Master Of The Twitterverse: Sell Jason Marquis, Travis Wood And Jeff Locke ASAP

Jeff Locke Fantasy Baseball

This week in the Twitterverse @allinkid gives you the best sell-high and buy-low pitchers, tells you whether or not to trust Ike again, if Liriano will fall off and he even bans someone!

@un—ed: saw the hitters to buy and sell, what about pitchers?

@allinkid: another good “check out my article for a full breakdown on Monday” question

Sell High Pitchers: Jason Marquis, Travis Wood, Jeff Locke

If his ERA held, Marquis would finish with his best mark since 2004. It’s safe to say that won’t happen. Why? First, you can’t succeed with a HR/FB rate of 20.0 percent. That’s extremely high. Add in a low strikeout rate of 5.88 per nine and a high BB/9 of 5.35, and you have a recipe for disaster. The only reason Marquis hasn’t been destroyed, so far, is his low .245 BABIP. That luck won’t continue, and as soon as it reverts to the norm, Marquis’ ERA will jump closer to his Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) of 4.78, or even worse, his 5.72 FIP.

Travis Wood takes Marquis’ most favorable attribute and goes a step further. Wood’s BABIP is .216, and for reference, no one posted a BABIP under .241 last season. Wood doesn’t strike out a ton of hitters (headed for 135-145 Ks) or have a high SwStr% (8.1), which is why once his BABIP normalizes, Wood’s numbers will suffer.

It’s going to happen; Locke just can’t keep this up. It’s funny, but we all see the numbers, as Locke has a low BABIP of .233 – it’s always been around .300 or higher for his career – a low K/9 of 6.09 and somewhat high BB/9 of 3.88. Add in a high LOB% that ranks second in the league at 84.2, which is abnormal for most pitchers, let alone one with a low strikeout rate like Locke’s. The problem is that so many know that Locke is far from this good that it may be hard to get above value return. However, you can still target less experienced owners or those who purely look at the Fantasy numbers and get help for your team.

Buy Low Pitchers: Tim Lincecum, Cole Hamels, Edwin Jackson

Hamels is sporting his highest ERA since 2009, and like 2009, he is experiencing an unlucky BABIP. It sits at .302, the highest it’s been since – you guessed it – 2009 when it was .317. So let’s dig deeper. Hamels’ F-Strike% is higher, and actually a career high, at 63.0 percent (60.7 in ’09). His SwStr% is higher at 12.5 (11.9), his Swing% is the second highest it’s ever been, and Hamels’ Contact% in line with his norm. All of that points to Hamels pitching as good, or even better, than he has in the past. It’s also why you should buy low before his luck changes and he reverts back to the Top 20 pitcher he is.

I wrote about Lincecum in the preseason, explaining that he had to become more of a “pitcher” and less of a “thrower.” What I meant was that Lincecum had to work the zone more and rely less on overpowering hitters – because he couldn’t anymore. Lincecum hasn’t done that completely, but he has used his changeup and curveball more effectively, as his fastball continues to lack dominance. That is why, even though his ERA has dipped a bit from last year and is still less than helpful (4.66), Lincecum can expect a bit better. His xFIP sits at 3.47, which is due to a high BABIP of .323. With Lincecum lowering his HR/9 and BB/9 rates, he can still be a back end option for Fantasy teams given his final strikeout total around 190.

EJax will never be a dominant starter, but he can be valuable in Fantasy leagues – his 4.03 ERA and 168 Ks last year helped many. While Jackson’s BABIP is high for the norm (.339), it’s not exceptionally high for Jackson, and he has seen success even with high BABIPs. Jackson had a .330 BABIP and 3.79 ERA in 2011 for example. Jackson’s F-Strike% and SwStr% are down, so don’t look for a drastic turnaround. However, if you’re looking for a cheap grab for upside or even a wire grab to stash and play the matchups, Jackson can help to some degree.

@ma—es: Who’s the best pitcher for the rest of the season…Turner, Gee or Chacin? How come no talk about Martin Perez

@allinkid: Prefer Turner and do like Perez – would put alongside both but behind Turner…for now

I spoke about Jacob Turner last week, and considering it was the Cardinals in St. Louis, I’m willing to accept a 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 K performance. I still like him more than Dillon Gee and Jhoulys Chacin. Gee is the closest, and any type of hot or cold streak could flip-flop him and Turner. Chacin is in the back of the pack, as his K-rate isn’t any better than Turner’s is (Gee’s is best of all three) and Chacin has been a bit lucky given his BABIP. As for Martin Perez, his 1.85 ERA is a mirage. For starters, his xFIP is nearly two runs higher at 3.81, and that’s because he has a terrible K/9 of 4.44 and very high LD% of 32.1. The only thing saving Perez’s tail is his great GB/FB ratio of 2.35. Perez is ripe for regression, so unless he figures out how to get some more swing-and-misses, look out.

