I’m not going to waste anyone’s time by listing a group of bad pitchers that nobody has on their fantasy team anyway. We all know that they have no value.
No, instead we’re going to be taking a look at guys who were owned in a lot of leagues throughout 2012. Maybe it was because of a big name, a great season that stands out as more of an fluke than anything, not realizing how long it’s been since the pitcher was really good, or anything else.
We can’t do anything about 2012 now, but we can use it as a learning experience. Don’t let these guys on your fantasy team in 2013 and if you’re really competitive, don’t let your league rivals see this list.
Trevor Cahill – Arizona Diamondbacks
The problem with Trevor Cahill is quite simple, and it’s the problem with a lot of pitchers like him. Ground ball pitchers don’t strike a lot of guys out, but also walk a lot of hitters, as they rely on late movement and deception. A hitter with a good eye can draw a walk with relative ease.
But again, they don’t strike out a lot of guys, meaning they pitch to contact and in turn, allow a lot of hits. A lot of hits and a lot of walks. Hello, ugly WHIP, and Cahill’s career WHIP is 1.31. Now, Cahill can keep his ERA at a decent level, as he induces a lot of double plays.
That’s just the life of a sinker-baller. You can think of Cahill as a current version of what Derek Lowe was in his prime. On a good team, he should bring a fair amount of wins, his ERA will be good, but not great, but that WHIP will kill you. And if you’re in a head-to-head league, be aware that sinker-ballers have a few starts a year where they pitch to contact and those grounders find holes, leading to a very ugly line.
But even in a roto league, the only thing that I can confidently say about Cahill is that he’ll win between 13-16 games. I doubt his ERA breaks 3.70, and his WHIP will be around 1.30. Throw that in with an average strikeout rate, and you’re looking at a pitcher who won’t help your fantasy roster that much.
Tommy Hanson – Los Angeles Angels
If it was only a matter of looking at the career numbers of Tommy Hanson, I give him a pass for a bad 2012 season. But there’s one thing that I can’t look past.
The Braves have one of the best bullpens in baseball, especially at the back part of it, with Craig Kimbrel as the anchor. Yet they were willing to part with Hanson for Jordan Walden, who is a very inconsistent back half of the bullpen guy. Why did the Braves make that trade?
Now, I buy money (what would you use to pay for money, anyway?) as the reason. I could buy their starting pitching depth as the reason. But if Hanson was a guy who belonged on your fantasy team, that would mean that the team who traded him felt that he was worth more than a up-and-down player at a position they don’t need any help in.
I’m guessing that the Braves looked at him and his injuries and realized that Walden was the best anyone would give up. It probably boils down to injury concerns, as Hanson has only topped 200 innings once and outside of that season, has never been at 175.
With Hanson on your team, you’re dealing with a guy who will miss too much time. Stay away.
Edwin Jackson – Chicago Cubs
I know that Edwin Jackson brings some good. He’s demonstrated no-hit stuff in the past and can strike hitters out at a solid clip, although he doesn’t strike out nearly enough batters for everything else he does. The problem is that he’ll turn 30 years old in September and still pitches like Ricky Vaughn and Nuke LaLoosh rolled into one.
He has a career ERA of 4.40 with a WHIP of 1.438. In 2012, he had a 1.218 WHIP, which is nowhere near good enough to be a career low. Unfortunately, that is his career best.
The other issue I see comes with his surroundings. Wrigley Field is a better hitter’s park than Nationals Park, and the majority of his road games will take place at hitter’s parks, which wasn’t the case in the National League East.
On the same token, the Cubs look to be one of the worst teams in the league this, while 2012 the Nationals had the best record in the game. The Nationals had one of the best bullpens in the league, while the Cubs will likely have one of the worst in the game, again. Despite great surroundings in 2012, he only won 10 games. If he does that in 2013 with the Cubs, he’ll have done a good job. Let someone else deal with the drawbacks.
Ubaldo Jimenez – Cleveland Indians
Don’t draft Ubaldo Jimenez based upon one half of 2010. The time you spent reading this sentence was already more time than you should’ve spent considering him.
I am going to tweak that a little bit. While the second half of 2010 wasn’t very good for Jimenez, it wasn’t bad. But take a look at what he’s done since the beginning of the 2011 season.
- 365 innings pitched, 19-30 W-L record, 323 strikeouts, 5.03 ERA, 1.504 WHIP.
