Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Gameday Inactives
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Red Zone Stats
Teams
Schedules
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Teams
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
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
  •  
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
John Danks runs out of gas, but picks up a win Friday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11:15 pm ET) White Sox pitcher John Danks ran out of gas late against the Twins.

Danks allowed four runs on six hits over seven innings of work. He struck out five and did not issue any walks. Danks was fairly solid early on, but ran out of gas late. He gave up a sacrifice fly in the second inning, but tossed three straight scoreless innings after giving up his first run. In the sixth, Chris Colabello was able to drive in two runs on a single. The following inning, Oswaldo Arcia added a solo home run. Danks threw 100 pitches during the outing.

The White Sox offense exploded early, giving Danks the win. He improved to 9-6 on the year. Danks will take on the Tigers in his next start.


Francisco Rodriguez has ninth-inning meltdown vs. Mets
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:15 pm ET) Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez (4-4) was not at his best on Friday, as he was charged with a blown save and loss at home against the Mets.

Rodriguez allowed a run-scoring single to David Wright in the ninth inning to cut the lead in half, then a two-run home run to Lucas Duda to lose the lead. He was charged with three runs on four hits and no walks while striking out two over one inning of work. He owns a 3.10 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP over 49 1/3 innings of relief.

Kevin Correia blasted by the White Sox
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11:14 pm ET) Twins pitcher Kevin Correia was blasted by the White Sox Friday.

Correia ran into trouble almost immediately. After giving up two singles to open the game, Correia allowed a three run home run to Jose Abreu to break things open. After a scoreless second inning, Alexei Ramirez took Correia deep for a solo shot to open the third. Gordon Beckham would also plate a run on an error. Correia would allow two additional runs to score in the fourth inning before leaving the game.

Correia allowed seven runs, six earned, on 10 hits over four innings of work. He walked two and did not record any strikeouts. With the loss, Correia dropped to 5-13 on the year. He will take on the Royals in his next start. 


Steve Cishek fans two, picks up 25th save
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:13 pm ET) Marlins closer Steve Cishek struck out two and needed 18 pitches to retire the side in order to close out a 2-0 win in Houston on Friday. Cishek has converted 25 saves in 28 opportunities. He owns a 3.25 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP over 44 1/3 innings of relief.

Brad Hand blanks Astros for second straight win
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:10 pm ET) Marlins starting pitcher Brad Hand continued to pitch well Friday night against the Astros in Houston, limiting hitters to three hits in 7 1/3 scoreless innings to improve to 2-2 on the year. The right-hander struck out four and walked two in 97 pitches, 66 for strikes.

Hand has won back-to-back starts since returning from the All-Star break. He owns a 4.19 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP over 53 2/3 innings of work this season. His next start will come Wednesday at home against Washington.

Yovani Gallardo nearly snaps winless skid
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:01 pm ET) Brewers starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo was unable to snap his winless skid because of the bullpen and was pegged with a no-decision Friday against the Mets. The right-hander allowed four hits and no walks while striking out eight over 7 2/3 scoreless innings of a 3-2 defeat.

It was Gallardo's first start without allowing a run since June 8 against Pittsburgh. He owns a 3.57 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP over 21 starts (128 2/3 innings). He will look to snap a six-start winless skid Wednesday at Tampa Bay.

Joaquin Benoit records four-out save vs. Braves
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:58 pm ET) Padres relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit endured a shaky outing but still managed to pick up the save Friday night against the Braves in Atlanta.

Benoit struck out two and issued two walks over 1 1/3 innings of work to close out a 5-2 win. He needed 23 pitches to record the final four outs of the game. He converted his first save since April 19 and since earning his role as the closer. He owns a 1.93 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP over 42 innings of relief this season.

Alex Wood can't solve the Padres, drops under .500
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:55 pm ET) Braves pitcher Alex Wood took a step backward Friday night against the Padres, dropping to 7-8 on the season. The right-hander permitted five runs -- four earned -- on 12 hits and one walk while striking out four over five innings of a 5-2 defeat.

Over his last three starts covering 16 1/3 innings, Wood has allowed nine earned runs. He owns a 3.44 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP over 96 2/3 innings of work. His next start will come Wednesday against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Jesse Hahn twirls a gem in win over Braves
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:53 pm ET) Padres pitcher Jesse Hahn twirled a gem Friday night against the Braves in Atlanta, improving to 6-2 on the year. The right-hander allowed only one run on three hits and three walks while striking out four over six innings of a 5-2 victory.

Over his last two starts covering 12 innings, Hahn has allowed only two earned runs. He owns a 2.12 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP over eight starts (46 2/3 innings). He will make his next start Wednesday at home against St. Louis.

Zack Wheeler looks sharp in no-decision
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10:52 pm ET) Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler put together a quality start in a no-decision Friday night against the Brewers in Milwaukee. The right-hander gave up two runs -- one earned -- on three hits and two walks while striking out nine over 6 2/3 innings of a 3-2 victory.

Over his last five starts covering 32 innings, Wheeler has permitted only five earned runs. He owns a 3.64 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP over 21 starts (121 innings). His next start will come Wednesday at home against Philadelphia.

 
 
 
Rankings