Need an SP, Look to Andrew Triggs

andrew triggsIt is almost crunch time for fantasy baseball leagues around the world. Many playoffs have started or will start soon and roto leagues are preparing for the home stretch. Now more than every you have to scour the waiver wire to find that diamond in the rough to keep your team in contention. If you are one of those unfortunate teams that recently lost a starting pitcher you’re probably looking at the available options thinking there has to be something better than these guys. Good news, there is.

One of the statistics that I pay close attention to in evaluating a starting pitcher is his FIP. For those of you who may not know FIP is Fielding Independent Pitching. Basically it is a measure of a pitcher’s effectiveness that doesn’t penalize or promote a pitcher based on the defense behind him. When evaluating a pitcher, I look at his FIP in relation to his ERA. If the FIP is significantly lower than his ERA, 1.0 or more, and his FIP is at a level that would be a better than usable ERA then you may have found an under-performer. Currently there are 68 starting pitchers who have a FIP that is at least 1.0 lower than their ERA. Many of these pitchers are still worthless as their FIP is in the 4.0+ range and well above league average or they are already owned in too many leagues to be available to add. There is one however that has a sub-4.0 FIP and is only owned in 4% of leagues. That pitcher is Oakland righty Andrew Triggs.

Triggs is 27 years old and made his MLB debut in April of this year, so if you never heard of him your probably not alone. If you just look at his basic stat line you likely won’t be impressed, 4.38 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and a 0-1 record for 2016. However, if you dig deeper there are some promising signs that could make him an intriguing add in deeper mixed leagues.

As a minor leaguer Triggs had a career 2.09 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 9.0 K/9 over five seasons. He has a low walk rate at 2.1 walks per nine, including his MLB innings, and a 0.2 HR/9. Currently in the majors he sports a 3.31 FIP which tells me he has been pitching well, but the Oakland defense has let him down on occasion. That assumption is backed up by his 8.4 K/9, 0.7 HR/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in his 49.1 innings with the big league club.
Being that the bulk of his time with the A’s this season have been in a relief role the stat line doesn’t tell the whole story. As a starter Triggs has only five earned runs in 19.2 innings. Most recently he pitched six, three hit, shutout innings against Cleveland. Over his past 12 games, which includes all five of his starts and a total of 31.1 innings he has a 2.30 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and 28 strikeouts to 8 walks. Even better in his last three appearances, all since he became a regular part of the rotation, he has a 2.30 ERA, 0.70 WHIP and 12 Ks to 1 BB.

Is Triggs and ace? No. He is, however, a great late season add to help you maintain your lead or gain ground on your competition if you are in need of a starting pitcher because you lost John Lackey, Steven Matz or Stephen Strasburg.

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Look Out Story, Here Comes Sanchez

Gary Sanchez

New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez has done something this season that no other rookie has done since, well since Rockies’ shortstop Trevor Story did to start the season. Sanchez has hit nine home runs in his first 21 games. He is only one of nine players in MLB history to have 15 or more extra base hits in 21 games and only the second Yankee to do it. Let’s not forget those 21 games include two games in 2015 that he was called up for and one games on May 13th this season before he was sent back to Triple-A.

Though Story and Sanchez do share this honor of being two of a very few hitters to have nine home runs in their first 21 games they both are very different hitters. Story has produced a lot of power this season, but he is not the all-around hitter that Sanchez is showing to be. Story’s home runs are wall scrapers, with an average home run distance of 327 feet, while Sanchez hits not doubter and averages 409 feet. In 2016 Story has an average exit velocity of 91.5 mph as compared to Sanchez’s 94.6 mph. Don’t take my word for it though let’s dive deeper in to what these two rookies did in their first 21 games in the big leagues.

In his first 21 games with the Diamondbacks Trevor Story was putting balls over the wall like it was going out of style. He had ten home runs, one more than Sanchez, but he was prone to the strikeout. Through those first 21 games Story had 35 strikeouts in 97 plate appearances, he was striking out in 36% of his plate appearances. He had a .253 batting average, a .320 on-base percentage and nine walks (only walking in 9% of his PAs).
Sanchez on the other hand has not shown so far to be an all or nothing player. He is hitting .389 with a .450 OBP, only striking out 15 times in 80 plate appearances (19% of the time he strikes out) and walking 10% of the time with 8 walks so far.

Comparing two players strictly based on a 21 game sample size is far from fair and when you look at their minor league numbers these two players do look more similar than they do different with Story having a minor league slash line of .263/.348/.469 and Sanchez .275/.339/.460, but what they will do in the majors long term is still yet to be seen. What is fair to say is that both Sanchez and Story have shown they belong in the big leagues and love to put on a show for the fans. Only thing not enjoying their promotions this year are the baseballs.

(Photo Credit: By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Gary Sanchez) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)