We’re halfway through the NFBC marathon. In a 15-team league, there are going to be holes you need to fill. If you skimped on pitching at the draft table, or even if you didn’t, chances are you’re like me, still scrambling to find pitchers that won’t drop a nuclear bomb on your ERA and WHIP. Any Matt Shoemaker fans still out there? The problem with a heavy offensive strategy in March is that it forces you to sift through the dregs to round out the end of your rotation. There are numerous minefields you have to negotiate and it is difficult to navigate them with your ERA and WHIP still intact.
Dellin Betances appears in three games a week on average, posts about three to five innings pitched, and racks up a ton of K’s. The Yankee rookie is on pace for 154 strikeouts and eight wins. Brad Boxberger is no Betances, but he has struck out 45 and walked 12 in 28 innings this year. The former Padre doesn’t light up the radar gun, but he averages close to 93 mph on his fastball and comes packaged with a tidy 1.02 WHIP. Rather than deciding which scrub to activate for the next shellacking, plug in a Boxberger until the end of your staff stabilizes. The NFBC lists him as owned in merely 0.7% of all leagues. He’s striking out about five batters a week. Wade Davis might still be floating out there in a few leagues and serves a similar purpose.
Odrisamer Despaigne is still unowned in most Main Event Leagues. You won’t get many K’s, and I’d relegate him to spot starts in Petco, but that’s still worth something.
If Jimmy Nelson is still sitting in your free agent pool, I would snatch him up. I’ve got two on the disabled list and another two in the Minors on my bench. I’m still holding onto the best pitching prospect in the Minors. Marco Estrada leads all pitchers with 24 home runs. Second in this dubious category is 17. Even with the quality start last time out, Estrada sports an ugly 6.94 ERA/1.49 WHIP over the last 30 days and has a date at the Rogers Centre on Tuesday.
Marco Gonzales was picked up in a few leagues since he’s a two-start this week. The lefty should find the confines of AT&T Park much friendlier than Coors Field. I haven’t seen the 2013 first-round pick pitch yet, so the jury is still out, but a 46/10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in seven Double-A starts has my attention. Put him on your watch list this week.
Josh Tomlin is such a tease, but don’t be seduced. He’ll suck you in with a complete game shutout, only to go Kurt Ainsworth on you when you get enough confidence to plug him into your lineup. His average fastball still sits below 89 mph. I can’t explain the jump in his strikeout rate, but I can almost guarantee you the good times won’t last.
To call Yohan Pino a poor man’s Greg Maddux would be too generous, but you get the idea. The 30-year-old rookie has to have pinpoint control to be effective, and he’s spent the better part of a decade being just that in the Minors. The problem is that he’s a soft tosser with pitches that have little movement. He’s probably best left to AL-only leagues.