I love the stories of Alexi Ogando and Ryan Vogelsong as much as the next guy, but that doesn’t mean I’m trusting them to carry me into the championship. You won’t be able to nail down an ace like Cliff Lee, Justin Verlander, or Roy Halladay for one of these youngsters, but there are some struggling pitchers who are bound to come around in the second half and will be worth trading for.
Here are a few candidates for a Buy low/Sell high trade.
Jair Jurrjens- ESPN’s Tristan H. Cockcroft put it best when he wrote, “There hasn’t been a pitcher to manage a sub-2.00 ERA despite a sub-6 K-per-nine ratio in 26 years. If Jurrjens’ ERA is north of 3.00 from today forward, don’t say you weren’t warned.” Now, an ERA north of 3.00 isn’t horrific, especially if it is near Jurrjens’ career mark of 3.24, but If you can get a return value equal to the 12-3, 1.87 ERA Jurrjens of now, go for it.
Alexi Ogando- Ogando has already pitched more than twice as many innings as he has in any season in his career, and even though this outfielder-turned-pitcher has plenty of mileage left on that arm, pitchers aren’t meant to thrive in Texas. Ogando will win plenty of games with that lineup providing support, but his ERA can’t possibly hold up. His 78 strikeouts aren’t nearly as many as we’d like to see and he is entering Jurrjens territory.
Complete-game James Shields- I’m excited to read any comment after I post this telling me I’m crazy, and you know what? I probably am. At No. 5 on the ESPN player rater, James Shields has a been a legitimate fantasy ace this season, but I think he may be in for a regression. Unlike many young starters, his ERA and WHIP have been progressively getting worse each year he’s been a full-time starter. If you sell high on Shields you aren’t selling him because he is going to be a disaster in the second half, but because he has value that could bring in two quality players and help you in other areas. You didn’t draft Shields to be your ace so you aren’t trading your ace, he has much more value on the market than in your lineup.
Josh Beckett- Beckett has never been this good and his 31-year old body is starting to show signs of wear. His next start could be pushed back and he’s already had at least one start pushed back because of an injury. Don’t expect him to sustain a career best 2.27 ERA or 0.95 WHIP.
Michael Pineda- There is no guarantee that the Mariners will limit Pineda’s innings this season as he is currently on pace to pitch over 200 innings. However, the Mariners are slowly falling further and further out of contention in the AL West and shutting down their 22-year old starter may be in their best interest. Keep a close eye on that situation in Seattle because you can still get a good return from trading Pineda, if they decide to shut him down in a month.
Francisco Liriano- He is a low risk, high reward candidate. Low risk in that if he doesn’t pitch well you can drop him and not many would gamble on adding him, and high reward in that he has No. 2 fantasy pitcher potential lingering around. His most recent start wasn’t good on any level, but his May ERA was 2.52, his June ERA was 3.42 and he was striking out hitters like he did throughout all of 2010. He’s probably available on your waiver wire, but any way you can get him he’ll come cheaply.
Brandon Morrow- He was awesome in the second half of 2010 and his second half numbers are typically better than his first half. He is a high-strikeout pitcher who threw 11 quality starts in his last 16 overall starts of 2010. H is only owned in 89 percent of ESPN leagues and will come cheaply.
Ubaldo Jimenez- Jimenez is one player who will really benefit from the recent time off because of the All-Star game. He is currently 86th on ESPN’s player rater, but in the last 30 days he is 33rd and 25th in the last 15 days. His June was awesome (2.45 ERA and 33 K’s in 40.1 IP) and his July was just as good (2.70 with 17 K’s in 13.1 IP). Last season his second half was un-spectactular, but this year the story will be different, go get Ubaldo.