Monday, April 26, 2010

Draft part 2: Prospecting

ROUND 12:  Max Scherzer (SP, Tigers)

Round 11 began an interesting split in pitcher philosophies.  On one side, you have owners like me happy to live in the realm of the High WHIP Strikeout Pitcher.  Guys in the 1.35 WHIP neighborhood with a reasonable shot at 9.0 K/IP.  Names like Zambrano, Scherzer, Matusz, Buchholz, De La Rosa, Kazmir, Sanchez, and Ervin Santana.  On the flip side are the Low WHIP Contact Pitchers:  Randy Wolf, Rowland-Smith, Happ, Wells, Correia, Hudson, etc.

As an overall strategy I think, once you're in this zone of 3rd and 4th pitchers, there's more fantasy value in the upside of a high-K guy than in the low-K guys.  It just seems that the high strikeout crowd is more likely to strike gold and develop into SP1/SP2 type talents.  Besides, free agency always seems to have two or three of the low-WHIP type of pitchers available for plug-and-play if you're sick of Hiroki Kuroda after six weeks, but strikeouts are never left sitting around.

SP was the right call for me here considering the state of my roster.  The outfielders coming off the board here have some upside, but I'd already filled OF and UTIL, and I regret losing that flexibility.  However, I don't regret missing the opportunity to draft a slugger like Alexei Ramirez.  SS just isn't a pressing need once you're this far down the draft sheet.  There were two worthwhile catchers still remaining, but I had to lock in some pitchers before I was stuck clicking names like Pineiro and Harang.

So far this season, Scherzer's got a 2.63 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, which is fantastic for a 12th round pick.  The drop in his K/9 (6.38, against 9.24 lifetime) is slightly concerning, with two low-K performances against the Royals, but his walks are also down (2.63 per 9).  Assuming his arm strength holds up for the entire year, I anticipate his K-rate to rise towards his career average, and eventually the Tigers bullpen will stop blowing his leads.

Verdict:  No regrets
Hindsight:  Jonathan Sanchez has better stuff, better stats this year, and pitches in the NL.

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