Three Buy Low Starting Pitchers To Target For The 2nd Half

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

We are officially at the mid-point in the season, which provides us all an opportunity to catch our breath and take a long, hard look at what our teams need.  Obviously we are all going to try to capitalize on some players we think should rebound after poor first halves, and also try to cash in and players whose performance is likely to regress.  Who should we be targeting?  Let’s kick things off with a few buy low pitching options:

 

Jon Lester – Chicago Cubs
Coming off his disastrous Sunday start it would be easy to throw up your hands and write-off Lester.  As it is it feels like the culmination of what has been an extremely disappointing first half (something you can say about the majority of the Cubs’ team).  With a 4.24 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, you can claim that the 33-year old may have simply lost it.  Of course, what exactly is there not to like in the underlying numbers:

  • 17 K/9 (11.0% SwStr%, 31.8% O-Swing%)
  • 08 BB/9
  • 7% Groundball Rate

The walks are up, but not at an alarming rate (and he also posted a 2.43 BB/9 in June, showing that he still has the upside).  Even his home run rate, which is up (1.25 HR/9), isn’t a major red flag.  He should improve upon both his .317 BABIP and 67.2% strand rate, meaning there are better days ahead.

 

Gerrit Cole – Pittsburgh Pirates
He’s shown a bit of inconsistency, and it would be easy to be disappointed in his 4.43 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.  The big problems have been a relative lack of strikeouts (7.86 K/9) and an elevated home run rate (1.59 HR/9).  The latter has never been an issue before, and it’s been a much bigger one the road (1.84 HR/9) than at home (1.29).  Considering that he hasn’t been below a 1.50 HR/9 in any month it’s something he needs to solve, and you’d think that he would (0.72 HR/9 for his career).

It’s not a lock that he improves, but at the right price it’s a “gamble” worth taking.

 

Danny Duffy – Kansas City Royals
When you look at a 7.41 K/9 compared to a 7.76 career mark, your first thought is going to be why you would consider buying him?  The fact is that there’s significantly more upside in his strikeout rate, given his 11.9% SwStr%.  He’s increased the usage of his changeup (17.11% to 22.35%) and slider (22.76% to 29.78%), and that’s a good thing as both are swing and miss pitches:

  • Slider – 16.91% Whiff%
  • Changeup – 16.79% Whiff%

With the potential for that to improve, as well as him picking up some luck (.313 BABIP, courtesy of a 19.7% line drive rate) and there is reason to believe.

 

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

Rotoprofessor recently debuted our Reliever Reliability Quotient (RRQ), in an effort to determine whose skills translate best for late inning roles.  Make sure to check out our introduction of the stat by clicking here.

4 comments

  1. Beans says:

    What’s up Professor? I have K Giles as my closer. He has 19 saves and is 1-2 with 2 blown saves. Going by the scoring in my H2H league ther are 8 or 9 guys with more saves and a few more than that with more points. Am I being unreasonable in feeling like I could do better. Will he be better in the second half? Thanks for the time

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      He’s not a Tier 1 closer, but he’s definitely a Tier 2. I can’t imagine there are better options sitting on waivers, so yea I think you’re being slightly unreasonable.

  2. Eric says:

    I would have to say Gausman is a good buy low for the 2nd half as well. Thoughts?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      He’s possible, but some of the numbers are extremely concerning. I wouldn’t hang my season on him

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