Are you in a deep format and looking for help in the strikeout department? Here are a few options owned in fewer than 20% of both ESPN and CBS formats that could be helpful over the final few weeks of the season:
Mark Rogers – Milwaukee Brewers
ESPN = 0.3%, CBS = 5.0%
Rogers was once a highly touted prospect, selected fifth overall back in 2004. He was selected ahead of Billy Butler (#14), Gio Gonzalez (#38) and Huston Street (#40), among others.
Drafted out of high school, Rogers slowly climbed through the Brewers farm system and appeared primed to make an impact during the 2010 season. He had posted a 3.71 ERA and 8.95 K/9 in 24 Double-A starts and even made 4 appearances for the Brewers. However, injuries and control issues in 2011 (which carried into 2012) quickly caused fantasy owners to forget about Rogers.
The control has always been an issue, with a 5.72 BB/9 over his minor league career. That is going to be a risk, but with his strikeout potential (9.33 K/9 in the minors) it is one worth taking, especially since over his past few starts it is looking like he may have figured it out.
Over his first three Major League starts he has posted a 2.04 BB/9. In his final three starts in the minor leagues prior to his recall he had 20 K vs. 5 BB over 19.0 innings. So, in his past six starts (36.2 IP) he has 40 K vs. 9 BB. Anyone complaining about that?
We will learn an awful lot from him in his next start, scheduled in Colorado (though it could be pushed back as he is on paternity leave). There is going to be risk, most notably with his control and his current 27.7% line drive rate (albeit in a small sample size). That said, he could easily continue to strikeout over a batter per inning and, if the control has finally been rectified, he could post impressive overall numbers.
Travis Wood – Chicago Cubs
ESPN = 1.6%, CBS = 16.0%
While he hasn’t consistently shown it on the Major League level (6.89 K/9), Wood actually posted an 8.38 K/9 over his minor league career (including an 8.06 mark at Triple-A). This season he has posted a 6.68 K/9, but he has actually picked things up in the past 30 days. Over this streak he has 29 K over 33.2 IP, meaning he is suddenly looking like a much more intriguing option.
That’s not to say that he is a great overall option, however. Wood has benefited from a .239 BABIP, despite a 22.4% line drive rate. He also has been burnt by the long ball, giving up 1.68 HR/9. He may be able to correct the latter, but the former is going to catch up to him sooner or later.
If you are solely looking for strikeouts he’s a pitcher that is worth considering. If you are looking for an overall package, I’d be more apt to take the risk on another option.
J.A. Happ – Toronto Blue Jays
ESPN = 1.4%, CBS = 16.0%
Happ is going to have his own problems, moving from the NL to AL. I mean, he was terrible pitching in the NL as it is, so how can we expect him to post viable numbers trying to maneuver through the AL East?
The honest answer is that you really can’t. However, like with Wood, if you are solely looking to scrounge up a few strikeouts off the waiver wire Happ does have potential. Over his minor league career he actually posted a 9.17 K/9 and was at 9.31 over 57 Triple-A appearances (55 starts).
In fact, this season he has an overall 8.46 K/9 vs. a 3.34 BB/9. There’s nothing to complain about those numbers, though a 5.04 ERA and 1.44 WHIP obviously scare us away. The problem has been home runs and poor luck (.316 BABIP despite a 16.6% line drive rate). Can we expect better? Probably not, but if you pick your spots he could prove to be an under-the-radar option down the stretch.
What are your thoughts on these options? Would you buy any of them? What other under-the-radar options are you targeting?