Three Starting Pitchers You Should Sell High Over The All-Star Break

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

We’ve reached the midway point of the baseball season, and the time has come to truly evaluate your team and make the necessary adjustments.  Parting with your obvious regression risks makes sense, assuming you truly can sell high and capitalize on their first half numbers.  With that approach in mind, here are three pitchers you want to try and cash in on before it becomes too late:

 

Sean Manaea – Oakland A’s
117.2 IP, 3.44 ERA, 0.99 WHIP

Manaea entered Sunday’s start showing elite control (1.76 BB/9) and benefiting from a lot of luck (.223 BABIP), helping to justify the miniscule WHIP.  Of course he also had been hit hard (38.8% Hard%) and the walk rate is hard to buy into (3.5 BB/9 in the minor leagues).  Those two numbers alone make him a scary proposition, but then you throw in a disappointing strikeout rate as the cherry on top.

Carrying a 9.8% SwStr%, Manea has seen his Whiff% fall on all three of his pitches this season:

  • Fourseam – 7.73% to 6.75%
  • Changeup – 18.30% to 14.31%
  • Slider – 19.35% to 13.76%

Part of the issue could be tied to a decrease in velocity (92.21 mph to 91.57), and while he has gained a bit he still hasn’t topped 92 mph in any month (91.95 in June is his high point).  The home ballpark is a nice selling point, but a lack of strikeouts with the likely regression in both his luck and control makes him a pitcher to part ways with as soon as possible.

 

Chase Anderson – Milwaukee Brewers
99.1 IP, 3.81 ERA, 1.15 WHIP

Is someone from your league still holding onto the belief that Anderson could replicate his 2017 success?  Take advantage, and do it now.

His strikeouts are down from last season, as his 6.98 K/9 is closer to his career line (7.45) than last year’s 8.47 ever did.  He has used his fourseam fastball more (32.86% to 40.16%), though most of that has come at the expense of his sinker (19.67% to 13.39%).  That would result in fewer groundballs, but not fewer swings and misses.  That has come due to his curveball being less successful (13.59% Whiff% to 8.75%), with last year’s mark looking like the aberration.

That alone is concerning, but his lack of groundballs (35.7%), continued home run issues (1.54 HR/9) and opponents hitting him hard (37.5% Hard%) makes the outlook that much worse.  Last year he managed to avoid home run problems (0.89 HR/9), but that always screamed for a regression (1.27 HR/9 for his career).

Get out now, while the numbers still appear respectable.  There’s a good chance they get even worse (.224 BABIP, 79.0% strand rate).

 

Jon Lester – Chicago Cubs
106.1 IP, 2.45 ERA, 1.17 WHIP

Lester entered Sunday’s start with an impressive ERA, a solid WHIP and a plethora of questions.  Just glancing at the metrics it’s easy to point to excessive luck as a reason for his success as he owns a .247 BABIP and 83.8% strand rate.  It was just two years ago that he posted similar marks over the course of a full season (.256 and 84.9% in 2016), so it’s also impossible to call it a complete aberration.

The difference in 2018 is that the strikeouts are down (6.86 K/9) and the walks are up (3.22 BB/9), and those are just the surface numbers.  He’s inducing fewer groundballs (39.0%, compared to a 46.6% career mark), so it’s impossible to anticipate him maintaining his 1.02 HR/9.  He’s also being hit harder than ever before, with a 33.1% Hard% (26.7% for his career).  Throw in an 8.5% SwStr% and it all comes together.

It’s easy to look towards his 2016 numbers and expect him to maintain his pace, but everything points towards a significant regression.  Sell high now, while you still can, and use his name and previous success to do so.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, Baseball Reference

Make sure to check out all of our Midseason Prospect Rankings:

First Baseman
Second Base
Shortstop
Third Baseman
Outfielder
Pitcher

12 comments

  1. Mike Honcho says:

    Better second half target…R.Hill or Duffy or Zimmerman?

  2. Don'tBeAHader says:

    Is Jimenez a lock to be Tiger closer by 7/31?

  3. Apostolos Dovas says:

    What do you do with javi Baez, hold because he keeps this breakout going, or sell because his market is at an all time high and no way he can sustain

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      It all depends on what you can get, but I’d definitely be open to shopping him and seeing what you can get

      • Apostolos Dovas says:

        The deal I have proposed is Baez $13, Allen Hanson $8, Keuchel $27, familia $12, gio Gonzalez $9, Dylan Bundy $12 for wade davis $13, garret Cole $39, Lance McCullers $19, tommy Pham $6, Asdrubal Cabrera $1, Derek Dietrich $1. It’s a 15 team, roto, weekly scoring, auction, keeper league. keeper prices increase every year and Baez would be 20$ to keep I am currently in 1st and I need pitching

        • Rotoprofessor says:

          Honestly, I’m not a fan of trades that have that many players involved. The value in a $13 Baez gets wiped out in three different parts of the deal. You could probably get more by selling him alone

  4. Madison Budweiser says:

    Trade proposal sent to, looking for pitching depth in my 12 team points league.
    Receive C Martinez, Bauer, and Bregman
    Send Verlander, Machado, and Haniger.

    I would have already pulled the trigger but the guy who offered the trade is in first and I have a hard time giving him verlander and machado.

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