By Eriq Gardner //
Jonathan Sanchez got some love in the preseason as a sleeper. There aren’t too many pitchers who can be counted upon to strike out at least a batter per inning. His upside to do more got him drafted in many fantasy leagues. But few would have imagined that Sanchez would sport a 3.16 ERA and 1.22 WHIP with two starts left in his season. Beware, though: Better luck has been the biggest reason for the improvement, with opponents hitting just .266 against him on balls in play (vs. .302 lifetime BABIP allowed, and league average around .300).
On the surface, it might seem a stretch to call Tim Lincecum a bust. After all, most pitchers would love to lead the league in strikeouts and have a 3.60 ERA. But some context is in order. Lincecum was the top drafted pitcher in fantasy leagues, as many were expecting the stud who posted back-to-back Cy Young Award seasons with at least 260 strikeouts, a sub-3 ERA, and a sub-1.20 WHIP. This season, Lincecum’s strikeout rate is down, his walk rate is up from 2009 levels (though it’s right at his career average), and he’s nowhere close to award consideration.
2011 Keeper Alert
It’s not always wise to use keeper slots on closers, but Brian Wilson keeps getting better and better and is one of the league’s top relievers now. Not only for the saves and solid ERA/WHIP he contributes, but Wilson is also flirting with 100 strikeouts.
2011 Regression Alert
Madison Bumgarner was a top prospect coming up through the Giants’ farm system. In 16 starts this season, the youngster has posted a 3.06 ERA, including a scoreless outing last night. Everything may seem dandy, but Bumgarner is only striking out 6.71 batters per 9 innings and sports an xFIP more than a run higher than his actual ERA. On the plus side, his walk rate is a low 2.12 BB/9 IP this season. He’s a keeper, but don’t overbid if you’re drafting anew next season.