Yesterday I took a look at the most added and dropped batters in ESPN leagues. Today I will be doing the same for pitchers.
With spring training coming to a close and Opening Day only eight days away it’s useful to take a look at the players whose ownership numbers are changing the most. From these numbers we can determine which players are gaining steam and which are starting to fall out of favor.
Most Added Pitchers
Brandon League | RP | Seattle Mariners | +9%
With David Aardsma recovering from hip surgery, League will likely be the team’s closer. While he hasn’t officially been named to the job, the Mariners have few other options to close plus he filled in for Aardsma last year and recorded six saves. League doesn’t strike out a lot of batters, which is surprising since he can dial it up in the high 90s, but his ratios won’t hurt you.
Closers are just like running backs in fantasy football, if a new one emerges he needs to be picked up immediately. Just be aware that Aardsma should regain the closers role by early May.
Jonny Venters | RP | Atlanta Braves | +6.4%
With news that he will be sharing the closers role with Craig Kimbrel, Venters ownership is beginning to climb. Even if he wasn’t projected to get saves he would still be worth owning after finishing last year with a 1.95 ERA and a 10.08 K/9. However, closers by committee generally don’t last and I expect Kimbrel to take the job and run with it. His K/9 of 17.42 was crazy high last year and he does have closing experience in the minor leagues while Venters does not. It’s also worth noting that Venters himself thinks Kimbrel will get the most save opportunities.
Gio Gonzalez | SP | Oakland Athletics | +6.2%
I’m not really sure why Gonzalez is the most added starting pitcher. Most likely the reason is that owners are realizing that they should have drafted him in the first place. His ADP of 207.9 is far too low. He has always had great stuff but he finally put together a good season last year, posting a 3.23 ERA and a 3.78 FIP. He also struck out 171 batters and he gets to play half his games in an extreme pitchers park.
The big drawback with Gio is the high walk total but he did manage to lower his walk rate last year by a full walk per nine innings. He isn’t being drafted as a top 50 pitcher but Gio certainly can provide top 40 value.
Most Dropped Pitchers
Johan Santana | SP | New York Mets | -12.6%
Santana’s shoulder surgery last September was supposed to keep him out until late June or early July but there have been rumors that the Mets think he might not pitch at all this year. Even though Santana squashed those rumors himself, the news is not encouraging. If you have a DL spot to spare he’s not a bad option, though I would rather use the spot on Jake Peavy or Brandon Webb because I don’t have much confidence that Santana will help fantasy owners at all this year.
Chris Sale | RP | Chicago White Sox | -7.7%
Sale’s declining ownership is not surprising now that Matt Thornton has been named Chicago’s closer. Sale will still be a valuable relief pitcher but I don’t expect him to regain the closers role anytime soon. The front office just gave Thornton a contract extension for 2-years, $12 million and they probably don’t want to pay him $6 million to be a set-up man.
Some people will point to the fact that since Thornton is a lefty, he’s a better fit out of the closers role. However, Sale is also a lefty and Thornton has proven he can handle batters from both sides of the plate. Sale could still see the occasional save chance but his decreasing ownership is definitely justified here.
Jorge De La Rosa | SP | Colorado Rockies | -6.4%
De La Rosa is dealing with lat tightness that caused him to miss a start last week. The good news is that he’s expected to make two more spring starts and be ready for the start of the year.
De La Rosa is always an underrated source of strikeouts and he’s usually always available at the end of drafts. However, he can’t be trusted to stay healthy for the whole year and this latest injury only reinforces his durability issues. Feel free to drop De La Rosa, unless you’re in a deep mixed or NL-only league, and let somebody else worry about his future ailments and his poor WHIP.