Evaluating pitchers in fantasy baseball is likely the most difficult position to analyze in all of fantasy sports – specifically starters. There is no one position that hinges more on environment than the pitching position, and because pitchers can be spot started and discarded on a daily bases certain statistics could be negligible on draft day. If you are a true gamer you likely had a strategy on draft day with regards to the pitching position and right now you are likely in the middle of processing which pitchers have value and which cannot contribute to your line up. Know that it’s a tricky evaluation process and there is no formula, but rest assured pitching cannot be ignored over the course of the season and not giving SP stats the attention they deserve will yield negative results at the end of the season. There’s not a fantasy champion amongst us that doesn’t have multiple dependable go-to arms on their roster. As surely as Ian Kennedy can kill your pitching line, there are rosters in your league that would benefit. Hot and Cold pitchers come and go, but the driving force behind what makes a pitcher have legit value is what you actually paid for him. Felix Hernandez is unquestionably hot – but you also paid top dollar for him, so let’s examine some pitchers that producing exponentially better than the price you paid for them. Consequently let’s take a look at some hurlers that have likely cost you dearly thus far.
TOP 5 HOTTEST VALUES – It’s Miller Time
Dallas Keuchel – If everything is actually bigger in Texas, no one should be surprised at the big time numbers Keuchel is putting up right now. Currently the 2nd rated pitcher in fantasy baseball behind Felix Hernandez the Houston Astros ace is killing it in every statistical category while leading the majors in only ERA amongst pitchers who have pitched at least 40 innings. His K rate leaves a little more to be desired in that area but since he was drafted outside the top 200 players in most leagues owners are not complaining. Keuchel is an inning monger who should be considered a sell high candidate as he’s likely hit his ceiling in both ERA and WHIP. The Astros are playing well right now, so if they cool off wins may be further between as well. There’s no reason to not keep on riding him, but there is reason to believe he’ll decline slightly as the year wears on.
Shelby Miller – Who do you think is getting the better of the Jason Heyward for Shelby Miller trade? Miller who is currently a top 5 fantasy pitcher was another high ceiling potential ace who went outside the top 200. Owners are getting tremendous value with Miller as the Braves continue to linger at the top of their division. Miller is missing more bats than he ever has in his career and is also posting a WHIP below one. It should be expected the WHIP and ERA will go north bound but all other stats should hold. The Braves, despite all the players they sold off have a playoff quality staff and offense and have more players currently under performing than over performing. Miller’s ceiling is still being realized and this could be the year he transitions to front line ace status. If you have 3 solid starters already – he’s worth moving for a high end closer or a multi stat contributor on offense.
Bartolo Colon – This isn’t a typo! The guy is as hot as anyone and with a major league leading 6 wins and a WHIP below 1.00. His K rate is decent and he’s gobbled up some good quality innings making him a top 12 pitcher so far this season. Colon will not fall off too much so he should be a solid starter for the rest of the season. Colon went largely undrafted making him easily one of the better value picks this season.
Jake Odorizzi – A great pitcher on a bad team Odorizzi has top 8 numbers amongst fantasy starters, and since he was a FA pick up in many leagues and drafted outside the top 175 in others he is one of the hottest value picks this season. Odorizzi could struggle picking up wins down the stretch – but his ratio stats will help your team and his K rate is serviceable.
Andrew Miller – yes he’s a relief pitcher – but he’s the best one in the game right now trumping other high end RPs like Chapman, Kimbrell, and Jensen. The best part is if you have him, you got him for practically free or plucked him off the wire. Miller was outstanding last year and now that he’s piling up saves with his other stats he’s an absolute stud who should remain hot.
TOP 5 COLD STARTERS – The Price is Wrong
Clayton Kershaw – There’s no shortage of top pitchers who are grossly underperforming right now and Kershaw falls perfectly into that group. The first pitcher of the board in 2015 started the season as the 5th ranked player in fantasy, but one win and an ERA north of four has outside the top 300. If you drafted him you are stuck right now until he gets going. He can’t yield equal value in a trade and so now you will have to wait it out. Watch out for buy low managers in the league looking to get a deal.
Stephen Strasburg – This one was predictable and Strasburg struggle towards the end of last season and through training camp. There were a boat load of pitchers to choose, so hopefully he’s not your problem, but if he is the likelihood of him turning it around is slim. His ERA is above 6 and his WHIP is above 1.70. His K rate salvages very little as opponents are hitting over .300 against him. If you can trade him for an egg salad sandwich you should do it.
David Price – Projected to be a top 6 pitcher the “price” was too rich for the results you are currently getting for the Detroit Tigers ace. Unlike Strasburg however, he is a perfect buy low candidate as he should be able to bounce back. He pitches behind a great offense and his ratio stats aren’t killing you. Unfortunately you paid so much for him you’re also not getting the value you expected. Once his K rate improves all the other stats will take care of themselves.
Chris Sale – Not sure what’s happened to Sale. His velocity is down and he has suddenly become very hittable. Once again you won’t get even trade value for him, so you will have to hold on to the White Sox pitcher for now. Projected to be a top 7 pitcher his terrible ratio stats including an ERA above 5.00 has him ranked outside the top 400. He definitely needs to be on the coldest starters list, especially if you’re talking value.
Corey Kluber – The Indians ace beats out other pitching duds Jordan Zimmerman and John Lester simply because you paid so much for him. His numbers mirror Sale’s except he’s looking for his first W of the season. That’s a tragic season stat line if you are Kluber owner as you likely expected him to be your best pitcher. You’ll have to wait this one as the Indians will start piling up the wins at some point this season.