With the Milwaukee Brewers recent acquisitions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, they have formed as solid of a rotation as anyone. So, I posed this question to the Rotoprofessor writing staff:
Who will be the best fantasy pitcher for the Brewers: Zack Greinke, Yovani Gallardo or Shaun Marcum?
Let’s see what everyone had to say:
Eric “Rotoprofessor” Stashin - On the surface you would think that this discussion really comes down to two pitchers, Greinke or Gallardo. The thing is if you want to own one of those two pitchers you are going to be spending an early round selection. Currently, according to Mock Draft Central, both are being selected right around the 50th pick, on average. We all know there is a lot of risk when selecting a pitcher early in the draft, and for many fantasy owners it is something they refuse to do (not that I agree with that philosophy, but it is worth noting). Then you have Marcum, who is, on average, being selected at 172. From a pure value standpoint, Marcum is my man.
He is one of the elite control pitchers in the league, walking 1.98 batters per nine innings in 2010 (2.80 from his career). That’s an elite number and helped lead to a 1.15 WHIP (yes, the walks may increase slightly due to the walks, but he should still be good as his career WHIP is 1.24). His BABIP was a realistic .289, though it’s not impossible to see him improve on his luck. His strikeouts were solid, with a 7.60 K/9, but would it be surprising to see that increase by nearly a strikeout per nine innings moving from the AL East to the NL Central? If that’s the number you want to point to in order to downgrade him, you simply can’t do it now.
Obviously, Greinke or Gallardo are the sexier names and should outproduce Marcum at year’s end, though I think it could be closer than many think. However, in Marcum you are getting a pitcher with elite WHIP potential, solid-to-above average strikeouts and is coming off a year that he posted a 3.64 ERA in the AL East. Getting that in Round 14 or 15 is a tremendous value, which certainly is what fantasy owners are looking for, isn’t it? (On a side note, taking value out of the equation, I do like Gallardo’s potential and the chances of him posting a Cy Young-like campaign.)
William Overton - My initial instinct on this one was Zack Greinke, and it is really close between all three guys, but I think if I am taking just one, and not taking where they will actually be drafted into account, I have to go with Yovani Gallardo. I do recognize the inconsistency he’s shown the last couple years, but I can’t get past the potential either. I believe that Gallardo is too good to not put together a full season soon and I believe it’s going to be this year. The last two years Gallardo has fallen off in the second half big time, but I think as his body gets adjusted to a full season’s workload that trend is going to stop. All three of the Brewers pitchers are good, and all three have the ability to dominate, but I think Gallardo has the potential to win multiple Cy Young’s in his career and be a top five fantasy pitcher sooner than later.
Marshall Bauer - I had Greinke barely ahead of Gallardo before the trade, and about a dozen spots ahead of Marcum and this trade definitely helps Greinke’s value. Moving to the NL will help out his ratios and moving from the Royals to a team that can compete in the Brew Crew helps him out in the wins category, so that can only boost Greinke from where he was. Greinke is now a no brainer top 20 and quite likely even top 15 starting pitcher and it wouldn’t surprise me to see some have him as a borderline top 10 guy at his position. Gallardo is still in the 20-25 range for me, with Marcum falling in right around 35.
Kyle Johansen - Whenever evaluating pitchers, the first stat I look at is K/BB:
- Gallardo – 2.67 (2010) vs. 2.45 (career)
- Greinke – 3.29 (2010) vs. 3.33 (career)
- Marcum – 3.84 (2010) vs. 2.60 (career)
While Gallardo has the best strikeout ability of the three (career 9.36 K/9) he far and away leads the pack in walks allowed (career 3.81 BB/9), which led to a 1.30+ WHIP each of the past two seasons. Both Greinke (1.25 WHIP in ’10, 1.26 career) and Marcum (1.15 WHIP in ’10, 1.24 career) have an advantage over Gallardo in this department. Greinke continued to allow home runs at a minute level in 2010, (never having given up 1.0 HR/9 in a full season, 0.74 in ‘10) and this stat along with his K/BB led to a shiny FIP of 3.34 despite the 4.17 ERA. Of the three pitchers, Gallardo had the lowest FIP last season at 3.02, due in part to a similar ability to limit home runs (0.58 HR/9 in ’10).
Marcum does not limit the home runs the way Greinke and Gallardo can, instead using a miniature (and most likely unsustainable) 1.98 BB/9 to power his numbers in 2010. While Marcum will be a very good SP3 for the Brewers, I do not believe he will challenge Greinke or Gallardo for the title of Brewers top fantasy starter. The determining factor for me is the K/BB between Greinke and Gallardo. Even if Gallardo continues to improve his walk rate, Greinke should also decrease his walks while improving his strikeouts coming to the NL. Gallardo may have more strikeouts in 2011, but I believe Greinke will have the better WHIP along with ERA.
Matt Stoltzfus - Switching to the National League should certainly benefit Zach Greinke and Shawn Marcum, but in my opinion, Yovani Gallardo is the member of the Brewers staff that is most primed for a huge year. Gallardo’s stats stayed very much the same from ’09 to ’10, even though he lowered his walk rate by a full walk per nine last year and kept his nearly league leading K/9 intact. The cause of this anomaly was an extremely inflated BABIP of .331 in 2010, which was an absurd 53 points higher than his number in 2009 and almost 30 points higher than his career average. With an assumed correction on the luck end of things almost a certainty, and no major changes in his other peripherals, Gallardo could be in line for Cy Young type numbers. He’s stayed healthy for two years in a row making at least 30 starts and has even managed to slightly lower his pitches per batter faced, which could certainly help his one Achilles heel, which has been going deep into games. Greinke and Marcum should have solid seasons but neither can match the strikeout potential of Gallardo, making him an easy choice for the best of the three.
What are your thoughts? Who will be the best option from the Brewers? Why?
Make sure to check out some of our 2011 projections: