bogfella

Pitcher Value Touts

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Oh wow. It sounds like a basic question but in reality its pretty complex. I could write a book more easily than getting it all in a post here on the forums but I will throw out a couple of thoughts for what they are worth.

First of all, I generally start looking at guys long before they hit the fantasy mags. In the old days, if a guy wasn't in MLB, most people knew very little about him and you could steal some serious talent without much effort. Today, there is a lot more info and hype is a killer for value shopping. That said, quite a few of my 2008 or 2009 guys are just now making a major impact at the MLB level and thats what it takes to get really good ones on the cheap.

One other note before I get into what to watch for. Its just as important to watch for pretenders. Every year some guys get unwarranted hype or start off like the next Cy Young but most of these are guys you want to avoid. I have actually grinned from ear to ear when someone one of my leagues jumped all over a flavor of the week arm.

Ok ... so here are a few things I watch for:

* Fastball - most pitches are set up by a fastball. Its not everything but having a good one makes life much easier. Velocity is good. Movement is good. Velocity AND movement are great! Also watch to see if the v&m last deeper into games. Does the pitcher look overextended when he "reaches back" for more? When he does, does he lose movement? Is the motion, arm slot and stride consistent on each fastball? How are the hitters reacting on the fastball? Are they able to time it 1st time through? 2nd? 3rd? Are they swinging and missing, fouling pitches off, or taking strikes? When the hitter makes contact, are the hits rockets or dribblers? A note here ... a fairly new metric which actually does tell a lot is line drive percentage. And thats just a few of the things to watch when grading a fastball.

* Pitch Repertoire - Very few MLB starting pitchers can be consistently successful with fewer than 3 solid pitches. You must learn to recognize various pitches and then know how to grade them. Keep in mind younger players often have to refine a couple of the pitches they will need to be successful at the MLB level. That said, the secondary pitches for young guys are often there but very inconsistent. He may ace every third slider while the other 2 are beach balls on a tee for the hitter. If that 3rd one is really crisp, I will generally want to see the pitcher again in a few weeks or months to see how the consistency is coming along. Improvement gets the guy moved up on the watch list. Can he change speeds without everyone in the park knowing it before he releases the ball? What kind of angle does he have on his breaking pitches - sharp on a down plane and late is best. A feel for a change is really important. Without an effective change up the guy is likely destined for the bullpen no matter how good the other stuff is (obviously there are exceptions and some bullpen guys have awesome other pitches so they are very successful there).

* Control vs Command - Big difference. Most professional pitchers can throw strikes (control). Some don't have the quality of pitches to make them work and others never really get beyond throwing "strikes" with at least some regularity. They top shelf guys go beyond strikes and have "command" ... they can consistently hit specific spots within the strikezone and they can do it with quality pitches, not just get me over pitches. Watch the catcher. If he puts down a target and never moves, thats command. If he looks like a soccer goalie behind the plate even though most of the pitches are strikes, thats a concern. Again, very young guys typically have problems with consistent command. Note that a "finesse" pitcher without overpowering stuff MUST master command to be effective.

* Hitter Reactions - A very telling observation. If the hitters are consistently off balance, taking weak swings, watching clean strikes go by, way out on their front foot, swinging late, failing to make solid (that line drive %) contact, or actually have a "confused" look about them, the pitcher has it together. Therefore watching hitters is a part of evaluating pitchers. These things can be something deceptive in the pitcher's delivery (ok) or the pitches can be of such high quality that the hitter struggles to adjust to various offerings. This is a pretty big thing for the younger guys because if they aren't fooling A or AA hitters, they sure won't fool MLB hitters who are MUCH better at adjusting and they can do it within an AB let alone a game. Also be sure to watch and judge whether the solid hits were mistakes (remember the young pitcher could still be developing that pitch and he may hang more of them than he will when he gets it together - how did they react on that one really crisp slider?).

