In Part 1, I detailed the under-the-radar hitters that were my fantasy targets who I now on my roster in multiple fantasy leagues.
Here, we look at the pitchers.
I missed out on Andrew Cashner in my first draft. I was doing some research on identifying pitchers that began throwing new pitches or who significantly changed their pitch mix during the course of 2013, and Cashner’s name turned up.
Then I realized his K% jumped and his ERA & WHIP plummeted in the second half. The change in pitching approach legitimizes these improvements in his performance, making them more than just flukey splits. He is poised for a big payoff due to the fact that he didn’t play all of last season (so his stats will improve just from more playing time, assuming he avoids injury), he pitches in a great ball park, I think the Padres can be more competitive this year (allowing him to improve on his 10 wins from 2013), and a full season of this new pitching approach.
He didn’t cost that much to invest in, around the 35th starting pitcher taken, and I see him ending the year in the Top-20 starting pitchers.
I didn’t target and Ernesto Frieri because of a man crush (which could be said about Cashner and some of the hitter), I just think he was being undervalued.
He comes with some risk of losing his job. He did lose it for a while in 2013. But he was being drafted around the likes of Jim Johnson, Jason Grilli, Steve Cishek, Rafael Soriano, and Jonathan Pabelbon. Give me the guy playing on a division contender and with the chance at 100 Ks.
I think Hyun-Jin Ryu is flying under-the-radar, perhaps because people are not sure what to expect in his second year. He’s seemingly the forgotten man when it comes to import pitchers.
- Hisashi Iwakuma‘s strikeout and walk rates his first season in the majors were 19.5% and 8.3%, respectively. Those improved to 21.4% and 4.9% his second season.
- Yu Darvish‘s went from 27.1% and 10.9% in his first season to 32.9% and 9.5%.
- Hiroki Kuroda‘s went from 15.0% and 5.4% to 17.9% and 5.0%.
- Koji Uehara‘s went from 17.2% and 4.3% to 31.6% and 2.9%.
Is this an exhaustive sample? No. But there appears to be a learning curve for experienced pitchers coming from professional leagues in Asia to MLB. The improvement in skills in the second season is noticeable. Couple that information with the third most effective change up in baseball, and I have invested heavily in Ryu stock.
Sergio Santos is not closing, so that certainly makes him unownable in many rotisserie leagues. But he offers value in the points and AL-only leagues I play in.
If he doesn’t make sense for your current lineup, make sure he’s on your watch list. As an owner of Casey Janssen last year, I read way too many player updates about Janssen’s sore shoulder. Looking at his injury history, I see more of the same. He didn’t make his spring debut until March 24th this year…. because of a sore shoulder. But enough about Janssen…
Santos has electric stuff. The Blue Jays originally signed him to close in 2012. He has one season of 30 MLB saves under his belt (2011 with the White Sox). Act accordingly.
There you have it… These are the guys I’m pinning my hopes on this season. I’ll set a calendar reminder to check back with you in October.