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Buying Unlucky 2014 Rookie Pitchers – Part 1

Thanks to an incredible amount of detail from an advanced statistics perspective, we as fantasy baseball analysts have the ability to dig deep and uncover key facts & insights to give us an edge over our competitors. This is the first installment in a series of articles looking at 2014 MLB rookies who haven’t had luck on their side in their inaugural season.

Josh Fields

Fields has had a very interesting year, to say the least. He’s thrown 54.2 MLB innings thus far and has put some pretty exciting numbers together. His ability to strike batters out is among the league leaders at 11.52 per 9, while keep walks in relative check (2.8 BB/9). He’s been a victim of a high BABIP (.343) and a low strand rate (60.4%) which are driving the discrepancy between his xFIP (3.15) and actual ERA (4.45).

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Chad Qualls currently has the 9th inning role in Houston, but is getting up there in age and can’t be seen as a long-term option at the closer position. He’s under contract for 2015 at $3 million which may prevent Fields from stepping into that role at the start of the year, unless Qualls is moved in the offseason. This is certainly a possibility as Houston will be focusing on bringing in more talent to help their rotation in particular. Fields’ strikeout skills will eventually get him a shot in the closer role, which is likely to happen as early as April or May of next year. Keep a close eye on this situation over the offseason as he can easily become a top 15 closer in the MLB given his potential for 80+ Ks over a full year.

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Trevor May

I’ve always been intrigued with Trevor May as a prospect. He exhibited some awesome K rates in the minors but struggled the last few years to put the other pieces of his game together. The Twins acquired him from the Phillies last year and promoted him to the MLB back in August for his first taste of major league action. Needless to say, he looked completely overmatched in his first few starts – pitching to a 10.42 ERA in the month over 5 outings, making it through the 5th inning just once.

[pullquote cite=”Trevor May, Sept 2014″ type=”right”]3.01 xFIP, 3.31 FIP, 10.69 K/9 through 3 starts[/pullquote]

September has been completely different and we are starting to see what he’s capable of, sporting a 3.01 xFIP (3.31 FIP) in the month thus far (3 starts). For the season, his current xFIP sits at 4.44 while his ERA is a hefty 7.71 – over a 3 run difference. A lot of this is being driven by an absurdly high .396 BABIP, which was actually .431 in August! Obviously this is number is not sustainable and we’re due to see plenty of positive in the near future. It’s already started to take shape in September, but there is more room to improve given the .342 BABIP in September.

< Dig more into May’s fanalytics at Fangraphs.com >

What is nice to see are the strikeouts from a fantasy baseball perspective, which he’s been able to pace at almost one per inning (8.74 per 9 IP). May is a tall kid (6’5”), easily projectable with his delivery and plays in a pitcher’s park – making it not too difficult to see why there is some reason for optimism for him over the long haul. He will have his trouble with the free pass, but the upside is there particularly when you look at his ability to strike batters out.

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He’ll fly under the radar in most leagues the rest of the way, but deep league owners who need strikeouts or AL-only managers looking for young pitching should give him a look. He’s a sneaky target in deep dynasty and keeper leagues as well.

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Mike Bolsinger

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Moving over to the National League, Mike Bolsinger jumps off the page as someone who has had a lot of bad luck in 2014 as well. He has a steady base of skills from a K (8.25 K/9) and BB (2.92 BB/9) perspective. With a 3.31 xFIP compared to a 5.50 ERA, we don’t have to look much further than a .355 BABIP to see we can expect better things from Bolsinger once positive regression kicks in.

While he’ll never be an ace in a major league rotation, he’s shown the ability to get batters out at the highest professional level and should have a nice career. He’s back in AAA for the time being, but should get a look in 2015 to help the Diamondbacks at the major league level over the course of the season. Deep league owners and NL-only players should keep this name filed away for when he surfaces on the big league roster as a potential back-end starter option to eat innings and chip in a few Ks.

About the Author

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About Jared Kwart

Jared is an expert fantasy sports player for both DFS and season-long formats. Specializing in DFS Baseball, Football & Basketball, with tens of thousands of dollars in career DFS earnings. Active player on FanDuel, DraftKings & FantasyDraft. Annual NFBC high stakes league participant.

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