Taking a closer look at lucky pitchers

Julio Teheran might be getting lucky, but it doesn't matter. (USATSI)
Julio Teheran might be getting lucky, but it doesn't matter. (USATSI)

Luck can play a huge role in Fantasy baseball. Owners who know when to sell a hot player or when to hold a disappointing one can see huge dividends as the season progresses. Thankfully, looking at advanced stats makes these decisions somewhat easier. 

Let's look at some lucky pitchers. By now, most of you have probably heard of Fielding Independant Pitching (FIP). If not, you can check out my post from a few months ago which detailed the stat. Pitchers whose FIP is higher than their ERA are typically experiencing good luck, and should see some regression in the future. But having a higher FIP doesn't always spell immediate doom. Let's take a look at the top-20 pitchers with the biggest gaps between their ERAs and FIPs and figure out which ones are ready for a big tumble.

NameK%BB%BABIPLOB%ERAFIPE-FxFIP
Chris Young 11.600% 10.600% 0.205 81.400% 3.42 5.37 -1.95 5.88
Julio Teheran 20.700% 6.00% 0.215 87.500% 1.89 3.66 -1.77 3.85
Josh Beckett 23.300% 8.500% 0.240 88.900% 2.57 4.31 -1.74 3.58
Alfredo Simon 14.900% 6.300% 0.238 83.800% 3.15 4.72 -1.57 4.19
Tom Koehler 16.00% 10.500% 0.245 81.600% 3.33 4.68 -1.35 4.60
Marco Estrada 22.00% 7.700% 0.246 84.900% 4.19 5.5 -1.31 4.10
Mark Buehrle 14.500% 7.00% 0.285 82.100% 2.04 3.26 -1.22 4.17
Shelby Miller 16.200% 10.400% 0.254 80.0% 3.59 4.77 -1.18 4.64
Wily Peralta 18.600% 6.700% 0.284 79.00% 3.03 4.15 -1.12 3.50
Jorge de la Rosa 17.500% 9.500% 0.235 76.700% 3.68 4.76 -1.08 4.10
Johnny Cueto 26.400% 6.00% 0.196 78.800% 1.97 2.98 -1.01 2.94
Jered Weaver 19.200% 7.900% 0.250 79.200% 3.31 4.27 -0.96 4.34
Tim Hudson 16.900% 3.400% 0.255 81.400% 1.97 2.92 -0.95 3.24
Jeremy Guthrie 11.500% 5.600% 0.260 77.800% 4.10 5.04 -0.94 4.80
Jason Vargas 17.500% 6.500% 0.280 82.100% 3.28 4.18 -0.9 4.11
Tommy Milone 14.900% 6.700% 0.268 75.200% 3.68 4.42 -0.74 4.64
Charlie Morton 16.900% 9.100% 0.279 69.00% 3.31 4.03 -0.72 4.20
Josh Collmenter 14.700% 5.900% 0.256 71.900% 3.63 4.34 -0.72 4.42
Jon Niese 17.300% 6.700% 0.272 78.300% 2.68 3.37 -0.7 3.79
Henderson Alvarez 14.400% 5.100% 0.314 76.00% 2.62 3.29 -0.67 3.59

It's easiest to break these down by category, so let's start with the pitchers who will still be useful Fantasy assets even after their luck catches up to them.

It's not just luck

For Julio Teheran, Henderon Alvarez, Johnny Cueto and Tim Hudson, there's not a whole lot of reasons to be worried. Teheran and Cueto have obvious talent, but no one expects them to post sub-2.00 ERAs the entire year. They'll see those figures rise strictly based on the fact that they can't get any lower. They'll all be fine. While there's some concern about Alvarez's low strikeout approach, he does enough to still be effective. His Fantasy value will still be limited due to lack of strikeouts, though.

Some reason for concern

There's a good case to be made Mark Buehrle belongs with the above group. While his FIP is pretty solid, Buehrle has been fortunate with home runs this year. That's indicated by his 4.17 xFIP. He's given up just three home runs in 88 1/3 innings after allowing 20+ in all but one season of his career, so it's something to be concerned about moving forward. Jon Niese falls into a similar category. 

For Josh Beckett and Wily Peralta, it depends on how well they can keep the ball in the park. Both players have a much higher FIP, but they've also allowed home runs at a higher rate than normal. Beckett has a history of giving up a lot of home runs, so there might be reason for extra caution with him. Peralta doesn't have a long a track record, so it's a little unclear whether his xFIP is more accurate than his FIP. 

There are three other pitchers who may still have value once their numbers drop. Alfredo Simon, Jered Weaver and Marco Estrada may not regress as much as expected. Estrada has always had a huge homer issue, so the fact that his ERA matches his xFIP means he probably won't get much worse. Simon also has to get his home runs under control. Weaver has consistently outperformed his FIP and xFIP, so he has a history of this type of performance.

The rest

Shelby Miller deserves to be talked about, considering he's coming off a complete game shutout. Miller's had issues the entire season, but it hasn't fully caught up to him yet. There's a chance he can turn things around, but that would be betting against the numbers. Other guys on the list, like Tom Koehler and Jason Vargas, should probably be traded before they collapse. 

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