If you are still in the hunt in the NFBC, you know what a grind it is trolling the trash heap for pitchers that won’t completely destroy your ERA and WHIP. It’s no easy task. Beggars can’t be choosers. This week, we examine some of the refuse.
Kyle Hendricks has acquitted himself quite well in just four starts with the Cubbies, posting a 2.05 ERA and 1.06 WHIP with a 17/7 K/BB ratio in 26 innings. While those stats are good, they actually should be much better considering in his first outing against the Reds at Great American Ballpark, he had to contend with a thimble-sized strike zone in the first inning of the first major league outing of his career. I always chuckle when I hear someone downplay the impact an umpire can have on a game. When you have to groove it right down the pipe to get a call, it turns mediocre hitters into All-Stars. With the first two on via the free pass, the next three got hits as the effect of Hendricks getting squeezed. Hendricks would get some calls later on, but the damage had already been done. When you consider that the crew manufactured three of the rookie’s four “earned runs”, his short game log is even more impressive. The Ivy League youngster doesn’t light up radar guns with an average 88 mph fastball and needs pinpoint control to be effective. Hendricks walked two per nine in the Minors and brought that excellent command with him to Wrigley Field. Hendricks changes speeds effectively and commands a good changeup to disrupt hitters’ timing.
A dynamite spring had Brad Hand creeping up sleeper lists in March. When the games started to count in April, a less effective Hand showed up and was relegated to the bullpen. After a stint on the disabled list with a sprained ankle, the Minneapolis native has posted a very serviceable 2.70 ERA and 1.23 WHIP over six starts, never allowing more than three runs in a game since being activated. With all of the ratio bombs on waivers, that’s a relatively safe target to acquire. The Marlins have two series against the Mets and the Phillies coming up.
Matt Lindstrom wasn’t exactly lights out in April serving as the closer in Chicago’s south side. The mediocre reliever has been on the shelf since mid-May with an ankle injury that required surgery. The days of Lindstrom lighting up radar guns with triple digits are long gone. His average fastball sits in the low 90’s, but I don’t have to tell you how managers love veterans with experience. The former Marlins closer held the gig before hitting the DL. Lindstrom could be a sneaky addition if you are desperate for saves down the stretch. Just don’t expect help in the ERA and WHIP categories.
Eric Stults is viable as a spot starter at home only. His overall numbers will hurt you. For that reason, you should be able to get him for a buck. If you have the ERA and WHIP anchors, you can spot start him at PETCO to chase wins, or simply avoid the Ainsworth effect. Yes, I did say chase wins in the context of a Padre pitcher. They won’t be mistaken for Harvey’s Wallbangers, but the Padres have a wRC+ of 98 over the last 30 days, just a smidge under league average.
Neal Cotts walks too many for a reliever and it’s tough for lefties to crack the closer role since managers love to be able to bring southpaws in to face tough left-handed hitters during a rally anytime after the sixth inning. Nevertheless, Neftali Feliz blew the save Sunday against the Tribe. Feliz’s fastball velocity has been inconsistent, topping out around 96 one outing and then only 92 the next. In his last outing, it consistently sat between 88-89, only occasionally reaching 92, but straight as an arrow, with little or no movement. The former All-Star no longer has any margin for error. Cotts is a decent $1 flier to sit on if you need saves and already blew your FAAB budget.
Dale Thayer is another potential closer in waiting if the Padres look to deal Joaquin Benoit in the coming weeks. Thayer has been great out of the pen (1.96 ERA/1.07 WHIP) but he had a rough go of it during his brief stint as a closer in 2012.
When Kevin Gausman is aggressive in the zone, attacking hitters and getting ahead in the count, he makes quick work of opponents with his off speed stuff. The problem is the rookie’s command comes and goes, and even when he’s on his game, he nibbles too much, gets behind in the count and hitters sit on his fastball. These are typical growing pains many young pitchers go through, but as we head down the stretch, you need to realize what you are getting into with Gausman. He looks dominant one inning, and then the Orioles’ 6th starter gives stomach ulcers by walking the bases loaded. Giving Brad Miller a free pass every single time he faced him was the last straw and I jettisoned him from my roster.
Trevor Bauer has a wicked slider when he can control it. The issue is that he can lose command of it and all his off speed pitches for an entire game. At times, there’s just too much movement to reel in. When that happens, hitters sit on his fastball, which frequently flattens out and can be very easy to hit if he grooves one. Let me tell you, he grooves a lot of them. The ugly result can look like batting practice. Trevor has a very high ceiling and he’s probably going to be very good, but right now, it’s not his time yet.