As always, we use SOBB (breakdown here) as the initial base when projecting a pitcher’s future performance.
Range of starting pitcher SOBBs (K-BB%) and the values they hold.
Range of relief pitcher SOBBs (K-BB%) and the values they hold.
Cheers or Tears
Andrew Triggs, LAA – Before you look at Triggs’ 0.00 ERA and rush to the waiver wire, you might want to read this. By “this,” I mean a breakdown of why you might not want to pick him up at all. It’s hard to ignore a zero ERA, but it’s harder to ignore the fortune Triggs has so far. He actually has allowed three runs, just all unearned. Additionally, Triggs’ BABIP is ridiculously low at .196, and his LOB% is a high at 80.0. Both of those will regress to the mean, and that will result in worse numbers for Triggs. It also explains his 4.09 xFIP, as does his awful 7.2 SOBB. At least Triggs had a mark of 17.6 last year, which is great. The walk rate is nearly the same, but Triggs isn’t striking anyone out this year. That should improve, which will help offset the reverse in luck with BABIP, but Triggs is still a matchup play at best. Feel free to pick him up in deeper leagues, but pick your spot. He’s not a “set him and forget him” rotation piece.
Lance McCullers, HOU – McCullers’ main detractor that keeps him from reaching the upper tiers of pitchers is that he’s a two-pitch pitcher. He’ll mix in a changeup, but that’s rare. To overcome hitters sitting on his fastball, McCullers was working on another pitch in Spring Training, but that experiment failed. As a result, McCullers is instead throwing his curveball more often. It’s his only positive value pitch so far, and it’s helped him maintain a high SwStr% for the second straight year. The added factors to McCullers’ terrific high-20s SOBB are the low walk rate and high F-Strike%. Buy McCullers where you can, as owners are likely put off by his ERA. Don’t mistake McCullers for a top-end pitcher, but he can post a solid 3.00-something ERA with 200 strikeouts if he reaches 180 IP.
Jeff Samardzija, SF – Samardzija isn’t an exciting Fantasy piece, and he’s seemingly bounced up and down performance wise over the past six seasons. After a decent 3.81 ERA last year, this would be the off season… if there were any credibility to the even/odd yearly success. As it stands, it looks to be happening for Samardzija with his 6.16 ERA, but his 2.57 xFIP shows that he’s been rather unlucky. Samardzija’s BABIP is .347 (career .295), LOB% 67.0 (71.7) and HR/FB 30.8 percent (11.3). As another positive, Samardzija is notching a career-best 12.5 F-Strike% so far thanks to his pitch choices. Samardzija has ditched the cutter and increased his two-seam fastball and splitter use. Batters aren’t picking up those pitches as well as his four-seam fastball and curveball, which is leading to his strikeout success and a 21.4 SOBB. I’d buy Samardzija low, as he won’t cost much and looks to be rediscovering himself with a new approach.
Patrick Corbin, ARI – Hey, I’ve wanted Corbin to have a good season for years given his terrific control and quality pitches. However, Corbin took a step back last year with fewer strikeouts and more walks, and that was after missing all of the 2014 and part of the 2015 seasons. Don’t buy into Corbin’s start, as his 2.81 ERA is not real. You could look at his 5.61 xFIP or huge drop in HR/FB and see the concern, but it really comes down to his 0.0 SOBB. No, I did not forget a number. Corbin has a ZERO mark. He’s carrying a 9.1 K% and BB%. The walk rate is nearly the same as last year but that strikeout mark is awful. There is no way any pitcher can maintain a sub-3.00 ERA with a strikeout percentage that low. Corbin’s regression is coming; don’t be around for it.
Jeremy Hellickson, PHI – Speaking of regression being around the corner, Hellickson is about to fall off a cliff, so make sure you’re not attached. There are plenty of reasons why Hellickson has a 5.44 xFIP compared to a 1.59 ERA. Let’s list them! Ridiculously low .182 BABIP. Extremely high 88.2 LOB%. Huge drop in HR/FB to 3.8 percent. And of course, a 3.1 SOBB thanks to a weak 7.7 K% (2.65 K/9). Even first-year Fantasy Baseball players know that a K/9 that low is beyond terrible. No one is swinging and missing at Hellickson’s pitches (6.4 SwStr%) and tons are making contact (87.3 Contact%). Leave Hellickson on the waiver wire for your own good.
Streaming Pitchers (Teams to Stream Against with Last 30-day Stats… normally. Obviously, we won’t have 30 days until May.)
Brewers: 18.4 SOBB, 26.7 K%, 108 wRC+
Amir Garrett, CIN; Mike Foltynewicz, ATL
Rays: 18.2 SOBB, 27.8 K%, 110 wRC+
Dylan Bundy, BAL; Francisco Liriano, TOR
Orioles: 18.2 SOBB, 24.0 K%, 104 wRC+
Jordan Montgomery and Luis Severino, NYY
Rockies: 16.6 SOBB, 24.0 K%, 68 wRC+
Joe Ross and Gio Gonzalez, WSH
White Sox: 16.3 SOBB, 22.8 K%, 78 wRC+
Jason Vargas, KC; Matt Boyd and Jordan Zimmermann, DET
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