Last week I discussed my process of adding free agents.
If you thought that process was confusing, just wait until we dive into pitchers.
With pitchers, the size of the sample is still an issue. Luck sometimes plays an important factor in ERA and WHIP for relievers who only throw one round per appearance. And with starters tossing only once every 5-6 days, we need several weeks before we see a steady trend. But we can not wait weeks to add interesting jugs, otherwise the rest of our league mates will get all the good ones. We must be aggressive, but measured at the same time, which is a challenging task.
Here are my key factors when considering a pitcher.
Although talent is an important factor that we will soon discuss, in mixed leagues I generally do not have room to stash boxes that cannot be used right away. In order for me to have a great interest in a free-agent thrower, he must be in the starting rotation or handle ninth-round tasks. Set men can be valued parts of my squad, but they are not the players I primarily chase.
K: BB ratio
For all the advanced pitch data that is now available, the old-fashioned measurement of strikes and trips is still incredibly valuable. Jugs that cannot consistently record strokes are prone to the onset of luck with the ball. And those who give too many turns will eventually be burned by giving opponents free chances to score. The leaderboard K: BB ratio is usually full of aces, and I prefer a ratio of 3: 1 for the additions to the dropout line.
Speed or pitch change
These data require a little more research, but checking a pot’s recent speed and pitch mix can sometimes delay breakout candidates. An example of the highest end is Jacob deGrom, who went from excellent to incredible by adding a few mph. Michael fulmer is an example of a pitcher I’m monitoring right now after noticing that his speed is up this year.
I want to know what type of contact a pitcher gives up and how much of their recent success or failure has been related to luck. When it comes to contact, I prefer jugs that induce many ground casters and limit hard contact. And I want to check a pitcher’s BABIP and HR / FB percentage to find out if he has been lucky or unlucky to give up hits and home runs. For example, my interest in Austin Gomber cools when I notice his .160 BABIP.
This category means little to relievers, but much to beginners. Before I add a starter, I like to know his next 2-3 opponents. Sometimes rain or rotation mix changes future rotation plans, but I want to give myself the best chance of success by taking boxes that should have affordable matchups in the coming trips.
Although pitcher talent is the driving force, it is always beneficial to find those who are in advantageous situations. When I have to evaluate supporters, I have to look at three areas. First, I want to know that my sling is supported by a lineup that has the potential to score many races. Secondly, I look for starters that are supported by solid bullpens, and I target potential shutters that are on successful teams. Finally, I prefer a pitcher (especially a starter) who works in front of a respectable defensive group.
As with support staff, home park is more of a tiebreaker than a primary factor. Still, I prefer to grab sailors who at least call home to a neutral place. On the extreme end, there is little to add to a Rockies starter pack that stays on my bench throughout the home. And pitchers on most AL East teams will fight against their own home park and their most common roads.
This part of the criteria means much more in some cases than others. Sometimes I’m looking for Mr. Right and other times I’m looking for Mr. Right Now. This piece is advice more for those in the leagues who use FAAB or dropout priority. To make a bigger investment, I need to know that the player can stay in his current role by performing well in the coming weeks. Players who only work temporarily in the rotation or closer role are only worth minimal attention.