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Silver League Update: WHIPing Your Team Into Shape

Before the season started, I made a plan for my pitching staff that emphasized the pitcher's strikeout rate pretty heavily. Thinking scientifically, I figured that would be a better indicator of this year's performance than things like last year's ERA and WHIP. I tried to pay attention to K/BB rate, too, but looking at my roster, I realize that I just can't seem to resist a good whiff rate. This strategy compulsion has given me pitchers like Anibal Sanchez, Chris Capuano, staff ace David Price, and poster child Max Scherzer. It's also landed me the full twelve points in the strikeout category ... and just three in both ERA and WHIP. I've been contemplating trades for pitchers that can help me out, but in order to make a trade work, you need quality players and depth, two things I don't have much of. As always, I'm off to the waiver wire.

Max Scherzer's had his ups and downs this year, but the strikeouts really have been great; his 168 K's in 133 2/3 IP have been good for a rate north of 11 K/9. His WHIP has been a different story -- an ugly story that ends with the number 1.42. He might strike everybody out, but he lets everybody else on base. Sanchez features a not-that-great 1.34, and all the other bums that have pitched for my team over the course of the year have combined for a WHIP of 1.30 even, good for 10th place. With the leader sitting on a  1.15 team WHIP that plenty of good starters would be happy to have, I've got a bit of work to do to catch up.

The first thing that I did, and that everybody else should do is pick up Marco Estrada (11% owned). He's winless and holds an ERA over 4.00, pitches for a bad team in a tough park, but don't let that stop you --that's the only reason he's probably available in your league. How often do you combine a strikeout rate over 9.00 and a WHIP of 1.14 and stay on the wire for 80 IP? I don't know. He's basically my best pitcher. (No offense, David Price, you're awesome too.)

Here's another pitcher I've been thinking about: Joe Blanton. He's 26% owned (probably due to my mention of his last week), but if you play in the three-quarters that can still get him, notice that he's got an 0.93 WHIP in the last 30 days. On the season, it's a less-exciting 1.20, but the move to Dodger Stadium and the chance to pitch frequently in San Francisco and San Diego has got to help things a bit.

Jose Quintana (27%) has continued to pitch decently well, though July wasn't exactly his best month. He's now got over 90 innings of 1.09 WHIP ball under his belt and might just snag some wins for the first-place White Sox. Like Quintana, Travis Blackley (5%) doesn't miss many bats, but he's got a 1.13 WHIP and gets to pitch in Oakland. Mark Rogers has only pitched 17 innings, but they've been good ones, with 20 strikeouts and a nifty 1.13 WHIP. He's got good stuff and, with 1% ownership, I can almost guarantee you can get him if you want him. 

At 34% owned, Ross Detwiler will be unavailable in many leagues. Count the Silver League one of them, because I picked him up as I wrote this. Hopefully his 1.18 WHIP will help me out. In the last month, that same number has been 0.95, so I feel pretty good about him. The guy I dropped, Wei-Yin Chen (46% owned) has a nice 1.11 WHIP in that same time frame. Bartolo Colon (27%) also has a 1.11 WHIP on the month. A surprising name among those who've had great WHIP months: Mike Minor (41%). He was one of my strikeout kings early in the year, but his WHIP was killing me. Well, now it's killing everyone else, sitting at 0.88. Scott Feldman isn't too far behind with an 0.99 WHIP, and he's a bit easier to get, owned in just 15% of leagues.

Blake Beavan (5%) isn't owned in many leagues, but he is in the Silver. Maybe his 0.90 WHIP on the month has something to do with it. As a Safeco pitcher, he can be used for home game matchups. Barry Zito (18%) shares a 1.15 WHIP with Tommy Hunter (1%). Clayton Richard (18%, 1.15 WHIP) and Jason Marquis (2%, 1.19 WHIP) can be useful given their home park in San Diego. Joe Saunders (14%, 1.14 WHIP) might be the opposite: best when he's playing on the road. Francisco Liriano (48%) has been pretty decent, with a 1.19 WHIP, though he hasn't been helpful in ERA. Erik Bedard (28%) has put together a good month, with a 1.08 WHIP, as has the always-difficult-to-spell Jeff Samardzija (43%) with a 1.09 number.

I'm actually surprised that there was this much WHIP help on the waiver wire. Detwiler looks like an interesting pickup, and I'm already starting to wonder who I should drop to get Minor. Estrada might be the best of the bunch, though. Hopefully the rest of your league looks at that 0-5 record and shies away. Like ERA, WHIP changes fast. The guys on this list would change a lot if it were made a month from now, or a month ago. The best thing to do is keep on top of it, instead of being as surprised as I was by some of the pitchers on this list.

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