* Poise or Mound Presence - This is really hard to define and my evaluations are based on years of doing it rather than a textbook description. Lets just say you should watch to see how the pitcher reacts in a jam, pitching out of the stretch, having to throw a high percentage of critical pitches (takes much more out of a pitcher physically and mentally than just cruising), reaction when he loses his command or even control, confidence in his repertoire when he gives up a couple of moonshots or rockets, appropriate pitch selection (I'm not crazy about guys who fall in love with 1 pitch for example), and changes in mechanics when things are not going as well as he might like.

Well, I think thats enough for a post here lol. Even though its a relatively small percentage of the things I note when watching a young arm, it probably gives you some feel for things that can set guys apart from the crowd.

EDIT: Please note - these are broad stroke comments! There are exceptions and viable reasons why a pitcher might not perform up to standards so you have to use your own judgment sometimes. Here's an example. Were you aware that teams sometimes make a young pitcher throw a high percentage of a certain pitch they want him to develop or even don't allow him to throw his best pitch so he gains confidence and learns to live with his secondary offerings. Those times can be scary lol

Love this post.... Who are the guys who fit this bill for 2011? B)

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Another guy I like is Chris Sale. He is still unproven but he's got great stuff and could be the closer when the season starts.

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Love this post.... Who are the guys who fit this bill for 2011? B)

To my RW Forum friends ...

I hope you'll understand, but I have another commitment for the more in-depth analysis and projections of contributions from pitchers in 2011 and beyond. And given that, its not possible for me to get into all of the names on my watch list. I do enjoy the informed conversations here to be sure and I will comment as I can :)

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Another guy I like is Chris Sale. He is still unproven but he's got great stuff and could be the closer when the season starts.

Its obviously too early to tell, but I have a hunch they stretch out Sale and use him as the #5 starter, until Peavy returns from injury. I'm not buying for one bit that Peavy will be ready anytime in April, no matter what he/organization says. Thornton will be the closer, has been the stud in waiting for a while now, and they signed Ohman to get tough lefties out, that was a telling sign to me IMO. That said, I agree Sale does have a great arm, & I hope the Sox don't pull a Morrow on him by yo-yo'ng him back & forth.

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Hey Bog, what do you think of Gallardo this year? Can he finally put together a full season and become that "Ace" many thought he'd become? I think a normalized babip alone, would help his whip. If he finally has the stamina for a full season, we could be looking at the start of many top 10 season. I'm wondering what do you think tho?

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Hey Bog, what do you think of Gallardo this year? Can he finally put together a full season and become that "Ace" many thought he'd become? I think a normalized babip alone, would help his whip. If he finally has the stamina for a full season, we could be looking at the start of many top 10 season. I'm wondering what do you think tho?

In a word, yes. I feel Gallardo is right on the edge of becoming an elite starter.

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In a word, yes. I feel Gallardo is right on the edge of becoming an elite starter.

You can't help but worry about his tendancy to waste pitches and struggle to get through six on many nights though. I was hoping to see improvement here last year, but if anything I would argue that it's possible he regressed in this area, especially after his DL stint.

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You can't help but worry about his tendancy to waste pitches and struggle to get through six on many nights though. I was hoping to see improvement here last year, but if anything I would argue that it's possible he regressed in this area, especially after his DL stint.

Can't really argue with this. However, its part of the maturity process and there are distinct signs that he is learning the lessons. Without question being a #1 equates to being able to pitch deeper into games. That means pitching to contact when necessary, knowing when to use a hammer in a tough spot, knowing when and who to challenge etc. One of the reasons only a few pitchers become legitimate aces very quickly is that the elite status usually requires both exceptional stuff AND well-developed pitching savvy. Gallardo definitely has the former and appears to be closing in on the latter. As I often like to say about Gallardo-types, the clock is ticking on being able to get this guy at any kind of discount.

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I personally am enamored with Hamels. As an avid Phillies fan, I've followed him for a long time now.

Hamels down year in 2009 was mainly due to a lack of conditioning. The guy came off a WS MVP and slacked off. He wasn't in shape, was behind all spring, never was able to get to where he was used to, and lost significant velocity because of it. You can also make a BABIP argument here as well. In 2010, he improved on his conditioning, and re-gained his velocity. He also added a third pitch (cutter), and mixes in a 4th (curve) on occasion.

