Trading (SP)Aces: Sonny Gray

Welcome back to Paul’s Home Improvement Tips. By now you’ve figured out I’m no handyman. I’ve taken apart my dishwasher 3 times this month while watching do-it-yourself You Tube videos. My loving, patient wife thinks that drafting at the same time is a bad idea and isn’t helping. I say it keeps me sharp! Truthfully what I’d like to fix is your team, and specifically with this feature, your starting rotation. It’s been a while since I recommended Jose Fernandez over Adam Wainwright and longer still since I took Gerrit Cole over Justin Verlander.

While Jim has been breaking down some hitter battles with his Mortal Kombat pieces, I’m a lover not a fighter. With Valentines (oh crap) just behind us, let’s look at a late round target: Sonny Gray

THE TRADE!

Pitcher ERA GS IP K/9 BB/9 GB% FB% HR/FB xFIP
A 3.20 30 186 8.2 2.2 38 41 10.1 3.76
B 2.67 10 64 9.4 2.8 53 28 8.3 2.92
C 3.11 31 197 7.2 2.1 45 36 9.9 3.55

Player B is Sonny Gray. The two arms I am considering trading for him are (A) Julio Teheran and (C) Kris Medlen.

Let’s take a closer look at Sonny Gray.

The Arsenal

Sonny Gray has a 4 pitch repertoire including sinker and a change, though he relies mostly on a low-mid 90s fastball, and his curve. The curve ball is a beauty and is his best offering. At 80 mph with an average 8.3″ drop it is a knock out pitch, limiting batters to a .115 BAA. He commands his pitches low in the zone to produce very high ground ball rates. His delivery is very clean with consistent release points.

The Numbers

Gray spent most of 2013 in AAA, but made 10 starts for Oakland in August and September. He averaged more than a strike out per inning as well as a 52.9 GB%. He was so dominant for Oakland down the stretch that he got two starts in the ALDS vs the Tigers.

2013 IP H ER BB K ERA WHIP
AAA 118 117 45 39 118 3.42 1.32
MAJORS 64 51 19 20 67 2.67 1.11

Gray’s playoff performance included an 8IP 9 strikeout performance allowing 0 ER in game 2 against Justin Verlander.

Conclusion

Gray was a top prospect and first round pick in 2011 after leading Vandervilt to their first College World Series berth. He struggled in 2012, but really put everything together in 2013. While his AAA numbers may not stand out as exceptional this was in the hitting friendly PCL. I would not call Gray an ace yet, but he has the command and stuff to continue to be very successful. He offers a great strike out rate to go with an elite GB rate. This is typically what aces are made of.

Let’s look at what to expect in 2014

Projections are from Dan Schwartz at Rotobanter.com. For more info on how the projections are done click here.

Rotobanter 2014 Projections 5×5
GS IP K/9 BB/9 GB FB HR/FB xFIP W ERA WHIP K
30 190 8.2 2.9 53 28 8.5 3.18 12 3.40 1.18 173

Trade Offer: Julio Teheran for Sonny Gray

Presently Teheran is going in Round 10 in mock drafts while Gray is getting picked in Round 12. In the recent LABR draft, Teheran was taken in the 9th by Rotowire and Gray in the 11th by USAToday. Not a significant difference in their draft day costs.

Teheran is 23 years old and produced outstanding results in his first year.

GS IP K/9 BB/9 GB FB HR/FB xFIP W ERA WHIP K
30 186 8.2 2.2 38 41 10 3.76 14 3.20 1.17 170

Julio Teheran finished 5th in the ROY voting with that strong showing. It’s nitpicking to point out his high LOB%, but it largely explains the xFIP and ERA discrepancy. He’s a fly ball pitcher and will give up his share of home runs.

Let’s look at what to expect from Julio Teheran in 2014:

Rotobanter 2014 Projections 5×5
GS IP K/9 BB/9 GB FB HR/FB xFIP W ERA WHIP K
31 194 8.1 2.2 38 40 12.2 3.11 12 3.58 1.21 174

As you can tell, they are neck and neck for 2014. One strikeout separates them and Gray has an edge of .03 in WHIP. I feel pretty good about these projections. I may not want the trade straight up as Teheran has more innings to support his status than Gray does, but I’m drafting Gray 2 rounds later instead.

Julio Teheran for Sonny Gray? (redraft) NO

Julio Teheran for Sonny Gray? (keeper/dynasty)? NO

 

Trade Offer: Kris Medlen for Sonny Gray.

Kris Medlen is going in the 8th round in mock drafts right now and was selected in the 9th by Mastersball in the recent LABR draft.

The 28-year-old has 4 seasons of major league experience.

ERA GS IP K/9 BB/9 GB FB HR/FB xFIP
Career 2.95 61 513 7.6 2.1 46 32 9.0 3.39
2013 3.11 31 197 7.2 2.2 45 31 9.9 3.55

2013 was a very good season for the 28-year-old, Kris Medlen. He likely disappointed many a fantasy owner who expected his 12 start finish of 2012 to continue. He’s an excellent pitcher with good ground ball rates and excellent K/BB ratios. He doesn’t strike out many, which will always limit his fantasy ceiling.

Let’s look at what to expect from Kris Medlen in 2014

Rotobanter 2014 Projections 5×5
GS IP K/9 BB/9 GB% FB% HR/FB% xFIP W ERA WHIP K
31 202 7.3 2.2 46 32 10.7 3.23 13 3.65 1.21 163

Dan does a great job with these projections and this is another one I really like. It’s a little less optimistic than Oliver but more favorable than Steamer. It really points to what Medlen is as a starter. Quite valuable, but the lack of strike outs limits his ceiling. He will never be an ace for you or your team, but a good SP2 or SP3. Gray in his first full season will likely out produce him in strikeouts, WHIP and ERA.

Kris Medlen for Sonny Gray? (redraft) YES

Kris Medlen for Sonny Gray ? (keeper/dynasty) YES

I fully expected Gray to come out ahead of both of these pitchers coming in. Taking him over Medlen is a pretty sure thing long-term, but even in the short-term there is likely some gain to be had. For Teheran, his slightly longer track record and younger age make him a better pick. If it’s value you’re looking for come draft day, Gray is your guy.

Paul Hartman

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Fantasy Baseball player since 1987. Creator of Fantasy Assembly, yet just fortunate enough to be a part of it.

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