Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

By the Numbers: Specialists for hire

  •  

Whether you pick pitchers for your Fantasy roster primarily by ERA or WHIP, chances are slim that you will go wrong. Not surprisingly, they correlate strongly with each other, as more than two-thirds of the variation in ERA from pitcher-to-pitcher can be explained by the variation in their WHIPs.

Yet if you ranked starting pitchers according to ERA, you would see some different names near the top than you would if your were ranking them by WHIP. Some pitchers have a proven ability to prevent runs, even though they are not among the best at keeping baserunners to a minimum. These hurlers may pitch to contact or hand out free passes with regularity, but if they keep extra-base hits to a minimum, their ERAs won't suffer much. There are also those who excel at keeping the runners off the basepaths, but because they give up too many homers or have trouble with stranding runners, their ERAs fall short of their WHIPs.

If we took a poll, probably 10 out of 10 owners surveyed would prefer pitchers who could help with both ERA and WHIP. The likes of Justin Verlander, Roy Halladay and Clayton Kershaw don't come cheaply, though, and neither do solid second-tier starters like Daniel Hudson or Matt Cain. Someone like Jair Jurrjens (86 percent ownership rate) can come as a relative bargain, yet he has posted similar ERAs to those of Hudson (97 percent) and Cain (98 percent). Jurrjens is affordable, because he has been a liability in the WHIP category.

Just as Billy Beane's Moneyball A's replaced Jason Giambi with an hodgepodge of players with good on-base skills, you can create a solid staff on the cheap by mixing and matching ERA and WHIP specialists. In standard mixed Rotisserie leagues, a starter who represents a 50-point upgrade in ERA will more than compensate for another starter's 10-point uptick in WHIP, all other things being equal. That's how a pitcher like Jaime Garcia can come close to Matt Garza in value on a per-start basis, even though Garza gets more strikeouts and has compiled substantially lower WHIPs. Garcia's strong ground ball tendencies and pitcher-friendly home park have helped him to keep his ERA well below Garza's over the last two seasons, even though he allows batters more frequent contact than Garza does.

ERA and WHIP for Low-ERA Pitchers, 2009-2012
Pitcher ERA WHIP
Tim Lincecum, Giants 2.99 1.19
Jaime Garcia, Cardinals 3.20 1.33
Jair Jurrjens, Braves 3.23 1.27
Clay Buchholz, Red Sox 3.24 1.29
R.A. Dickey, Mets 3.30 1.27
Wandy Rodriguez, Astros 3.34 1.28
Johnny Cueto, Reds 3.46 1.24
Jhoulys Chacin, Rockies 3.59 1.32

Below are lists of starting pitchers who have been much better in one of the two categories than the other. Because of their lopsided statistical profile, they may not fully get their due, but if you need to upgrade your rotation or fill a hole left by an injury, these are pitchers who can help your squad without bankrupting it.

Help with ERA

The pitchers on the first list can lower your staff's ERA, though it could come at the expense of WHIP. With diminished velocity and poor performances in his first two starts, Tim Lincecum is a risky pick-up right now, but he may also present a good buy-low opportunity. For those looking for encouragement, Lincecum is still getting batters to whiff (13.5 swinging strike percentage), and he has 10 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings. Line drive base hits have been a problem -- at least in his most recent start -- and if that persists, he won't be much help with ERA going forward. Over his career, Lincecum has managed to avoid extra-base hits, which has allowed him to get away with high walk rates.

As mentioned above, Garcia has used low home run rates to bolster his ERA, as have Jurrjens, R.A. Dickey and Johnny Cueto. Of this group, Garcia is the best target, as he may not be a risk to WHIP for much longer. Last season, he decreased his walk rate, but a .327 BABIP kept his WHIP above the league average. With a little more help from his defense, Garcia could see improvements in both ERA and WHIP this year.

Clay Buchholz, Wandy Rodriguez and Jhoulys Chacin have allowed their fair share of homers, but each has still been a good source of low ERA. Buchholz doesn't allow many line drives, and as a result, he hasn't allowed opposing batters to slug any higher than .404 in any of the three previous seasons. Rodriguez and Chacin have demonstrated a consistent pattern of stranding baserunners, so they have been able to work out of jams. Jeremy Hellickson (96 percent ownership rate) and Vance Worley (92 percent) are likely to wind up with lower WHIPs, and maybe that's why they are more popular, but Rodriguez (89 percent) and Chacin (81 percent) have just as much value thanks to their skill in stranding runners.

