Rotoprofessor’s Five Late Round Strikeout Options

Mar 10, 2009

Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

Unlike when we looked at power and speed options that may be available at the end of your draft, strikeouts are a lot tougher to come by.  There is a lot more uncertainty, be it injuries or poor performance.  In the hitting categories, it’s easy to say that he’s done it before and he easily could repeat it.  With the pitchers we’re looking at, it’s not that easy.  That’s not to say that there aren’t options available, but with the ability to get the strikeout brings with it plenty of concern.

With that said, let’s take a look at the pitcher’s who may be sitting there for you on draft day:

John Maine – New York Mets
The injury is the biggest concern, but he’s going to be in the Mets rotation and he’s shown the potential to be among the elite.  In 2007 he posted a K/9 of 8.48, when he reached 180 K’s.  Injuries limited him last season, lowering his innings and his ability to get the punch out.  If healthy, there’s no reason to think that he’s not going to regain the form he’s already shown.

I’ve already talked about him here, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time on him again.  The truth of the matter is that he would be going significantly higher in drafts had his season not been plagued by shoulder woes.  Owners are scared that he’s not going to be able to bounce back.  They are scared that he is not fully recovered.

It’s a gamble, there’s no doubt, but it is a gamble that I would highly recommend to fill out your rotation.  It’s not often you get this much upside in the strikeout potential that late, especially with an ADP of 229.29.

Jonathan Sanchez – San Francisco Giants
Those who have followed the blog here since last season know I certainly am not the president of the Jonathan Sanchez Fan Club.  There is little doubt that he has the potential to pile up the strikeouts, however, and he’s already proven it.  Last season he posted a K/9 of 8.94 and for his major league career, the number is at 9.07.  Of course, his career ERA is also at 5.18, to go along with a 1.50 WHIP.

There are a lot of negatives, and while some people think that he is going to put it together this season, I’m just not buying it.  He could just as likely be the next Daniel Cabrera (who in year’s past would have been on this list, though not anymore).  That is an awfully big risk, wouldn’t you think?

With those awfully big problems, if you are looking for K’s, he seems like a great buy in the later rounds.

Oliver Perez – New York Mets
Boy, doesn’t 2004 seem like ages ago?  Perez set the league on fire, striking out 239 batters in just 196 innings (a K/9 of 11.0), but since then Perez has just been inconsistent and mind-boggling for owners.  He’s finally shown a bit of stability the past two seasons, even with his 4.22 ERA last season.  He’s struck out 174 and 180 batters, respectively, and while his 2004 season is unlikely to be repeated, there’s a chance he closes in on 200 once again.

If Perez can be a steady pitcher, one who shows up against the top teams and the lower teams, he could emerge as a top fantasy pitcher once again.  Considering his ADP is currently 228.76, what do you really have to lose?

Philip Hughes – New York Yankees
Talk is that he is the front-runner to be the Yankees fifth starter at this point, unless they do make another free agent signing (Andy Pettitte anyone?).  That makes him a huge risk right off the bat, especially right now when there is so much uncertainty surrounding him.

I also don’t really believe that he is going to reach 180 K’s, even if he does get the rotation spot and holds it down for the entire season.  I know, a career minor league K/9 of 10.1 certainly does give us hope.  How about his 38 K’s in 30 innings during the Arizona Fall League?

Injuries and a replacement could easily derail him.  As a gamble for a reserve, though, there is certainly a lot of upside here.  Granted, he could struggle with his ERA and WHIP pitching in the AL East, but that’s a story for another day.  This column is about finding late round strikeout potential, and Hughes certainly fits the bill

Jeremy Bonderman – Detroit Tigers
Long considered a potential fantasy ace, Bonderman has never quite lived up to those lofty expectations.  The 2008 season was no exception, though this time his struggles were due to injury (blood clot) as opposed to pure ineffectiveness.  The concerns over his recovery and his past problems certainly make him a long shot to become a tremendous option, but he has shown the ability to get strikeouts in the past.

In 2006 he struck out 202 batters in 214.0 innings, good for a K/9 of 8.50.  While his number fell in 2007 to 7.49 (145 K in 174.1 innings), the potential is still there, entrenched in our minds.  Of course, he also has a career ERA of 4.74 and a record of 59-66, so just because he may be able to return to getting a batter to swing and miss does not make him a necessarily good pick.

In fact, given his past track record he’s a pitcher that I’d avoid, but as a late round flyer I certainly wouldn’t argue his selection.  Just keep in mind that he’s a greater risk then anyone else on this list with his recovery in question and his track record of nothing but mediocrity on the mound.

So, there you have it.  Who do you like as a potential late round strikeout artist in your fantasy draft?  Anyone I didn’t mention?

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

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