Sell High Candidates: Pittsburgh Pirates Edition: How Should We Proceed With Jeff Locke & Starling Marte

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Pittsburgh Pirates are off to another great start, but can they actually sustain it this year?  Time will tell, but good teams tend to lead to players outperforming their ability.  In turn, that means the potential for the savvy fantasy owner to cash in.  Two of the better producing Pirates, Jeff Locke & Starling Marte, potentially fall into this class.  Let’s take a look at each player to try and determine if we should hold onto them or try to sell high (all stats are through Sunday, June 16):

Jeff Locke – Starting Pitcher
A preseason favorite here at Rotoprofessor, Locke has delivered in the early going with a 2.19 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. While the numbers are great, that doesn’t mean that he is a pitcher worth holding onto for much longer.

One of the selling points for Locke heading into the season was his strikeout potential, something that hasn’t been there thus far overall (6.56 overall K/9). So far in June he does own an 8.84 mark, however, with 18 K over 18.1 IP. If he can maintain that type of number, or even be reasonably close, our view of him will change dramatically.

Locke’s overall control has not been there as well, with a 3.94 BB/9. Unlike the strikeouts, he has actually been even worse in June with a 4.91 BB/9. He needs to get that in order, because thus far his luck metrics have helped to skew his results. The owner of a .233 BABIP (despite a 20.9% line drive rate) and 84.4% strand rate, there is little question that he could easily face a regression.

The key to Locke is going to be maintaining the increased strikeout rate while rectifying his control. It’s something he can do, having shown an 8.32 K/9 and 2.73 BB/9 at Triple-A last season. If he can’t, the numbers are going to fall in a hurry.

Recommendation: He’s earned the benefit of the doubt, especially with the increased Ks. It’s worth holding him for at least one more start, to see what happens, but be ready to sell high quickly.

Starling Marte – Outfielder
He’s been compared to Andrew McCutchen and, early on this season, it’s been fair. He currently owns a .287 average to go along with 6 HR, 19 RBI, 42 R and 20 SB.

Before we get too excited, there are a few concerns, most notably is his .357 BABIP. While its not ridiculously high, given his speed, you can definitely argue that it is a bit inflated. He showed the regression in May (.243 due to a .291 BABIP), so it is something that needs to be monitored closely.

He also is prone to straying from the strike zone, with an O-Swing% of 37.9%. Among those that qualify for the batting title, that is 15th worst in the league. Couple it with the fact that his O-Contact% is 60.8% (average is 66.6%) and the idea of his average falling is for real.

Obviously, he offers some power and plenty of speed, plus he is going to score runs hitting atop the Pirates order, we just need to keep everything in perspective.

Recommendation – He’s worth shopping, just to see, but a slightly declined average isn’t enough to sell him unless you get overwhelmed.

What are your thoughts of these two players?  Do you view them as sell high candidates?  Why or why not?

One comment

  1. Sam says:

    In a 16 team mixed keeper league I’m nearly in first. I sold Marte/Xander Boegarts for James Shields and Denard Span. I think Marte has done all he’s going to do for me this year.

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