As June comes to a close, we are almost at the halfway point of the 2016 campaign. The Cubs World Series parade plans have hit a snag. The Rangers and Giants have closed the gap at the top of the standings.
When you look at the top of the roto Fantasy leaderboard, according to Yahoo all three of the consensus trio of Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt, and Bryce Harper sit outside the Top 8, yet they are all in within the Top 50.
Clayton Kershaw has been Mr. Everything so far in 2016. His stake as Fantasy’s number one option seems to be getting clearer and clearer by the day.
In this week’s Fantasy Lookout, we will take a look at four starting pitchers who have been hot over the past 30 days.
Two of them should be faded, as their underlying peripherals do not support their roto numbers. The other two should make you a believer as they both have underlying data that support their recent performance.
The Fantasy Lookout: Hot Starting Pitchers
Two Starting Pitchers to Fade
Michael Fulmer, SP, Detroit Tigers
Fulmer has hit the ground running during his rookie campaign. He has been solid all year, but especially in the month of June. However, his recent hot streak over the past 30 days warrant a fair amount of caution. His sterling headline numbers including his 0.48 ERA and 0.83 WHIP places him near the top of all starting pitchers, are not supported by his underlying peripherals.
For the most part, Fulmer’s under-the-hood metrics point to a lucky, league average starter. He owns a sub 10-percent K-BB% coupled with essentially league average marks for both his swinging strike rate (10.6-percent) and first pitch strike rate (56.6-percent). Fulmer has been lucky, as his batted ball profile has not significantly deviated from the MLB average. However, he has managed to post a .162 BABIP and 98.2-percent LOB%. Also, his 3.1-percent HR/FB ratio is not sustainable.
The ERA estimators reside in the 3.50 to 4.50 range for both Fulmer’s recent 30-day performance and his year-to-date performance. This seems like a good place to start regarding a rest of year expectation. There is no question that Fulmer has impressed and that he has a bright future ahead of him. Just don’t expect him to realize his full potential in 2016.
Steven Wright, SP, Boston Red Sox
The Bean Town Knuckler has been incredible all year and Wright has found another gear over the past 30 days. His Fantasy owners have to be elated with his recent 1.41 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but after a little digging you’ll see there are plenty of red flags.
Not surprisingly, Wright does not have impeccable control, but his strikeout rate is also not elite. In total, Wright has only managed an 8.2-percent K-BB% mark over the past 30 days. While his hard hit rate allowed has been very good, more importantly his near league average line drive rate has resulted in a fortunately low BABIP of just .242.
As with Fulmer, Wright’s ERA estimators for both his recent 30 days and his full year performance are all clustered between 3.50 and 4.50. This is a far cry from his actual posted ERA figures. It is safe to say that the Regression Police are on the hunt for Steven Wright. He may still be amongst the mixed league relevant starting pitchers, just don’t expect the ace-like ratios to continue.
Two Starting Pitchers to Believe
Trevor Bauer, SP Cleveland Indians
After failing to secure a rotation spot out of Spring Training, Bauer received another shot following a hamstring injury to Carlos Carrasco in late April. Needless to say, Bauer has impressed and the spot in the rotation is his to keep, even with Carrasco back healthy. Over the past 30 days, not only has Bauer compiled an ERA of 2.22 along with a WHIP of 1.01, but his underlying numbers also look fantastic.
He owns a solid K-BB% of nearly 18-percent, which would be a career best, mainly due to a significant improvement with his control. Over the past month, his walk rate is 6.3-percent, while his career mark is north of 10-percent. He has recorded a BABIP of .275 and LOB% of 76.2-percent, so it is hard to call him lucky, especially when you take a gander at his batted ball profile. He is doing a great job of limiting line drives and hard contact, as Bauer has posted marks materially below the league average for both. He has also managed to post a ground ball rate slightly over 50-percent, which is noteworthy since his career mark comes in at sub-40-percent.
Bauer’s ERA estimators all lie in the 2.50-3.50 range. As long as his improvements stick, we could be looking at a breakout campaign from this post hype sleeper.
Matt Shoemaker, SP, Los Angels Angels of Anaheim
Shoemaker struggled so much in April that was demoted to Triple-A on May 1. However, his time there was brief and he has been lights out since his return to the Angels. When you look at his numbers over the past 30 days, a 2.44 ERA and 1.04 WHIP, you can’t be anything but impressed. Then, when you take a peek at his underlying peripherals, you start to get downright giddy.
Shoemaker owns an elite K-BB% of 26.7-percent, which ranks fourth in all of a baseball over the past month. This is supported by an elite swinging strike rate of 16.3-percent (ranks 2nd) and an elite first pitch strike rate of 69.2-percent (ranks 10th). It may be a touch concerning that both his line drive rate and hard hit rate are above league average, but he has seem to manage fine despite his BABIP of .336. Shoemaker’s velocity over the past 30 days has been great too (at least for him), as his average fastball is nearly up two MPH from last year. He has also increased the usage of his splitter at the expense of his fastball.
With all of Shoemaker’s ERA estimators below 3.00, it does not appear that his improvements are a short-term fluke. Since his solid rookie campaign of 2014, we have seen the good and bad of Shoemaker. The post-April 2016 version looks like the best one yet.
Fantasy owners are always on the lookout for starting pitchers. You just need to make sure that you know what you are getting. Until next week’s Fantasy Lookout, enjoy the games!
Data courtesy of www.fangraphs.com
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- The Fantasy Lookout: A Look Towards 2018; Sleeper And Bust Edition - September 20, 2017