Sell High Candidates: Should Fantasy Owners Move On From These “Big” Name Starters?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

In most leagues starting pitching appears to be a closely held commodity, making it that much more difficult to convince ourselves to sell high on a strong performer.  It gets even tougher when it’s a big name starter who has enjoyed past success, or a high upside youngster who appears to be finding his footing.  That said, others in your league could be swayed by the name appeal as well, making it the perfect storm to sell high and cash in.  With that in mind let’s take a look at a few names worth considering parting ways with, especially if there’s a strong return:

 

Jake Arrieta – Philadelphia Phillies
Arrieta obviously carries a lot of name value, and on the surface a 2.45 ERA and 1.15 WHIP would make you think that he’s thriving in his first season with Philadelphia.  While he has done a good job with his control (2.98 BB/9) and generating groundballs (56.3%), the strikeouts have all but disappeared.  Not only is he carrying a 6.14 K/9, but he’s done it with a 6.6% SwStr% as he’s utilized his sinker (61.84%) with little else.  When he does throw the rest of his arsenal it hasn’t done the job generating swings and misses (Whiff%, with last year’s marks in parenthesis):

  • Slider – 16.98% (14.06%)
  • Changeup – 8.86% (17.59%)
  • Curveball – 8.00% (13.40%)

That’s obviously a significant concern, and while his changeup has improved in May (11.90%) it’s not enough to point towards his late signing as a reason why.  Even with the inflated groundball rate there’s a good chance he starts to yield more home runs (4.9% HR/FB, compared to a 10.7% career mark), and without the strikeouts the overall appeal is already limited.

It’s not to say that he’s a must sell, but all signs point to cashing in (if you can) before the rest of the league catches on.

Verdict – Sell

 

Blake Snell – Tampa Bay Rays
If you play in any type of keeper league Snell isn’t an obvious sell candidate.  However in redraft leagues it makes sense to try and cash in now.  Over his first 11 starts Snell has thrived, with a 2.78 ERA and showing two of the three skills we look for:

  • Strikeouts – 9.60 K/9
  • Control – 2.92 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 38.7%

Obviously he’s lacking the groundball rate, and while he hasn’t benefited from a complete lack of home runs (1.11 HR/9) is it impossible to think the number will jump significantly with routine matchups against the Yankees and Red Sox?  He’s also benefited from a lot of luck, with a .236 BABIP and 83.9% strand rate, which also indicates a potential regression.  Throw in the Rays clearly continuing to look towards the future, having already traded Alex Colome and Denard Span, making W hard to come by and it all makes sense.

Verdict – Sell (in redraft formats)

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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