Fantasy Baseball: Under-owned pitchers

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 (labeled for use)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.

[Difference making free agents]

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.

Boxberger has had a stellar year, putting him in the discussion with other elite non-closing relief pitchers such as Dellin Betances, Wade Davis, and Pat Neshek.

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.

[Updates on injured impact players]

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.

For more opinions and analysis visit our Fantasy Baseball page.