers (79% owned)

Cole Hamels is a four-time MLB All-Star, being voted to the team as recently as 2016. However, though he went 11-6 in 2017, he struggled to a 4.20 ERA and 1.20 WHIP and the downward trend has continued into this year. The 34-year-old starting pitcher for the Texas Rangers is allowing an almost unbelievable 45.4% hard contact rate, which slots in as the 3rd highest among MLB starting pitchers. He is 4-6, but holds a functional 3.41 ERA and is still widely trusted among the fantasy community. This shouldn’t be the case. In addition to his preposterous hard contact rate, his atrocious 5.13 FIP, 4.20 xFIP, and 4.08 SIERA all unmistakably indicate that hard times are on the horizon for the grizzled veteran and that his ERA is bound to keep rising as he continues to make starts. He has also given up 19 homers, which averages out to a pitiful 1.9 HR/9.

While Hamels does possess a solid 8.96 K/9 rate, his 3.48 BB/9 offsets that strikeout upside, especially since he’s giving up as much hard contact as he has. In addition, his .255 BABIP suggests that he has been getting very lucky with the balls hit in play. Expect that number, along with his ERA, to increase with time. Projection sites have him tabbed for a .303 BABIP and 4.26 ERA rest-of-season. The strategy for viewing Cole Hamels' fantasy stock is pretty simple – you’re not dropping him, but you certainly shouldn’t feel confident in relying on his production for the rest of the year. Explore your trade options, and sell him on the strength of his strong (for now) ERA and former All-Star pedigree.

Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves (63% owned)

It seems that Atlanta Braves fans and fantasy owners alike have been waiting for starting pitcher Julio Teheran to become a top-tier guy for a long time now. He has now logged five full seasons in the majors, averaging a solid 31 starts per season. Now, to be fair, he’s had some very successful seasons. 2013 (14-8, 3.20 ERA, 1.17 WHIP), 2014 (14-13, 2.89 ERA, 1.08 WHIP), and 2016 (7-10, 3.21 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) were all solid both in terms of fantasy baseball and real-life, as he has also maintained solid K/9 and BB/9 rates throughout his career. However, after a disappointing 2017 and a rough start to 2018, his outlook may be changing before our eyes. Teheran is 5-4 over 14 starts with a suitable 3.97 ERA, but to say that stat is misleading is just a bit of an understatement. His 5.28 FIP, 4.86 xFIP, and 4.70 SIERA are all somewhere between downright awful and shockingly dreadful. He is allowing very high 1.64 HR/9 and 4.21 BB/9 rates, both of which are career high’s since he became a full-time starter. While all of these stats show regression is coming for Teheran, the red flags don’t even stop there. Notably, his average fastball velocity for the 2018 season is the lowest of his entire career. It has dipped to just 89.5 MPH, whereas it has been in the 91-92 MPH range for much of his career. This is a problem, especially since he skews toward being a flyball pitcher (.99 GB/FB) and gives up a high number of hard contact (38.4%).

Teheran's BABIP is the 2nd lowest in the MLB among qualified starters at just .218, which signifies that he has been getting very lucky with balls being put into play as well. In his most recent start on June 17th against the Padres, Teheran was uncharacteristically dealing. He went six innings without allowing a hit and racked up 11 strikeouts. This was an anomaly, as he has only had three starts with seven or more strikeouts on the season. Keep an eye on Teheran’s next few starts. If he reverts to his to-date form and maintains a sub-90’s fastball, it’s a very good bet that his fantasy stock will plummet heavily. If he keeps making starts like Sunday’s, he’ll be a Cy Young candidate. If I were a betting man, and I am, I’d bet on the former.

Junior Guerra, Milwaukee Brewers (44% owned)

Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Junior Guerra has made 13 starts this season, holding a 3-5 record and a very alluring 2.89 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. However, his 3.89 FIP is a full run higher than his ERA, and that is alarming. He also holds a subpar 4.24 xFIP and 4.15 SIERA, so even his FIP may be a bit misleading. The higher xFIP and SIERA indicate that his expected future production is even worse than his FIP indicates because those stats weigh future projections heavier than past results. His .259 BABIP is on the low side, though he maintained an extremely low .236 BABIP through 70 1/3 innings in 2017. Looking back at last year’s totals do not inspire confidence in Guerra’s ability, to say the least. He made 14 starts in 2017, tallying a 1-4 record, 5.12 ERA, 6.58 FIP, 5.23 SIERA, 5.5 BB/9, and 2.3 HR/9. This year, he has curbed his walks and home runs allowed (3.27 BB/9 and 1.0 HR/9), but he is still getting rocked. He ranks 17th among qualified starting pitchers in hard contact allowed at 41.3%, which is by far the highest of his career. While he has always shown moderate strikeout upside (8.41 K/9 in 2018), the negatives for Guerra clearly outweigh the positives. Projection sites have him pegged for just three more wins on the year, accompanied by an ERA in the 4.60 range – clearly not good numbers for a fantasy league starter.

