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Buy and Sell: Starting Pitchers for Week 10

Lets Go Shopping For Sleepers!

It’s week 10 and it’s time to go shopping for starting pitcher sleepers in fantasy baseball. You don’t need to bring any coupons and you won’t need that little tag with the bar code that you keep on your key chain that you hand to the cashier so that you can get the sale price. You are going to get the sale price because I’ve been working diligently to find another four buy low starting pitching options for you. As always I’ve also identified two pitchers who currently have high value that you should consider trading before that value begins to fall. Check out my latest picks for starting pitchers who can be bought low and sold high.


Starting Pitchers To Buy

Phil Hughes, Minnesota Twins

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Minnesota Twins

Escaping from New York may have just saved Phil Hughes’ career. After a miserable 2013 season in which he went 4-14 with a 5.20 ERA and 1.46 WHIP the Minnesota Twins picked him up off of the free agent scrap heap this past offseason. With 8 straight quality starts to his credit, Hughes has rewarded the Twins rather handsomely. How did Hughes who had an ADP of 370 in this year’s draft make it to my list of buy low candidates? He stopped walking batters and he’s keeping the ball in the park.

Hughes’ K/BB of 8.33 is the second best in baseball and he’s lowered his HR/FB ratio to 4.7%, down from 11.1% last season. Although Hughes still heavily relies on his 90 plus fastball, this year he is not using his curve and changeup as much and is throwing his slider more often. This is keeping opposing hitters off guard and causing them to swing at more of his pitches that are outside of the strike zone. His exceptional 3.55 SIERA, an ERA stand-in designed to measure how well a pitcher actually performs, indicates that Hughes’ success this season is no fluke. The move to the Midwest seems to be agreeing with him and having him in your everyday lineup just might agree with you.


Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians

Don’t be too disappointed in me but I am in third place in the strikeout category in my roto league. I am just two strikeouts behind the team in front of me but the first place team is more than 30 strikeouts ahead of the second place team. I decided to check out the strikeout leader’s roster and that is where I found Corey Kluber, my next buy low recommendation. Kluber is having a real nice year with a 6-3 record, 3.04 ERA and a whopping 95 Ks in 80 IP. If you are in the market for a strikeout pitcher this is the guy to target and luckily it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to get him.

Kluber has done a good job getting ahead of batters and has upped his swinging strike percentage to a remarkable 11.9%. Any rate over 8.5% for a starting pitcher is considered very good. Kluber is giving up fewer homeruns this year and his SIERA of 2.64 is so good that it’s practically off the charts. Although Kluber may not win the Cy Young award this year he could help you win your league’s strikeout category. By the end of the season his ERA might rise to the mid three level but Kluber is still a solid pitcher who only seems to be getting better. Do yourself a favor and consider trading for him.


Tyson Ross, San Diego Padres

Tyson Ross has made the most out of playing for a bad San Diego Padres team. He has taken advantage of San Diego’s pitcher friendly Petco Park and is about as far below the radar as you can get. How good has this guy been? He hasn’t given up more than one run in six of his last seven starts since dating back to 5/4. That’s pretty good isn’t it? He is pitching to a 2.85 ERA this season and his six wins account for almost a quarter of the Padres’ total wins for the season.

Ross has had to make some adjustments since his fastball velocity is down almost two MPH from last year and he’s been throwing his two seamer a lot more this season. That has helped him raise his swinging strike rate to a stupendous 12.6%, up from a very good rate of 11.1% from last season. Ross’ above average ground ball rate of just under 60% has helped keep his batting average against to a low .238. Tyson Ross is another example of a quality fantasy player not getting the respect he deserves because of the terrible team he plays for. One of the big knocks against him has been that his numbers suffer when he pitches on the road but in his defense he has given up just one run in two of his last three road starts. Try trading for him and he can help you fly under the radar while you compete for your fantasy league’s title.


Jordan Zimmermann, Washington Nationals

It has been a frustrating year for Jordan Zimmermann’s fantasy baseball owners. I even had one Fantasy Baseball Manager ask me if I think he should drop Zimmermann for Phil Hughes. Now I’ve told you I think Hughes is a good buy low option but dropping Zimmermann outright to pick up Hughes? I don’t think so. This type of frustration from Zimmermann owners is what can help you land him as a buy low starter.

I am bullish on Jordan Zimmermann. His.389 BABIP shows that his un-Zimmermann like numbers could be the result of his having pitched into some bad luck. The rest of his underlying stats are impressive. His swinging strike rate is at 10.5%, up from last year’s 8.7 rate and he is still getting ahead of hitters with his 69% first strike rate. His velocity remains at a healthy 93 plus MPH and batters are swinging at his pitches that are out of the strike zone at a higher rate than last year. His SIERA of 3.48 indicates that he is a better pitcher than his overall 4.07 ERA would have you believe. Add in the fact that he plays for a team that should win its fair share of games this season and there is no reason to believe that Zimmermann’s fortunes won’t improve. Reach out to the fantasy baseball owner in your league who owns Zimmermann. Talk him or her off of the ledge and make them an offer.


Starting Pitchers To Sell

Jesse Chavez, Oakland Athletics

By Thomson200 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Would you trade for Jesse Chavez? He’s got some great numbers including a 2.78 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and a 8.47 K/9 rate. His ground ball rate is up and his fly ball rate is down, both very good signs, and half of his starts are within the pitcher friendly Coliseum.

Now for the not so good. He is on pace to pitch over 200 innings this season which he hasn't ever come close to. His ERA was 2.44 and WHIP was 1.01 back on May 14th,, meaning they are both rising.  Back in 2004 Chavez threw a total of 123 innings, the most of his professional career. I ask you again, would you trade for Jesse Chavez? I for one would not. Call it a hunch but I believe that fantasy baseball owners should expect Chavez to begin to run out of gas as the season progresses. Although Chavez will probably still be effective down the stretch I don’t see him winning more than 8 to 10 more games and by season’s end his ERA should creep up closer to the 3.50 to 3.75 range. Since Chavez was hardly on anyone’s radar during this past season’s draft if I had told you that he would put together a season of 14 wins with a sub 4.00 ERA you would have told me I was nuts but with his trade value lower than it was at the start of May I think it is time to put Chavez on the trading block before it goes down any further.


Alfredo Simon, Cincinnati Reds

With Matt Latos not yet having thrown a pitch in the 2014 season, Alfredo Simon has been a godsend for the Cincinnati Reds. No one could have expected the journeyman relief pitcher to have a 6-3 won loss record, 2.90 ERA and 1.10 WHIP a quarter into the season. Fantasy baseball owners also should not expect his level of success to continue. Simon is on pace to make 31 starts this season. Having been employed as a relief pitcher for the majority of his career the most starts he’s ever made in his big league career was 16 in 2011 and in that season he posted a 4.92 ERA and 1.46 WHIP.

Why else am I so bearish on Simon? How about his sub-par 8.1% swinging strike rate, that is a full two points lower than last year’s rate, or the fact that his K/9 rate decreased from last year? His SIERA, is a below average 4.36 and since batters are swinging at less of his pitches that are out of the strike zone his overall numbers are bound to fall. In addition, once Latos returns to the starting rotation there is no guarantee that Simon will remain a starter. The Reds will have to decide whether Tony Cingrani, their struggling young pitcher of the future or Simon, the 33 year old lifelong reliever, should be moved to the bullpen. If the Reds decide that Simon would be the better bullpen candidate his trade value would plummet. Consider trading him before that becomes the case.