Buy-Winning Pitching

Latos is about to make batters look like droopy-eyed, armless children
Photo Credit: SD Dirk

If you caught the original Buy-Winning piece you know the drill. We’re highlighting players who you can target via trade and reap a profit. We’re profiteers looking to manifest our destiny in the fantasy baseball landscape. You won’t find my previous favorite Buy Low Pitcher here (Daniel Hudson) because he’s killed it recently and no one is moving him now. However there are still a few good purchases out there, we might have to take a risk or two though. As always, some of these players are Buy Lows, some are Buy Mediums and even a few are Buy Highs, but they’re all Buy-Winning. The jump awaits.

I’ll preface this with my love of the almighty Strike Out. No outcome is greater for a Pitcher. Forget that Pitch-to-Contact nonsense, I’m not in the “hope the defense fields it” business. Poor defenses and lady luck can be cruel, I want a Pitcher who best controls the outcome of an At Bat. The Strike Out reigns supreme.

Zack Greinke MIL Greinkus Khan is known all across the land, his 6.67 K/BB has crushed many a foe. Bartering for Greinke to do work for your rotational army may be difficult. Working for our own greedy needs, but against the ace’s 11.55 K/9 and 1.73 BB/9 is the 25.1% LD% and .349 BABIP. Greinke’s 1.25 WHIP is pretty good, but it could be much better with that many Strikeouts and that few free passes. While he’s no stranger to high BABIP numbers (career .309 BABIP, hasn’t been below .300 since his rookie season), this season has been particularly brutal. Also causing problems is the high number of Fly Balls that clear the fence (13.8% HR/FB%). He was supposed to have an easier time vanquishing lineups as he moved to the great plains of the National League, but the batsmiths of the NL Central have made good contact when they have been able to put the bat to the ball. The one thing that does concern me is the slight loss of velocity and horizontal movement on his Fastball. Greinke’s Batted Ball profile isn’t all bad luck; however, his track record in these areas are much better and we don’t find many Pitchers with this kind of Strikeout-to-Walk numbers. What he’s doing is rare and right now is the best time to make an offer. If we replaced the .349 BABIP and 13.8% HR/FB% with his career numbers Greinke’s WHIP would be 1.11, his mdsFIP (ERA) would be 2.45.

Brandon Morrow TOR is another Pitcher who has come down with a touch of the Ricky Nolasco virus (high LD%, high BABIP). While Morrow may not have the extraordinary K/BB ratio of Greinkus Khan, he does have a standings changing Strikeout rate (10.92 K/9). The Walk rate isn’t the best (3.60 BB/9), but it is improving (2.56 in May, 3.06 in June) and he did show the ability to have great stretches last season. We must keep in mind that Seattle stunted Morrow’s development by moving him from the rotation to the bullpen and vice versa. As he gains experience in the rotation he’ll only improve (unless he’s related to Chad Billingsley). While Morrow’s LD% is very high (24.2%) his career LD%, as a Starting Pitcher, coming into this season was 18.7%. Maybe his Pitch Usage has made him a bit more predictable this season as he’s throwing less Curveballs and Change-ups and using more Fastballs and Sliders. That could be a reason for the uptick in Line Drives. I wouldn’t expect a 5% jump though. Brandon has looked pretty good his last three starts (@CIN, @STL, PIT) so the window of opportunity is closing. Make an offer now if you want those beautiful Strikeout totals.

Mat Latos SD Finally we have a Pitcher whose high BABIP is not the result of a high LD%. Latos is suffering from a .319 BABIP despite his excellent 14.2% LD% (fifth best LD% in baseball among SP). The defense behind him isn’t playing as well as they did last season so that’s something to keep in mind, but it doesn’t fully explain the bad luck going on here. The Fastball velocity is still down a hair, but it is increasing as he further distances himself from the great injury scare (shoulder) of Spring Training. I don’t think we’re going to see the Mat Latos of 2010 who finished the season with four straight months with a 10 K/9 and 2.50 BB/9, but he’s much better than a Pitcher who walks around with a 1.40 WHIP – 4.24 ERA. If we used his BABIP from 2010, Latos’ WHIP would be 1.26, his mdsFIP (ERA) would be 3.52. Hopefully he can perform even better than that as we put Spring Training in the rear view mirror.

