Fantasy Baseball Today

Taking a closer look at lucky pitchers

By Chris Cwik |

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.

Chris Young11.600%10.600%0.20581.400%3.425.37-1.955.88
Julio Teheran20.700%6.00%0.21587.500%1.893.66-1.773.85
Josh Beckett23.300%8.500%0.24088.900%2.574.31-1.743.58
Alfredo Simon14.900%6.300%0.23883.800%3.154.72-1.574.19
Tom Koehler16.00%10.500%0.24581.600%3.334.68-1.354.60
Marco Estrada22.00%7.700%0.24684.900%4.195.5-1.314.10
Mark Buehrle14.500%7.00%0.28582.100%2.043.26-1.224.17
Shelby Miller16.200%10.400%0.25480.0%3.594.77-1.184.64
Wily Peralta18.600%6.700%0.28479.00%3.034.15-1.123.50
Jorge de la Rosa17.500%9.500%0.23576.700%3.684.76-1.084.10
Johnny Cueto26.400%6.00%0.19678.800%1.972.98-1.012.94
Jered Weaver19.200%7.900%0.25079.200%3.314.27-0.964.34
Tim Hudson16.900%3.400%0.25581.400%1.972.92-0.953.24
Jeremy Guthrie11.500%5.600%0.26077.800%4.105.04-0.944.80
Jason Vargas17.500%6.500%0.28082.100%3.284.18-0.94.11
Tommy Milone14.900%6.700%0.26875.200%3.684.42-0.744.64
Charlie Morton16.900%9.100%0.27969.00%3.314.03-0.724.20
Josh Collmenter14.700%5.900%0.25671.900%3.634.34-0.724.42
Jon Niese17.300%6.700%0.27278.300%2.683.37-0.73.79
Henderson Alvarez14.400%5.100%0.31476.00%2.623.29-0.673.59

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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