Reader Requests: SP Analyses, Part Two

Today I finish analyzing the pitchers whom the readers requested. Here are some bullet points on each pitcher, with a quick outlook for 2014. Part One can be found here.

Alex Cobb

  • Retained his great GB% from last two seasons, which is always a plus in my book.
  • Looking at the last two years, he has four straight half-seasons of K/9 improvement, culminating in 8.7 K/9 in second half of 2013. The kid is learning to pitch!
  • Saw a bit of a spike in his BB/9 in the second half of 2013, but even at 3.3 that was manageable compared to most SP. His 2013 season BB/9 was 2.8, and I’m comfortable with that.
  • He did have some luck on his side, with a high LOB% and a below-average BABIP. Even so, some regression there doesn’t hurt him much.
  • His HR/FB was above league average and higher than his 2012 stint. It may be he’s still making a few mistakes, but if that regress it would help offset the likely regression from LOB and BABIP.
  • For 2014: Buy, buy, buy. His emergence could quickly help the Rays (and you) forget about David Price potentially leaving.

Sonny Gray

  •  Did well in AAA, with 3.42 ERA, 9.0 K/9, and 3.0 BB/9.
  • Actually improved on his minors stats in his 12 games with Oakland: 2.67 ERA, 9.4 K/9, and 2.8 BB/9.
  • His major league equivalents for his minors games were 3.48 ERA, 7.4 K/9, and 2.9 BB/9, so he’s the real deal and is ready for the rotation.
  • Another ground ball pitcher (53%) who doesn’t give up tons of HR.
  • The only downside is that he doesn’t fool batters or blow them away. Swinging strike rate is league average, and he isn’t getting batters to chase outside the zone more than MLB average.
  • For 2014: Oakland finds ways to get the most out of players, and he has been touted for a while to boot. He’s a solid #3 SP for the immediate future.

Cory Luebke

  • Still has some great talent, but his injury setbacks are a reminder that surgeries are still risky, and not everyone comes back quickly and in perfect health.
  • In short 2012 he had a nice GB% spike and an improved walk rate. If he can pick up where he left off, that’d help increase his value in my book.
  • The K/9 drop in 2012 was cause for concern, but I’m willing to chalk it up to the injury. Still, given likely IP limit and return from 1.5 years off, don’t expect the 9.0 K/9 he put up early in his career.
  • For 2014: End-game stash, and hope for the best. Definitely don’t pick him up beyond the last round or two, unless/until you hear good things in spring training.

Andrew Cashner

  •  Finally got a (nearly) full season of production from this injury risk, and the results were solid.
  • BABIP was a career best and below MLB average, but part of that could be due to spacious NL West parks; his home BABIP was .251.
  • Ground ball ways continue, and he combined that with an improved HR/FB of 8.1%, a career best.
  • High strikeout rate as a reliever has not translated to starting. However, if you like to gamble, he did improve from 6.0 K/9 in first half to 7.2 in second half. That’s still not amazing, but it’s solid enough for a fantasy team.
  • His BB/9 also went up in second half, though it was still under 3.0. His swinging strike is only average.
  • For 2014: I’m wary of a full ERA/WHIP repeat, but 3.50 and 1.20 is reasonable. If you buy into the K/9 increase, that could offset the rise in ERA/WHIP. Still time for him to break out, but I wouldn’t pay to have him as anything more than a #4, maybe #3 fantasy SP.

Wily Peralta

  • Season stats don’t look great, especially WHIP, but part of that is due to low LOB% and high BABIP in the first half.
  • However, don’t expect the second half ERA (3.15) to stick for a full season: his LOB% and BABIP swung to the lucky end.
  • One positive is that he greatly improved his K/9 from 5.0 in first half to 7.7 in second half. That’s closer to his 2012 minor league ability.
  • The walks could be an issue for him, causing some growing pains in 2014. His BB/9 rose in the second half to 3.6, which is high for my liking.
  • For 2014: Note how his ERA is on par with his FIP and xFIP. I don’t expect a huge step forward until he can improve his walk rate and maintain his K/9 gain in the second half. High risk, medium upside for the short term makes him a #5 fantasy SP next year.
Kevin Jebens

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Fantasy baseball player since 2000; winning leagues ranging from 12-team H2H to 18-team experts 5x5. Has written for various baseball blogs, including the 2013 Bleed Cubbie Blue Annual.