By R.J. Anderson //
The below graphic is taken directly from Brian Matusz‘s Bloomberg Sports Front Office profile. Within the graphic, there are plenty of little icons which give you easily referable information (like, whether the player pitches or hits within an offensive-friendly ballpark, whether the player is durable, or in his prime, and how the pitcher’s offense produces). As you can also see, Matusz also holds a B-Rank in the 500s and an ADP in the 180s. I have to say, I agree with the ADP’s take on Matusz’s value more than the B-Rank.
Matsuz is a big lefty, at 6’4″, with a fantastic pedigree. The Orioles took him fourth overall in the 2008 draft out of the University of San Diego. The 24-year-old reached the majors in 2009 and has since made 40 starts in total, with the majority coming last season. He has a nice arsenal of pitches and seems unafraid to pitch inside on right-handed batters. Matusz’s draft stock received a boost based on his second half performance where he dropped his ERA from the 4.7’s (where it was at the end of the first half) down to 4.30 backed behind eight quality starts in 14 appearances.
The Orioles have improved over the offseason but remain likely to finish in fourth or fifth place within the division, that means Matusz is unlikely to rack up as many wins as he deserves, because the divisional foes are good enough to nudge the O’s in close games. Still, he’s likely to post a better than league-average ERA and his infield defense should be improved enough to help lower his WHIP. The projections suggest he’ll finish with an ERA over 4.00 and while those are based in good reason and numbers, they know not of Matusz’s scouting profile or prospect status.
It’s those very aspects of Matusz’s game that lead me to believe he can outpitch the projections. Maybe not by much, and perhaps the results won’t shine through on his fantasy value, but in a division with fellow young southpaws like David Price and Ricky Romero, Matusz stands his own.
Taking Matusz to be the ace of your staff is too much, but depending on the league size, he could be a very good second or third starter this year and a fantastic keeper option.
By Eriq Gardner //
By R.J. Anderson
Carl Pavano has long been a whipping boy, an entry into a word association game when the term “fragile” came up, and a baseball punchline. Pavano thrived in relative anonymity last season, posting a good enough year with the terrible Cleveland Indians to earn him a trade to the contending Minnesota Twins. Rather than testing the frost-bitten market, Pavano accepted the Twins’ offer of arbitration. And boy, who can blame him? The Twins added some fun toys for his usage in the form of a new middle infield with high defensive reputations and offensive ability.
Nothing about Pavano screams fantasy asset. He’s a pitchability type, someone who relies on getting groundballs and avoiding mistakes. His injury-heavy past makes him more of a risk than most and he’s always given up quite a few homers. Pour all of that information into a bowl and whisk softly for a few minutes until the aroma of sleeper hits you. Right? Well, evidently not, since Pavano is being drafted at an average spot of 188th. His B-Rank is a low 324th and his positional rank (meaning of all pitchers, not just starters) is 118th.
Pavano is pitching for the AL Central favorites, so wins should be available. The defense behind him is strong, so his ERA could be playable. He doesn’t strike many out, but then again he doesn’t walk many either, so his K/BB and WHIP are passable. But, is he really worth a top-200 pick? The immediate options that surround Pavano in the B-Rank standings are young talents like Bud Norris, Brian Matusz, and Derek Holland – three pitchers with considerably more upside who aren’t being drafted until the 250-270 range, if it all (in Norris’ case, he’s not being drafted).
It’s not that Pavano is worthless or unworthy of being considered a fantasy option. It’s just that he’s being favored in front of options with a lot more potential to help your team. In shallower leagues, there’s no reason at all to take Pavano ahead of these younger pitchers: You can always find another generic SP with a 4.50 ERA and 12 wins on the waiver wire in a 10- or 12-team mixed league. But Holland and Matusz have the potential to be top-tier pitchers if or when their breakout comes.
At the end of your draft, take the upside pick, not predictable mediocrity.
For more information on possible over- and underrated starting pitchers and more, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kits.