by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
I used to consistently pen a column called “Scott Baker, the WHIP Maker”, thanks to his consistent under-the-radar potential to help buoy your WHIP. He may no longer be an option for fantasy owners, but there are several late round selections who can help. Let’s take a look at who you should be targeting late in your drafts, thanks to their upside in the category:
Aaron Nola – Philadelphia Phillies
Current ADP – 201.37
Rotoprofessor’s WHIP Projection – 1.10
Nola has all of the makings of a breakout starter in 2017, as long as he can stay healthy (and his ’16 was cut short due to an elbow injury). The big issue as he progressed through the minors was his strikeout rate, but a 9.81 K/9 in 111.0 innings should wipe those concerns away (though he likely will regress a little bit, considering his 9.6% SwStr%). Couple the improved strikeout rate with a 55.2% groundball rate (and the increased usage of his sinker backs this up) and elite control (2.35 BB/9 in ’16, 1.5 over his minor league career) and the outlook is impressive.
While some will be distracted by his 4.78 ERA and 1.31 WHIP from a year ago, poor luck bloated both marks (.334 BABIP, 60.6% strand rate). Don’t make that mistake.
Matt Shoemaker – Los Angeles Angels
Current ADP – 224.33
Rotoprofessor’s WHIP Projection – 1.13
Shoemaker seemingly put it all together last season, posting a 1.23 WHIP over 160.0 innings of work (as well as a 3.88 ERA). The potential for more strikeouts (8.04 K/9 in ’16, but a 13.0% SwStr% and 35.0% O-Swing%) always helps, since the fewer balls in play will result in fewer hits. He also brings elite control, with a 1.88 BB/9 over 436.1 innings in the Majors. That type of number is always going to bring one of the elite WHIPs into play, regardless of the other numbers.
Drew Smyly – Seattle Mariners
Current ADP – 218.82
Rotoprofessor’s WHIP Projection – 1.18
We took an in-depth look at Smyly after his trade to Seattle, so make sure to check that out by clicking here.
The issues with Smyly last season was the disappearance of his strikeout rate late, which helped to inflate his WHIP overall (since there were more balls put in play) and an inflated home run rate. He owns a career 2.54 BB/9 and .287 BABIP (19.2% line drive rate), two numbers that should allow him to post a strong WHIP (especially if he can maintain a strikeout rate north of 9.5 for the full season). The home runs aren’t disappearing, which means his ERA may never be special, but that doesn’t mean he won’t post an above average WHIP.
Michael Pineda – New York Yankees
Current ADP – 206.83
Rotoprofessor’s WHIP Projection – 1.18
Pineda has long been one of the more frustrating pitchers to own. If he could find consistency no one would bat an idea in regards to this type of projection, the problem is he’s never been able to do so. He has potentially elite control (1.18 BB/9 in ’15, 2.72 in ’16) and the ability to pile up the strikeouts (14.1% SwStr% in ’16). The problem, helping to an increased WHIP, has more been luck based (.339 BABIP in ’16). It’s not like he has posted an outlandish line drive rate (21.6%), so there certainly is the potential for him to finally put it all together.
Deep League Special
Brock Stewart – Los Angeles Dodgers
Current ADP – 530.20
Rotoprofessor’s WHIP Projection – 1.20
Here is a name that is likely on few people’s radars, though if he were in a different situation he would be. One of the big questions with Stewart is if he is going to be able to find his way into Los Angeles’ rotation, considering the options they have (though many of them are either injury prone or facing their own questions).
Pitching across three minor league levels in ’16 he compiled a 0.88 WHIP over 121.0 innings, thanks to a 9.6 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9. He obviously wasn’t as impressive in the Majors (1.61 WHIP), but it was just 28.0 innings and there was obvious poor luck (.317 BABIP, 12.5% line drive rate). He also generated an 11.0% SwStr% and 33.5% O-Swing%, showing that he could improve upon his numbers further. If he gets the shot, he’s going to be a tremendous under-the-radar help.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference
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Make sure to check out our 2017 Rankings:
|Starting Pitcher||#1-20 |02/27/17