Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Tyler Skaggs & Justin Verlander

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

When you look at poor luck in the strand rate department, you may want to be quick and dub the pitcher a must buy option.  However, that’s simply not always the case.  Let’s take a look at two of the pitchers with the unluckiest strand rates in the first half to help determine if they are options to buy or deny:


Tyler Skaggs – Los Angeles Angeles
He has been a relative disappointment thus far, with a 4.50 ERA, but he also owns a 1.25 WHIP and a ton of upside to go along with it.  His BABIP is solid, at .297 courtesy of a 19.8% line drive rate.  He also has been plagued by terrible luck, with a 61.8% strand rate.  Obviously we have to think that it will improve as the season progresses, taking his ERA with it.

Skaggs has shown terrific control, with a 2.44 BB/9.  With a minor league mark of 3.0, it’s not completely unreasonable though even if he regresses in that regard there’s enough to like elsewhere in his numbers.

The strikeouts have been disappointing, with a 6.47 K/9, but there is definitely hope that he can improve.  He had a 9.8 K/9 in the minors, including an 8.7 mark in 159.2 innings at Triple-A.  He also has his fastball averaging 91.9 mph, a significant jump over his seven starts in Arizona last season (89.2), and his 8.2% SwStr% also indicates better days ahead.  It looks even better as we look at how it’s grown per month:

  • April – 7.4%
  • May – 8.5%
  • June – 8.5%
  • July – 8.7%

There’s a lot to like, especially when we throw in a 51.2% groundball rate.  He’s hardly a must use option, but he’s well worth owning to see how he develops.

Verdict – Buy ‘Em


Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers
We’ve talked about him over and over again, yet his name just keeps coming up.  He has been plagued by a 65.1% strand rate, which would help to indicate that better days are ahead.  However, with a 4.88 ERA and 1.46 WHIP it’s not necessarily something that we can consider a given.  His control is similar to last season’s, with a 3.21 BB/9 (3.09 in ’13), meaning that maybe it’s the new norm.

His strikeouts are also down, with a 6.70 K/9, as his SwStr% is at 8.6% (it hasn’t been below 9.3% since 2008) and his velocity continues to drop (92.5 mph).  While he showed some hope in June, with a 9.8% SwStr%, that number has fallen to 4.0% in his three July starts.  Does that give us any source of hope?

Maybe if you can get him for pennies on the dollar, but it’s very possible that he simply is no longer the pitcher that he once was.  There has been some poor luck and he should improve, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be a “good” option by any stretch.

Verdict – Deny ‘Em


Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference

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  1. Bryan says:

    You’d rather have Skaggs than… Stroman? Peralta? Herang? Intersted where you rank Skaggs.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Working on my pitcher rest of season rankings now, but let’s see…

      I’d go with Stroman over Skaggs, but it’s close

      I am a big fan of Peralta, so I’d lean him (but there is the risk he loses his job).

      Hard for me to buy into Harang, despite what he’s doing, so I’d probably take the risk on Skaggs

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