Articles by Paul Sporer

Sporer covers pitching for RotoWire. He also writes for Baseball Prospectus and publishes an annual guide on starting pitchers. In his spare time, he roots for the Tigers.

Miguel Sano Could Be Special

Every time it seems like all the potential impact talent has come up, some team calls up another intriguing rookie who could shift the balance of your fantasy league. Carlos Correa was up in early-June which seemed to cap off a significant wave of call-ups. Once we began catching our breath from that, we saw Byron Buxton and Francisco Lindor on consecutive days. And then we got Kyle Schwarber’s surprise six-day call-up (during which he admirably lobbied for more with elite play: .982 OPS, 1 HR, 6 R & RBI in 23 PA).

After all of it, Steven Matz was left standing as that one shining prospect for whom everyone wanted to save their FAAB. He made his scintillating debut on Sunday and that really felt like a cutoff point for impact minor league talent. I mean, who else could come up? Corey Seager is awesome, but where is he going to play? Joc Pederson put up a 30-30 season in Triple-A last year (albeit under different management) so maybe they’re comfortable letting Seager marinate a bit.

Is Stephen Strasburg Back?

It’s been an ugly season for Stephen Strasburg and perhaps even uglier for those of us with him on our fantasy teams. After all, the Nats are still in first place. The team where I have Strasburg is far from and I’m sure most of you are experiencing something similar. Alas, there may be some reasons for optimism within his two starts since returning from the DL.

The season got off on the wrong foot when the Mets of all teams battered him for six runs (three earned) in 5.3 innings on nine hits and three walks. Boston hit him even harder with five runs (all earned) on 10 hits. The success of his third start (against Philly) wasn’t enough to get him going and in fact it seems every time he has a good start, it’s followed by two clunkers. Eventually what we all suspected would happen, did: he hit the DL.

Gallardo’s Gone Gallant

With a quickly eroding strikeout rate that propped up his value in the first place, Yovani Gallardo had made a quick descent down the fantasy rankings heading into 2015. A torn meniscus in 2008 limited him to just 24 IP, but he returned with a breakout effort in 2009 which included a 26% strikeout rate in 185.7 IP. It might feel weird now, but his 3.73 ERA that year was solid better than average (110 ERA+). The strikeouts peaked that year, but lived in the 24-25% range for the next three seasons while his ERA generally stayed in the mid-to-upper 3.00s.

He’d become a workhorse. That’s generally the shorthand for a pitcher who logs plenty of innings and usually offers one standout fantasy category while also never really doing enough to be a superstar. From 2009-2012, Gallardo had a 3.68 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 25% K rate, and about 196 IP per year. From 2013 through last year, he was just a workhorse without the standout category. Innings were his only net value. He logged 373 innings of a 3.84 ERA in those two seasons.

Sonny Gray’s Slider has Made Him an Ace

Coming into the year I was cool on Sonny Gray at the draft table because of what I believed to be an inflated cost against what we had seen from him to that point. He was being priced as a top 20 starter and I thought he needed to actually improve upon his 2014, not just repeat it, to justify such a price tag. How’s top 3? Is that good? Does that work? Gray has pitched at an ace level through the first 14 starts of the season by recapturing most of the strikeout rate we saw in 64 innings back in 2013.

Gray had a 26% rate in 10 starts and two relief appearances with the A’s that year and the results were just as good with a 2.67 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. Last year he showed he can hold up over a full season with 219 innings and his 3.08 ERA and 1.19 WHIP were great, but a 20% strikeout rate kept him from the upper echelon of starters and made him more of a fantasy #2. That felt right. With his premium groundball rate (56%), he can afford to be a little lower on the strikeouts and still post tremendous results.

Chris Coghlan’s Power Spike

Chris Coghlan is a former Rookie of the Year. That probably surprises some of you now that you remember he won it back in 2009 ahead of several at least equally deserving and most likely much more deserving players such as Randy Wells (3.2 WAR in 165.3 IP), J.A. Happ (2.93 ERA in 166 IP), Tommy Hanson (2.7 WAR in 127.7 IP), and of course Andrew McCutchen, who enjoyed a 3.4 WAR season that year, easily eclipsing Coghlan’s 2.7 WAR in 72 fewer plate appearances.

Coghlan rode a .321 AVG to the award and honestly, no one really cares. He has failed to live up to whatever expectations that award bestows upon a guy with a whopping -1.4 WAR in the subsequent four seasons before a solid 2.3 WAR with the Cubs last year. His presence back on the radar is due at least in part to last year’s flourish, but mostly due to the fact that with eight home runs he is just one away from tying his career-high.

Riding Out the Storm Wrap-Up

Well, it was an interesting week of DFS for me. It felt weird consistently looking for guys with the WORST recent record to insert into my lineup, but it was fun. Like I said at the beginning, I know that seven days (and actually six because I didn’t play Saturday as I was in a softball tournament) isn’t enough to prove anything one way or the other. It was just a strategy I had been thinking about and wanted to try out, especially up against the hot-hand guys.

Riding Out the Storm (Fri Lineup)

Another W for the Stormy team! And this time, they were able to win the overall thanks to having the least-awful second pitcher. They are still digging out of a substantial hole after being essentially doubled up on both Monday and Tuesday. There is still a 90-point split in the overall, but an attainable 47-point gap between just the lineups which matters more in this particular case.

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun TOTAL
Stormy 68.65 77.50 69.80 99.35 315
Wave 112.45 138.75 71.85 81.95 405
Stormy-SP 35 37 62 73 207
Wave-SP 76 61 56 61 254