ERA and WHIP for Low-WHIP Pitchers, 2009-2012
Pitcher ERA WHIP
Michael Pineda, Yankees 3.74 1.10
Ted Lilly, Dodgers 3.58 1.10
Josh Tomlin, Indians 4.40 1.14
Shaun Marcum, Brewers 3.60 1.15
Mat Latos, Reds 3.42 1.16
Colby Lewis, Rangers 3.98 1.20
Jake Peavy, White Sox 4.36 1.21
Gavin Floyd, White Sox 4.19 1.25

Help with WHIP

On this second list, you will find pitchers who don't allow many batters to reach base, but once they get there, they have a decent chance of scoring. The common link among most of this group's members is strong flyball tendencies and -- as a by-product -- high home run rates. Colby Lewis, Shaun Marcum and Josh Tomlin are threats to get blown up, especially when they're in good home run venues, but if you're trying to move up in WHIP, they're reliable yet likely to come at a relatively affordable price. Lewis provides the bonus of being an above-average strikeout pitcher.

Ted Lilly should be back in the Dodgers' rotation this weekend, but currently he is available in nearly half of the leagues on CBSSports.com. Any mixed or NL-only league owners looking for WHIP help just may find it on the waiver wire in the form of the Dodgers' lefty. Michael Pineda is available in just a handful of leagues, but he could be a good trade target for owners looking for long-term WHIP improvement. Some of his owners may be frustrated by his shoulder issues and mediocre spring, but he could start contributing in Ks and WHIP by next month.

The flyball tendencies for Mat Latos, Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd are more moderate than those of the others in this group, but their ERAs have suffered nonetheless. Peavy and Floyd have to overcome poor strand rates, but even if they don't, owners can count on both to be better than average in WHIP. With the move from PETCO Park to the Great American Ball Park, Latos' ERA probably won't get better, but his strikeout-per-inning stuff and low WHIP make him as valuable as Dan Haren or Madison Bumgarner, even though both are strong bets to have ERAs in the low 3.00s.

I wouldn't argue that any of the pitchers featured on either list, with the exception of Lincecum, is an elite Fantasy starter, and that is underscored by the fact that each has a substantial flaw. However, the fact that all of them excel in a category makes them worth an extra look when considering how to bolster your staff. If you can afford a slight decline in either ERA or WHIP, it makes sense to pursue one of the specialists featured here to give you a bump in the other category.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al Melchior at @almelccbs . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

Glossary
xFIP: Also known as Expected Fielding Independent Pitching. It is an estimate of what a pitcher's ERA would be if it were based on factors that a pitcher can control, such as strikeouts, walks and flyballs. xFIP is a derivative of FIP, which was developed by Tom Tango.
Runs Created per 27 Outs (RC/27) -- An estimate of how many runs a lineup would produce per 27 outs if a particular player occupied each spot in the order; ex. the RC/27 for Miguel Cabrera would predict the productivity of a lineup where Cabrera (or his statistical equal) batted in all nine spots; created by Bill James
Component ERA (ERC) -- An estimate of a what a pitcher's ERA would be if it were based solely on actual pitching performance; created by Bill James
GO/AO -- Ground out-fly out ratio
GB/FB -- Ground ball-fly ball ratio
Batting Average per Balls in Play (BABIP) -- The percentage of balls in play (at bats minus strikeouts and home runs) that are base hits; research by Voros McCracken and others has established that this rate is largely random and has a norm of approximately 30%
Isolated Power -- The difference between slugging percentage and batting average; created by Branch Rickey and Allan Roth
Walk Rate -- Walks / (at bats + walks)
Whiff Rate -- Strikeouts / at bats

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
A's to place Coco Crisp (neck) on disabled list Saturday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(10:49 pm ET) Athletics manager Bob Melvin said the team will place outfielder Coco Crisp on the disabled list Saturday, reports The San Francisco Chronicle.

Crisp has not played since May 19 because of a neck injury, but it will not require surgery.


Tigers' J.D. Martinez powers Tigers to win over Astros on Friday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(10:38 pm ET) Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez smacked a three-run home run to lift the Tigers to a 6-2 win over the Astros on Friday.