@tt—14: Ike Davis worth grabbing?

@allinkid: at this point, depends on league size, but with power upside, stash him

I can admit when I’m wrong, and when it comes to Ike Davis, I was way off. I had Davis ranked 13th at first base in the preseason, and even though I was the second lowest on the staff, Davis hasn’t even sniffed Top 25 status at first base. The reason so many were on board with Davis for 2013 was his 27 home runs from June 12 through the end of the 2012 season. The Valley Fever concerns appeared to be real, and Davis presented us with 40-plus HR potential over a full healthy season. So far, Davis has five homers, a .093 ISO, .171 AVG and a 31.2 K%… miserable. You can’t put too much weight into his .293 AVG with seven home runs during his time in Las Vegas. The PCL is the most hitter-friendly minor league system, and Las Vegas is the friendliest of those. It’s like getting cake, with ice cream and chocolate fudge, topped with mini doughnuts, plus whipped cream and sprinkles, and hot caramel glaze, all deep fried and covered in powdered sugar. Nevertheless, Davis showed us he could go on a binge over a few months last year, so yes, stash him, but don’t let the sugar rush get to you.

@Lizzs_Lockeroom: It’s addictive. I’ve blocked quite a few lol

@allinkid: I have a feeling it might become that for me

@Lizzs_Lockeroom: Then you will need this

As I just mentioned with Davis, I can admit when I am wrong. That said, don’t be a punk about pointing it out. I had a non-follower retweet my reply to someone asking if A.J. Griffin was a good stream start this past week… on Friday! Obviously, Griffin allowing seven runs in 5.2 IP was far from good. Hey, he killed me in two leagues. But, I would have still made the same call, as he just threw a complete game shutout against Cincy and hadn’t allowed more than four runs in 12 straight starts… and it was the Cubs! Again, don’t be a punk about pointing out that I was wrong, though. I’m happy (well, maybe happy isn’t the best word) to own up to missed call, but I will bring down the hammer on more followers (or even non-followers) if you want to simply “Ah-ha” me.

@tr—er: can Liriano be used as trade bait in H2H league or can he be successful the entire season in Pittsburgh?

@allinkid: both – he’s revamped a bit but also, his value is likely the highest it will be – field offers but don’t sell low

Are you ready for stat overload? Francisco Liriano may seem like the perfect sell-high candidate, after all, we’ve been teased before and he’s suffered several injuries. But this isn’t the same Liriano… well, the injury concern is still valid. Liriano has become a different pitcher. He is posting his highest SwStr% since 2006, his third highest F-Strike% and fourth best Swing%. Why is that? Well, Liriano has nearly stopped throwing his four-seam fastball, lowered his two-seam fastball use and increased his slider and changeup usage. If you look, his fastballs account for a negative (-4.3) Runs Above Average mark, which in laymen’s terms means the pitch stinks. Now that he’s using his above average slider and changeup and lowered his BB/9 and HR/9 rate, Liriano has become a rather valuable Fantasy pitcher again. The only reason I’d sell him is due to the injury concern. However, Liriano is pitching like a Top 40 starter, and that’s the value you need to receive in order to move him.

@do—la: thought you said Puig was a sell high guy?

@allinkid: I did – and still hold to that…really, he won’t do this all year!

About two weeks ago, I said to sell high on Yasiel Puig. I still hold to that statement, and if you still own him, good for you as his value probably jumped. Puig is still hitting over .400 and slugging nearly .700. Do I really need to tell you those numbers are far from unsustainable? For the SLG%, Puig is not 73-HR Barry Bonds. As for the average, he’s not Ted Williams. Look at Puig’s .483 BABIP. The highest mark last season was Dexter Fowler at .390. In addition, the main factor for his eventual regression still holds true: Puig swings at everything! Puig ranks in the Top 10 for Swing%. The only person in that Top 10 with an average over .290 is Carlos Gomez at .315. Hold on though, there is more to it. Gomez at least has a 76.4 Contact%, whereas Puig’s Contact% is just 69.4. Lastly, Puig’s Z-Swing% is second only to Freddie Freeman. More swinging! This is a bit more positive, though, since those are strikes, but as with Gomez, Freeman has a 77.3 Contact%, which is much better than Puig’s mark. I’ll say it again, sell high on Puig and reap the rewards because if Puig finishes with a .390 BABIP and .340-.350 AVG (which is still terrific), you’re looking at a big drop off from here on out.

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