All accounts say Hamels is in the best shape of his life. The Phillies pitching coach today said he could go out and pitch right now. Last year, he would throw his cutter and curve, but his command was in and out and game to game. He now gets another spring to refine these pitches further. If he gets to a place where he can throw 3 or 4 pitches in any count ... look out.

It's also important not to lose sight of the mental aspect with Hamels. The guy was a baby in 2007 - 2009. He's gone from throwing a conniption when a fielder made a bad play to shaking it off and getting out of a jam. Guys like Lee and Halladay have had a huge impact on Hamels mental focus and work ethic. I can understand the reasoning for those who say Hamels will stay flat this year, but it's going to be proven wrong.

Hamels will be a top 10 pitcher, yet won't be drafted in the top 10. He's an easy + in my book and I think there is a significant chance that if he stays healthy he out performs Lee and Oswalt with ease, and is toeing the line with Halladay.

Food for thought.

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I personally am enamored with Hamels. As an avid Phillies fan, I've followed him for a long time now.

Hamels down year in 2009 was mainly due to a lack of conditioning. The guy came off a WS MVP and slacked off. He wasn't in shape, was behind all spring, never was able to get to where he was used to, and lost significant velocity because of it. You can also make a BABIP argument here as well. In 2010, he improved on his conditioning, and re-gained his velocity. He also added a third pitch (cutter), and mixes in a 4th (curve) on occasion.

All accounts say Hamels is in the best shape of his life. The Phillies pitching coach today said he could go out and pitch right now. Last year, he would throw his cutter and curve, but his command was in and out and game to game. He now gets another spring to refine these pitches further. If he gets to a place where he can throw 3 or 4 pitches in any count ... look out.

It's also important not to lose sight of the mental aspect with Hamels. The guy was a baby in 2007 - 2009. He's gone from throwing a conniption when a fielder made a bad play to shaking it off and getting out of a jam. Guys like Lee and Halladay have had a huge impact on Hamels mental focus and work ethic. I can understand the reasoning for those who say Hamels will stay flat this year, but it's going to be proven wrong.

Hamels will be a top 10 pitcher, yet won't be drafted in the top 10. He's an easy + in my book and I think there is a significant chance that if he stays healthy he out performs Lee and Oswalt with ease, and is toeing the line with Halladay.

Food for thought.

I'm going to have to say I agree with this. I own him in every keeper league I'm in (thank you for that 2009 bump in the road Cole so I could get you at a discount) and I still see him getting better. Good call, kit!

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Its obviously too early to tell, but I have a hunch they stretch out Sale and use him as the #5 starter, until Peavy returns from injury. I'm not buying for one bit that Peavy will be ready anytime in April, no matter what he/organization says. Thornton will be the closer, has been the stud in waiting for a while now, and they signed Ohman to get tough lefties out, that was a telling sign to me IMO. That said, I agree Sale does have a great arm, & I hope the Sox don't pull a Morrow on him by yo-yo'ng him back & forth.

Sale is going to start 2011 in the 'pen. Sox will have a general schmuck pitch in the 5 slot until Peavy comes back. Sounds like the right move for the Sox. If Peavy (or anyone else) goes down for a long period of time, it's Sale time.

Edited by 2ndCitySox

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I personally am enamored with Hamels. As an avid Phillies fan, I've followed him for a long time now.

Hamels down year in 2009 was mainly due to a lack of conditioning. The guy came off a WS MVP and slacked off. He wasn't in shape, was behind all spring, never was able to get to where he was used to, and lost significant velocity because of it. You can also make a BABIP argument here as well. In 2010, he improved on his conditioning, and re-gained his velocity. He also added a third pitch (cutter), and mixes in a 4th (curve) on occasion.

All accounts say Hamels is in the best shape of his life. The Phillies pitching coach today said he could go out and pitch right now. Last year, he would throw his cutter and curve, but his command was in and out and game to game. He now gets another spring to refine these pitches further. If he gets to a place where he can throw 3 or 4 pitches in any count ... look out.

