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Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Could Edinson Volquez Become Fantasy Relevant In 2017?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 5:42
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by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

There was a time that Edinson Volquez appeared to be a viable fantasy option, including as recently as 2015 when he posted a 3.55 ERA for the Kansas City Royals.  However the numbers certainly fell off a cliff in 2016:

189.1 IP
10 Win
5.37 ERA
1.55 WHIP
139 Strikeouts (6.61 K/9)
76 Walks (3.61 BB/9)
51.2% Groundball Rate
.319 BABIP

Despite his overall struggles he was still able to land a two year, $22 million contract with the Miami Marlins.  There’s no question that he should provide veteran leadership as well as eat some innings, but can the move back the NL and a favorable home ballpark help put him back on fantasy maps?

The first number that jumps out is the strikeout rate, as he once was routinely posting K/9 of 8.0 or better.  He’s been under 7.00 each of the past three seasons, though it hasn’t been due to a loss of velocity (93.2 mph in ’16 compared to a career mark of 93.4).  While he may not have a lights out pitch, his changeup did generate a 16.64% Whiff% last season.

Moving back to the NL, where he will routinely get to face opposing pitchers, should help.  He should also benefit from facing two rebuilding teams in the Braves and Phillies on a routine basis.  While he’s not going to push for a strikeout per inning, would it really be shocking to see him end up back in the 7.25-7.75 range?

The numbers really fell off in the second half last season (6.12 ERA), as opposing hitters routinely hit the ball hard (24.1% line drive rate).  That hasn’t been the norm for his career (20.0%), and he also struggled with a poor strand rate overall (65.7% in ’16).  Both of those help to support improved marks in ’17 even if he had stayed in the AL.

When coupled with his solid control (BB/9 of 3.61 or better each of the past three seasons) and groundball rate, which will certainly play a role in a favorable home ballpark, there is reason for optimism.  That’s not to say that he’s going to be a can’t miss, lights out performer, but there’s certainly something here.

As a back end option to fill out your rotation, there’s reason to roll the dice.  The cost should be low and if he fails you can move on without hesitation.  However, there’s a good chance that he turns back the clock and produces a viable season.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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