Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch – Ryan Dempster, Clay Buchholz, Cliff Lee
And here we are, back again for another version of Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch, this week featuring three starting pitchers who all have first names less than or equal to five letters. Each of these three have had their hurdles throughout the year thus far and could finish the year a complete 180 degrees from where they are now. The rest of the article gets better, I promise.
Ryan Dempster – SP, Texas Rangers
29# on ESPNs 5×5 Player Rater for SPs
Ryan Dempster started the year as a northsider, throwing for the Cubs of the National League variety. As the Mid-Summer Classic passed, it was only a matter of time until he was moved to a team not as atrocious as the Cubs. After rumors flying from each of the big baseball markets, Dempster found himself in Texas, after he pulled the plug on the Atlanta Braves because his feelings were hurt about the news reaching the public early. This is just the type of guy I want on my team!
Personal feelings aside, Dempster currently sits with an ERA of 2.65, which is good enough for eighth in MLB. Walks have always been an issue for Ryan and this year he has found a bit of control with a walk rate of 2.42 per 9 IP, down from his career average of 4.05. This control has also witnessed his K/9 drop to his lowest in 11 years of 7.41, it’s that game of give and take, I suppose. While it was great for the Cubs to benefit in the long run for moving him, the Rangers are about to regret their latest acquisition (if they don’t already). His SIERRA stands at 3.83, a full 1.18 higher than what he has experienced. Team this fact up with his lower BABIP of .255, as well as facing DH’s and other angry AL teams, this baby is cooked. The writing is on the wall and won’t end pretty.
My verdict: Sell the Dempster fire immediately!
Clay Buchholz – SP, Boston Red Sox
#72 on ESPNs 5×5 Player Rater for SPs
Unchecked fact of the night: Clay Buchholz’s favorite ice cream is Rocky Road. Oh wait, that’s just been his season to this point throwing for Red Sox Nation (I wanted to give him a nickname of Claynation but am on the fence). The first two months of the year yielded Clay an ERA north of 7.00. That’s awful. As of late however, he has an ERA of 1.79 in 45 1/3 IP. Why the late resurgence?
Simple, he has regained his control. After walking 28 batters in the first two months, he has half that since June 1st. His last outing was a complete game at Cleveland and he takes on the Orioles at Camden Yards in his next outing. If the Red Sox want to have any chance of the postseason (ESPN says 11.5% chance), Clay will have to continue his performances of late, including his highest first pitch strike percentage of his career at 63.8. Will it be enough? Probably not, but get on the bandwagon and ride it on through the remainder of the year.
My verdict: Buy low while admiring the five dollar bill you found in your pants that you haven’t wore since last year.
Cliff Lee – SP, Philadelphia Phillies
#60 on ESPNs 5×5 Player Rater for SPs
Yes, this reads correctly, Cliff Lee has a record of 2-7. Two wins, seven losses. I am conductor of the train that believes win-loss records for a pitcher are meaningless and only for the simple minded, but that record is just jaw dropping. He has A/A+ stuff and had a team that has dominated in the years prior, funny how things change so fast. For whatever reason, Cliff has witnessed his HR/9 jump up to 1.22 from well under 1.00, where it’s been since 2008.
He is still striking out more per nine than his career numbers, but is inducing less swings-and-misses than he did in 2011 (8.3% down from 9.3%). Looking at the rest of his statistics and it’s difficult to pinpoint the reason to his disappointing campaign. His velocity has remained consistent but his BABIP is only a tick or two above normal (.314 from .296 avg), nothing too severe. The only slight changes from last year is the increased occurance of his change up (15.5% from 12.8%) and the higher flyball rate of 34.8% from 32.4% last year. So what the Phillies are toast this year, Cliff will still perform for your team, just not at the pace he has the past few years, just don’t expect a W when you play him.
My verdict: Hold while scratching your noggin and wondering WTF
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