Andrew Cashner had a 3.09 ERA and 1.13 WHIP last season. Photo Credit: Keith Allison
Each week leading up to the regular season I will compare two players that are ranked close together that people will debate between taking in drafts. I will take suggestions on player comparisons if you tweet me @adamronis.
This week, I’ll examine two starting pitchers. Matt Moore has an Average Draft Position (ADP) of 131.12 in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) and Andrew Cashner has an ADP of 142.75.
The case for Moore: Moore has the reputation of a good Fantasy pitcher. He’s young, left-handed, gets strikeouts; he plays on a good defensive team and in a good home park for pitchers. Moore missed some time last season with a sore elbow, limiting him to 150 1/3 innings. He went 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA, and many believe that he’s on the cusp of being an upper-echelon pitcher based on those numbers. Moore had a strikeout percentage of 23.1 percent two years ago, and 22.3 percent last season.
There are a few concerning issues, though. Moore is still erratic and while he dominates at times, sometimes he can’t find the strike zone. He had a 4.55 BB/9 last season and 4.27 for his career. It is difficult to envision Moore continuing to succeed with that lack of control. Moore also lost velocity on his fastball last season, dropping two miles per hour to 92.4 last year.
Another thing that many overlook with Moore is his WHIP. Moore had a 1.35 WHIP in 2012 and a 1.30 WHIP last season. If he doesn’t improve the control, the WHIP will continue to keep him from taking a step up. Finally, Moore’s swinging strike percentage dropped from 11.8 percent to 9.5 percent. It’s possible the elbow was a factor in this, but there are no indications Moore is going to get better.
The case for Cashner: The concern about Cashner entering last season was durability and there were questions about how many innings he would be able to throw as a full-time starter. He pitched 54 1/3 innings in relief with the Cubs in 2010, 10 2/3 innings in 2011 due to injuries and 46 1/3 innings with the Padres in 2012, including five starts.
Cashner ended up pitching 175 innings last season, and he finished at 10-9 with a 3.09 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP as one of the best bargains and free agent acquisitions last season. Cashner throws hard and one of the appealing things about his game is his strikeout potential, but he disappointed in that area. He struck out just 18.1 percent of hitters faced, but he showed excellent control with a 6.7 percent walk rate and continued to induce ground balls at a 52.5 percent rate.
Cashner averaged 94.5 miles per hour with his fastball in 2013, and he did get more strikeouts and improve the swinging strike percentage in the second half, so the strikeouts could increase this year. He pitches in a great home ballpark and has all the skills to have another good season.
The verdict: Most people would take Moore easily. He is on a better team and gets more strikeouts. The WHIP and walks really concern me with Moore. Cashner may have lacked strikeouts last season, but he can increase the K/9 in 2014. I’ll take Cashner.