Your Daily Fantasy Rx
by Tim Polko
National League Starting Pitchers without Positive Draft Value
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We ranked players in order from the highest draft value in a 4x4 league to the lowest. As the majority of fantasy leagues allow you to keep anyone traded to the other league, we listed each player in the league where he started the season.
Even with a career-best 1.64 G-F, Redman still surprisingly risky after he again failed to pitch 200 innings a second time in the majors. He destroyed teams in leagues with net wins thanks to his fifteen losses, and a broken finger in September killed any chance of cutting his ERA to a useful level. Shifting to the Royals could lead to a complete breakdown since I don't expect the additions of Doug Mientkiewicz and Mark Grudzielanek to solve all the club's numerous defensive problems. While I generally like Redman due to his respectable control, he possesses plenty of downside and shouldn't merit more than a couple of bucks in standard leagues.
A truly detestable fantasy pitcher for the past few years due to his poor choice of teams, the soft-tossing Estes just might flourish upon his return to California with the Padres. Last year he actually held his ERA under 5.00 for the first time since 2001 despite foot problems that cost him a dozen starts. Now Estes appears healthy and could reestablish his career in the game's best pitchers' park in front of a very solid defense. Spending an endgame pick here could net you double-digit wins and a 4.00 ERA.
Thomson missed half of 2005 due to a strained finger tendon and then imploded upon his return, registering a 1-4 record and a 5.55 ERA on a 29:14 K:BB in 48.2 IP with 62 H and 4 HR. The good news is that he managed a 3-2 record and 3.42 ERA on a 32:14 K:BB in 50 IP with 49 H and 2 HR prior to the injury, so I expect a complete rebound. I also doubt Atlanta would have exercised Thomson's $4.75M option for this year if they anticipated further difficulties, especially given the presence of very capable alternates like Kyle Davies and Chuck James. Only further health problems should keep Thomson from echoing his 2004 success.
While the move from CB Park to Ameriquest won't result in a significant change in Padilla's stats, he remains an inconsistent, injury-prone starter unlikely to emerge as a valuable fantasy asset until he reaches free agency and finds a safer park. The good news is he only turned 28 in September, so his relative youth gives him plenty of time to regain his lost skills. I fully expect Padilla to develop into either an above-average starter or top reliever over the next few seasons, though unless you can grab him during the endgame, he won't be a particularly good fit for teams looking to win in 2006.
Shockingly lost on waivers to Arizona from a Washington team in desperate need for starting pitching, Vargas quickly recovered from elbow problems to emerge as one of the Diamondbacks' few dependable arms. With developing control and an improved defense, Vargas could cut his ERA by half a run if he limits the damage from his .84 G-F. Although not an excellent target, Vargas just might give you double-digit wins for a minimal investment.
The veteran journeyman totaled over 140 innings every year since his rookie season in 1994 until back surgery last spring forced him to the DL for most of 2005. However, he nicely recovered by September, echoing his established skill ratios in six starts at the end of summer. The Mets wisely picked up his option before the pitching market exploded for the second straight winter, so I see little reason why we should expect anything less than 180 innings and an ERA around 4.00 from one of roto's most unheralded profit sources.
After missing most of 2003 due to injury and spending 2004 at AA, his return to the majors proved shockingly productive. Moehler owned a 3.27 ERA on a 49:27 K:BB in 99 IP at the break, but unsurprisingly tired badly down the stretch, eventually slipping back into the bullpen, where he at least demonstrated decent skills albeit without posting a good ERA. He re-signed with the Marlins as the one veteran right-hander in the rotation, so although he could continue his reemergence as a useful starter, the lower level of support from his rookie teammates in every facet of the game renders him extremely risky. Only bid on Moehler if looking for innings during Dollar Days.
