Well you poor, poor souls are still several weeks away from the much-anticipated season premiere of Field of Streams. That does not mean, however, I cannot give you a quick look at some starting pitchers who are most likely not going to be drafted in many leagues, but could be viable streaming options for fantasy fanatics as the season progresses. These pitchers are not necessarily sleepers, per se. As I said, they probably won’t be drafted, but who knows? Anyways, over the next few weeks I will be throwing some future streaming options at ya, starting this week with the one, the only, Felix Doubront. Or as I like to call him, ”The Other Felix”, as in not ”King” Felix. I am also not comparing them in anything regards, other than by their names.
The Other Felix put up a decentish 2012 season with the BoSox, going 11-10 with a 4.86 ERA and a WHIP of 1.45. What? I said decent-ish, didn’t I? Doubront was by no means a world beater or even an unsung hero in Boston’s rotation, but I like how he gets things done. Felix’s xFIP was a shade under four at 3.81, which is certainly respectable, I would say, wouldn’t you? Well, of course if you know me at all, and you probably don’t, you should probably know the main reason I like Mr. Doubront. No? Ummm, Ks/9, folks! Doubront sported a more than impressive 9.34 K/9 last season. 9.34, for crying out loud! Who knew? Just for a fun little comparison Jered Weaver had a K/9 of 6.77 and an xFIP of 4.18. Yeah, you read right, in those two categories, Doubront was better than Jered Weaver. Now, before you get all riled up, I am not saying that Duobront is a better pitcher than Jered Weaver or anything, especially in fantasy where that xFIP is not a factor during the season, but I just found that to be an interesting little tidbit of sports information I would share with you, my beloved reader(s). Anyways, combine that K rate with a decent ground ball rate around 43% for Doubront and it seems like he is headed in the right direction. Doubront certainly finished 2012 strong at least in the advanced stat categories.
Mr. Doubront posted his best xFIP of the season in the months of September and October, at 3.53. Of course his actual ERA during that stint was just over five, but still, there is big time potential there. Felix also induced more ground balls, getting batters to knock the ball into the ground at a rate of 47.1% during those months. Coupled with a K/9 of 11.07 and you are looking at what should have even looked like a strong finish, right? So what was with that high ERA? Was the Red Sox defense just plain bad? Some might think this, but much to my surprise, the BoSox had the third best UZR in the majors. See? Surprise! So if not the defense behind Felix, what then. Well, Felix did walk almost four batters per nine innings, which will never really help a pitcher’s overall numbers so much. On top of that Doubront’s BABIP was .312, which is not grossly unlucky, but was a fair 19 points higher than the league average. So, if he gets a bit more luck going his way and can cut down on the walks, The Other Felix could really turn some heads in 2013. Especially with a pitching minded manager at the helm, right? Well, there we hit a bit of a gray area.
John Farrell had very good success as the Red Sox pitching coach before becoming Toronto’s manager, but how does his pitching knowledge translate when he is the head honcho in the dugout? Well, in 2012, the Blue Jays were 27th in xFIP, 26th in K/9, 29th in K/BB, 26th in ERA and 25th in WHIP. Hmmm, not exactly anything to write home about. So maybe Farrell won’t help Doubront harness his control and potential, but wait, hope is not quite lost yet, folks! Former Red Sox ace and Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez is a special assistant with the Sox this season, and he should be able to really help the 25-year-old lefty hone his craft. At least I think so. Plus the new pitching coach, Juan Nieves has been under the tutelage of White Sox pitching coach over the last several seasons. Working with long-time pitching coach Don Cooper, Nieves helped guide a White Sox pitching staff that posted the 6th best ERA in the American League from 2008-12. The White Sox pitching staff set club records in Ks each of the past 3 years, including a franchise-best 1,246 K’s in 2012, so if Nieves brings a little of that magic mentoring with him to Boston, Doubront should be good to go!
While, I can see Felix having a breakout season in 2013, I am still not quite to the point where I can recommend drafting him as a sleeper, even in deep mixed or AL-only leagues. But I feel he will be a very viable stream option, if not a straight up waiver wire pickup in many, many, many leagues. The Red Sox offense should still put up a decent amount of runsin 2013, so, this should, should, translate into double-digit wins for The Other Felix. I would say you can get at least 10-12 wins out of Doubront this season and while the K rate may not be quite as high as it was in 2012, I would still expect it to at least be in the high to mid eights. For ERA, there is the potential to land in the vicinity of 3.50, but more realistically I would look for a 3.75- 3.85 range. The biggest detractor for Doubront could be his WHIP if the walks don’t fall in line, but I think you can get it in the 1.3s which may not hurt you too much. Currently Doubront’s average draft position is 260 in ESPN (owned in 1.6% of leagues drafted) and 239.5 in Yahoo! (owned in 6% of leagues drafted) so it is pretty clear he is headed for the waiver wire in a majority of leagues, making him an extremely viable streaming option in leagues with daily roster moves. So keep him on your post draft radar and look for him to appear in Field of Streams on a regular basis. Tune in next time, when I actually write about a player or team not in the American League East!