The fantasy baseball playoffs are just around the corner; depending on how the league is set up, the playoffs should be starting in the next two or three weeks. With that in mind, it’s imperative that a fantasy owner scours the waiver wire trying to find hidden gems. Here are a few pitchers that I believe are criminally under-owned:
Bud Norris – Baltimore Orioles SP
2014 has been Bud Norris’ best statistical season to date. His 11 wins, 3.69 ERA, and 1.21 WHIP are all career bests. Nevertheless, his value takes a large hit (especially in roto leagues) due to his lack of strikeouts – Norris has posted a measly 6.8 K/9 and even worse 2.53 K/BB ratio this season.
With those numbers, it isn’t shocking to hear that Norris is owned in 6.2% of ESPN Fantasy Baseball leagues. However, Norris has been fantastic recently, which is why I believe he is largely under-owned.
Over his last 10 outings, Norris has posted five quality starts, a record of 7-2, a 2.83 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP, a 7.69 K/9, and a 3.19 K/BB ratio. If you take out the two games where he pitched poorly and lost, his ERA and WHIP would move to 1.78 and 1.11 respectively. The reason I mention the stats without the two bad outings is to show the kind of numbers he has put up in 80% of his starts dating back to June 9.
After examining those numbers, it’s much easier to see why I strongly believe that Bud Norris should be owned in many more leagues.
Any fantasy team in need of pitching help, especially those in points leagues, should take a long look at the 29-year-old pitcher. Norris’ next few starts, assuming there are no setbacks, are favorable and should be on these dates:
Saturday, Aug. 23rd at the Chicago Cubs
Thursday, Aug. 28th versus the Tampa Bay Rays
Tuesday, Sep. 2nd versus the Cincinnati Reds
Sunday, Sep. 7th at the Tampa Bay Rays
Brad Boxberger – Tampa Bay Rays RP
Very few non-closing relief pitchers are worthy of a roster spot in fantasy baseball. Brad Boxberger is one of them.
Through 54 innings pitched, Boxberger has accumulated 14 holds to go along with a 3-1 record, an ERA of 1.83, and a 0.77 WHIP. Even more impressive is his ability to whiff batters; his K/9 is at an elite level of 14.2 and his K/BB ratio is 5.0.
In his 2014 campaign, Boxberger has appeared in 50 games. This means that he pitches in just under 40% of games, equaling out to about three games per week. Boxberger is most valuable in roto leagues, since he can single-handedly put a team’s K or K/9 category over the top.
Currently, Boxberger is owned in 14.9% of ESPN leagues. While I think he should be owned in more leagues, I don’t see him rising much higher than the 30% ownership level. The other elite non-closing relievers – Betances, Davis, and Neshek – are owned in 52.7%, 18.9%, and 29% of leagues respectively.
For fantasy baseball teams struggling in the strikeout category, Boxberger is the pitcher that can make the difference. Add him before someone else does.
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