By Eriq Gardner
Sometimes prospects come up to the majors without much hype and astonish us all.
This year’s candidate has to be John Ely of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who through eight starts in the majors, sits upon a 3.00 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP.
Ely was involved in the deal that sent Juan Pierre to Chicago, and had pretty good numbers in the minors, but was dismissed because of a lack of “stuff.” His fastball only reaches the upper 80s. But he’s been able to effectively change speeds and locate his pitches to great effect.
Can he keep it up?
Another pitcher comes to mind. Last year, Randy Wells was a largely unheralded prospect who came up to the majors and dominated in his first six starts. Nobody believed in Wells, even after he struck out 31 batters to only 8 walks in those six games. (Ely’s ratio after six games was an eerily similar, and excellent, 32:6.)
This year, on the surface, Wells isn’t doing so great with a 4.86 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. However, the numbers are largely the result of two bad games recently. Otherwise, he’s been quietly solid and may even be a nice buy-low candidate. Wells has struck out 50 batters and walked only 14. His xFIP (a stat that runs along a similar scale to ERA, while stripping out park effects, defense, luck and other factors beyond a pitcher’s control) is very good at just 3.60. Like Ely, Wells doesn’t have dominating stuff, but he keeps the ball on the ground and sports excellent control.
We might expect batters to catch up to Ely at some point, and there may have been some indication of this in Sunday’s game versus the Atlanta Braves, but he can continue to be effective as a contributor at the back-end of a fantasy rotation.
His upside is similar to Randy Wells — and there’s value in these types of back-end fantasy rotation arms. Finding guys like Ely and Wells on the cheap who can post respectable numbers saves the big investments for commodities harder to attain through draft, trade, and waiver wire pickup.
Is comparing Ely to Wells a fair one? You be the judge.