On Thursday night, we saw two fantasy baseball hot starters go head-to-head in Edinson Volquez and Yovani Gallardo. Both pitchers have been, at times, relevant in fantasy. Volquez was an all-star back in 2008, Gallardo made an appearance at the Mid-Summer’s Classic in 2010.
Despite success earlier in their careers, Volquez and Gallardo have both fallen out of favor with fantasy owners, especially with the scorecards they signed in 2013. Last season, Volquez had a career low K/9 of 7.50 and an atrocious ERA of 5.71. Gallardo’s 2013 also produced a career low in K/9 at 7.17 with an unappealing ERA of 4.18. Coincidentally, or not, both pitchers have lost about 2 MPH on their average fastballs since their respective all-star seasons as well.
So far this season, these two found success by pounding the strike zone, a rarity for both. Gallardo, prior to Thursday’s game, had only issued 3 walks in 18.2 IP. But the real Gallardo stood up Thursday and issued four free passes in the 6 frames. I would assume Thursday’s game will be more indicative of what we will see from Gallardo as his career BB/9 sits at 3.43.
Volquez’s command is a little more intriguing. His career BB/9 is a frightening 4.68. So far this season, that ratio is at 1.71. Early sample size should be the first consideration, but Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage should be a close second. Searage has had recent success in helping struggling pitchers find command.
In 2011 and 2012, Francisco Liriano posted a BB/9 of 5.0 or greater. Liriano and Searage cut that to 3.52 last season. A.J. Burnett experienced similar success. After three years of posting season ending BB/9 ratios from 3.76-4.22 with the Yankees, Burnett cut that ratio to 2.76 his first year with the Pirates in 2012.
With the track record of Searage, I have to believe that Volquez and Gallardo, will continue to have similar years. Although, it appears that neither Volquez nor Gallardo will be able to maintain an attractive K/9 as they have in previous years, I do believe that both can have that ratio around 7 at season’s end to pair with a BB/9 of around 3. You will have to determine whether that fits for your league’s depth and scoring system.
At the end of the day, the sub 2 ERA that both these pitchers currently rock will not last and their fantasy value is probably at its peak, so selling high is the best play. But if you need depth in your staff and had to choose between the two, I will go with Volquez because he plays in a more forgiving park and that Searage magic under his cap.