Promoted to the majors early in the year after only a few outings at AAA, Rodriguez didn't walk an abundance of batters and at least improved in the second half. However, given his unimpressive stats in the minors and general lack of dominance, he barely deserves a rotation spot at this time. If Houston keeps him in the majors as expected, Rodriguez will struggle at times until his consistency improves. Yet while I see plenty of downside here, he owns the skills necessary to post surprisingly solid fantasy value.
One of riskiest pitchers to own in the game, Armas opened the year with groin problems and finished the season back on the DL, eventually requiring arthroscopic shoulder surgery in September. However, he re-signed with Washington and almost certainly will open the year in the rotation if healthy. The problem is that Armas hasn't demonstrated an acceptable level of command since losing most of 2003 to injury, so I don't anticipate a dramatic skill rebound. Thankfully he won't need more than mild improvement to accrue a few bucks of value given the upside of his relative youth and his extremely forgiving home park.
Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Philadelphia for my comments on Brito.
Returning to AAA Fresno(PCL) to start the season helped Hennessey consolidate his development after shooting from A-ball to the majors in less than a year. Although he only managed a 5.19 ERA, his 46:22 K:BB in 67.2 IP with the Grizzlies represented a needed improvement over his 2004 skills. However, Hennessey continued to struggle with his command on the Giants, giving us no indication of a pending breakout. His solid ground-fly rate at least minimizes his downside, but WHIP problems and limited immediate potential keep me from recommending Hennessey as more than an endgame flyer.
Signed by Kansas City and then unexpectedly stolen by Pittsburgh in the Rule 5 draft, Santos should break camp in the Pirates' rotation despite a skill set that strongly suggests he move to the bullpen. Of course, Pittsburgh probably will just keep him in long relief once they turn toward younger options, so I see very little fantasy upside for Santos under any circumstances. Don't employ him on your team unless Santos registers several solid starts early in the season.
Glover split yet another season between AAA and the majors. While his 2.84 ERA on a 75:29 K:BB in 92 IP for AAA Nashville(PCL) demonstrated plenty of potential, his continued difficulties in Milwaukee similarly indicate limited immediate upside in big leagues. Splitting the difference, he signed with Yomiuri in Japan for 2006.
Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Florida for my comments on Olsen.
Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Los Angeles(N) for my comments on Thompson.
A spike in Fogg's homer rate finally forced him out of Pittsburgh's rotation after four increasingly mediocre seasons. His struggles increased after finally moving into the bullpen in September, so the Pirates unsurprisingly non-tendered him in December. After more than two months in free agency, Fogg landed with Colorado, the worst possible place for him to restart his stalled career. Considering he barely merited a roster spot during his best days in Pittsburgh, he absolutely won't belong on any fantasy team this summer.
Despite a respectable 3.01 ERA on a 56:28 K:BB in 98.2 IP with 75 H and 4 HR over 15 GS(16G) for AAA Richmond(IL) last year, Greisinger failed to receive an invitation to big league camp. He likely won't see any time in the majors this year and won't contribute to any successful fantasy teams even if he nets another cup-of-coffee.
Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Arizona for my comments on Nippert.
Moved to the bullpen at AAA Fresno(PCL) in the spring, Correia bombed in relief and quickly returned to the rotation, returning to San Francisco in July and pitching passably well down the stretch. However, he failed to demonstrate solid control at any point last year, so although he still owns solid skills, pitches in a friendly park, and could break out at any time, I don't expect to see more than mild gains this year. Wait until you see that improved command drops Correia's ERA below 4.50 before adding him to your staff .
With nothing left to prove in the minors and a 3.19 ERA on a 62:34 K:BB in 73.1 IP for AAA Richmond(IL) last year, Davies spent most of the summer in Atlanta, even shifting to the bullpen when the rotation returned to full strength. He enters camp this year as the sixth starter yet virtually guaranteed to double his IP total due to the fragility of the veteran Braves. Ignore his atrocious work in the pen and instead focus on his respectable 4.28 ERA on a 57:38 K:BB in 76.2 IP with 82 H and 6 HR over 14 starts. While he may post a troublesome WHIP due to his inexperience, Davies still projects as a top-of-the-rotation arm, so take advantage of any perceived reduction in his value to grab a long-term keeper anywhere around five bucks.
