Strikeout Totals Are Going Crazy
Strikeouts are at an all-time high in baseball, with all 30 teams combining for 36,700 in 2013 to set the record. The total strikeouts in baseball have climbed each year since 2006, which is crazy in itself. With so many Ks available, if your fantasy pitching staff needs more, they are out there to grab. Let’s look at four starting pitchers racking up the Ks and owned in less than 70% of ESPN and Yahoo leagues.
Corey Kluber - CLE (ESPN-17.6%, Yahoo-61%)
Corey Kluber is coming off an impressive outing against the White Sox where he struck out 13 batters. That is his second double digit strikeout outing so far this year. He is currently 10th in all of baseball in strikeouts but is yet to be fully valued in fantasy circles. Kluber has a healthy 9.6 K/9, putting him in the top 10 in the American League. If he is available in your league, grab him now and hold him for the rest of the season and enjoy his Ks, don’t wait until somebody else does.
Ian Kennedy - SD (ESPN-39.7%, Yahoo-66%)
Ian Kennedy’s average fastball velocity is at its highest (91.6 MPH) since 2009. Kennedy has averaged 200 IP in the last four years, and if he keeps up this pace, he will have a career year in K’s with 209. He’s paired his 44 K’s with only 9 BB’s so far. Even more impressive, his ground ball rate is up a lot, which means less home runs when he's away from the spacious confines of PetCo. Kennedy lit up the Marlins on Thursday night with 12 Ks over 7 IP. If he's available in your league, snatch him up immediately and you won’t regret picking him up. If he's already owned, he makes for a great buy candidate as some owners may still be valuing him as the Arizona Kennedy from '12-'13, rather than present day Kennedy who's putting up his best year since 2011.
Garrett Richards - LAA (ESPN-59.3%, Yahoo-58%)
Garrett Richards not only has a sub 3 ERA (2.84), he also has 40 strikeouts, putting him tied with young phenom Sonny Gray. He is doing this with his 96 MPH fastball that is helping him to an impressive 10.1% whiff rate. Can he keep up his 25.8 K %? Probably not but I would not expect a total collapse. His BABIP is low at .253 meaning he might experience a modest ERA correction, but his excellent 52% ground ball rate will help to keep thing in check. Even if he regresses a bit, if you need the Ks and he is available in your league of 12 or more teams, get him and reap the benefits all season long.
Drew Hutchison - TOR (ESPN-3.8%, Yahoo-19%)
This young righty has already struck out 9 batters twice in this young season. Drew Hutchison has posted a 9.66 K/9, which is 16th in all MLB, and has 44 Ks in 41 innings. He has struck out 25.6% of hitters he's faced which is excellent for a young pitcher Hutchison has the lowest ownership in this group, so he is most likely available. He pitches in the AL East and will take his lumps (as evidenced by 9 ER over his past 15 IP), but he keeps the walks in check so the damage shouldn't be too severe. If you are in a deep league, take a look at him if you need the strikeouts.
A Couple Honorable Mentions for Deep Leagues
Dallas Keuchel, HOU - 5% Owned: A starter on Houston? That's right. Keuchel has an 8.17 K/9 and a BB/9 under 3 with an elite 66% groundball rate. He just shutdown the Tigers, the third most potent offense vs. LHP, and he can be counted on for more than just Ks.
Roenis Elias, SEA - 17% Owned: Elias continues surprising and with an 8.06 K/9 he is worth owning in deep leagues. With a BB/9 north of 4 you can be Elias will have a few implosions but the Ks should be pretty reliable.