There are a lot of starting pitchers who have excelled over the first part of the 2012 season. The question facing fantasy owners is if they should stand by them or should they sell while they can get maximum value. Let’s take a look at a few who the time may be right to part with:
Chris Capuano – Los Angeles Dodgers
In most formats it is hard to imagine Capuano holding much trade value, though the numbers would definitely tell a different story. If someone were simply to look at the statistics and see a pitcher who is 8-2 with a 2.71 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 80 K over 86.1 IP, you would think they’d be interested. Obviously, the name value and the injury history will reduce the potential return.
Also working against him is the fact that he’s unlikely to maintain his early season success. In any season where he’s posted at least 15 appearances Capuano has:
- Never posted a BABIP better than .283 (2005)
- Once posted a WHIP better than 1.30 (he was at 1.25 in 2006)
- Never posted an ERA better than 3.95 (done in 2010 where he made 9 starts in 24 appearances)
A lot of his success has been based on luck. His line drive rate fits with his career trend, as he has an 18.9% mark in 2012 vs. a career 19.2% rate. Yet, his BABIP is .251, by far a career best. Throw in an 81.2% strand rate, as well as continuing to be burned by the long ball (1.04 HR/9) and there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical.
As I said, I’m not sure how much you will actually be able to get for him by I’d try to cash in while you can.
Jarrod Parker – Oakland Athletics
This is a pitcher that I recently parted with and, while I think he has a ton of upside, it just feels like he’s succeeding in 2012 by using mirrors and magic wands. Just look at a few of the key numbers:
- 4.45 BB/9
- .257 BABIP despite a 25.0% line drive rate
- 3.5% HR/FB (2 HR allowed in 60.2 IP)
The last point is not as big of a concern as the other two, as he did post a 0.47 HR/9 over his minor league career. Plus, playing in the big ballpark of Oakland is going to help him reduce the HR allowed. Still, sooner or later you would expect Major League hitters to start catching up to him a bit more, especially considering that he’s not a dominant groundball pitcher (41.1%).
The bigger issues are the first two points. While he has shown good control throughout his minor league career (3.24 BB/9), he did struggle a bit in 2011 after missing all of the 2010 season (3.79 in 26 starts). While you may want to point to his success in four Triple-A starts this season, it’s too small of a sample size to draw conclusions on. In his 10 starts this season he has walked at least 4 batters five times. It’s hard to sustain success when you are doing that.
Then, you throw in the fact that opposing hitters are actually teeing off on him, yet not getting hits, and things become really concerning. In fact, if he qualified for the ERA title his line drive rate would be the third highest in the league behind only Mike Leake (29.8%) and Tim Lincecum (26.3%).
As I’ve said Parker is a pitcher that I love for the future, but unless something changes things are going to turn in 2012. Now is the time to cash in on a strong rookie campaign while you still can.
A few more to consider selling:
- Ryan Vogelsong – San Francisco Giants – Last season we kept waiting for the other shoe to drop for Vogelsong and it just never did. How long can we really press our luck? He has done a better job of keeping opposing hitters from squaring up on the ball (17.8% line drive rate vs. a 20.4% mark last season), but is even luckier in the BABIP (.246) and strand rate (83.7%, which is the best mark in the league). Other people are going to buy in by now, but there is a strong case to be made that now is the time to sell to maximize his trade value.
- Ryan Dempster – Chicago Cubs – I have never been Dempster’s biggest fan, so those who have read the site for some time shouldn’t be surprised to find his name on this list. However, the numbers and the trade talk make now the perfect time to deal him. Yes, going to a contender will help in the wins department, but he’s been lucky in both the BABIP (.235, sixth best in the league) and strand rate (83.1%, tied for second best) departments. A regression should come, so cash in on the hype. (Update: This was obviously written prior to Dempster heading to the DL. Unfortunately we are going to have to wait a few weeks to deal him but, once healthy, I would look to cash in.)