It's also important not to lose sight of the mental aspect with Hamels. The guy was a baby in 2007 - 2009. He's gone from throwing a conniption when a fielder made a bad play to shaking it off and getting out of a jam. Guys like Lee and Halladay have had a huge impact on Hamels mental focus and work ethic. I can understand the reasoning for those who say Hamels will stay flat this year, but it's going to be proven wrong.

Hamels will be a top 10 pitcher, yet won't be drafted in the top 10. He's an easy + in my book and I think there is a significant chance that if he stays healthy he out performs Lee and Oswalt with ease, and is toeing the line with Halladay.

Food for thought.

I'm a Phils fan and I also agree. His FB was touching 97-98 at times during the 2nd half last year, and was consistantly 93-95. He was throwing 89-91 in 2009 and in the 1st half of last year. The new cutter is also huge. I won't be surprised if he's a Top 5 SP and gets Cy Young votes, barring injury.

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Before everyone gets too many stars in their eyes, remember, the key IMO to Hamels upside is the assumption of improved control on his secondary pitches. Without that, he'll be an = to small +, the + coming only because of a slight upgrade in W's, his other numbers should be flat.

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I have a question about Mark Rogers. How good is he?

His BB rate is high (hovered around 14-15% in the minors last season), but he's a good strikeout guy, with very good stuff. He's obviously an injury risk, and not even sure he'll make it out as the 5th starter, but can't this guy come up soon for the Brewers this season? His fastball can get upto 97, has a good slider and curve. Obviously a risky guy here with injury and BB rates. But I'd just like to know what others think of him. Stuff seems legit, one more year removed from shoulder surgery, and he has to be better than Narveson, right? Is Rogers a sneaky upside guy, or am I over thinking it on this one? Former top 5 pick in the draft as well, so could he be a post hype sleeper?

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I have a question about Mark Rogers. How good is he?

His BB rate is high (hovered around 14-15% in the minors last season), but he's a good strikeout guy, with very good stuff. He's obviously an injury risk, and not even sure he'll make it out as the 5th starter, but can't this guy come up soon for the Brewers this season? His fastball can get upto 97, has a good slider and curve. Obviously a risky guy here with injury and BB rates. But I'd just like to know what others think of him. Stuff seems legit, one more year removed from shoulder surgery, and he has to be better than Narveson, right? Is Rogers a sneaky upside guy, or am I over thinking it on this one? Former top 5 pick in the draft as well, so could he be a post hype sleeper?

I think you are right, he is probably a better option than Chris Narveson down the road. However, the Brewers appear to feel they are set with Narveson as their #5 to open the season. It just comes down to opportunity. By mid season, if Rogers progresses and Narveson is shaky you could see him get a shot. Obviously, any injuries could also open the door.

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Bogfella- What are your thoughts on Wade Davis this year? I love prospect-pedigree pitchers who have underperformed. His K-Rate last year seemed way out of whack...

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Bogfella- What are your thoughts on Wade Davis this year and in the future? I love targeting prospect-pedigree pitchers who have underperformed. His K-Rate last year seemed way out of whack with his MiLB numbers and even his brief 2009 numbers in the Bigs. He gave up more homers last year than he typically does and he seemed to give them up at bad times.

He doesn't have quite the stuff that Price has, for example, and thus won't have the same K-Rates as Price. However, Price's first full year in the bigs was also a huge adjustment period and he didn't perform well. Wade's walks are definitely a problem as well, but I can see that improving. He has not yet developed his secondary stuff to the point where he relies upon them in tough situations, so he overuses his fastball. I read an article somewhere that talked about Wade over-using his fastball when behind in the count in lieu of using breaking pitches to induce a foul ball or groundout. Once he feels more comfortable locating his secondary stuff I think his Ks will go up, his walks will go down and he will also not overuse the fastball in high-leverage situations and stop giving up long balls at bad times.

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I had to dig to page 3 for this gem - unacceptable.

Bog - can we get your opinion on the Cuban Cliff Lee, Yunesky Maya? You said a couple words about him but would love to get a little more word on him. Thanks!

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I'll throw out a little on both Davis and Maya ...

