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Sell ‘Em: Keeper League Pitchers

Hello all, hopefully you’re having a terrific hump day. As I sat down to compose this article, the news of Roy Halladay’s plane crash was beginning to emerge through the different media sources. While I’ll be touching on pitchers to sell high on today, I want to take a moment to touch on Doc.

Halladay may have been one of the first dominant pitchers I had ever watched growing up. An 8-time All-Star, 2-time Cy Young winner, Halladay had all the goods. He brought us the most recent no-hitter in the playoffs, in his first career postseason start no less! He becomes eligible for the Hall in 2019. He may not be a first-ballot player, but he’ll get in eventually. His WAR numbers along with his other stats will trend with the way today’s game is heading statistically.

Regardless of that, everything I read about him makes him out to be a first-ballot Hall of Fame individual in my book. The baseball world lost a legend today.

Craig Kimbrel 

Craig Kimbrel will be entering into his third season as a member of the Red Sox in 2018, which also marks the last year in his current contract. Kimbrel also hits the big 3-0 roughly two months into the season. He is coming off back-to-back All Star appearances with the Red Sox and has been one of the best relievers in the game since he debuted for Atlanta back in 2010. Sure, Kimbrel’s save numbers have been down the past two seasons (31 & 35), but his average 162-game season averages out to 41 saves per year. There doesn’t seem to be any inclination to steer away from the 40 save mark going forward.

The 2017 season may be a bit of an oddity when looking at his stats. Yes, Kimbrel only compiled 35 saves, his second worst career number, but he put together a ridiculous 9:1 strikeout to walk ratio! Kimbrel pitched 69 innings this past season and allowed 51 base runners (33 H, 14 BB, 4 HBP), which works out to a WHIP of 0.68. The only season he had a better WHIP was his 2012 season in Atlanta (0.65).

In keeper/dynasty formats there are maybe a handful of guys worth stashing away for next season. Kimbrel is one that fits the bill here, but it would be a much better idea to use that spot on another position player or a starting pitcher rather than hold onto a reliever. With the way the game is trending, relievers are readily available on the waiver wire each week. If one doesn’t work out you simply dump him and scoop up the next one. Kimbrel probably won’t hold the value he should, but you can still get a decent amount back for him because, after all, he is one of the best RP in the game!

  • Potential Targets: Kimbrel should be able to pull you in an AJ Pollock type player, someone who’s going to put up great numbers while they’re there, but may battle being healthy for a full season. If you’ve caught on to the trend in previous articles, you can always stock up on quality pitching. Target a Jimmy Nelson or Aaron Nola, but couple that with a lower tier bat or prospect.

Gio Gonzalez

Gio Gonzalez is a former first round pick by the Chicago White Sox and had only put up one season of first-round potential until this past year (his first year in D.C., 2012). Gonzalez put together his first season with a sub-3 ERA since 2012 (2.96), he reached 200 IP for the first time since 2011 (201), and struck out over 180 batters for the first time since 2013 (188). Looking at the numbers it’s obvious Gio figured something out this past season that had been lacking in the previous five .

Slotting in behind guys like Strasburg and Scherzer lower the expectations a bit, which could have contributed to the success Gio found on the mound this year. The success seen by Gonzalez this past year could have also been related to being backed by a good offense. It can be argued that’s always been the case in D.C., but it all was put together in 2017 – at least until the NLDS.

Over the past five seasons you can’t say Gonzalez has been bad, maybe just underproductive. Being a former first round draft pick, Gonzalez has carried a lot of expectations with him. As I mentioned above, he’s arguably only had two seasons that show being worthy of that first-round tag. There’s nothing wrong with compiling a career ERA of 3.64, and there’s nothing wrong with Gio Gonzalez. Like Kimbrel, Gio is also heading into a contract year in 2018. What better time to deal him!

  • Potential Targets: Now don’t be silly and value Gio as an ace; he should be valued as a nice third-tier fantasy pitcher. The return pieces for Gio could be a wide variety. Look for pieces to bolster your bench, not necessarily someone you’re going to slot in on a daily basis.

Charlie Morton

Sell now! Don’t finish reading this, go to your league page and present EVERY team in your league with a trade for Charlie Morton! Ok, maybe that’s a bit over the top, but with the success Morton had this past season and the ridiculous run he put together for the nation in the playoffs, there would not be a better time to sell high on Morton than right this second.

Morton is coming off his best season of his career, plain and simple. A major contributing factor to that is the velocity improvement Morton saw during the 2017 season. His fastball went from sitting in the 91-93 range to comfortably around the 96 mark. And if you watched any of his outing in the playoffs (I’ll admit, it was the first time I really saw him), the movement he got on his pitches is ridiculous.

Yes, you can argue that the ERA isn’t wonderful (3.62), but there are other areas in which improvements far outweigh that “lackluster” ERA. Morton finished the season with a K/9 rate of 10. He saw nearly the same rate in 2016 with the Phillies, but anything prior to that barely touched 7.00. The walk rate was still a bit high for my liking (3.1), but that’s down from 4.2 the previous season.

Morton, like the previous two players mentioned, will be entering into a contract year in 2018, so I look for more of the 2017 Morton next year. I was a Morton owner in 2017 until he hit the DL, but he would’ve looked nice on my roster the rest of the season. You can’t find a SP without trading one that can put together a 10 K/9.

  • Potential Targets: Morton should carry more value than Gio. Try and reach for a SP seeming to head in the opposite direction (Jake Arrieta), but don’t be disappointed if you must settle for a starter with similar numbers & more upside (Jon Gray, Zach Godley). If you go this route, try to get a bat added in as well!

Honorable Mention: Justin Verlander, Ervin Santana

*****

Next week may be a quiet week from me as I’m hoping to be in a tree in the middle of some Midwest timber. If you’re in the twitter world, shoot me your questions on there as well or give me a follow, @KennyGarvey.

We’ll catch you in a couple weeks!

 

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Kenny Garvey
I'm from eastern Iowa, yes there are more things than just corn here. I'm a baseball nerd. If there's a game televised you can bet I've got it on! Family and baseball keep me sane. Fantasy baseball far outweighs fantasy football, no doubt about it!
Kenny Garvey

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