FAAB Top Targets (Pitchers): 5/16/14
The Year of Tommy John claimed another victim earlier this week when Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was diagnosed with a torn UCL. Two weeks ago in this column, Joe Pytleski identified a potential replacement for Fernandez in the Marlins organization. But FAAB Top Targets has a few other options. This week’s pitchers include two former top prospects that have regained their helium, a Cuban import impacting his team from the mound instead of the plate, a starter who just returned from Tommy John surgery, and a recently recalled Top 100 prospect. In general, all pitchers mentioned in this column are unowned in the majority of CBS, ESPN, and Yahoo fantasy leagues.
Trevor Bauer, RHP, Cleveland Indians
$5 (14% Yahoo / 1% ESPN / 55% CBS)
The Arizona Diamondback chose Trevor Bauer with the third overall pick in the 2011 draft ahead of names like Bundy, Fernandez, and Gray. ROTOscouting’s Mike Newman viewed Bauer as one of the best arms in the minors. By the time he was traded to the Cleveland Indians, Newman saw a pitcher whose declining velocity and insistence on throwing a flat fastball up in the zone would prevent him from reaching his once lofty ceiling. But an off-season commitment to rebuilding his mechanics in order to regain lost velocity and improve his command is paying dividends. He’s cut his BB/9 in half (5.4 to 2.7) while upping his K/9 from 7.9 to 8.6 and more than doubling his K/BB from 1.45 to 3.14. Bauer is showing career high velocities across his entire four pitch arsenal with his fastball showing an almost three mph jump from 93.67 in 2013 to 96.54 this year. While Bauer waits for a spot in the Indians rotation to open up, forward-thinking fantasy owners should be preemptively investing in his upside.
Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Oakland Athletics
$4 (30% Yahoo / 14% ESPN / 70% CBS)
Like Bauer, Drew Pomeranz is a former top draft pick, taken fifth overall by the Indians in the 2010 draft. ROTOscouting’s Jeff Reese was preaching caution even before a trade to the Colorado Rockies resulted in a precipitous decline in Pomeranz’s stock. But a trade from the thin air of Coors Field to the Oakland Athletics and the pitching friendly O.Co Coliseum at the end of 2013 brought renewed hope. Pomeranz won a bullpen role out of spring training and was handed Dan Straily’s rotation spot this week. Pomeranz has been untouchable at home. In 14 innings, including both of his starts, he’s allowed zero runs while striking out 16 and surrendering only a .714 WHIP. He hasn’t been awful on the road with a 2.79 ERA, but a 1.45 WHIP and an average 7.4 K/9 bear watching. With his pedigree, a fastball averaging almost 94 mph from the left side, and a home park that is fourth best at suppressing runs, Pomeranz is the definition of post-hype sleeper and a tremendous investment opportunity. Fantasy owners in dynasty and keeper leagues should be snatching him off the waiver wire wherever available. For the time being, deploy him at home and take a wait and see approach to his road starts.
Rafael Montero, RHP, New York Mets
$3 (13% Yahoo / 3% ESPN / 50% CBS)
As ROTOscouting’s Chris Blessing speculated in early March Rafael Montero was the first New York Mets pitching prospect called to the majors. He made his major league debut on Wednesday in a 4-0 loss to Masahiro Tanaka and the crosstown rival New York Yankees. Montero went six innings yielding three runs on five hits and two walks while striking out two. The most important takeaway is that the Mets allowed him to throw 108 pitches. Although he has a slight build, Montero threw 150 innings last year and should be in line for at least 180 this year. The question is how many of those will be in the majors. The Dillon Gee injury gives him a bit of a cushion, but with Noah Syndergaard behind him in Triple-A, a few more solid outings would cement Montero’s footing in the rotation. Blessing raved about Montero in 2012, tabbing him as one of the best prospects he saw that year and gushing over his repertoire and command. Another dynasty/keeper league special, pitchers like Rafael Montero with both talent and opportunity are some of the best FAAB Top Targets.
Drew Hutchison, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
$2 (15% Yahoo / 3% ESPN / 45% CBS)
Drew Hutchison started 11 games for the Blue Jays in 2012 before succumbing to Tommy John surgery. He’s worked his way back to the Jays’ rotation and has been a solid contributor in 2014. Rough surface numbers in May hide an effective starter and present a buying opportunity for the shrewd bargain-shopping owner. Because Rogers Centre is the third highest scoring environment in the majors, Hutchison should be avoided at home. On the road Hutchison’s numbers have been stellar. His OPS against is over 200 points less than at home (.676 to .884) and his 3.13 ERA, 1.137 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, and 4.14 K/BB show a starter who is an absolute weapon when deployed correctly. Spend a few dollars on him now and pair him with another starter with favorable home/road platoon splits to create a robo-starter for a bargain basement price. Hutchison is the essence of FAAB Top Targets.
Roenis Elias, LHP, Seattle Mariners
$1 (16% Yahoo / 6% ESPN / 50% CBS)
Roenis Elias is a Cuban defector signed by the Seattle Mariners in 2011 without the hype of countrymen Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu. He features a fastball averaging over 93 mph and a true knockout curveball against which batters are unfathomably only hitting .087 and slugging .138. Although he pitches in one of the best pitchers parks in baseball, Elias has fared better on the road this year. He’s 3-1 with a 2.93 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, and 8.5 K/9, all of which are superior to his numbers at Safeco Field. Elias needs to knock at least one walk off his BB/9 (currently sitting at 3.88 BB/9) to stick in the rotation as James Paxton and Taijuan Walker work their way back from injuries. In the meantime, Elias has the makings of a streamable starter. Even though currently worse than his road numbers, add him for his starts at home and expect his numbers to improve.
FAAB Top Targets: Finding Value in Splits
As FAAB wallets begin to empty, one of the best ways to maximize remaining assets is to utilize a splits strategy. Spending a few dollars total on a handful starters with favorable home/road splits can often provide more bang for the buck than spending a larger chunk on a set it and forget it starter. As Mike Newman has shown, this is especially true in daily fantasy baseball leagues. FAAB Top Targets aren’t always going to be the next ace.
16 May 2014 / Brian Molter / 2
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