Sell High Candidates: Which Breakout Starting Pitchers Would You Be Better Off Selling For The Second Half?

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Knowing whether to sell high on a player and when to ride the wave of the breakout is paramount to fantasy success. Let’s take a look at two first half breakouts and try to decide if they are for real or if we should be looking to move on before it’s too late:

Lucas Giolito – Chicago White Sox
We’ve long heard the hype surrounding Lucas Giolito, so seeing him take that step forward and seemingly emerge as one of the elite is a welcome sight.  Just how real is it, however?  Has he truly turned the corner or is a second half regression highly likely?

Over 100.0 innings he’s posted a 3.15 ERA and 1.07 WHIP as he’s done a great job of limiting hard contact (30.3% Hard%).  Is that enough, considering the other metrics:

  • Strikeouts – 10.80 K/9
  • Control – 3.42 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 37.8%

He’s changed his approach, throwing significantly more changeups (23.59%) and fourseam fastballs (54.84%), and that does help to explain the spike in strikeouts.  His changeup has been among his best swing and miss pitches (22.79% Whiff%), so seeing an increase makes sense.  At the same time it’s not like he’s getting opposing hitters to stray from the strike zone (30.9% O-Swing%), tying him for 52nd among 78 qualified starters.

He’s always had control issues, and he’s shown a regression of late (4.05 BB/9 since June 1).  More walks equals more base runners, which is especially troublesome since his .262 BABIP could also regress.

The biggest issue, however?  Considering his lack of groundballs and the spike in power around the game he’s yielded just a 0.81 HR/9 (compared to a 1.35 career mark)…

More Home Runs + More Walks + Luck Regression… 

In keeper/dynasty leagues he has appeal, but if you are looking at 2019 in a bubble selling him now is the approach to take.

Luis Castillo – Cincinnati Reds
He’s had a tremendous first half, posting a 2.29 ERA over his first 18 starts (106.0 IP) to go along with a 10.53 K/9 and impressive 56.3% groundball rate.  However, outside of the strikeouts there are a slew of numbers that indicate that a significant regression is coming:

  • Control – 4.50 BB/9
  • BABIP – .224
  • Strand Rate – 83.2%

Both luck metrics indicate a significant regression could be coming regardless of the other numbers.   What about the control?  After a 2.60 BB/9 last season he’s taken a significant step backwards, though let’s not forget he owned a 3.05 BB/9 in the first half of ’18.  So even if the upside is pedestrian control, if the groundball rate takes a step backwards as well (45.6% in June) to go along with the other issues things could get ugly.

Castillo has plenty of long-term appeal, but in the short-term the risk outweighs the potential reward.

2 COMMENTS

  1. The guy w Verlander is looking to sell. QS, no wins. Would you give Giolito and C. Smith for him? Not sure how legit Smith is, but he’s been pretty damn good so far. Are Verlander’s HR issues lately a concern? Thanks

    • I would make that deal, though I’ll actually be covering Verlander as his own sell high candidate this AM 🙂 Make sure to check that out

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