FAAB Top Targets (Pitchers): 4/4/14
The closer carousel has begun spinning. Who’s worth your FAAB dollars this week? Is there a Marlins pitcher not named Jose Fernandez worth owning? Is the pitcher who modeled his mechanics after Roy Halladay really pitching like the former star right-hander? Find out the answers to these questions 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.
Nathan Eovaldi, RHP, Miami Marlins
$3 (10% Yahoo / 3% ESPN / 41% CBS)
Nate Eovaldi was a popular end-of-draft sleeper heading into this season. Our own Mike Newman and Chris Blessing came away impressed after seeing Eovaldi pitch in 2011 and 2012 respectively. While noting his plus velocity and plane-changing slider, both questioned Eovaldi’s ability to remain in the role due to his lack of a consistent third pitch. Eovaldi continued to work on that elusive third pitch this spring with mixed results. Relying on only two pitches resulted in Eovaldi throwing his two and four-seam fastballs over 70% of the time last year. While he generated the highest average velocity (96.1-mph) in the majors of starters who logged over 100 innings, yielding (6.60 K/9). But with elite velocity and an excellent slider, the K’s will come. Pitching in a neutral run-scoring park that suppresses left-handed power, Eovaldi is a smart investment as one of this week’s FAAB Top Targets.
Charlie Morton, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
$1 (12% Yahoo / 2% ESPN / 47% CBS)
For fantasy owners, Charlie Morton comes down to one number — 63%. That’s the percentage of ground balls he generated last year. Keeping the ball on the ground keeps it out of the stands. His HR/9 was an infinitesimal 0.47/9, almost half the league average. His high ground ball percentage also allows Morton’s teammates, and their aggressive defensive shifts, to do the work. Opposing hitters managed only a .256 average against Morton and his mates last year. An owner who prioritizes offense over pitching at the draft table needs end-of-roster and in-season starting pitching bargains who return a profit for minimal cost. Morton is one of those bargains, with team ROTOscouting leveraging him his talents in both the Ottoneu Experts League and daily fantasy baseball.
Francisco Rodriguez, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
$5 (47% Yahoo / 46% ESPN / 40% CBS)
Ron Roenicke has shown loyalty to Francisco Rodriguez in the past, even allowing him to share closer duties with Jim Henderson last year while K-Rod pursued his 300th career save. So maybe it shouldn’t have been a surprise when Rodriguez found himself on the mound in the 9th inning of the Brewers opening day win. Reports emerged after the game the Brewers are concerned with Henderson’s lack of velocity and “life”, so this might not be a temporary change. Last year Rodriguez displayed he still has closer stuff. After being traded to the Brewers, he went 10 for 10 in save opportunities while posting a 1.09 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 9.5 K/9. Rodriguez is the FAAB Top Targets Closer of the Week as the due to his having the most staying power. Will Smith is a dark horse candidate should Rodriguez falter and Henderson fail to reclaim his previous velocity. He’s a left-handed reliever without a noticeable platoon split who struck out 11.6 per nine for the Royals last year.
Matt Lindstrom, RHP, Chicago White Sox
$3 (49% Yahoo / 32% ESPN / 34% CBS)
After Addison Reed was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the off-season, all eyes turned to Nate Jones. He was almost universally assumed to be the White Sox closer for 2014. It took one game for that to change. After Lindstrom saved the season opening win for the White Sox, Ventura announced he would be the closer. No longer a dominant strikeout reliever (6.82 K/9 in 2013), the key to Lindstrom’s success will be keeping the ball on the ground (57% GB% last year). Lindstrom still must contend with Jones to avoid being a flavor of the week. But Jones doesn’t appear ready to seize the role. He’s faced five batters in two games without retiring any of them and allowing four to score. Keep an eye on Daniel Webb. Should both Lindstrom and Jones struggle, Webb could play a role in the ninth before the season is over. But Lindstrom has the job today, and in the world of saves, that’s everything.
Jose Valverde, RHP, New York Mets
$2 (47% Yahoo / 17% ESPN / 34% CBS)
Bobby Parnell has a partial ligament tear in his right elbow that may jeopardize his season. Enter Jose Valverde, a closer retread special. After saving 84 games for the Detroit Tigers in 2011 and 2012, Valverde was released by the team in August last year on the heels of a 5.59 ERA. The Mets took a flyer by signing him to a minor-league deal in February. Ten days after being named the Mets primary set-up man, Valverde finds himself in the big chair. The question is how long will he stay there? Even in 2012 when he saved 35 games, he did so with a marginal 3.78 ERA. More disturbing was a career high contact percentage of 84% and a career low 6.26 K/9. Jose Valverde is the Mets new closer and worth a minimal bid. But it’s a role he won’t keep.
Jeurys Familia, RHP, New York Mets
$1 (<1% Yahoo! /<1% ESPN / 2% CBS)
When Jose Valverde loses the closer role, who will replace him? While there is speculation the Mets may eventually reach into their minor league system to tab Jacob deGrom or top-three prospect Rafael Montero, an intriguing candidate is already on the major league roster. ROTOscouting’s Joe Pytleski trumpeted Jeurys Familia before the Mets played their first game of the season. While ranking Familia as the Mets’ seventh-best prospect in 2012, by 2013 ROTOscouting’s Jeff Reese had concluded the bullpen was the best place for Familia’s arsenal and inconsistent control. Familia’s arsenal screams closer, but he must overcome his control issues to depose Valverde. For dynasty owners in deep leagues, he’s worth a speculative add.
FAAB Top Targets: The Volatile Closers Market
In dynasty and redraft leagues, closers are commodities. Teams in win-now mode need every save that can be had. Teams in rebuilding mode can trade even newly anointed closers to playoff contending teams for future assets. A well-placed bid on a new closer can provide an immediate bump in saves or an opportunity to flip the closer and quickly fill roster holes. Predicting the closers most likely to keep the job and identifying under the radar relievers who have a chance to factor into the saves picture down the road is one of the goals of FAAB Top Targets.
4 Apr 2014 / Brian Molter / 4
1-On-1 ROTO Strategy Session
The Best Of RS
- Can Alex "Chi-Chi" Gonzalez Crack the Texas Rangers Opening Day Rotation?
- Fantasy Baseball Trade Deadline 101: A Former MLB GM’s Take
- Felix Hernandez and Solo Home Run Situations: A Blueprint For Longevity
- JR Graham: Is He Still An MLB Arm For The Atlanta Braves?
- Mason Williams: Is It Time To Label Him A Bust For The Yankees?
- Mike Newman's Top-50 Fantasy Baseball Prospects Scouted in 2014
- Nick Kingham Scouting Report (2014)
- Rangers Joey Gallo, Marlins Giancarlo Stanton And Strikeouts
- The ROTOscouting Baseball Podcast
- Top-10 Fantasy Baseball Prospects By Team
- Will Mike Moustakas Finally Put It Together Next Season?