Are Henderson Alvarez or Garrett Richards Worth Your Time?

By R.J. Anderson //

Pitchers with good stuff and iffy results can frustrate fantasy owners and scouts alike—just ask the fans of Ivan Nova. On Wednesday, two pitchers with a similar report were promoted from the minor leagues: Henderson Alvarez of the Blue Jays and Garrett Ricahrds of the Angels. Is either worth a roster spot? Let’s take a look.

Alvarez is a 21-year-old righty with groundball tendencies. His fastball can and will get into the mid-to-upper 90s and he complements the pitch with a good changeup. For some reason or another, though, Alvarez has never held a strikeout per nine innings ratio over seven throughout the minor leagues. The American League East is no friend to pitchers, young or old, but rookie pitchers in particular can find the transition from the minors to the toughest division in baseball rude. Just ask Kyle Drabek.

Still, there are some encouraging aspects of Alvarez’s game. His 3.88 strikeout-to-walk ratio in Double-A and 2.86 earned run average are a positive sign, as it’s commonly accepted that the jump from A-ball to Double-A is the toughest a player will face. Even so, Alvarez seems to profile as a back of the rotation starter now unless something clicks. That doesn’t tend to carry a high fantasy value, so abstain from adding him for now.

Richards, on the other hand, is a big righty with a big fastball and good slider. He posted good numbers in the lower minors—not unexpected for a pitcher drafted out of college—but his performance in Double-A has been just okay. His 3.06 ERA and 12-2 record look nice, but a reduction in strikeouts (from 9.4 per nine last season to 6.4) is undesirable.

Unlike Alvarez, Richards is moving into a division that holds two pitching-friendly parks. He still has to face the Rangers, sure, but he will get a crack at the Athletics and Mariners too. Richards feels more likely to have immediate value than Alvarez, if only because of his pedigree, but even then his upside might be a middle of the rotation starter. That does not mean to add him right away, but if you need a spot starter and it’s Richards’ turn to face the Mariners, well, may as well.

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