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Buy and Sell: Starting Pitchers for Week 11

We are in the second week of June and believe it or not, about a third of the fantasy baseball season has gone by. It’s still early enough in the season for you to infuse your lineup with the right player and immediately impact your season. With the fantasy baseball trading season in full bloom it is time for you to find that impact player. Remember, if you’re smart you don’t always have to pay premium for a top notch fantasy player. You can always find sleepers to buy low and sell high. If you want to buy a pitcher but you don’t want to pay a lot for him or if you are sitting on an overachieving pitcher and are considering moving him now is the time. I’ve worked my tail off this week and found four new buy low starting pitching candidates and I’ve also identified two guys who are pitching way over their heads that you need to move now while their value is at its highest. Check out my latest picks for starting pitching sleepers who can be bought low and sold high.


Starting Pitchers To Buy

Tanner Roark, Washington Nationals

Tanner Roark Washington Nationals Tanner Roark roared onto the scene last season appearing in 14 games, five of them as a starter. He compiled an overall 7-1 won/loss record, 1.523 ERA and a miniscule .921 WHIP but still only had an ADP of 346 in 2014 fantasy drafts. It has taken him a bit of time this season, but Roark has slowly put together a solid year thus far. He has given up three or fewer runs in all but two of his 12 starts this season.

In his most recent start against the Padres, OK, OK I know, it was the Padres, he pitched eight shout out innings and struck out 11 without walking anyone. He does a good job of getting ahead of hitters with his 65.2% first pitch strike percentage (MLB average is 60%), doesn’t give up many line drives which often turn into hits, (14.9%-MLB average is 20%) and opposing batters are hitting just .219 against him. Tanner Roark is by no means a household name which means that you can trade for him without having to gut your team. He has a good shot at building on his 2.91 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. Don’t wait too long to make a move for him.


Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants

I have a funny feeling that Matt Cain’s season is about to take off. His numbers thus far are very mediocre. He has a 1-3 won/loss record and a 3.52 ERA to go along with his 1.14 WHIP. The good news for bargain shoppers is that Cain’s reputation has taken a bit of a hit. These days when you think about Cain, you think about his injury problems this season and his sub-par 4.01 ERA from last season. Although his numbers are down a bit and he’s not the same pitcher who went 16-5 with a 2.80 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 2012, he still has value and could be bought low.

He plays for a great team and that should help elevate his win total. He hasn’t given up more than three runs in his last six starts. His line drive and fly ball percentages are down and his ground ball percentage is up, all good signs. His swinging strike rate is down from previous seasons but at 8.5%, it is on target with what is expected of a good starting pitcher. At just over 91 MPH his average velocity is right where it’s been for the past several years and opposing batters are hitting just .217 against him. I think Cain’s got a good run in him. If you need starting pitching help approach your fellow Fantasy Baseball Manager and make a play for Matt Cain. Convince them that this isn’t the Matt Cain from 2012 and work out a favorable deal for yourself.


C. J. Wilson, Los Angeles Angels

C. J. Wilson has played a big part in the resurgence of the Los Angeles Angels this season. With his seven wins, 3.32 ERA and 1.17 WHIP it appears that he may come close to surpassing his 17 game win total of last season. He’s got an excellent 8.2 K/9 rate, has opposing batters hitting .218 against him and yet he just can’t seem to get any respect. His line drive, ground ball and fly ball percentages each beat the league average and his SIERA, an ERA stand-in designed to measure how well a pitcher actually performs, is an outstanding 3.64. The veteran lefty just knows how to get the job done and shows no signs of slowing down. Show him some respect, but not so much that you would overpay for him. Buy him, but buy him low if you can.


Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox

After getting off to a tough start this season the Red Sox seem to be moving in the right direction it appears to be the perfect time to make a play for their ace Jon Lester. So far this season, his numbers have been decent. He owns a 6-7 won/loss record with an ERA of 3.52 and a 1.28 WHIP. Boston’s slow start kind of made Fantasy Baseball Owners forget how talented he really is. Although I’d like to see better line drive, ground ball and fly ball averages from him, there are some stats that suggest that he should finish off his season on a high note. For one, he has a stellar 2.99 SIERA. He still does a good job of getting ahead of hitters and his 9.4% swinging strike rate is a full point higher than last season’s rate. His K/9 rate of 10.14 is the second highest of his career and his BB/9 rate of 2.45 is his lowest since 2009. Add in the fact that he plays for a team that won the World Series last season and he should have ample opportunities to markedly increase his win total. The Red Sox have some holes but are a better team than they have shown thus far and Jon Lester should help them contend for a playoff spot. Trade for him and maybe he could do the same for your fantasy team.


Starting Pitchers To Sell

Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels

By Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons A few years back Jered Weaver was considered one of the premier pitchers in the American League. It’s now 2014 and he’s made it to my list of pitchers to sell high. Why? On the surface his numbers are pretty good. He has a 7-4 won/loss record, 3.31 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. If you look at his statistics a little closer you’ll find some disturbing trends that may convince you to put him on the trading block. At 9.7% his HR/FB ratio is at the highest rate of Weaver’s career.

He has given up a homerun in his last five starts and Weaver has a below average SIERA of 4.17 He’s also had some control issues. His first pitch strike percentage of 52.8% is the lowest of his career and has led to his recording a 2.88 BB/9 rate, which is the highest of his career. If your walk rate increases and you give up more homeruns than in the past you are in for a heap of trouble. He’s also not fooling hitters like he once did. The percentage of hitters that are swinging at Weaver’s pitches that are out of the strike zone is 24.6%, the lowest rate for him since his rookie season. The good news is that he pitches for a good team and on the surface his stats look real good. If you are a savvy Fantasy Baseball Manager it shouldn’t be too hard to work out a deal, where you give up Weaver, which is in your favor.


Drew Pomeranz, Oakland Athletics

There is no doubt that Drew Pomeranz has talent. After all he was the fifth overall pick of the 2010 draft. He made it to “the Show” in 2011 and pitched for the Rockies for 3 unspectacular years and accumulated a 5.12 ERA and 1.53 WHIP. Pitching for the Oakland As at the pitcher friendly Coliseum has turned Pomeranz’s career around to the tune of a 5-3 win/loss record, 2.20 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. Can he continue this torrid pace? I’d love to believe that he could but I think he makes a great sell high candidate. Why?

Well, how could a guy have long term success in the majors when he throws just two pitches? Pomeranz throws a fastball in the low 90’s 76% of the time, a curve ball 23% of the time and a change 1% of the time. If he has a bad day and he doesn’t have his best fastball he’s dead in the water. His first pitch strike rate of 51.4% is well below the league average and his swinging strike rate is an average 8.4%. Will Pomeranz have the stamina to finish the season in the A’s rotation? He began the season in the bullpen and has just one start in which he has pitched greater than five innings, and that was his most recent start. So far Pomeranz’s numbers have been spectacular, and if you are looking to trade him you will be in the driver’s seat. He may still have some success going forward but with batters getting to see him a second time around and the fact that he has so few pitches in his repertoire, it might be best to cash in on his early season high value.


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