Aces in the Hole – Paxton Power

The aces in the hole feature is designed to help readers get a leg up on the opposition by uncovering hidden short-term value on your league’s waiver wire. This feature will analyze a few possible two start pitchers to target for next week while featuring one starter poised to graduate from the streamer ranks. Only pitchers owned in less than 40% of both Y! and ESPN leagues will be examined in this piece. If you seek two start options for the current week, click here.

Since many weekly league owners like to grab next week’s two-start pitchers as soon as line-ups are set for the week before, this feature will serve as an early guide for those looking to gain an advantage. Rainouts and rotation changes can strike at any minute, so be sure to check back in the comment section for updates. If your league has a Sunday night line-up deadline, feel free to ask me your SP questions on twitter (@tlandseadel ). I will respond to any question posed before 9 PM EST.

Keep in mind, all of the pitchers analyzed here are high risk options. Some will pan out, some will not. I would never advise anyone to start a mediocre two-start option or a streamer instead of a bona fide fantasy ace. These suggestions may make sense for owners in points leagues and category based leagues that tend to reward quantity over quality. They are best used to supplement your pitching staff, not to support it. If your league uses an innings maximum and/or rewards a quality focus, then you might want to set your standards a little higher.

We will start off our week two analysis with our featured arm:

James Paxton, Seattle Mariners

Paxton is currently owned in 15% of Y! leagues and 1% ESPN leagues.

Left hander James Paxton is the number 3 starter for the Mariners. He is currently slated to make his second start of the season next Tuesday against the LA Angels, where he would likely face Hector Santiago. The Mariners have only 5 games scheduled, but given their injury riddled rotation, this may be an opportunity to skip one of their back of the rotation options. If they go that route Paxton would get a second start and would make for an interesting weekly league play. The reason he is featured here, however, is because his ownership numbers need to be higher than they are regardless of whether or not he gets the extra turn next week.

Paxton is flying somewhat under the radar because of mixed results while he was coming up through the minors. He really struggled with walk rates before a mechanical tweak partway through the 2012 season. Afterwards, he spent most of 2013 pitching in the notoriously hitter friendly PCL, so his overall minor league numbers don’t look all that great. Clearly his 24 MLB innings from 2013 were impressive (1.50 ERA, .92 WHIP) but cannot be relied upon when making future projections.

The scouting report shows that the big lefty boasts a plus fastball that he can get to the upper 90s at times. His average velocity has fluctuated, but the mechanical tweaks he made in 2012 seem to have helped his consistency. He has a deceptive delivery that seems to make it difficult for hitters to square him up. A tight curve along with a third pitch classified as either a cutter or sinker are used to keep hitters off-balance. Both secondary offerings have potential to be plus pitches. Even though his fourth pitch (change-up) is pretty mediocre, he has the upside to be special. In fact, his delivery and pitching motion remind scouts of Clayton Kershaw.

Paxton has the ability to get close to a strikeout per inning and limit walks (expect a K/BB between 2.5 and 3) while throwing a heavy ball that often does not get out of the infield. Pitching half of his games in Safeco field with an improving offense supporting him, there is a lot of upside here. Paxton needs to be owned in standard-sized mixed leagues in case he starts living up to his ace potential. Given the injuries that have saddled the M’s rotation, Paxton will likely have plenty of leash early on to prove his value.

For the short-term, Paxton makes a decent option with the possibility of two home starts. Remember though, Paxton only gets his second start if the Mariners use a 4 man rotation during their 5 game week and even with it he would still be a yellow light option because of the match-ups. Either way, let’s get those ownership numbers up people.

Now for a look at the two start options:

Tim Hudson, San Francisco Giants vs. ARI (Cahill) and COL (Chatwood)

Hudson is currently owned in 31% of Y! leagues and 8% ESPN leagues.

Pros: Hudson might be the ideal streamer or back-end fantasy rotation arm. At this point, his K rate is too low to be an asset in K/9 leagues, but he is a good bet to deliver positive ERA and WHIP. He is able to keep the ball on the ground with the best of them (55.8% in 2013, 58.5% career) and he tends to pitch extremely well at home. With two home starts in a pitcher’s park against mediocre opposing pitchers, there is a lot to like here.

Cons: There is not much downside to this choice. Watch the weather closely during week 1, but if all games get played as scheduled, Hudson will make an outstanding week 2 start.

Final Verdict: Use him.

Tim Hudson: Green Light: All Systems Go!

Charlie Morton, Pittsburgh Pirates @CHC (Jackson) and @MIL (Lohse)

Morton is owned in 4% of Y! leagues and 1% ESPN leagues.

Pros: Like Hudson, Charlie Morton is one of those arms often overlooked because of the lack of Ks. His elite GB rate makes him worth a look anytime the match-ups are favorable and they appear to be here. Morton pitched well against both the Cubs and Brewers last season (ERAs of 3.50 and .57 respectively). He has also looked very good this spring, allowing only one run over 11 innings.

Cons: Morton’s career ERA is 1.25 higher on the road than it is at home. While many pitchers tend to struggle on the road, Morton seems to be somewhat of an extreme case.

Final Verdict: There are a lot of positives here for Morton. The road struggles do worry me, but given the opponents I think he has a decent chance to rack up a win or two without hurting your ERA or WHIP.

Charlie Morton: Green Light: All Systems Go!

Kyle Lohse, Milwaukee Brewers @PHI (Kendrick) and vs. PIT (Morton)

Lohse is owned in 28% of Y! leagues and 21% ESPN leagues.

