by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Should fantasy owners focus on the shiny new toy, or is a seemingly productive veteran the path worth taking? There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer, you just need to be smart in your decision making. With that in mind, let’s take a look at three veteran starters who have been heavily added as of late and try to determine if they are worth the investment or are better left for someone else:
Clay Buchholz – Arizona Diamondbacks
There was a time that Buchholz was viewed as an above average fantasy starter, though even before he was limited to 7.1 innings last season he had posted a 4.78 ERA over 139.1 innings for the Red Sox in 2016. That alone is going to call his upside into question, despite a 1.88 ERA over his first 24.0 IP in ’18, though these metrics show just how bad it could get:
- Strand Rate – 94.9%
- BABIP – .215
- Groundball Rate – 32.4%
The home runs have already been a little bit of an issue (1.13 HR/9), but they could get worse. Throw in a 1.13 BB/9, which is going to regress (3.18 for his career) and a strikeout rate that’s never been overly impressive (7.88 K/9 thus far) and what exactly are we buying? Don’t even consider him a potential streaming option, because the risk of a blowup looms large.
Verdict – Avoid Him
Mike Leake – Seattle Mariners
While Leake owns a 4.46 ERA overall, he’s now allowed 2 ER or fewer in each of his past four starts (and five of his past six). That’s going to garner some attention, and while there is no doubting his control the lack of strikeouts is going to make him a tough sell for most owners:
- Strikeout Rate – 5.58 K/9
- SwStr% – 7.7%
He owns a career 6.10 K/9 and he’s had 3 K or fewer in four of his past five starts. He also has seen a drop in his groundball rate thus far (53.7% in ’17 vs. 47.9% in ’18) which has led to some home run issues (1.23 HR/9). That said his .294 BABIP and 70.6% strand rate indicate an improvement could be coming, and his control should allow him to post a strong WHIP. So if you don’t need strikeouts, he may be worth using.
Verdict – Ownable (unless you need strikeouts)
Anthony Desclafani – Cincinnati Reds
While he did allow 4 ER over 5.0 innings in his first start, after missing all of 2017, he did have 5 K vs. 1 BB. His control has always has always been his strongest skill (2.37 BB/9 for his career), though while he showed it in his first start there’s reason to be pessimistic given his lengthy absence. That’s going to be the key, as he’s never shown impressive strikeout stuff (and his 8.8% SwStr% indicates that his strikeout per inning isn’t likely to be maintained) and he’s always been a home run risk (career 42.9% groundball rate). Throw in the likely struggles to get W and despite the name appeal this one is going to be a tougher sell.
Verdict – Disregard in most formats
Source – Fangraphs
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