Last week we took a closer look at some of the fantasy pitchers who often provoke Earthlings. These hurlers tend to produce a useful ERA over a large number of innings as they can be efficient and limit long balls.
This week we’re going to go in the opposite direction and look at some pitchers who generate a lot of volleys.
These hurlers tend to be riskier than ground ball pitchers as they have the potential to give up long ball runs. But since bats are easier for defensemen to handle than ground balls, these pitchers can also produce exceptional WHIPS when they are at the top of their game. Justin Verlander is a great example of a pitcher who has made a career of throwing lots of balls and strikeouts, as well as limiting walks.
None of the characters in this article are likely to end up joining Verlander in the Hall of Fame, but they can all help your fantastic team.
Christian Javier (SP/RP, Houston Astros)
Javier has the highest flyball rate (57.9%) of any pitcher with at least 30 pitches this year. His current speed is the highest in his three-year career, but the right-hander has always generated more than his share of field goals. Javier also has a high strikeout rate (29.3 percent) and most of his ERAs are in line with his actual 3.07 mark.
Javier has a career 1.13 WHIP, including 1.17 this season. He doesn’t allow for a lot of hard contact and may have a BABIP just below the .288 mark he currently has. Javier needs to go deep into the start to take his game to the next level, but he’s already a good target for those looking for a mid-range starter who can stabilize their WHIP.
Triston McKenzie (SP, Cleveland Guardians)
McKenzie is an anomaly among starting pitchers in terms of his ability to generate many easy strikeouts. The right-hander leads all qualified pitchers in flying balls (54.5 percent), contributing to a 1.01 WHIP and 13th in baseball. Those who think McKenzie has been particularly lucky this year (.216 BABIP) should take a closer look, as he hit .222 BABIP in 227.2 career innings.
Because he generates so many balls, McKenzie will never be the one the ERA indicators love. But he is a WHIP stallion (career score 1.08) who has shown improved control skills this year. I put him at the top of my list of trade goals for a team in need of WHIP that can’t get an ace.
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Hunter Green (SP, Cincinnati Reds)
Green teases Reds fantasy managers and fans with his elite drive, which includes an average fastball speed of 98.5 mph. The rookie posted an outstanding strike rate of 30.1 percent, but a walking rate of 9.9 percent that could have been a bit better. And Green generated flying balls with a high rate of 56.0%. A powerful right-hander who was selected second overall in the MLB Draft and produces a lot of blows and volleys – the comparisons to Verlander are obvious.
After so many compliments on Green in the previous paragraph, I’m going to throw cold water on his trading value this season. The 22-year-old has been fickle so far and I expect that trend to continue. Green has an ugly 5.26 ERA, which could make him reasonably valuable in the trading market for those who need to buy outs.
Giovanni Gallegos (RP, St. Louis Cardinals)
Gallegos has always generated a lot of balls and strikeouts, making him a WHIP player throughout his career, scoring 0.93 points. And this year, he showed his best flyball rate (56.9%), while continuing to demonstrate an elite rate (31.1%). Gallegos will be even more productive as his .286 BABIP approaches his lifetime mark of .257.
The Cardinals continue to divide the chances for salvation, and they gave Ryan Helsley more opportunities than Gallegos in recent weeks. Gallegos remains one of baseball’s top pitchers, but his current role limits his value as a mid-range pitcher in mixed leagues.
Joe Ryan (SP, Minnesota Twins)
It didn’t take long for Ryan to establish himself as a quality Major League player, posting a 3.35 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in his first 15 career starts. His lifelong .233 BABIP is an incredibly low rating, but he has earned some of that good fortune by calling up flying balls at elite speed while also limiting hard contact.
Ryan could have become a fantasy star in the long run if he maintained his penchant for batting and slightly upped the 25.8% strike rate he registered this year. I see him as a great trading target for those who need WHIP improvements.
Bailey Ober (SP, Minnesota Twins)
Ober teams up with Ryan to take over the Twins’ outfielders. The lanky right-hander offers a great combination to keep the bases clean as he causes a lot of flyballs (46.8 percent career) and limits walks (5.0 percent career). The next step is to make progress with his 24.0 percent strikeout rate.
If the discount wasn’t substantial, I wouldn’t be trading Ober in the deep leagues right now. He should be ok in the WHIP category, but his ERA may be unstable. My plan for Auber in the shallow leagues is to watch him on the waiver wire and be ready to pounce when he comes back. He currently makes up 22 percent of the list.