Better Days Ahead for Collin McHugh & Aaron Nola | Sell Danny Salazar?
Alright folks, it is once again time for to break out my crystal ball and help you predict the future. Okay, maybe I can’t predict the future per say, but I certainly can help point you in the right direction for the stretch run.
What pitchers should you look to acquire for the second half? Who should you look to sell before some regression hits? Well, we can figure that out using FIP and some other stats. Let’s get straight into it!
Pitchers With A FIP Lower Than Their ERA
[table id=1513 /]
As you can see there are a number of big named pitchers that have not necessarily been lucky in the first half. My favorite on the list is Collin McHugh who has pitched to a 4.50 ERA, although his 3.90 FIP, 4.21 xFIP and 4.14 SIERA are all lower. Not only that, but his 8.29 K/9 is above his career norm. His BABIP currently sits at .346, which is significantly higher than league average (.299). Additionally, McHugh always plays his best ball in the second half. Hear me discuss this on the FNTSY Sports Network.
Michael Pineda and Marcus Stroman both got off to slow starts, but have pitched better of late. Pineda currently sports a 5.38 ERA with a 3.79 FIP. Not only that, his 27.2 percent strikeout rate ranks ninth among qualified starters. Since June 2, he has pitched to 3.43 ERA with a 2.63 FIP, while averaging 11.57 K/9 and just 2.36 BB/9. Pineda should be available on the cheap since he’s likely sitting on the waiver wire in the vast majority of Fantasy leagues.
[caption id="attachment_108776" align="alignright" width="328"] Collin McHugh has pitched better than the numbers indicate. Photo Credit: Juan DeLeon / Icon Sportswire[/caption]
While Stroman hasn’t been very good of late, it is encouraging to see him put together two consecutive strong games before the break. He has a 4.89 ERA for the season, but you can take your pick among his FIP, xFIP and SIERA, as all are below 4.00. His biggest issue has been his Strand rate, which sits at a very low 65 percent, well below the league average of 72.8 percent. If that normalizes he should have a much better second half.
Aaron Nola has to be the most intriguing name on this list since we have already seen him dominate this year in the Major Leagues. He had an awesome run from the start of the season until June 5 during which he had a 2.65 ERA, a 2.78 FIP and he averaged 9.81 K/9 and a 1.73 BB/9. Since June 5, he's pitched to a 10.13 ERA and a 4.05 FIP. During that span he has a .506 BABIP and a 53.8 percent Strand rate, both unsustainable. However, this not only inflates his season numbers, but likely has his owners panicking. His 3.20 FIP is still the tenth best among all qualified starters. I’d gladly take a chance on his high ceiling.
Teammates Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha are very similar. Both have ERAs over 4.00, but FIPs below that mark. While neither will miss a ton of bats, both have been unlucky, as their BABIP and Strand rate are below the league average despite them both allowing less hard contact than the average pitcher. Some owners may not be interested in them since they don't pile up the strikeouts. However, they have been better than their traditional stats indicate, making them a value.
As for Robbie Ray, he has a 4.81 ERA while his FIP sits at 3.91. Ray picks up a strikeout 26 percent of the time, while the league average is just 21 percent. He also has a .361 BABIP, which is worrisome since he allows hard contact 35 percent of the time. Still, he could be a valuable bench arm that can be streamed based on matchups and during two-start weeks in points leagues.
Pitchers With A FIP Higher Than Their ERA
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Danny Salazar has had an odd season. He has great stuff and could be a Top-10 pitcher if he could get his command down and be more efficient. Not only does he allow 3.96 BB/9, but he picks up 10.15 K/9. What does a lot of walks and strikeouts mean? Long at bats, which prevents him from going deep into games. He has made 17 starts this season and has just nine quality starts. That’s right, just a little more than half. Add in a 3.39 FIP (compared to a 2.75 ERA) with his recent arm issues and there are a lot of concerns. While he has great stuff, owners could pick up a nice piece for him and not have to worry about a second half implosion.
Kenta Maeda has made a big impact since coming to the majors, pitching to a 2.95 ERA with 9.29 K/9. However, his FIP sits at 3.41. That is not the only reason to believe that regression may soon be on its way. His Strand rate is 78.9 percent while his BABIP is a .274. The league averages in Strand rate this season is 72.8 percent and in BABIP it's .299. Given that, there is reason to believe that he will experience some regression. Not only that, but teams will adjust as they start to see him more.
Kyle Hendricks, Steven Wright and Carlos Martinez all have a lot in common. All three currently have ERAs below 3.00. In fact, Hendricks has a 2.55 ERA while Wright sits at 2.68. All three also average less than 8 K/9, while Hendricks is the only one that doesn’t allow over 3 BB/9. The similarities don’t stop there! All three have BABIPs well below league average, with Hendricks having the lowest at .245. Lastly, all have FIPs well above their ERA. All three would make for good sell high candidates at the moment, with Martinez demanding the biggest haul. It is worth noting that the knuckleballer Wright is the hardest one of the bunch to figure out, due to his unorthodox style.
While he is not in the same company as the other three, Bartolo Colon is pretty close. He has a 3.28 ERA, averages 5.93 K/9 and has a BABIP and strand rate better than league average. His FIP is currently 4.12 and it is easy to see regression hitting the veteran. He does not miss enough bats and allows hard contact 37.6 percent of the time. That is a recipe for disaster.
Marco Estrada is another interesting case. He has averaged 8.54 K/9 and pitched to a 2.93 ERA. However, he struggles with walks (3.36 BB/9). Not only that, but his BABIP is an anemic .193. That is far below the league average. In fact, the next lowest qualified pitcher is Colby Lewis at .234. While he pitched to a low BABIP last year as well, I just cannot buy into him sustaining a BABIP that low. His FIP currently sits at 4.14, which once again points to regression hitting him in the second half. I would look to sell the All-Star now.
Jimmy Nelson was nice early on, but there is not a whole lot to like. He has a 3.62 ERA and a FIP that is more than a run higher, at 4.81. He only averages 6.39 K/9. He is likely to end up on waivers, but if owners can package him into a deal, now would be the time.
Make sure to follow me on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.
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