The Mets badly erred in dealing Jason Phillips for Ishii. Not only did the veteran southpaw block superior starters like Jae Seo and Aaron Heilman, but keeping Phillips might have prevented travesties like Starting First Baseman Chris Woodward. Ishii unsurprisingly signed a two-year deal to return to Japan, where his awful command at least won't destroy roto WHIPS on a regular basis.
Only signing Eric Milton proved more disastrous for Dan O'Brien than dealing for Ortiz, who combusted quite badly at the GAB. He wisely signed with Washington and should break camp in the Nationals' rotation, giving him an excellent opportunity to return to roto prominence. Of course, a move to the bullpen could result in even better qualitative stats, especially given his relief work in 2004, so I see little reason not to gamble a couple bucks on Ortiz. At the very least I don't expect him to post negative value again, making him a welcome low-risk, high-upside pick.
Somehow Kim revived his career in Colorado after a lost 2004 with the Red Sox. Although he spectacularly flopped in relief, compiling a 7.66 ERA on a 20:22 K:BB in 22.1 IP out of the bullpen, he took full advantage of a rotation opening to reemerge as a solid starter. Kim registered a 5-9 record and a 4.37 ERA on a 95:49 K:BB in 125.2 IP with 134 H and 15 HR over 22 starts for the Rockies. Expect him to break camp as the fourth starter, and although he merits as little consideration for your team as any Colorado starter, Kim only turned 27 in January, giving him plenty of time to shift to a friendlier fantasy situation.
Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Washington for my comments on White.
Houlton proved a very solid Rule 5 pick as we expected. Los Angeles desperately needed someone to contribute over a hundred innings of replacement-level pitching, and Houlton filled that gap when injuries crippled the staff. Of course, his immediate future appears in doubt given the departure of benefactor Paul DePodesta and the additions of Brett Tomko and Jae Seo. Houlton might return to the bullpen, but given his 6.00 ERA on a 15:13 K:BB in 24 IP over 16 games in relief, he offers little upside in that limited role. Yet heading to the minors just will result in a trip to the hitters' haven at AAA Las Vegas, a poor park for the flyball-happy Houlton. While I still view him as an intriguing long-term option, I see little chance for Houlton to help a fantasy team in 2006.
While the signing of Shawn Estes initially pushes him back to the minors, very few pitchers possess as much fantasy upside as Stauffer over the rest of the decade. Yes, he failed to post great skills during his weeks with the Padres. He also only managed a 5.14 ERA on a 64:17 K:BB in 75.1 IP with 90 H and 5 HR over 13 GS for AAA Portland(PCL). However, remember that Stauffer joined San Diego as the fourth pick of the 2003 draft and reached the majors after scarcely a season as a professional. The Padres also appear increasingly committed to fielding an excellent defense in their pitchers' paradise, so I fully expect Stauffer to return to the majors this summer as one of the best mid-season pickups in the majors. Plan to bid several dollars if he somehow wins a rotation spot now, otherwise targeting him at the beginning of any reserve round.
A moronic decision on the basepaths ended Jennings' season in July after he broke his right middle finger sliding into second base. Of course, while he boosted his ground-fly rate to a career-best 1.83 mark prior to the injury, Jennings otherwise continued to post very unimpressive skills. Considering that most pitchers vastly prefer both strikeouts and walks to allowing hits at Coors, nothing here allows us to anticipate any improvement from the veteran in 2006. Once again Jennings does not belong on any roster in standard leagues.
Castillo spent almost all of 2005 at AAA Albuquerque(PCL), where he registered a 5.53 ERA on an 80:58 K:BB in 143.1 IP with 161 H and 20 HR over 24 GS(27G). As the aging journeyman failed to receive even an NRI this spring, I don't expect Castillo ever will return to positive fantasy value.
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