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Thursday, July 30, 2015

FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: FATIGUE SETTING IN ON SOME BIG-NAME PITCHERS

Heading into the 2015 fantasy baseball season, there were a number of moderate-to-big-name starting pitchers who had a firm asterisk attached to their names when it came to their outlook.  While the vast talent of some of these pitchers almost ensured at least four months of high-level pitching, the arrival of mid-summer serves as a sort of line of demarcation before the dreaded fatigue sets in.  Whether it was due to this pitcher missing a large chunk of the previous year with injury or for simply due to youth, these starters come with a "Sell High" tag sometime at the beginning of July just to be on the safe side.  The following are some of the pitchers who fell into this category prior to the season and how the fatigue issue could be the prime reason they are struggling as we get set to move onto August. 

Michael Pineda:  The talent was never in question when it came to the hard-throwing Pineda.  It was always his utter inability to stay healthy as he missed the entire 2012 and 2013 season with a shoulder injury and than logged just 76 frames in 2014 due to more health woes.  Finally healthy entering 2015, there was almost no chance Pineda would hold the big numbers he began the season with as he moved into uncharted innings territory as the summer arrived.  Fresh off his second straight beating Friday night, Pineda is right on schedule there.  Consider his month-by-month numbers:

April:  3.73 ERA/1.12 WHIP
May:  3.00 ERA/1.15 WHIP
June:  5.72 ERA/1.48 WHIP
July:  3.55 ERA/1.14 WHIP

June was a trainwreck and on the surface July looks decent but Pineda has given up 9 earned runs in his last 11.1 innings which is a major red flag.  Fatigue no doubt is the culprit as Pineda has hardly pitched in the majors the previous three seasons and so we are past the time to sell high already.  It is likely going to be an ugly finish.
UPDATE:  Pineda was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a forearm injury. 

Michael Wacha:  I have already talked a bunch about Wacha, who missed a large segment of 2014 with shoulder trouble.  Still a young pitcher, Wacha was far from a finished product in terms of his innings endurance as 2015 began.  Like with Pineda, Wacha had a big start and now is getting his head beaten in as evidenced by the monthly performances:

April:  2.42 ERA/1.04 WHIP
May:  2.17 ERA/1.04 WHIP
June:  3.7 ERA/1.23 WHIP
July:  5.50 ERA/1.11 WHIP

The slide is quite stark here as Wacha himself is moving into uncharted innings territory which is showing up in his rising ERA and WHIP.  Another guy who should have been sold high on.

Jesse Chavez:  For the second season in a row, Chavez has struggled badly once the calendar turned to June.  A very underrated pitcher who has solid strikeout stuff and a good array of pitches, Chavez' constant movement from the rotation to the bullpen has not allowed him to build up enough endurance to make a full season of starts.  In April and May this season Chavez was terrific in posting ERA's of 2.55 and 1.93 as one of the best values in the game among pitchers.  June was a disaster though with a 4.85 ERA and July worse at 5.31.  An arm can only throw so many pitches before fatigue sets in as Chavez is dealing with currently. 

Yovani Gallardo:  Other than maybe Dan Haren, no other pitcher has been more of a stark first half gem/second half dud than veteran starter Yovani Gallardo.  After going with the trend almost every season of his career with the Milwaukee Brewers, Gallardo was not looked at as much of a fantasy baseball option in beginning 2015 with the Texas Rangers and their bandbox ballpark combined with diminished stuff.  However after a somewhat up-and-down April (4.08 ERA), Gallardo was very good to even terrific in May (3.75 ERA) and June (0.54 ERA) to become a decent add in fantasy baseball circles once again.  Just like when with the Brewers, Gallardo hit the skids in July, with the latest being a 5-earned run bomb Saturday night that marks his second straight outing giving up that many runs.  That brought Gallardo's July ERA to an unsightly 4.97 with a hideous 1.93 WHIP.  In other words Gallardo is once again waiver fodder the rest of the way. 

 

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