It wasn’t even a Coors Field problem, as his numbers didn’t get any better after being traded to the Indians.
The one thing about Jimenez that draws you in are the strikeouts, but even that rate has steadily decreased since 2011. With the Rockies in 2011, he struck out 8.6 hitters per nine. That number dropped to 8.5 in Cleveland that season. Not a huge drop and easily explainable when you factor in the DH. But in 2012, that number dropped to 7.3, which is way too much of a drop and way too low for someone known for striking guys out.
Clave compared Jimenez to Francisco Liriano (another must avoid pitcher), and the comparison is apt. They are both tempting because of the strikeouts, but will ultimately kill your fantasy team. Stay away.
Jon Lester – Boston Red Sox
I know that Jon Lester has had to overcome a lot in life, and I commend him for it. But there’s no fantasy value to him whatsoever. He’s a decent strikeout guy, but not great. He’s never had a WHIP below 1.20 and over the last two years, things have ballooned out of control.
If you go back to the last month of the 2011 through 2012, Lester’s ERA is just a touch under 4.90, while his WHIP is a shade over 1.41. While he’s not old, I wouldn’t call 29 a terribly young age for a pitcher, either. What’s most concerning here is that his numbers have steadily regressed. He walks way too many hitters for a guy who averages under a strikeout an inning, and allows too many hits.
Something else working against Lester is his team. The Red Sox have improved this offseason, but I still see them as not only a poor team, but possibly the only team in the AL East who won’t be above .500. With the addition of Joel Hanrahan and a healthy Andrew Bailey, their bullpen should better than in 2012, but I wouldn’t trust them to hold a tight lead in a game where Lester doesn’t go seven or more innings. While the Red Sox will probably score some runs, I don’t think they’ll score enough for Lester to get many wins, unless he improves and does so drastically.
I just don’t see it happening, folks.
Ricky Nolasco – Miami Marlins
I was absolutely stunned to look at ESPN to see how many 2012 leagues Ricky Nolasco is still unavailable in. Owners frequently cut non-keepers at the end of the year, or stream out pitchers towards the end of the season. But in a fair amount of leagues, Nolasco is owned.
So what exactly are people clinging on to? The last time Nolasco had a sub 4.00 ERA was 2008. Actually, that was the only time he had a sub 4.00 ERA. To be fair, 2012 was his second best season in that regard, but how badly do you really want a guy coming off of a 4.48 ERA season.
Nolasco has also failed to generate a WHIP below 1.20 every year of his career, again, with 2008 being the exception. In 2011 and 2012, he’s failed to produce a WHIP better than 1.35. It’s hard to have a good WHIP when you allow significantly more hits than innings pitched, which Nolasco does consistently.
Throw all of that in with the fact that the Marlins look to be one of the worst teams in the league in 2013. In order to produce the runs needed for Nolasco to win games, Miami will rely a lot on Giancarlo Stanton and well…Giancarlo Stanton. Even if he gets traded, I’m not crazy about what Nolasco brings. But on the Marlins, this pitcher is someone to avoid.
Bud Norris – Houston Astros
Hey, since we’re on the subject of pitchers on terrible teams, let’s take a look at Bud Norris. I understand that he strikes out nearly one hitter an inning, and that’s a great mark. The problem is that you can’t bank on any other category to be solid.
His career low ERA is 3.77. His best WHIP is 1.328. Norris has never won 10 games in a season and with all due respect to those Astros’ fans out there, that’s not likely to happen this year, especially in what looks to be a competitive AL East. I normally don’t make a big deal about pitchers having to face an extra hitter with the DH, but it’s certainly not going to do Norris any good.
I love those strikeouts, but Norris won’t be a significant contributor in any other pitching category. In addition to general inconsistency that he’s shown throughout his career, Minute Maid Park isn’t going to do him any favors. Go somewhere else to find your strikeouts, Norris isn’t worth the risk.
Anibal Sanchez – Detroit Tigers
Does anyone know the last season Anibal Sanchez had a WHIP under 1.30? Don’t know that? What about the last time he had an ERA under 3.50? 2006, and 2006, Sanchez’s rookie year, which included a no-hitter.
The strikeout rate is okay, although I’d encourage people to not be too stuck on his 9.3 K:9 ratio of 2011, as that’s more of an anomaly than anything else, if you look at the rest of his career. What really worries me in that regard is that he was at 8.2 in 2012 when with the Marlins, and 6.9 with the Tigers.
