2011 Marlins Season Preview: Fantasy baseball, pitchers edition

We finish up our brief Marlins fantasy series by discussing the pitchers of the Marlins staff and their effect on the 2011 fantasy baseball season.

Player IP ERA WHIP K W Sv $ Mixed $ NL
Josh Johnson 198 3.11 1.26 166 14 0 $15 $18

I can almost guarantee you that Johnson will outperform some of these numbers projected here by PECOTA. I’m almost certain he will have strike out more than 166 batters this season; in 198 innings, that projects to 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings, the lowest mark he would have ever put up in the majors in a given season. At the same time, the other numbers seem believable enough to go with in terms of the 2011 season. The ERA seems mostly appropriate, and the WHIP looks a bit high but acceptable. It’s difficult to predict wins, but 14 wins for an ace-level pitcher on a decent team seems about right. Going into a draft, you should expect to pay more than $15 to $18 for Johnson in these sorts of leagues, but there is some trepidation in terms of fantasy owners about Johnson’s health. As I mentioned before, PECOTA’s Team Injury Projections and the system CHIPPER looked favorably upon Johnson, and I tend to agree. I’m projecting almost 200 innings, with about two starts missed (maybe ten days total off). That’s not worth dropping his value by as much as many are doing.

Player IP ERA WHIP K W Sv $ Mixed $ NL
Ricky Nolasco 193 3.92 1.27 184 12 0 $7 $13

Nolasco was a major hyped sleeper last season after his vastly unlucky 2009 campaign, but after a second straight disappointing season in which he once again underperformed his peripherals, fantasy owners are low on Nolasco’s performance. The projection here still shows that Nolasco’s peripherals hold some promise in terms of good performance, but clearly Nolasco’s two previous seasons of 4.81 ERA and potential problems with runners on have scared projection systems and fantasy owners away. Still, these numbers look absolutely believable given Nolasco’s continuing strong peripherals and he should be able to at least match these numbers, if not better them. All the peripherals, particularly the strikeouts, look good, so these numbers look very believable. I’ve been seeing Nolasco late in mixed leagues at around the listed value, so feel free to take a chance and reap the benefits in 2011.

Player IP ERA WHIP K W Sv $ Mixed $ NL
Javier Vazquez 202 3.73 1.25 197 13 0 $11 $16

Obviously PECOTA did not catch the full extent of the downfall of Javier Vazquez in 2010, or else it would not be projecting such strong peripheral performances and such a low ERA. I fully expect Vazquez to put up an ERA closer to 4.20 than to 3.70, and that is mostly due to a lack of an efficient fastball. With his fastball velocity way down (and still down according to reports from Spring Training), he’ll have to rely even more on those breaking pitches, and that is going to get him further in trouble with runners on (something he’s already had). I don’t think Vazquez should be ranked as highly as Nolasco, but he is a nice late-pick sleeper in mixed leagues for low dollar values. He’s an upside pick, a nice lottery selection, but don’t think he’ll be the guy in 2009 or even 2008 and 2007.

Player IP ERA WHIP K W Sv $ Mixed $ NL
Anibal Sanchez 155 4.17 1.44 127 10 0 $-3 $5

Sanchez was great last season, but it’s hard to project him getting similar innings in 2011 that he did in 2010. The 155 innings is clearly a projection done by myself for BP to account for possible injuries to Sanchez, and it would not surprise me if he did miss that sort of time this upcoming season. Most of these other numbers look appropriate, though Sanchez’s WHIP should go down a bit if that improved control from 2011 sticks. The ERA and strikeouts look about right given the innings.

Player IP ERA WHIP K W Sv $ Mixed $ NL
Chris Volstad 165 4.93 1.52 105 10 0 $-11 $1

Volstad is better than this, but not by much. In the context of fantasy baseball, Volstad is a low-strikeout pitcher who doesn’t get a low enough ERA or WHIP to warrant any fantasy attention other than in NL leagues that need playing time.

Player IP ERA WHIP K W Sv $ Mixed $ NL
Leo Nunez 68 4.01 1.34 67 3 27 $4 $14

Nunez is being ranked as a low-level closer, and that seems about right given that he lost his job late last season. However, as Marlins fans saw throughout the 2010 season, Nunez was actually really good last year. He upped his strikeouts and kept his walks down enough that he actually ended up looking good last season. He also regressed in terms of home runs from the ugly 2009 season, making him look great in terms of peripherals. Nunez’s job is safe enough for the time being to rack up saves, but since Edwin Rodriguez has hinted at his job being unsafe in the presence of Clay Hensley, it would be wise not to pay a lot of money for Nunez’s saves or handcuff him with his backup option.

Player IP ERA WHIP K W Sv $ Mixed $ NL
Clay Hensley 70 4.65 1.53 54 3 3 $-1 $-1

Hensley obviously took huge strides in 2010 with his game, and while the drastic change was certainly a product of his pitch selection and change of approach, we would expect to see some regression in a guy who never struck nearly this many hitters per nine innings and is a slow-tossing right hander. Hensley’s plus changeup has helped him become a threat against lefties, while his heavy sinker arsenal benefits against right-handed hitters. He is second in line for the closer job in Florida and should be handcuffed in NL leagues for owners with Leo Nunez. I doubt he’ll strike out more than a guy an inning in 2011, but I’m 99 percent certain he’ll outperform the above PECOTA projected values.

Tags: Anibal Sanchez Chris Volstad Clay Hensley Javier Vazquez Josh Johnson Leo Nunez Miami Marlins Ricky Nolasco

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