Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Does A Lack Of SwStr% Eliminate A Pitcher’s Value Or Could A Sleeper Emerge?


Everyone likes a pitcher who generates a significant number of strikeouts, but does that mean if someone doesn’t get swinging strikes they can’t have value? Obviously that’s not the case, and while a lack of big strikeout numbers may limit someone’s upside it doesn’t completely eliminate it. Let’s take a look at the five qualified pitchers who posted a SwStr% of 8.0% or worse and see if there’s any value:

  • Adam Wainwright – 7.5%
  • Brett Anderson – 7.7%
  • Mike Fiers – 7.9%
  • Marco Gonzales – 7.9%
  • Rick Porcello – 8.0%

Are any of them players worth targeting? Let’s take it one at a time:

Adam Wainwright

At 38-years old the best of Wainwright has come and gone. His 4.19 ERA in ’19 was actually his best mark since 2015 as the once elite control artist has simply become ordinary in that regard (3.36 BB/9 in ’19). At this stage of his career he simply isn’t fooling anyone (41.9% Hard%) and the value is completely nil. If he’s back to pitch another season or not, fantasy owners would be much better served targeting a higher upside option.

Brett Anderson

Injuries have often removed all value from Anderson, who has thrown over 120 innings just three times since 2009. That’s a long history of missed time, and while he threw 176.0 innings in ’19 does anyone really believe he’ll be able to do it again? That alone makes him nothing but a streaming option, at best, especially if the matchup is favorable. That said with a career 6.15 K/9 and a meager 4.60 last season, it’s impossible to consider him anything more than that.

Mike Fiers

He’s shown some strikeouts before, considering his career 7.92 K/9, and if he carried both of the other tools we’d be a lot more optimistic moving forward. While he does have control (2.58 BB/9 in ’19), he lacks the ability to generate many groundballs (39.9% in ’19). Even pitching in Oakland he posted a 1.46 HR/9 last season, and that will loom large after his SwStr% hit a career worst 7.9%.

A hittable pitcher with the propensity to give up home runs? What about that seems favorable?

Marco Gonzales

He may be the one pitcher on this list that fantasy owners want to buy into, especially given his ability to throw strikes (2.44 career BB/9). However both his strikeouts and groundball rate took a step back last season, as his SwStr% dipped to 7.9% and his groundball rate to 40.7%. While home runs weren’t an issue (1.02 HR/9), it’s obvious that it could quickly become one. Unless the strikeouts improve (though his 7.83 K/9 in ’18 may be his ceiling), where are we hanging our hats?

Rick Porcello

Porcello has long held name value, and it’s not unthinkable that he improves from his 5.52 ERA last season. How big of an improvement, though? It’s not like his 8.0% SwStr% is far off from what we’ve seen throughout his career (9.4% is his best mark), so expecting a spike in strikeouts would appear to be misguided. Pitching in the AL East with a lack of strikeout upside and a propensity to allow home runs (1.27 HR/9 or worse in each of the past three seasons) is never going to be a good mix. He could be best served with a trade to the National League, but as is he’s simply not going to hold appeal.

Source – Fangraphs

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