Fantasy Baseball: Buy And Sell-Pitchers
Tim Stauffer, SP, San Diego Padres- Stauffer allowed seven runs (five earned) on eight hits over five innings against the Houston Astros on Thursday night, dropping his record to 1-4 on the season. Prior to that he had lasted at least into the sixth inning in eight straight starts and nine out of his previous 11 outings. Stauffer has a 3.99 ERA along with solid 55:19 K/BB ratio over 70 innings of work this season, but run support from a feable Padres’ offense has been an issue. His next scheduled start is next Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies, who he is 2-2 with a 2.88 ERA in seven career appearances (three starts) against in his career. Owners in deep mixed leagues, and certainly NL-only leagues, should see Stauffer as a solid buy-low candidate.
Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Houston Astros- Rodriguez (elbow) is currently on the disabled list with fluid buildup in his left elbow, but he was able to throw a bullpen session this past Tuesday and appears on track to return to the Astros’ starting rotation when eligible next Tuesday. In 10 starts this season, Rodriguez is 3-3 with a 3.41 ERA over 66 innings of work. His peripheral numbers are also good, with 53 strikeouts (good for a 7.2 K/9 ratio) and just 16 walks (2.2 BB/9). It bears mentioning that Rodriguez was excellent in the second half of 2010 (5-1, 2.11 ERA over 14 starts), including a stretch of 11 straight quality starts. The fact he is currently injured and he pitches for the lowly Astros may create frustration for fantasy owners currently with him on their roster, and thus a buying opportunity for those who see the potential to sustain the success he showed prior to being sidelined.
Chad Billingsley, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers- Billingsley allowed one run on 11 hits against the Colorado Rockies on Monday, as he won his second consecutive start. Prior to that, he has lost three straight starts despite a 2.57 ERA in 21 innings of work. Overall this season he is 4-4 with a 3.46 ERA in 12 starts (75.1 innings) along with a nice 71:30 K/BB ratio. His next scheduled start will come on Sunday against Cincinnati on the road, where he has a 5.67 ERA in six starts this season. It would be nice to see some improvement away from Dodger Stadium, but fantasy owners should see a potential buying opportunity with Billingsley. If he can get better run support, like he got on Monday when the Dodgers’ offense scored seven runs for him, his win total should rise to go with very nice peripheral numbers.
Joakim Soria, RP, Kansas City Royals- Soria blew his third straight save, and fifth of the season overall, on Monday and was promptly removed from the closer role by Royals’ manager Ned Yost. He pitched two perfect innings in essentially mop-up duty against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night, and has a 6.00 ERA in 24 appearances this season. Aaron Crow has replaced Soria as closer, but if Soria can be effective in a different role he could move back into the ninth inning if Crow falters. Given his struggles, there has been some question if Soria is 100 percent healthy and it would not be surprising to find out about a physical issue at some point if he does not turn things around. He is worth hanging onto if you can simply bench him and wait given his excellent past performance and how hard it can be to find saves on the waiver wire. But if you have holes elsewhere on your roster and ample bullpen depth, now may be the time to deal Soria to an owner in your league willing to assume he will return to closing games at some point.
Dan Haren, SP, Los Angeles Angels- Haren “tweaked” his lower back during a bullpen session on Wednesday, and he is currently questionable to make his next scheduled start on Saturday against the New York Yankees. He has pitched well for the most part this season (5-3, 2.29 ERA in 12 starts) as has gone at least six innings in all of his starts. The fact he has not missed a start since 2005 creates some optimism about his availability for Saturday, but it’s not often that back injuries just magically go away. So this could prove to be a lingering issue going forward, and could easily affect his ability to pitch effectively. Owners that have him right now may want to consider trying to trade him, and Haren should be able to fetch a nice return in a deal.
Kevin Correia, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates- Correia has been one of the biggest surprises in fantasy baseball to this point, as he picked up his major league-leading eighth win of the season against the New York Mets on Wednesday night. He is 8-4 with a 3.40 ERA in 13 appearances (12 starts) this season along with 34 strikeouts and 17 walks in 76.2 innings of work. Given his lack of strikeouts makes his margin for error small, and he has only topped 150 innings in a season once in his big league career. So there should be some doubt Correia can maintain his current pace, particularly in the win column, and his fantasy value may never be higher than it is right now.