Florida, I think you hit it on the head with Davis. He is in transition to the MLB level and while he does not have the ceiling of a Price, I think he could settle in as solid middle of the rotation SP. He might be a pretty decent value pick this year as so many are focused on Price and/or super-hype Hellickson - both of whom I expect to be overpriced in most leagues.

As for Maya, I saw some film when he was still in Cuba, watched him when he was so obviously rust burdened late last year with the Nats, then heard "he looked just like he did when he was at the top of his game" while pitching in winter ball. If that's true, and I am dying to see him this spring, I'll be impressed. My biggest concern is where the Nats will slot him - opportunity is a HUGE part of value - They have about 8 guys vying for rotation spots. At least half of them are weak options at best but they are unlikely to gas names like Livan or Marquis right out of the box. So who gets the first month of #4 and #5 (adding Zimmermann into the top 3)? Wang? Lannan? Gorzellany? Gaudin? Detwiler? Maya?

My guess, and its pure speculation on my part, is that they are targeting 2012. Strasburg is back as #1, Zimmermann is more experienced and slots at #2, and the real upside guys start auditioning mid-season this year for the other spots. With luck they will have built some trade value into the guys who are not really the answer going forward. Now you are looking at a strong 2012 rotation with Zimmerman, Harper, Werth, one of their young Cs and a young MI with a year together as the nucleus of a playoff contender. This organization is doing it right imho.

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Bog,

can you comment on Mike Pelfrey this year? I haven't heard any mention of him anywhere on this forum & think he's a pretty good pitcher. Thanks.

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Bog,

can you comment on Mike Pelfrey this year? I haven't heard any mention of him anywhere on this forum & think he's a pretty good pitcher. Thanks.

To be honest, I am pretty blah on Pelfrey. He has a better arm than his numbers would suggest, but he never has impressed me with his mound presence, and he doesn't really fool many hitters. He has a decent sinking fastball but none of his other pitches are what I would consider + offerings. With good, not great stuff, if you don't have at least 3 quality pitches you can throw at any time, getting through a lineup 3 or more times is always going to be problematic - he has 1 and occasionally 2.

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Hey Bogs

Wondering if you had a sec to say anything about Barry Enright and Cory Luebke.

Both play in the NL west - good matchups. both had pretty good minor league numbers and did ok in their respective call ups last year.

I know i'm digging deep here, but i'm in a dynasty league and wondering if they are holds or instant drops.

Thanks!

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Hey Bogs

Wondering if you had a sec to say anything about Barry Enright and Cory Luebke.

Both play in the NL west - good matchups. both had pretty good minor league numbers and did ok in their respective call ups last year.

I know i'm digging deep here, but i'm in a dynasty league and wondering if they are holds or instant drops.

Thanks!

Neither of these guys are must haves imho. Basically, they are the same guy - average stuff with limited upside. If I had to choose one, it would be Luebke. He works the plate pretty well, especially in and out, and when a guy doesn't have exceptional stuff I want them to be able to pitch to spots consistently. The fact that he does show command of the strike zone plays particularly well in San Diego.

I don't think either will be much more than a back of the rotation fantasy starter, but Luebke could be a bit useful if he continues to mature. If there isn't a better ceiling available, he could be worth a shot.

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Neither of these guys are must haves imho. Basically, they are the same guy - average stuff with limited upside. If I had to choose one, it would be Luebke. He works the plate pretty well, especially in and out, and when a guy doesn't have exceptional stuff I want them to be able to pitch to spots consistently. The fact that he does show command of the strike zone plays particularly well in San Diego.

I don't think either will be much more than a back of the rotation fantasy starter, but Luebke could be a bit useful if he continues to mature. If there isn't a better ceiling available, he could be worth a shot.

Thanks Bogs! Your reply was expected but i was hoping you would say one of those guys is a sneaky sleeper! B)

Rotoworld should put you on their payroll!

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Bog- I am interested to hear your thoughts on Haren. Forgive me if you mentioned it already, I did a search and didn't find your opinion. He definitely had issues with the long ball last year and was a bit unlucky. But his K-Rate was still excellent and he is being drafted much lower than last year. He is being drafted with Greinke and Gallardo and I see him with more potential for a 3.00 ERA season than those guys.

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