That is one area where I really do worry about someone changing leagues. In the National League, you not only have an easy out for probably two turns through the opposing lineup (until pinch hitters come in), but a pretty easy strikeout, as well. That drop rate is consistent with someone who’s facing one more hitter in the lineup.
So, we have a pitcher who really can’t be counted on for an ERA under 3.75, or a WHIP below 1.26. Throw all that in with a declining K rate, and I just don’t see much value here. The Tigers are a good team, so he should pull a few wins out. But outside of that, there’s nothing to bank on.
Ervin Santana – Kansas City Royals
In Ervin Santana, you’re getting one of the most up-and-down pitchers in the game. In the past five seasons, he’s had an ERA of under 4.00 three times (two of those were below 3.50), and an ERA north of 5.00 twice.
Now, you might be thinking that Santana’s worth a gamble, as he can possibly bring you a 3.50 ERA, or even better than that. Here’s the problem with that theory.
Other than 2008, we’re looking at a guy who strikes out about seven hitters per nine innings. That’s not abysmal, but it’s also not a category that tends to get better with age, and Santana turned 30 in December. The other problem is that his best ERA since 2009 was 3.38, while his best WHIP came in at 1.22. That’s not bad, but if that’s your best case scenario, do you really want to risk bringing in a guy who might have an ERA/WHIP north of 5.00/1.40. This isn’t Tim Lincecum, who’s coming off of a bad year but still brings a great K rate and the possibility of a 3.00/1.10 ERA/WHIP.
The best you can do with Santana doesn’t make up for the risk that the worst he can do brings you.
Edinson Volquez – San Diego Padres
Just like Norris, Edinson Volquez will bring you a killer strikeout rate. But just like Norris, he can’t be counted on to bring you anything else. Heck, outside of 2012, he hasn’t even had more than 20 starts in a season since 2008, so I don’t even know that you can count on Volquez to take the mound that often.
There’s no doubt that Volquez had a great 2008 season, but it’s been pretty rough since then, as he has a cumulative 4.62 ERA and 1.48 WHIP since that year. I initially thought that a move to San Diego and Petco Park would help some of those numbers. They did, but only to an extent, as he sported a 4.14 ERA/1.45 WHIP in 2012. Not good enough for your fantasy team.
Unfortunately, I still saw him owned in a fair amount of leagues towards the end of 2012. Players need to realize that this isn’t 2008, a season that really stands out in Volquez’s career. Outside of that, he’s been an injury-prone average pitcher. Just like Norris, find your strikeouts elsewhere.
Barry Zito – San Francisco Giants
Don’t tell me what a hero Barry Zito was in the playoffs. Don’t hashtag me to death with #RallyZito. I am a Giants’ fan, I know about all of that first hand. As a Giants fan, I have seen a lot of Zito’s starts over the last six seasons.
Let’s say Zito makes about 32 starts this year. It’s not that crazy a number, as outside of 2011, injuries have never been an issue for the southpaw. Let’s also say that he repeats his 2012 total of 17 quality starts. That looks pretty good, right? Right, except that in about 10 of those other 15 starts, Zito probably doesn’t make it out of the fourth inning.
Take a look at the kind of frustration he’s capable of bringing fantasy owners.
The Giants and Astros met nine times in 2012, with the Giants winning eight games. The one loss belonged to Zito. Now, in and of itself, that’s not a huge deal, especially as it came the day after Matt Cain‘s perfect game and Zito and his teammates may have been a bit out of focus. But take a look at the totals from that start, combined with his second start against Houston, where the Giants were victorious.
7.1 innings pitched, 0-1 W-L record, 4 strikeouts 9.86 ERA, 2.05 WHIP
That’s the frustration that is Zito. If he isn’t 100 percent sharp, any team in the league can look like the 1927 Yankees. Yes, he can pitch a good game, but there are too many outings along those lines. That is why is ERA as a Giant is 4.47 and why his WHIP is 1.40. It’s why a pitcher who’s never had injury issues (excluding 2011), has never hit 200 innings in a Giants’ uniform. There are too many ugly starts, and those will kill your fantasy team.
Don’t be swept up by #RallyZito, or by him beating Justin Verlander in the World Series. That’s all great, but the bad starts will make his numbers look ordinary, if not just plain bad.
We’re continue our countdown to our 2013 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit, which will be available to download on February 18: