FAAB Top Targets (Pitchers): 4/11/14
Yu Darvish is the unquestioned ace of the Texas Rangers, but their No. 2 is proving to be a valuable bargain. The Tampa Bay Rays’ Alex Cobb broke out last year. This year he’s helping his rotation mate try to do the same. Find out the identities of these pitchers and more in this week’s FAAB Top Targets. In general, all pitchers mentioned in this column are owned in less than 50% of CBS, ESPN, and Yahoo fantasy leagues. The focus is arms whose enhanced role or skills can make a short and/or long-term impact.
Martin Perez, LHP, Texas Rangers
$3 (16% Yahoo / 4% ESPN / 50% CBS)
Martin Perez has been on the prospect map for years, but just turned 23. The southpaw was impressive enough in spring training 2012 for ROTOscouting to dream on a top of the rotation arm. A year later, 20, 2013 starts yielded mixed results. His K/9 was below-average but his BB/9 and GB% were above or close to numbers Mike Newman uses to predict future starter success. Perez’s five-pitch mix results in minimal platoon splits and his xFIP is actually better at home than on the road (3.82 vs. 4.22). Although his numbers don’t jump off the page today, the growth potential is real making this the perfect time for dynasty owners to buy as one of this week’s FAAB Top Targets.
Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
$2 (11% Yahoo / 7% ESPN / 51% CBS)
Jake Odorizzi entered the spring competing for the fifth spot in the Rays rotation. His four pitches are average and lefties have been known to swing from their heels against the right-hander. Enter Alex Cobb. Cobb burst onto the fantasy radar last year because of a splitter/changeup hybrid nicknamed “The Thing”. It limited batters to a .220/.318 batting average/slugging percentage slash. In spring training, Cobb and Odorizzi began experimenting with the pitch to add to Odorizzi’s repertoire. “The Thing” gave Odorizzi an out-pitch against left-handed hitters who had bludgeoned him to the tune of a .293/.364/.483 triple slash in 2013. A successful spring followed, earning him a spot in the Rays rotation. In Odorizzi’s first two starts, he scrapped the change-up and relied on “The Thing” to keep hitters off-balance. Early results are encouraging. Throwing the pitch 39% of the time. hitters have swung through it 16% of the time. He dominated in his first start at home, but was lit up in his second start on the road. This may become a trend as the Rays home ballpark is pitcher friendly. And with Matt Moore succumbing to Tommy John surgery, Odorizzi is able to settle in and work on becoming more consistent.
Nate Karns, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
$1 (<1% Yahoo / <1% ESPN / 1% CBS)
Matt Moore has a tear in his UCL leaving a hole in the Tampa Bay rotation. While the Rays seem intent on Cesar Ramos or Erik Bedard filling the void, Nate Karns is a better option. With a plus fastball and curveball his height allows him to generate good downward angle to the plate. The 26-year-old has yet to develop a consistent third pitch, but more starters are finding success with two strong pitches. Karns is Triple-A, where ROTOscouting pegged him as a top prospect to watch in the Durham. Karns’ first two starts for the Bulls show his control is still a work in progress. A 1:1 K/BB ratio won’t earn a quick call up, but Karns’ arsenal, confidence, and perseverance through personal struggles may soon force the issue. After acquiring Karns in the Jose Lobaton trade, Tampa Bay certainly is counting on a return on investment. He’s worth a minimal, speculative bid due to the Rays history of developing pitching talent.
Enny Romero, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
$1 (<1% Yahoo / <1% ESPN / 2% CBS)
Enny Romero has big upside, but more risk than Odorizzi or Karns. It’s a stretch to think he’ll jump the aforementioned Rays arms to seize a rotation spot. But with two potential plus-plus pitches from the left side, any inkling of improved command will force the issue. Pitching alongside Karns in Durham, will work to improve his 2013 walk rate of 4.6 BB/9. When ROTOscouting’s Chris Blessing saw Romero in 2013, he identified a strange platoon split — Romero is more effective against right-handed hitters than arm side hitters. The movement on his fastball runs in to left-handers allowing them to square up and punish mistakes. Command of his breaking ball will help mitigate this. While his future role is still up in the air, he’s a FAAB Top Target because of his electric arsenal and the minimal bid necessary to acquire him in leagues with 14 or more teams.
Dellin Betances, RHP, New York Yankees
$1 (2% Yahoo / <1% ESPN / 3% CBS)
David Robertson is on the DL with a strained groin. Shawn Kelley received the first save chance. But after his rocky appearance on Tuesday, his hold is tenuous at best. Could there be a better long-term option already in the bullpen? ROTOscouting’s Joe Pytleski identified one weeks before Robertson went down — Dellin Betances. A failed starting pitching prospect with command issues and little ability to repeat his delivery was finally moved to the bullpen last year. Mike Newman succinctly summed up his problems as a starter.
I don’t know how Yankees fans can watch him flash electric stuff while walking/hitting the park year-after-year. I couldn’t handle it without sedatives.
The change to the pen paid immediate dividends. So did changing the grip on his curveball. It became more like a slurve and the grip improved his command of the pitch. Paired with his plus fastball and immense size, he has the closer starter kit. If the cast of underwhelming options ahead of Betances (Kelley, Matt Thornton, Vidal Nuno) can’t fill the void in Robertson’s absence, the win-now Yankees may have no choice but to turn the ninth over to their former prized starting prospect.
FAAB Top Targets: Gamble On Youth
Like this week’s edition of FAAB Top Targets (Hitters), these young pitchers represent the opportunity to buy upside at a modest price. Jumping on hurlers early can net owners this year’s Danny Salazar or Alex Wood before league mates scramble in a month or two. Gambling on the newest prospect to debut is one of the easiest ways to build, or rebuild, a dynasty league rotation. ROTOscouting will continue to research and predict the young pitchers with the greatest chance of future success so that fantasy owners don’t have to. Keep reading FAAB Top Targets each week to see how we do.
11 Apr 2014 / Brian Molter /
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