When you look at potentially filling your fantasy rotation out in the late rounds on draft day, WHIP is one of the categories you have to keep in mind. While strikeout potential is great, if the pitcher is capable of walking the ballpark and posting a WHIP of 1.35 or worse, he potentially will do more harm then good.
With that in mind, let’s look at five pitchers with the potential to contribute in WHIP and are generally available after Round 18:
Mark Buehrle – Chicago White Sox
Often overlooked due to his lack of strikeout potential (5.19 career K/9), that is ignoring the positives that he does bring to a fantasy roster. Since 2001 he’s thrown at least 200 innings every season and has had just three seasons of WHIP worse than 1.26.
He has tremendous control (career BB/9 of 2.05), which gives him the opportunity to post impressive WHIPs every season, barring incredible bad luck. He does generate a lot of groundballs, so there is always a chance for a sub par BABIP, that’s not something that should be expected. As long as his BABIP comes in under .300, he’s a shoe-in to be a useful WHIP option in the later rounds.
Rotoprofessor’s Projection: 1.30 WHIP over 210 innings
Hiroki Kuroda – Los Angeles Dodgers
People generally ignore Kuroda, but that’s strictly due to injuries limiting his opportunity in 2009. The fact of the matter is, when healthy, he’s proven to be a tremendous option for fantasy owners.
Like Buehrle, he doesn’t offer much in the strikeout department (K/9 of 6.67 in ’09), but he has great control enabling him to significantly help you in the WHIP department. Over his first 300.2 career Major League innings, he’s posted a BB/9 of 1.98. That’s a tremendous number and easily puts him in line to post a great WHIP.
Again, like Buehrle, he generates a lot of groundballs (50.6% for his career), so as long as he doesn’t suffer from a lot of bad luck, a number less than 1.25 (he’s been at 1.22 and 1.14 his first two years) is a certainty.
Rotoprofessor’s Projection: 1.22 WHIP over 165 innings
Aaron Harang – Cincinnati Reds
How can a pitcher who has posted WHIPs of 1.38 and 1.41 the past two years be a worthwhile option in the later rounds? That would be ignoring the rest of his history:
- 2005 – 1.27
- 2006 – 1.27
- 2007 – 1.14
He has always had good control, even the past two years, with a career BB/9 of 2.48. He also has the advantage of a decent strikeout rate, meaning he can endure more bad luck and still post a usable mark. While he may not be an 8.5 or better K/9 pitcher, if he’s in the mid-7s it’s a plus.
Last season he was starting to put things together towards the end of the season, before an emergency appendectomy shut him down early. In August (28.1 innings), he was pitching to a 1.21 WHIP, showing you that the potential is still there.
Rotoprofessor’s Projection: 1.27 WHIP over 195 innings
Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals
We all know his story and about all the potential he has, so we’re not going to spend a ton of time on him here. What his potential 2010 value comes down to is when he makes his debut with the Nationals.
If he breaks camp with the team, then his value is going to be that of a potential Top 30 pitcher, if not better. The strikeouts are his real advantage, because if people don’t put the ball in play, luck has little to do with anything. It also allows him to struggle with his control (I’m projecting a BB/9 of 3.35) and still post an above average WHIP.
Rotoprofessor’s Projection: 1.27 WHIP over 110 innings
Mat Latos – San Diego Padres
He got a cup of coffee with the Padres at the end of ’09 and showed that, even while struggling, he could post a very good WHIP (he had a 4.62 ERA, but just a 1.30 WHIP). He struggled with his control (4.1 BB/9), something that is not indicative of what he had been displaying in the minor leagues (2.3 BB/9 over 184.2 innings).
Part of the discrepancy is going against less experienced hitters, but I still wouldn’t expect such a big jump. Will he be an elite control artist? Probably not, but he certainly should be good enough (an improvement here will help offset some decreased luck, as he enjoyed a .257 BABIP).
He also should provide more strikeouts then he did last season, when he posted a K/9 of 6.9 (he was at 10.6 over his minor league career). Like I said with Strasburg, if people aren’t putting the ball in play as often, bad luck has less of an impact.
Rotoprofessor’s Projection: 1.30 WHIP over 150 innings
What are your thoughts on these five players? Which would you take late in your draft if you are looking for help in the WHIP department? Are there any other pitchers you’d target?
If you would like to see a free preview of the Rotoprofessor 2010 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide (available for just $5) now including a Top 50 Prospects for 2010 List, click here.
Previous Late Round Option Articles:
- 5 Late Round Strikeout Options
- 5 Late Round Stolen Base Options
- 2 Late Round Catching Options
- 2 Late Round First Base Options
- 2 Late Round Second Base Options
- 2 Late Round Third Base Options
- 3 Late Round Closer Options
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