The home run came off Collin McHugh in the third inning. It was his ninth home run of the season. Martinez finished the game 2 for 3 with three RBI. Over his last 13 games, Martinez is 18 for 47 with three home runs and six RBI.


Astros SP Collin McHugh allows nine hits in Friday's loss
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(10:28 pm ET) Astros pitcher Collin McHugh surrendered a season-high nine hits over seven innings of work during Friday's 6-2 loss to the Tigers.

The nine hits led to three runs, which all came on a home run by J.D. Martinez in the third inning. McHugh has pitched at least seven innings in five of his last seven starts. His ERA now stands at 3.43.

His next expected start is scheduled for Wednesday at Baltimore.


Tigers SP Alfredo Simon earns fifth win of season Friday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(10:20 pm ET) Tigers pitcher Alfredo Simon allowed two runs on four hits over seven innings of work to earn his fifth win of season during Friday's 6-2 win over the Astros.

Simon struck out five batters and walked one during the outing. Both of the runs came in the third inning when Jason Castro scored on a throwing error and Luis Valbuena scored on a single.

Simon (5-2) has not surrendered more than three runs in four-consecutive starts. His ERA now stands at 2.67. His next scheduled start is set for Wednesday at Oakland.


Nationals RP Drew Storen earns 13th save of season Friday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(10:09 pm ET) Nationals pitcher Drew Storen entered in the ninth inning with a one-run lead and he was able to shut the door on the Phillies for his 13th save of the season during Friday's 2-1 win.

Storen allowed two hits during the relief appearance, but he was able to record the final three outs to earn the save. He also struck out two batters during the appearance. Storen has saved 13 out of 14 save opportunities this season.


Pirates P Chris Stewart gets start, goes 2 for 3 in win
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(9:58 pm ET) Pirates catcher Chris Stewart was the only member of his club to post a multi-hit game in Friday night's 4-1 victory over the Mets. 

Stewart went 2 for 3 from the plate, which included hitting his third double of the season. The double came in the second inning and scored Gregory Polanco.

This was only Stewart's 15th appearance of the season and 10th start. 

Stewart is now slashing .267/.277/.333 for the season. 


Phillies SP Sean O'Sullivan receives loss in Friday's start
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:55 pm ET) Despite only giving up two runs over six innings of work, Phillies starter Sean O'Sullivan received his third loss of the season during Friday's 2-1 loss to the Nationals.

O'Sullivan allowed five hits during the outing. He struck out three batters and walked one. His biggest mistake was surrendering a solo home run to Bryce Harper in the second inning.

O'Sullivan has not pitched past the sixth inning in any of five starts this season. His next scheduled start is set for Wednesday at the New York Mets.


Mets P Noah Syndergaard strikes out 5 in loss to Pirates
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(9:53 pm ET) Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard fell to 1-2 for the season after losing Friday night's game 4-1 to the Pirates. 

Syndergaard, the heralded 22-year-old, allowed four runs — three earned — in six innings of work. He gave up seven hits, struck out five and didn't surrender any walks. He now holds an ERA of 3.63 this season. 

After giving up five walks in his first two starts, it's a good sign that Syndergaard was able to prevent any from occurring against the Pirates. 

Syndergaard's next start is projected for May 27 against the Phillies. 


Nationals SP Max Scherzer earns fifth win of season Friday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:49 pm ET) Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer allowed one run on four hits over eight innings of work to earn his fifth win of the season during Friday's 2-1 win over the Phillies.

By going eight innings, Scherzer became the first Nationals pitcher since Livan Hernandez in 2005 to pitch at least seven innings in seven-straight starts.

Scherzer (5-3) struck out six batters and walked one during Friday's start. He was able to lower his ERA from 1.75 to 1.67. The one run Scherzer allowed during the game came in the second inning when Odubel Herrera doubled in Maikel Franco.

His next expected start is scheduled for Wednesday at the Chicago Cubs.


Pirates' Mark Melancon earns save against Mets
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(9:49 pm ET) Pirates pitcher Mark Melancon recorded his 10th save of the season in Friday night's 4-1 win over the Mets. 

Melancon took over for starter Gerrit Cole in the ninth inning and recorded the game's final two outs. This marked Melancon's fourth appearance in a row without allowing an earned run. He now holds an ERA of 3.15 this season. 


 
 
 
Rankings