by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
While we are still waiting for the top of the free agent class to find homes, with pitchers and catchers reporting there’s finally been movement in the mid-to-bottom tiers of the starting pitcher market. These aren’t necessarily sexy moves, but could they have a potential fantasy impact? Let’s take a look:
Jaime Garcia signs with Toronto
There’s a two-part fallout from this move:
- Garcia’s outlook
- Joe Biagini moves to the bullpen
Garcia has always been an intriguing option, bringing strikeout potential (11.1% SwStr% in ’17, though a modest 7.39 K/9), solid control (career 2.78 BB/9) and an impressive groundball rate (56.2% for his career). The problem is the landing spot, as he’s struggled with home runs despite the groundballs (1.03 HR/9 or higher in three of the past four seasons) and now will have to routinely face the Yankees & Red Sox (and he was unimpressive in his time in the AL East in ’17, with a 4.82 ERA over 8 starts). His stock drops significantly with the move.
Biagini had been an intriguing streaming option, and he should get at least a few spot starts (depending on injuries), but for now he’s in the bullpen and is nothing more than waiver wire fodder.
Jason Vargas signs with New York (NL)
The Mets needed stability at the back of their rotation, and while Vargas could potentially bring that the dramatic falloff after the All-Star Break has to make you wonder:
- First Half – 2.62 ERA
- Second Half – 6.38 ERA
There was some luck involved (84.7% strand rate in the first half), though fatigue likely played a role as he had missed nearly all of 2015 & 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Of course Vargas owns a career 4.17 ERA with little strikeout upside (6.03 K/9) and potential home run issues (1.14 HR/9), so it’s hard to get excited.
What will likely happen is the Mets taking a Dodger-esque approach to the back of their rotation, using the following pitchers in some type of rotation to fill the innings for spots 3-5 (and perhaps an occasional six-man rotation) behind Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom:
- Jason Vargas
- Matt Harvey
- Steven Matz
- Zack Wheeler
- Seth Lugo
- Robert Gsellman
Lugo & Gsellman are hard sells at this point, as they will be swing men out of the bullpen. Harvey & Wheeler have the potential, but are wild cards after years of injury trouble. Matz has the highest upside and is the one most worth the gamble, assuming he can stay healthy, as he could easily be the #3 starter.
Andrew Cashner signs with Baltimore
The name and 3.40 ERA in ’17 could help make you think there’s value, but don’t make that mistake. The strikeouts completed disappeared (4.64 K/9) and he benefitted from luck to get there (.266 BABIP). Without the strikeouts and with a new, unfriendly home ballpark (not to mention having to go to New York and Boston regularly) this has disaster written all over it. Avoid Cashner at all costs.
Source – Fangraphs
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|Starting Pitchers||1-20: 02/20/18|