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Saturday, March 12, 2016

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT BUST: DALLAS KEUCHEL SP HOUSTON ASTROS

Sometimes a certain statistic comes from so far out of the blue that you instantly want to throw it out forever.  We are talking Jose Reyes' batting title a few years ago and Victor Martinez' home run output in 2014.  Another number that looks like it should be added to this list are the 216 strikeouts the Houston Astros' Dallas Keuchel put up during his Cy Young-winning blockbuster 2015 season.  While Keuchel proved himself to be a terrific pitcher on the rise in 2014 (2.93 ERA/1.18 WHIP), he would strike out just 146 batters in his 200 innings that year.  Last season saw more stellar ratios (2.48 ERA/1.02 WHIP) but the explosion in strikeouts was beyond shocking for a guy whose K/9 EVER including the minors was a modest 7.20.  Last season's K rate?  Try 8.38 which is well in outlier territory when it comes to Keuchel who already is 28-years-old and likely into his prime.  So why is Keuchel a bust?  Let's go on a bit.

Now in terms of the ERA and WHIP, Keuchel has now put two tremendous seasons in both departments in a row which adds legitimacy to both those numbers.  Keuchel is your classic tough lefty who has developed some of the best control in baseball.  He was particularly impossible to deal with the second half of last season as he registered a splendid 6.0 K/BB ratio which is as good as it gets.  Keuchel's stuff is also tough to pick up for hitters coming out of his hand due to a deceptive delivery and that helps keep his hit rate down as well.  However the problem here is that Keuchel has to maintain his K rate breakout to hold fantasy baseball ace value and right now he is being drafted as such a pitcher.  That is where the trouble might lie as Keuchel doesn't even average 90 on his fastball but yet picked up 216 strikeouts last season.  We have seen too many countless cases of numbers being skewed and coming out of the blue like the examples we gave before and repeating them often becomes a mirage.  It is very tough to think that Keuchel can repeat such an output since he has never come close to those rates before with his strikeouts and his age and poor velocity don't support this either.  Thus if you are paying a sticker prime on Keuchel, you could be looking at a case of diminishing returns. 

When you put it all together, there are a bunch of other ace fantasy baseball pitchers we would rather have to pay for then Keuchel.  We want stability here and guys like David Price, Chris Sale, and Madison Bumgarner are all safer investments around that same tier Keuchel is at.  Now the guy will still win a bunch of games and have terrific ratios but don't buy into the strikeout total from last season. 

2016 PROJECTION:  17-8  2.97 ERA 1.08 WHIP 186 K 

 

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