FAAB Fantasy Baseball Targets (Pitchers): 6/13/2014
Last week, FAAB Fantasy Baseball Targets focused on prospects waiting to receive the call. Eddie Butler did receive the call, but hit the disabled list after his first MLB start. It’s an example of why striking cheap and early is important. When a worst case scenario occurs, money saved from being the early bird can be re-allocated elsewhere. This week’s column will examine under-owned and under appreciated arms already on major league rosters. Bid recommendations are based on a $100 FAAB budget. Players listed are available in the majority of leagues across the three major fantasy platforms.
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners
$5 (40% Yahoo / 9% ESPN / 73% CBS)
Taijuan Walker entered 2014 neck-and-neck with Archie Bradley for the title of baseball’s top pitching prospect. But he injured his throwing shoulder early in spring training and has been on the mend since. Walker was activated from the DL on Monday and optioned to Triple-A, but with Erasmo Ramirez underwhelming in the Mariners rotation, Walker’s return to the majors is close. The right-handers primary weapon is a plus fastball, but he mixes in a cutter averaging just over 91 MPH and developing curveball. After seeing Taijuan Walker in June 2012, Mike Newman declared he had the highest ceiling of any pitcher scouted in person. Chris Blessing came away similarly impressed after seeing the top-100 prospect a month later.
In three major league starts, the top pitching prospect was effective against hitters from both sides of the plate. Pitching in the fifth-best park at suppressing scoring only increases Walker’s appeal. Taijuan Walker is already stashed in dynasty and deep keeper leagues, but owners in redraft leagues need to stash him now. Shoulder injuries are scary, but Walker is worth the risk.
Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox
$3 (N/A Yahoo / <1% ESPN / 11% CBS)
Henry Owens has steadily climbed prospect lists since being drafted in 2011. ROTOscouting’s Jeff Reese has been on Owens since he was drafted and likes his low-90’s fastball, big curveball and improving changeup. Owens uses his 6-foot-6 frame to throw his fastball downhill, allowing it to play up despite the lack of premium velocity. Mike Newman scouted Owens at the end of 2012 and predicted Owens would be one of baseball’s top lefty prospects. Command will decide whether he’ll reach his mid-rotation workhorse ceiling. He’s never had a BB/9 below four, but he’s hard to hit as evidenced by career rates of 6.6 H/9 and 10.9 K/9. While he may receive a token September call-up, Owens’ value lies in 2015 — especially of the Red Sox rotation is in flux. Owens is on track for a mid-season promotion to Triple-A and his success will dictate when Boston calls him up. Dynasty and deep keeper league owners should make a minimal bid now to grab Boston’s best pitching prospect and FAAB fantasy baseball target.
Tanner Roark, RHP, Washington Nationals
$3 (48% Yahoo / 46% ESPN / 79% CBS)
Tanner Roark has been one of the surprises of the 2014 season, ranking 23rd on ESPN’s player rater. While his ownership percentages are beginning to pick up, the right-hander is still available in many leagues. Roark is only striking out seven batters per nine innings, but he’s been adept at limiting damage. He walks just 1.9 batters per nine and is limiting opponents to a .233/.296/.362 triple slash line. A hard sinker spearheads his arsenal and generates ground balls at a 48% clip. While he’s performed better at home than on the road on paper, remove four inning, seven run shellacking at Philadelphia in early May and his home/road splits are less evident. Since then, he’s posted quality starts in six of seven turns including one start where he allowed more than two earned runs. The buy window on Tanner Roark is closing. It’s now or never time.
Jake McGee, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
$2 (19% Yahoo / 9% ESPN / 18% CBS)
This week, Joe Maddon announced he was removing Grant Balfour as closer in favor of a committee. While Balfour received the first save chance since the announcement, Jake McGee is the best reliever in the bullpen and a favorite for hawking saves. McGee has been lights out all year with a 1.53 ERA, 0.784 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, and 2.1 BB/9. McGee’s fastball dominates his pitch selection and its velocity (97.85 mph) is a career best. Once regarded as more of a weapon against same-handed hitters, Right-handers are only hitting .113 against his fastball, almost 100 points lower than lefties (.212). McGee is the future of the Rays’ bullpen and the unconventional Maddon will leverage any assets to allow for the best opportunity to win.
Chase Whitley, RHP, New York Yankees
$1 (8% Yahoo / 5% ESPN / 18% CBS)
The New York Yankees have lost three-fifths of their starting rotation to the disabled list, yet are still in contention in the AL East. Reliever-turned-starter Chase Whitley has been effective since joining the rotation in May. He mixes a fastball, slider and change, but all profile as average pitches at best. Whitley’s success comes from his miniscule 1.04 BB/9 rate and 47% ground ball percentage. Pitching half his games in the most home run-friendly park in MLB means he has to limit damage to be successful (ask Phil Hughes). Whitley may not have the upside of other FAAB fantasy baseball targets, but his profile suggests owners can profit from a minimal investment.
Look Beyond the Name with FAAB Fantasy Baseball Targets
While hot-shot rookies are exciting and fun to spend FAAB on, unheralded and out of nowhere starters tend to be better bargains and the difference between playoff contenders and teams looking to next year.
13 Jun 2014 / Brian Molter / 1
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