Yovani Gallardo MIL Another Brew Crewer, Yovani has defeated the demons that plagued his 2010 season. His 18.9% LD% is 5% lower than what he posted last season, a huge improvement. However, the BABIP hasn’t followed suit. This is bad for Yovani’s numbers, but good for those who may want to weasel their way in at discount prices. It’s been a roller coaster ride for Yovani’s owners (April bad, May good, June bad) so some may want to get off the ride before they spew chunkage. Test the waters my friends.

Matt Garza CHC Back to the high LD% blues we go. Garza is rocking a disfigured .318 BABIP and 22..8% LD%. Garza is our second NL Central newcomer who has been given a rude welcome. May was brutal for Garza (26% LD%), it’s gotten better for him lately and his track record (career .289 BABIP) says this isn’t something to worry about. I did, however, expect his BABIP to take a slight hit as he left one of the best defenses in baseball for the Chicago Flubs. Still the vastly improved K/9 (9.43) more than makes up for that. Garza’s inconsistent season may have annoyed those who bought into the hype that surrounds player movement, now is the time to make an offer for his services.

Chris Capuano NYM I discussed Capuano earlier [Chris Capuano: Experienced Knife Fighter]. He’s made one start since then [5 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 6 K, 5 ER, 3 HR, @DET]. The Home Runs are a problem on the road so you may want to exercise caution there, but he’s money at home and his (7.64) K/9, (2.38) BB/9 and (16.5%) LD% are numbers we can enjoy. The .316 BABIP is bad luck in its purest form. Capuano’s WHIP sits at a meager 1.36, but he deserves much better (1.27-ish). You may not have to send out any trade offers for Caps as he’s owned in only 10% of Y! leagues.

Madison Bumgarner SF MadBum’s BABIP, WHIP and ERA took a beating from his infamous start against the Twinkies [0.1 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, K]. That’s painful just typing/reading that. Ouch! The 22% LD% isn’t pretty, but the 7.59 K/9, 2.46 BB/9, 45% GB% and 4.3% HR/FB% and solid team defense are enough for me to embrace the young Pitcher. He’s already rebounded from that disastrous start [7 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 1 ER, 11 K vs CLE] and up until the incident he was on fire so the 1.36 WHIP may not worry his owners. Might as well try though.

Chad Billingsley LAD Buffalo Billingsley has been a frustrating Pitcher to own, I can personally attest to that. It looked as though he took a step forward with his control last season, but he’s regressed back to his career norm. Chad would have made for a great Pitcher if he could have maintained last season’s progress. It’s not easy to find a high Strikeout, high Ground Ball, low Line Drive Pitcher. The high Strikeout numbers are still there as are the Ground Balls, but opposing batters are lacing Line Drives off Billingsley like never before (23.1% LD%). These past two months have been especially harsh (25% LD% in May, 26.7% LD% in June). His career LD% coming into this season was only 18.7%. Lately he’s been hit hard, but I would assume this will eventually work itself out and we’ll see a respectable Pitcher. Billingsley’s 1.49 WHIP should make trading for him easier done than said.

Edwin Jackson CHW I didn’t want to include EJacks, but whatevs, here ya go. I’m not motivated, I’ll just list the vitals: BABIP: .347 (career .310), LD%: 25.1% (career 19.8% LD%, WHIP: 1.48, Adjusted WHIP: 1.36 (.308 BABIP). I don’t want to mislead people with that adjusted WHIP, Edwin is missing movement on most of his pitches (his Curveball is the only Pitch that looks good in the PitchFX tools). You may want to ignore this unless you’re a White Sox fan clinging to any resemblance of hope. I don’t mind giving you guys a false sense of security, Go Twins!

Brett Anderson OAK would have been included in here if he wasn’t all gimped up. Unless he’s a freebie I wouldn’t want to invest in his arm at this point in time.

Alright, that’s enough from me – grease out – @andrewakamds