Some good-luck pitchers to possibly trade now

When I first came of age as a baseball fan, ERA was considered one of the Holy Grail pitching stats. Rather than focusing on a pitcher’s win/loss record, which can be affected by all sorts of fluctuations and fluctuations, ERA gave us a better idea of ​​how effective a pitcher really was. It was often the first pitching stat I looked at, albeit quickly followed by pitching analysis, the K/BB rate.

In the modern fantasy baseball era, ERA isn’t as hip anymore. We have better ways to measure how effective a pitcher has been and better tools to try to predict — as crazy as pitchers can be — where the story is actually directed. Sure, ERA is one of the 5×5 categories and we have to respect that. I’m not asking for an overhaul of basic fantasy baseball scoring rules. But let’s try to use the data advances.

Today I went through the list of ERA starting pitchers in Fantasy Market 2022 trying to figure out who got lucky on their side. Often these lucky pitchers are good candidates to trade your squad and try to command something close to the top. As always, I beg fantasy managers never to loudly declare that a particular player is on your move list unless they’re one of the liveliest names in the land. Instead, make it known that you have depth in a certain position and see if your opponents land on the name you’d rather trade.

Prime Trade nominees: Logan Gilbert, Adam Wainwright, Triston McKenzie, Michael Wacha

Gilbert sits with a 2.66 ERA and there is some talk here. He was a first-round pick in 2018 and finished in the top 40 on most prospect lists ahead of the 2021 season. Those handsome nine wins pay the fantasy bills, and he’s averaging just under a strikeout per innings, which is playable. Heck, his FIP is still a tasty 3.46.

It probably comes down to how much you trust Statcast data. Gilbert’s hard-hit metrics are all worrisome; He’s in the bottom 10 percent of the league for average exit speed and hit rate. He’s also having trouble getting swings-and-miss out of the strike zone, although his strikeout count is still not bad.

Gilbert’s suggested Statcast ERA is 4.09. Maybe he won’t get to that level the rest of the way, but we’re talking about a shiny new toy with interesting stats on the back of the card. I’m confident that some fantasy traders could get overpay for this type of player.

It pains me to have Wainwright on this list. He’s one of my absolute favorites and I think he has a plausible place in the Hall of Fame. He’s quietly become the answer to one of my favorite trivia questions – he’s the pitcher with the most voting Cy Young career shares without winning the award. And while Jadier Molina and Albert Pujols Roleplayers are in their Last Dance seasons, Wainwright (who may be in his senior year; that’s yet to be determined) remains a standout, valuable player.

But we have to try to keep an open mind. Wainwright’s strikeout rate doesn’t match the code. His 3.26 ERA belies his 4.40 xERA, and while St. Louis’ stellar defense might explain some of that, relying on 40-year-old pitchers to continue batting luck is generally a losing game.

Adam Wainwright could see his good fortune in fantasy baseball running out. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Wainwright, of course, works his way through the fraudulent part of his career. His fastball is almost unstoppable in 2022 because he went too fast. He’s been averaging under 90mph for six years, and this season it’s down to 88.6mph.

I’ll likely keep Wainwright in one of my head-to-head leagues where trading is rare and starting volume has evergreen value. But sometimes you have to give gravity a nod. Wainwright’s swinging strike rate is down, his chase rate is down, and his WHIP is up significantly after two decent seasons. Sometimes we have to make tough decisions about our favorite guys.

McKenzie could be about timing the market. He just threw a weekend gem against the Yankees: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K. But he also had a lot of missteps in the final rounds. The Twins caught him for 13 runs in consecutive rounds, and the Orioles nicked him for five runs. On the other hand, McKenzie also shone at a Coors Field start. Sometimes there is no discernible pattern with this stuff.

McKenzie’s two ratio stats tell a conflicting story – the ERA of 3.71 does not match the WHIP of 0.99. In general, when the ERA and WHIP disagree, the rule of thumb is to trust the WHIP. Unfortunately, FIP says McKenzie should carry an ERA of 4.59, and the Statcast data suggests a number of 4.61. If McKenzie falls back to one of those expected ERAs, he’s going to hurt us in the second half.

We also need to consider potential load management concerns. McKenzie is 6ft 5 but only 165 pounds and he’s already at 87.1 innings. His professional innings high is a modest 143, and he was around that number last year too, if you combine MLB and Triple-A work. I’m not insisting that a McKenzie shutdown – or a skipped corner here or there – is imminent, I’m just suggesting that we need to think about it.

Is there a recency bias in your league? Maybe you can get the McKenzie case.

[Play in one of Yahoo’s MLB DFS contests]

Wacha might be the most difficult to sell as there might not be a market if your opponents are savvy. The 2.69 ERA and 1.11 WHIP are nice on the side. But your competitors might be hot with the 4.58 xERA or the 3.97 FIP.

Wacha’s strikeout rate is just 6.4 per nine and his K/BB ratio is a modest 2.8. This is not the code in a standard mixed league. He benefited from a .240 BABIP this year, 59 points better than his career average. Last year, Wacha had a glaring five-plus ERA despite a better strikeout rate and slightly better walk rate (home runs and a more standard .312 BABIP knocked him out).

The Red Sox have yet to step into the teeth of the AL East schedule. Seven of Wacha’s top eight turns that year came outside of the division. Unfortunately, the big kids just got out of school – Wacha faces the Yankees (first meeting this year) and Rays on his next two turns. I won’t be surprised if Wacha makes the top dropped list before July is over.

Let’s be fair – it’s too cute to drop a pitcher with such good proportions. But I’d definitely try trading Wacha if the return was reasonable. And I have to be realistic in the long term and consider a short fantasy line.

Leave a Comment