Pros: Lohse has been able to consistently deliver excellent ERA and WHIP numbers. He has posted three consecutive seasons with an ERA below 3.4 and a WHIP below 1.18. Over the course of his career, April has historically been his best month. Last year was no exception as Lohse came charging out of the gate with a 2.53 ERA and a .262 wOBA over the season’s first month.

Cons: Lohse has not pitched great this spring, but with veteran hurlers that should not concern owners too much. What might be a little worrisome is the way Lohse was tagged by the Pirates last season by giving up 7 earned runs over 12.2 innings with a WHIP approaching 2. Most of the damage was done in one late August start, which also happens to be the last time the Pirates saw Lohse.

Final Verdict: Lohse is a solid pitcher and the match-ups are not prohibitive. This is a good opportunity to use him.

Kyle Lohse: Green Light: All Systems Go!

Kevin Correia, Minnesota Twins vs. OAK (Chavez) and vs. KC (Vargas)

Correia is owned in 0% of Y! Leagues and 0% of ESPN Leagues.

Pros: Correia has gotten off to blazing hot starts in each of the last two seasons with an ERA under 2.50 each April. Correia pitches far better at home than he does on the road with a home ERA more than a run lower over the last two years.

Cons: Correia is not a very good pitcher. He is an innings eater who gives up too many HRs and doesn’t strikeout enough hitters to be fantasy relevant. He has not done very well during spring training this year (3 Ks in 17 innings) and also got hit pretty hard by both the A’s and the Royals last season.

Final Verdict: If there is ever a time to use Correia, it is with two home starts in April against good, but not great offenses. If you are desperate for a two start option in a deep league, Correia could post better numbers than he normally does.

Kevin Correia: Yellow Light: Proceed with Caution.

Jarred Cosart, Houston Astros vs. LAA (Wilson?) and @TEX (TBA)

Cosart is owned in 5% Y! Leagues and 1% of ESPN Leagues.

Pros: Many fantasy analysts have tabbed Cosart as a potential breakout following his flukey 1.95 ERA from his rookie campaign. The reason for optimism is derived from his spring K spike. He struck out 32.7% of hitters faced to go along with a tidy 4.50 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over 12 innings.

Cons: Cosart actually walked more batters than he struck out last year which is not exactly a good thing for one’s fantasy ratios. His week 2 match-ups against the Angels and then the Rangers at Arlington look awfully tough for a young pitcher yet to prove himself as a reliable fantasy ace.

Final Verdict: Cosart is on breakout alert and he is worth rostering in deeper leagues, just make sure he is nowhere near your active lineup in week 2. It is not worth the risk.

Jarred Cosart: Red Light: Use at Your Own Risk

More Two Start Options

Yellow Light: Proceed with Caution

Edwin Jackson, Chicago Cubs vs. PIT, @STL – The Pirate match-up looks okay, but the Cardinals have had Jackson’s number lately.

Zach McAllister, Cleveland Indians vs. SD, @CWS – Average pitcher with above average match-ups, but also coming off a rough spring.

Jason Vargas, Kansas City Royals vs. TB, @MIN – Average pitcher with average match-ups coming off a strong spring.

Henderson Alvarez, Miami Marlins @WAS, @PHI – He has had a great spring and actually pitched better on the road last year than at home. Still hard to trust a Marlins starter with two road match-ups.

Mark Buehrle, Toronto Blue Jays vs. HOU, @BAL – Love the Houston start, hate the Orioles match-up for the innings eater from Toronto.

Red Light: Use at Your Own Risk

Jesse Chavez, Oakland Athletics @MIN, @SEA – Only two career major league starts along with some bad seasons as a long reliever, not enough track record as a starter for me.

Brett Oberholtzer, Houston Astros @TOR, @TEX – I would only consider a true ace with that schedule. Oberholtzer is not that.

Tyler Chatwood, Colorado Rockies vs. CWS, @SF – His ratios look terribly flukey to me. It is also hard to trust any Rockies pitcher even though these match-ups are not terrible.

Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox @COL, vs. CLE – Quintana is very solid, but I don’t trust many pitchers at Coors Field.

Felipe Paulino, Chicago White Sox @COL, vs. CLE – If I am not using Quintana, I definitely won’t use Paulino.

Aaron Harang, Atlanta Braves vs. NYM, vs. WAS – Harang would need a great match-up to be usable and this is not the right spot.

Trevor Cahill, Arizona Diamondbacks @SF, vs. LAD – Cahill has looked pretty bad so far this spring and did not impress in Australia.

Kyle Kendrick, Philadelphia Phillies vs. MIL, vs. MIA – Too many questions about the Phils rotation to seriously consider Kendrick here despite the potentially solid-looking match-ups. Will he get two starts?

Tommy Landseadel

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Tommy is also known as tlance on the CBS and Sports Hoopla message boards. He has been playing fantasy baseball for 16 years in many different format types and looks forward to helping you with your fantasy baseball questions! You can now follow me on Twitter @tlandseadel

2 thoughts on “Aces in the Hole – Paxton Power”

  1. Tyler Chatwood could be heading to the DL. likely leaving leaving Jordan Lyles to take his spot. Neither makes an attractive option outside of NL only leagues, with Lyles being less attractive than Chatwood.

  2. The rare rain-out in Oakland yesterday means that Kazmir will no longer get two starts this week. The A’s will be forced to use a sixth SP at some point, but more importantly Jesse Chavez is now unlikely to get 2 starts next week. That is okay, because you should not be using him anyway in most formats.

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