Hot Starting Pitcher Waiver Wire Targets
Each week I'll look at some good Starting Pitcher waiver wire pickups you should look to add to your fantasy baseball team. These sleeper waiver wire targets will span shallow and deep leagues, and may include some two-start streamer pitchers. Each pitcher will be dissected sabermetrically 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 6 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,)SIERA (Skill Interactive ERA,) FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching,) xFIP (A more average look at FIP,) Swinging Strike %, HR/FB% (how many times a fly ball hit against him is a Homerun,) BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play,) and K/BB.
Jason Hammel- CHC - 58% Owned
According to Yahoo’s ranking system, Hammel has been the 7th best Starting Pitcher so far this year. While that’s high praise in and of itself, the fact that up to this point the 33 year old veteran has been nothing short of average makes this even more amazing. Hammel has a nice 2.08 ERA and his control has been impeccable with a 1.99 BB/9. His BABIP is .181 which will regress, and while that might sound like he is just a flash in the pan, you should take into consideration his pitch selection, specifically his fastball. He has all but abandoned his 4-Seamer, throwing only 8.5% and instead utilizing his 2-Seamer at 55.8%. Considering he has averaged his 4-Seamer usage at 46.1% and just 14.7% for his 2-Seamer, this could be a big cause of throwing hitters off. He’s at 58% owned in Yahoo leagues, and I can’t see a reason he shouldn’t be owned in yours until that BABIP starts to climb a bit.
Drew Smyly- DET - 32% Owned
Drew Smyly has had a nice start to his 2014, his first full season as a part of Detroit’s starting rotation, with 2 wins, 21 K, a 2.45 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in 22 Innings. However, his impressive start is more than just skin deep. Digging into the sabermetrics vault, you’ll see his BABIP and LOB % is at a career low .264 and 83.3%, respectively, meaning we should expect a bit of regression with his ERA and WHIP. When looking for a cause for his effective start, look at his pitch selection. Smyly has decreased his cutter usage (29% to 23%), a pitch that has shown to be less than efficient. He has exchanged the cutter for his slider, which has been his most effective pitch thus far, and in his last outing vs KC was simply dominant. His smarter pitch selection is causing batters to swing and miss at a lot of pitches in the strike zone, much higher than league average. Smyly was always a highly touted prospect, and his first real crack at the rotation will pay dividends for whoever picks him up. Being available in 68% of Yahoo leagues, I would take the small risk on Smyly now and watch it pay off for the whole year.
Dallas Keuchel - HOU - 6% Owned
In terms of fantasy, being a starting pitcher on a team like Houston is automatically a handicap. Being on the bottom of a tough division along with less run support means fewer wins for your fantasy team. However, they can also be great waiver adds for your team by flying under the radar, and Keuchel is just that. After a below average first two career years, the 25 year old has had a nice start to 2014. Despite only two Wins and a 3.96 ERA in 6 starts, his sabermetric numbers tell a different story. His GB/FB Rate is at 3.03 which is simply excellent. He has a 8.17 K/9 and a 2.72 BB/9. He has a SIERA of 3.03 (MLB Top 10) and a FIP of 3.39, which all mean his ERA should be a lot lower than what he currently is. At 6% owned in Yahoo, he is a definite add in deep leagues, and should be looked at in mixed leagues as well. While none of the stats I used in this column are not stats for your fantasy league, that does not mean they are irrelevant when considering at who to add. Sabermetric numbers are equivalent to when you're taking a math test, after getting the correct answer your teacher puts “explain.” While it might not be the easiest way to go about things, 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. Stay tuned for some additional waiver wire articles this week from yours truly.
Follow me on Twitter @JustBerglund and @Rotoballer for all your fantasy baseball insights.