Well, we have a little more data now, so let’s see what value can be gained.
Ervin Santana – 21.7% owned on ESPN
Unfortunately, Santana will miss his next start due to back stiffness, but he’s looked quite competent in his first four starts of the season. He’s pitched 20 innings with a 8.10 K/9, 3.15 ERA and 3.08 FIP. You can basically throw out those last two numbers because, again, it’s only 20 innings, but considering Santana missed half of last season and has dropped his ERA by a full run from last year to start 2016, he’s worth a deeper dive.
Santana’s strikeout rate is up this year. He’s upped his K% to 20.5% and his K%-BB% has also increased by 1.3%. That’s solid. His walks are also up slightly, but he’s managed to keep his walk rate around 8% for his career, which is just above league average from 2015.
In fact, league average is still the best descriptor for Ervin Santana right now. He is going to start allowing more home runs, which will bring his ERA back up. And since the league average in strikeouts is steadily rising, perhaps Santana will rise with the trend. If he continues his increased strikeout potential, Santana will retain some value in fantasy, especially in matchup-specific circumstances. Batters are striking out at record levels, which could buoy Santana’s numbers even as his velocity has not increased. The whiff rate on his slider is actually down to start the year, but a 17% whiff rate is still fine. If he’s healthy and pitching, Santana should be headed for another reliable year.
Drew Pomeranz – 25.4% owned on ESPN
There’s something strange going on here. Drew Pomeranz is averaging a full 4.16 strikeouts per 9 more than last year. That’s crazy. He’s also averaging an extra walk per inning, so perhaps he’s trying to go for more strikeouts now that he has left the A’s and gets to pitch in Petco and the National League (Pomeranz was in pitcher-friendly Oakland beforehand, so that’s all supposition).
Pomeranz has a very, very good fastball. For his career, opponents are slashing a .228/.323/.368 line against Pomeranz’s four-seam fastball, which is great. His curve also gets whiffs and dominates most hitters he faces. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for pitchers to succeed with just two pitches, and Pomeranz’s other offerings are not very good. The A’s relegated him to the bullpen last year (where he was good, which is not surprising for two-pitch pitchers with great strikeout potential) before trading him for Yonder Alonso. That’s the main reason he went undrafted in many leagues this year.
However, with the league switch and move to Petco, I understand why Pomeranz could be a solid starter for fantasy purposes this year. His absurd strikeout increase and hot start should have people rushing to the waiver wire. By all means, buy-in now, but I would be very, very wary of trusting anything Pomeranz is doing right now. Sure, he has those two pitches, but unless he continues to sequence them properly and develop his other pitches, the league will catch up to him again. He got destroyed by opposing pitching at the start of last season, and he has gone on terrible stretches in the past with the Rockies. His fastball velocity is also down by to start the year, but we’ll give him a pass on that because he was a reliever for much of last season.
On the bright side, he has started to use his changeup much more than previously. His usage rate on his changeup has risen this season, and it’s working for him. That third pitch will be vital to Pomeranz’s development. If he can get the changeup working consistently, which he is currently doing in a very small sample size, buy in on Pomeranz. That changeup will help him to get righties out, which he has had trouble with for his entire career. His fastball and curve are fine. Right now, the changeup seems to be working, even if he is walking more batters. One of his starts came against the Phillies, but he survived Coors Field in a revenge start against the Rockies and blanked the Pirates over 6.2 at home.
Will this be Drew Pomeranz’s age-27 breakout season? Possibly. If he keeps striking out batters at a 10 K/9 clip and starts to limit his walks, he could stick as an upper-tier fantasy starter. He has always had good potential, and he is certainly worth taking a flier on in deeper leagues. In shallower leagues, he can be used as a streaming option at home against bad teams or bad teams on the road. But be warned, if he starts blowing up in May or June, that’s the risk you’ll have to accept.
Chase Anderson – 12.1% owned on ESPN
I’m out on Chase Anderson. It’s a hard thing for me to admit, having been an ardent supporter of Chase over the past few years, but I just don’t see it anymore. I watched his start against the lowly Phillies today. I survived this masochistic endeavor to report that he just doesn’t miss enough bats. In a strikeout-dominant landscape, I don’t think Chase Anderson will ever be more than a deep-league add. He did not allow a run in his first two starts while his K/9 rose and his walks declined, but he’s now allowed 11 runs (10 earned) and 3 homers over his last 9 innings.
Chase Anderson gives up around one home run per inning. He only had a 6.54 K/9 last year, which is just above pitching luminaries like Chris Young. He’s gained velocity, and he has a great changeup, but he has had nothing else going for him throughout his career. Chase Anderson pounds the zone, relies on ground balls and pop-ups, and gives up way too many home runs. He just does not have any fantasy upside playing for a bad team and trotting out his very pedestrian stuff.
I know most of you weren’t considering Chase Anderson as a long-term option, but I’d avoid him. His ERA in the second half last year was over 5.00, and while that is an arbitrary endpoint, I don’t think he’s good enough to be viable. Don’t let him out of the Robbie Ray/Nate Eovaldi low-end pitcher tier. And he allows so many homers. Soooooo many.
All advice is my own opinion and is not guaranteed to be right or help you win your fantasy league.