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Glasnow, Ryu headline buy-low candidates

April 5, 2017

The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's Fantasy411 podcast, hosted by lead fantasy writer Fred Zinkie and national editor Matthew Leach. To hear the rest of Zinkie and Leach's discussion, subscribe to the Fantasy411 podcast by clicking here.On this week's pod, Zinkie and Leach focus

The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's Fantasy411 podcast, hosted by lead fantasy writer Fred Zinkie and national editor Matthew Leach. To hear the rest of Zinkie and Leach's discussion, subscribe to the Fantasy411 podcast by clicking here.
On this week's pod, Zinkie and Leach focus on starting pitchers -- from buy-low candidates to guys who either struggled or impressed on Opening Day, and what to glean from those performances. We'll pick up the discussion with Leach's thoughts on Pirates top prospect Tyler Glasnow.
Leach: We move to starting pitchers, and Tyler Glasnow gets a rotation spot in Pittsburgh. I certainly have my concerns, but I also don't think you have to go crazy to get him, and that potential strikeout rate is pretty appealing. I'm sure they do have to face the Cubs, but overall, Pittsburgh is a place where I like starters. They're going to handle him well. They're going to get him out without pushing him too far. I like Glasnow a lot. How far up the format ladder do you go before you're not intrigued by Glasnow?
Zinkie: Yeah, I agree with you that the buzz on him making the rotation was really small, which I was surprised by. There was more buzz when he was called up last year, which we see often. They get called up the first time, everybody goes crazy, they don't perform especially well at the beginning and then people just kind of are off until they actually show something. But I'm worried about his lack of control and the walks. So for that reason, I wouldn't want him in my lineup right now. But to me, he's the perfect guy to have on your bench, even in a shallow league like a 10-team league, a 12-team league. Instead of having a Mike Leake type on your bench -- someone who you know there's just not much potential there -- why not have Glasnow, who may be really, really good? And if he's walking three, four, five batters a start, you can just cut him in a couple weeks.
Leach: Yeah, that's the thing is for those kind of spots, I want the guy -- and I think we talked about this early last year -- when I'm talking about those places on my roster and those kinds of leagues, I can stream guys later in the year. If I'm using that spot right now, Mike Leake is going to be available in the 10-team mix or somebody equivalent to him is going to be available. If I can pick up somebody now who I might hold all year, that's what I want to do with that roster spot.
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Zinkie: Yeah, Glasnow and Hyun-Jin Ryu are two of my favorites right now for those last spots in shallow leagues, just in that Ryu -- huge injury risk, but when he's been healthy, has always been effective. And Glasnow, with that potential to get you more than a strikeout per inning. I think those are really nice ways to go. And just don't use them for their initial starts and see what happens.
Leach: A guy who was just blistering hot all spring and then ugly on Opening Day: Masahiro Tanaka. I say no concern. He's fine. He's good. He's a good pitcher. He's going to be fine. I have no worries. Did his clunker raise any alarm bells for you?
Zinkie: No, not really, and I watched most of that start. I felt like he even had a little bit of back luck -- a ground ball up the middle that just doesn't find a glove, and they could've maybe helped him get out of an inning. I think we see that and we overreact early in the season, but he didn't give up four home runs. Most good pitchers like Tanaka, if they have a bad start, you can look back at a couple times where you think, "Oh, OK. If that ball had been a few feet in either direction, he gets out of the inning and this stat line doesn't look so bad." I think he's fine. I don't think he's quite a buy-low yet because the spring was really good. But if he wasn't great this next start, then he might be a really nice buy-low candidate.
Leach: And then, while we're overreacting -- because, again, overreacting is the name of the game -- I think the thing is at this point, confirmation bias is really the name of the game. I don't think you're changing opinions, but I'm not as opposed to that as some people are. If you liked a guy and you get another data point, hey, keep liking him. That definitely applies to Carlos Martinez. I like Carlos Martinez a lot. I liked him before Opening Day. He goes and shoves against the Cubs, and I like him maybe even a little bit more. We talked about Martinez, I think, as a potential breakout guy. Look, one start doesn't change your view on him, but how much did you like seeing what you saw from him?
Zinkie: Yeah, I mean, obviously really impressive. To me, the big thing is that it was against one of the best lineups in baseball. I mean, I said that it was the most impressive pitching performance of any pitcher on the Opening Day, counting Sunday or Monday. I'll include Clayton Kershaw's great start in that because we knew Kershaw would dominate the Padres. But Martinez against the Cubs is really good. The Cubs are a tough lineup. That being said, there are a lot of Cubs hitters that strike out a fair amount, so him getting a lot of strikeouts against the Cubs is not totally shocking. The zero walks is what impressed me. That's the real thing. His career WHIP is 1.28, and a lot of that is because his walk rate is fairly high. It's not really ace-like. If he can bring his walk rate down, now we could be talking. If you get that WHIP in the range of 1.10, 1.15 even, and then maybe his ERA pushes below 3.00, now we could be looking at something really special.
Leach: Two more starters before we move on: Gerrit Cole, there was some concern about him coming into this year. He had a rough year last year. I think a lot of people were viewing him as a bounceback/breakout candidate. It was Fenway. You kind of want to be cautious and say: "Are we docking a guy just because he had a rough start in a very tough place to pitch? Or is there reason for concern?" What's your concern-meter on Cole after one start?
Zinkie: Really low right now, just because -- as you said -- it's Fenway, it's the Red Sox lineup and, most importantly with him, that's not his typical type of competition. So if Cole was a pitcher on the Orioles this year, I'd say: "OK, this is trouble because he's going to meet that team again, and New York and pitch at Yankee Stadium." But he's going to go back to National League lineups. Maybe it's a little bit of a sign that if you were expecting Gerrit Cole to be a $10 pitcher at your auction but then perform like a $25 pitcher, maybe that's not going to happen. Because I'm sure Max Scherzer could've gone in there probably and done fine. Maybe, he's not going to maybe quite get back to where he was in that great 2015 season, but I think Cole is an interesting buy-low right now, just because his owner when he drafted him was a little unsure about him. And then he wasn't great on Opening Day. He could be a really nice candidate if his next start is six innings, three or four runs -- maybe then you could get going and get him for a discount.
Leach: And one last starter: Dallas Keuchel, very encouraging Opening Day. I'm still not sure what to make of him. I wasn't sure what to make of him off of his best season. I wasn't sure what to make of him off of his struggling season last year. So I'm still not sure what to make of him. But I'm kind of looking for reasons to buy, and I would say his first start counted somewhat in that regard? What did you think of Keuchel's debut?
Zinkie: Yeah, it looked pretty good and the Mariners didn't look good against him, and they didn't look good again in the second game. What I would be looking for, for Keuchel, he was working down in the strike zone and I'm hoping that he can get back, not to the 2015 level -- I think that's an unrealistic expectation -- could he get back to the 2014 level? That was a 2.93 ERA. I don't think he can get maybe get quite there, but a 1.18 WHIP, and that's kind of what I'm looking for from him. I mean, injuries were a part of the story for him last season. Can he get back to keeping the ball down, inducing a lot of ground balls, not giving up many home runs -- that's who he was in 2014 and a good pitcher. So maybe like a 3.4, 3.3 ERA and a WHIP around 1.15 or 1.20. I think that would be nice. That's a nice like No. 2 or 3, maybe a No. 3 starter in a mixed league.