Bargain Starters? K/BB Rates in the Last 30 Days

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 23:  Vin Mazzaro #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the San Francisco Giants during a Major League Baseball game on June 23, 2009 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

At this point in the season it’s time to forget about name brands and start shopping at the dollar store for bargain bin gems. Pitching is one of those areas a lot of teams could use a boost in over the final two months. Here’s a look at some possible bargains who have pitched well over the last 30 days.
 

Using Yahoo! owned percentages

 
Jeff Francis 9.33 K/BB – 7%
While Francis isn’t going to blow anyone away with his pure stuff, he has done a great job with location of over his 92.2 innings in 2010. Take away his three worst outings (including eight earned runs in three innings against San Diego) and his ERA drops to 2.79. While we can’t simply take away three starts, it does go to show that Francis has been effective in the majority of his outings. He’s allowed two or fewer runs in eight of 16 starts this season.
 
Jeremy Hellickson 6.5 K/BB – 26%
He’s owned in 63 percent of CBS leagues and I still find that to be too low. The buzz surrounding Hellickson has been hovering all season long as he was arguably the best major league ready pitching prospect in the minors. All he has done in two major league starts is strike out 13 while walking only four and allowing only two earned runs. With Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis injured, Hellickson will see more action. His next start comes on Sunday against the Orioles.
 
James McDonald 4.75 K/BB – 2%
McDonald has been and up and down prospect for the last few seasons. He’s seen major league time in the past, some in the rotation and some out of the bullpen. He has always had the stuff to be a part of the major league rotation, but his ceiling seems to have been lowered over the last year or so. The Pirates picked him up in the Octavio Dotel deal and he has 14 strikeouts to two walks and seven hits in his first 10.2 innings as a part of the Pirates rotation. While McDonald hasn’t been able to stay consistent with his stuff over his career, he does have some upside for deeper leagues to consider. Though the potential for wins is very low, because it’s the Pirates.
 
Hisanori Takahashi 3.4 K/BB – 6%
Moving between the rotation and bullpen, Takahashi’s numbers have been a little up and down, but in his three starts since July 1st he has allowed six earned runs in 18 innings with 22 strikeouts to six walks. There was debate this week whether or not he would make a start on Saturday, but it seems like Jerry Manuel has elected to make him the eighth inning bullpen arm instead. That may actually still work out for fantasy owners as K-Rod was charged with assault after a post game confrontation last night. If K-Rod misses time, Takahashi might be the best option in the bullpen to take over ninth inning duties.
 
Jason Hammel 3.33 K/BB – 18%
Hammel has been tagged with a .321 BABIP against this season. He pitched brilliantlyin June, then ran into some bad luck in July (.328 BABIP against with a 4 K/BB rate). He has held solid a K/BB rate all season long and could be a valuable pitcher over the final two months.
 
Joe Blanton 3.13 K/BB – 13%
It has been a slow comeback for Blanton, who started the season on the DL and missed all of April. Though his 5.26 ERA in July doesn’t show it, Blanton actually pitched fairly well. That month he held a 8.36 K/9 and a 2.39 BB/9, but was tagged with a .365 BABIP against. His xFIP for the month was 3.61. The good thing is that the velocity and strikeouts are on the rise while the command has been there all season.
 
Anibal Sanchez 3 K/BB – 29%
Sanchez hasn’t been spectacular this season, but his improvement in command has lead to a 3.33 ERA as well as a a huge improvement in home runs allowed. He has only allowed five home runs in 135.1 innings this season.
 
Jake Westbrook 3 K/BB – 12%
Since being traded to the Cardinals, Westbrook has made two starts going a combined 13 innings while allowing 10 hits, five earned runs and a 16/5 K/BB ratio. What Westbrook does best is get a ton of ground balls while limiting his number of base on balls allowed. That can only improve in the National League and with Dave Duncan at his side. According to advanced fielding metrics, the Indians have one of the worst fielding teams in baseball this season. The Cardinals have been average in that department, but it’s a lot better than worst. That factor in particular could be huge for a low strikeout/ground ball pitcher like Westbrook.
 
Vin Mazzaro 2.56 K/BB – 8%
While he doesn’t have the upside of Brett Anderson or Trevor Cahill, Mazzaro is looked upon as a big piece of the A’s rotation for years to come. He’ll never rack up the strikeouts, but his sinker has the potential to generate a ton of ground balls. Since June 8th, Mazzaro has only had one really poor outing in which he allowed seven earned runs on 12 hits in 5.2 innings against the Rangers on July 29th. As a matter of fact, Mazzaro continues to get better as the season moves along. He improved his K/BB rate from June to July and has seen an increase in ground ball rate each month so far.