Potential Buy Low Starting Pitchers (Francisco Liriano & More)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Earlier this week we took a look at a few hitters that could potentially be targeted as buy low candidates (click here to view). How about a few pitchers who could be worth targeting? Let’s take a look:


Francisco Liriano – Pittsburgh Pirates
You don’t have to dig too deep to find the issues that have plagued Liriano over his first four starts of the season:

  • Walks – 7.17 BB/9
  • Home Runs – 2.11 HR/9

Control has always been a potential issue (3.85 career BB/9), though this number is clearly exaggerated. The main difference is likely his failure to get opponents to chase outside the strike zone (24.8% O-Swing% in ’16, 33.1% in ’15), though the fact that the walks have been elevated in each start (3+) is extremely concerning.

The home run problem is the bigger surprise, considering his 55.8% groundball rate. In other words there’s no reason to think that he will continue to be plagued by a 33.3% HR/FB.

When you couple the groundballs with his 9.70 K/9 there’s a lot to like, assuming the control improves even a little bit (even a 4.0 BB/9 would be passable). At this point we’d be willing to bet on that happening, making him an ideal candidate to try and buy.


Corey Kluber – Cleveland Indians
He’s coming off his best outing of the season so it’s possible the time to buy has come and gone.  At the same time he still owns a 4.67 ERA so maybe you get lucky?

It’s worth exploring at least, as the underlying numbers are all impressive:

  • 9.67 K/9
  • 1.67 BB/9
  • 46.6% Groundball Rate

Sure you could argue that his 15.1% line drive rate is destined to rise, but he also should see his luck improve (62.0% strand rate).  He’s an ace, and if your league mate isn’t valuing him as such pounce quickly before he does.


Adam Conley – Miami Marlins
He’s a pitcher that shouldn’t carry a significant cost but has the potential to pay dividends. His 5.12 ERA and 1.50 WHIP should make him seem unattractive, but he’s shown strikeout stuff (9.78 K/9) and a lot of his problems have been due to poor luck (.353 BABIP). In fact he’s shown swing and miss stuff with a pair of pitches, helping to support nearly a strikeout per inning:

  • Slider – 22.22% Whiff%
  • Changeup – 19.15% Whiff%

His control hasn’t been great this season (3.72 BB/9), though that’s not an awful number, and his 3.0 mark in the minors shows that there’s hope for a little bit more. He’s also been plagued a bit by home runs (1.40 HR/9), though giving up a pair of home runs to the Nationals is nothing to be ashamed of.

Obviously he’s not going to be a sexy option and you aren’t going to want to plug him into your lineup and forget him. That said he appears primed to provide some value, and given the miniscule price tag he’s worth the investment.  If he’s dropped in favor of one of the “flavors of the week”, he’s certainly worth grabbing.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, Baseball Reference

Make sure to check out all of Rotoprofessor’s Preseason Top 10 Prospect Lists:

AL East
AL Central
AL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants


  1. Joel says:

    Do you think inflated BABIP can be influenced by poor defense?

  2. Ben says:

    OBP 10- team league, trade offer:

    I give up Conforto (retains for $2 each of the next two seasons) and Arenado FOR Smyly (or Iglesias) and Stanton. I’m hurting for pitching in this league. Do I make the move?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Not a chance for me. Can easily argue Arenado > Stanton and I wouldn’t move Conforto for either of those two pitchers

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