Mat Latos Heading To L.A. And The Stock Of Other Trade Deadline Pitchers
Mat Latos sounds like he is headed to Los Angeles, Jonathan Papelbon is now in Washington DC and several other names could find new teams in short order. We hit a lot of the top names last week, so let's dig into the deals that happened and some of the second tier options.
For reference, see the chart below for SOBB levels.
Mat Latos, LAD
Latos is heads to L.A. and thankfully will be pitching for a contender. It should come as no surprise that the win potential gets a boost, but what about Latos overall? Since returning from injury, Latos has a 2.96 ERA, 3.16 xFIP and great 18.9 SOBB. He struggled a bit against the Cardinals, but 1) who doesn’t? and 2) it was just his second start back. For his career, Latos is equally good on the road and at home, which speaks to his level of pitching since that includes his time in Cincinnati. Dodger Stadium is pitcher friendly, but it's actually worse for allowed home runs. However, Latos has always limited homers, so it's not much of a concern. Overall, expect the same quality Latos with more win potential.
Stock: Slightly Up
Yovani Gallardo, TEX
Gallardo's season is defying logic. He headed to Texas, which is believed poor for pitchers, has a career 13.2 SOBB and it's down to 7.2 this year. Even more strange is that Gallardo has a lower ERA at home, especially when you look at the SOBB splits. At home, Gallardo has a 3.8 SOBB, which is beyond awful and it's 10.0 on the road. The reason Gallardo has been able to limit damage is because his HR/FB is the lowest it's been since his rookie year (6.8) and 4.1 percentage points under his career norm. Leaving Texas won't help Gallardo much as he's been defying logic all year and Arlington isn't as dangerous as most think. Ballpark factors actually rate Texas under the league average for homers, so Gallardo's HR/FB could rise if traded. You can see it in his xFIP of 4.19, when his ERA is 3.19. Leaving Texas isn't the boost many would believe, and Gallardo's numbers are crying for regression.
Stock: Down whether traded or not
Mike Fiers, MIL
Fiers has come up in talks as backup plans for teams not getting the big names, which may surprise some, but Fiers is actually 30 years old. His strikeout potential has always been great, but he still has control issues, which drags his SOBB down to 15.2 after it was 21.5 last year. Fiers would be helped by a move out of Milwaukee, as his ERA is higher at home and Miller Park is one of the league's worst for home runs allowed. Fiers will see a better win potential, and there is a chance a new pitching coach could help his control.
Dan Haren, MIA
Haren is having a rebound season, but according to his xFIP, it's not as good as his ERA suggests. Haren's xFIP is 1.01 higher than his 3.51 ERA, and his K% is the lowest it's been since his second season. A 12.2 SOBB is not too appealing, and it's worth noting that Haren has always struggled with home runs. Miami is one of the friendliest parks in the league, and any move to a mid-level or worse park would be bad news. It's hard to see Haren's value improve outside of Miami, even with a better win potential.
Mike Leake, CIN
Like Gallardo, Leake's success doesn't make complete sense. He's never had a great SOBB, it's actually lower than last year at 10.1 (12.6 in 2014), and even during his four-game amazing run with a 4-0 record and 0.60, he still only has a 15.7 SOBB. That's much better than his season mark but still not great. It's smart of the Reds to sell high, as you always should in Fantasy. The good news is that Leake will certainly have a better win potential and ERA outside of Cincinnati. At home, Leake's ERA is 4.93 with a .281 BAA and 15.8 HR/FB; on the road, those numbers are 2.28/.191/10.0. Just don't expect a better ERA or strikeout numbers.
Ken Giles, PHI
There was a high percentage of leagues that had Giles already stashed, knowing that Jonathan Papelbon was out the door at some point. With Papelbon in Washington, Giles steps in the closer role. His ERA and strikeout numbers are enticing (1.81 and 10.9 K/9), but his xFIP and SOBB bring caution. Giles' xFIP is 3.41 thanks to a high BB% of 10.3, which is pulling his SOBB down to 17.4. For reference, that's only good and not great for closers, as your elite options sit around 30.0. There is good and bad news as well. Good is that Giles' BABIP and LOB% are unlucky, but the bad is… well… it's the Phillies and how many save chances will Giles get? Giles is a must-own and those who stashed him are thrilled, but it would be wise to toss his name out in possible sell-high trade offers.
Recap: A little background on SOBB (StrikeOut percentage minus Base on Balls percentage) to start. You may have seen it on FanGraphs as K-BB%, as they added it last year, even without the catchy name. The reason they added it is the same reason I started and have been using it for three years: SOBB is a terrific predictor of future pitcher success or decline.
Using strikeout percentage is already a great start in evaluating pitchers, but taking it a step further to SOBB helps identify pitchers who are dominating hitters… or being dominated by them. SOBB helped predict the success of Corey Kluber and Jacob deGrom last year, while also pointing to Brandon McCarthy eventually turning things around. It's not perfect - no stat is - but it's dang near close, and it's why I will be highlighting notable SOBBs from around the league each week
Photo Credit: Matthew Straubmuller
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