by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
San Diego starters have not been bad this season, overall, but Andrew Cashner is on the DL and Eric Stults (4.50 ERA) and Robbie Erlin (4.60 ERA) have failed to impress. The Padres may not be in win now mode, but they certainly have ample options in the minors to try and get better production. Let’s take a look at a few of the youngsters who could soon make an impact:
He’s struggled since being promoted to Triple-A (12.71 ERA, 2.65 WHIP), but he also may be going through an adjustment to the Pacific Coast League. In 26 Double-A starts he owns a 2.80 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 9.2 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9.
He’s not a groundball pitcher (39.5% in his minor league career), and that’s where the problem has been since being promoted. In 11.1 IP he’s allowed 5 HR, so it’s possible that he’s your prototypical Padres pitcher who thrives at home but struggles on the road.
Prior to the season Baseball America described his stuff by saying:
“Wisler pounds both sides of the plate with a 92-93 mph heater that features plus life and solid sinking action. He can dial his fastball up to 95 mph when he needs it, though he just as effectively deploys an assortment of quality secondary pitches, including a low-80s slider that grades as plus. Just when opposing hitters begin looking for the hard stuff, Wisler will drop in an average changeup or, later in the game, a fringy mid-70s curveball.”
He will likely be a streaming option when pitching at home, at worst, but his strikeout stuff and control make him an intriguing possibility.
He’s working his way back from Tommy John surgery, but it may not be long now (he threw 6.0 innings at Double-A recently). A first round draft pick back in 2008 by the Red Sox, Kelly made six starts for the Padres back in 2012.
Once a highly touted prospect, he never had excessive strikeout stuff (7.3 K/9 over his minor league career). He always had solid control (2.4 BB/9), something that we need to make sure comes back immediately. If it doesn’t, he’s going to be useless to fantasy owners.
He’s shown an ability to generate groundballs, with a 53.3% mark in 142.2 IP at Double-A in 2011. I know that seems like a long ways off, and it is, but it’s the only stop he’s had recently (thanks to the injury) with enough innings to note. Baseball America also backs up his ability there, saying:
“Kelly wears out the bottom of the zone with a low-90s sinking fastball that features consistent armside run, and generating groundballs is one of his strong suits.”
He also showed the potential for more strikeouts prior to getting hurt in 2012 (39 K over 37.2 IP), just adding to the potential appeal. There are a lot of questions, like:
- Will the control be there still
- Is the improved strikeout rate for real
However, we should get those answers quickly. Injuries have hurt many fantasy squads thus far, so if you are desperate for pitching he’s a name worth monitoring.
Sources – Baseball reference, Minor League Central, Baseball America, MLB.com, MILB.com