Is Indians TJ House A Sleeper Keeper For 2015?
September is here! Fantasy baseball contenders and pretenders have been determined with lesser teams spending the final month of the season stashing players for a 2015 rebound. In mid-August, ROTOscouting recommended a full court press on Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco. In 25 innings since the piece published, the former top-100 prospect has yielded three earned runs. Today, teammate TJ House comes under the microscope. Is he another Cleveland arm worth stashing now even though he’s never been considered a top prospect?
A 16th round pick who signed an over slot deal of $750,000, House isn’t the typical late round lefty. Cleveland invested second round money in the hope he’d develop into a quality starting pitcher at the MLB level. But as with most later round picks on small market ball clubs, he was forgotten in dynasty league circles — especially since TJ House spent five-plus seasons in the Indians system before debuting earlier in the season.
15 games into his career, the 24-year old is off to a sneaky start, posting a 6.69 K/9, 2.42 BB/9 and 60.6% GB%. Having discussed the sweet spot for pitcher success in a number of ROTOscouting pieces, TJ House falls short by .31 K/9 from being a perfect fit. However, his ground ball rate is absurd, so it’s a trade off fantasy baseball owners should be comfortable with and then some.
Additionally, House has been healthy throughout his career, throwing between 130 and 164 innings each year. Nearing his 25th birthday, his arm is fully developed. And as Ben Flajole noted in a piece discussing the Felix Hernandez blueprint for longevity, if a pitcher remains healthy through the early years, then he’s less likely to succumb to major injury later on. Plus, TJ House has combined to throw 74.3% fastballs and change-ups at the MLB level. Once again, a trademark of King Felix’s longevity.
What’s The Downside Of TJ House?
The only drawback to the current version of House is an abnormally high home run rate (17.4%). Back in 2012, Ivan Nova posted strong peripherals with a 16.6% home run rate en route to a 5.02 ERA. As fantasy owners bailed, ROTOscouting recommended acquiring the right-hander. What happened? His home run rate dropped to 8.4%, while his ground ball percentage returned to career norms. The result, a 3.10 ERA in 20 starts.
This isn’t to say House has a ton of upside. He probably doesn’t. However, deep dynasty league teams need back end starters too. When assessing his peripherals and risk of injury, a $1 investment in TJ House is worthwhile. From what he’s done to date, expect years of similar production to pitchers with bigger names and higher price tags.
5 Sep 2014 / Mike Newman /
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