Jhoulys Chacin, Milwaukee Brewers (39% owned)

Jhoulys Chacin is another starting pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers who has been playing over his head to date. He has made 16 starts and holds a useable 6-2 record and 3.18 ERA. However, there is plenty of cause for concern moving forward after taking a look at the rest of his season statistics. First off, he lacks strikeout upside and walks too many batters. He has a 66/35 K/BB ratio in 87 2/3 innings, which averages out to a pitiful 6.78 K/9 and 3.59 BB/9. Those are terrible numbers any way you slice it, but especially so for fantasy purposes. Secondly, his 3.82 FIP, 4.71 xFIP, and 4.79 SIERA all indicate that Chacin’s 3.18 ERA is very misleading and should rise as he continues to make starts. His SIERA, in particular, ranks as the 18th highest among qualified starting pitchers. Lastly, he is allowing a 37.9% hard contact rate, which is just too high for a pitcher to remain fantasy relevant for very long – especially as his low .273 BABIP figures to normalize closer to the mean. Now in his 10th season in the MLB, Chacin has a respectable career 3.87 ERA. However, this year, fantasy projection sites have him pegged for a dreadful 4.60 ERA and just four more wins. Sell high if you can, or continue riding Chacin’s lucky streak if you like to play with fire.

If you have Cole Hamels, Julio Teheran, Junior Guerra, or Jholuys Chacin, you’ve officially been warned. The stats are in front of you, and it’s now up to you to decide how you choose to view those pitchers moving forward. There are always going to be cases of players continuously outperforming their underlying metrics, some even do it for the full season, but it is unwise to rely on that occurring. Always look for ways to upgrade your team, and if flipping an over-performing starting pitcher for a position or category of need makes sense for you, then do it! Or don’t, and be the captain of a burning ship as it’s on its way down to a sad, watery grave. Your move, fantasy owners.


More 2018 MLB Busts and Overvalued Players

More Recent Articles


Wide Receiver Start/Sit Advice - Week 7

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the wide receiver position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 7 of the 2019 NFL season. They decide who to start or sit among those in WR3 or flex consideration. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest... Read More

Keenan Allen - Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody on your bench. Disaster Recovery is to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting, and deciding if you should be panicking at all about... Read More

NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 7) - Targets and Avoids

Another week, more upsets. The Cowboys, Chiefs and Chargers all went down knocking out about 15-20 percent of remaining entrants in survivor pools, including myself. The Baltimore and New England wins were never in doubt, but the Redskins and Packers just barely squeaked out wins. If you've made it this far, you've done a job... Read More

Fantasy Football Risers and Fallers - Week 7

Whether due to their own play, the play of others, or injuries, players' stock increases and decreases on a weekly basis. Perhaps more than any other, the NFL is a league that experiences ups and downs at a rapid pace. With only 16 games, there’s little room for error and seemingly endless opportunities for improvement.... Read More

Running Back Metrics That Matter - NFL NextGen Stats

It's been a month--a full month!--since the last time we took a look at our beloved running backs. I don't think there is a hotter topic of discussion between pro- and anti-analytics than rushing. The guys fighting for stat-supremacy are all about using the passing game as much as possible while ditching the run; the... Read More

Titanic Disappointment - Will Ryan Tannehill Help Tennessee?

In the midst of being shutout by the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Tennesse Titans coach Mike Vrabel made a move that many casual NFL fans had been expecting for the past few weeks: he decided to give Ryan Tannehill a shot at quarterback instead of Marcus Mariota. While Tannehill wasn't noticeably better on Sunday, throwing... Read More

Warning Signs: Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Jared Goff

This is going to be a special edition of Warning Signs. Usually, we take a look at players from different teams who have disappointed thus far. This week, I am going to focus on a single team full of players to worry about. It is not good to have a team of big stars where... Read More

FAAB Bidding - Week 7 Waiver Wire Targets

Assisting our famous waiver wire pickups list, and our weekly waiver wire columns by position, this column focuses on suggested waiver wire bidding percentages for fantasy football owners in leagues using a Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB). As a caveat, these prices do not by any means indicate how much these free agent players will... Read More

We Must Overreact Immediately! Week 6 Outliers

In Week 6, several players exploded in fantasy lineups. There were a few receivers that were above the rest of the pack in Week 6, such as Stefon Diggs, Terry McLaurin, Chris Godwin and Tyreek Hill, but there shouldn't be any surprises there as those guys should have been in fantasy lineups. At the quarterback... Read More

Deeper League Free Agent Pickups for Week 7

The bye week difficulties continue this week with Carolina, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay all getting their rest in Week 7. It should be noted, however, that just because a player is currently in their bye week, doesn't mean you should avoid them on the waiver wire. In fact, this is often the easiest way... Read More

Week 7 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

All of a sudden, the Chargers look like one of the worst teams in football and the Jets look like a playoff contender. Maybe things won't shake out that way in the end but it goes to show how quickly things change in the "Not For Long" NFL. For that reason, we advise looking at... Read More

The Cut List - Players on the Chopping Block (Week 7)

This is your weekly list of players to drop. I will do my best to limit this list to injured players and players you might consider holding. If you roster pure handcuffs or backups, obviously you can let them go at any time. The players on this list will, ideally, be guys that aren't clearly... Read More

Week 7 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Below are RotoBaller's Week 7 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 7 of the NFL and fantasy football season. In case you missed it, this is our seventh year now writing this weekly column. Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver... Read More

Week 7 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Week 6 is done, and we've seen some outstanding games thus far. We've also seen a lot of surprising teams through six weeks. The San Francisco 49ers, after picking in the top 10 for four straight years, are 5-0 with one of the most complete teams in football. As far as kickers go, we're seeing... Read More

Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Some of you have been rewarded for your meticulous roster planning by receiving excellent production from your running backs. Unfortunately, many of you have been equally prepared when making roster decisions, but have been undermined by injuries, inconsistent usage, or underwhelming performances. If that applies to you, then those unwanted outcomes have forced you to... Read More