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Buy/Sell Pitchers: May Breakouts

Are these pitchers ready for a breakout or are they going to come crashing back down to earth in June?

Miami Marlins  v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Caleb Smith, SP, Miami Marlins (Buy)

Smith made my preseason All-Sleeper team as he was not even ranked by many experts, giving him an ECR of “unknown.” He has always gotten a fair amount of strikeouts throughout the minors and has an above average swinging strike rate this season, so a 24% strikeout rate seems likely from the Marlins left-hander.

The concern with Smith is his command. With an 11.3% walk rate, it is no surprise that people are skeptical of this 26-year-old breakout. I do expect that his walk rate will decline a bit as he isn't missing the zone too much and opposing batters have been known to swing outside the zone when he does miss.

With a high fly ball rate, strikeout rate, and walk rate, Smith could be someone who is very inconsistent with his starts. I do believe we will see around 8% more batted balls against Smith as his strikeout rate and walk rate will both start to decline, which could end up hurting him in the long run. With his type of upside, however, he should be owned in more than the 38% of leagues he is currently owned in.

Daniel Mengden, SP, Oakland Athletics (Sell)

Mengden is back at it again. He has been known to go on these great runs before, but I would be cautious of the 25-year-old right-hander. First off, his .247 BABIP is definitely going to increase. With his batted ball profile, it will most likely be above the .300 mark going forward. Also, his 2.7% walk rate is not sustainable. Although he is very good at eliminating free passes, his plate discipline stats point towards a walk rate around 6%. It is also worth noting the 11.3% rise in hard contact rate compared to last season, which coming from a contact-oriented pitcher, makes me very uneasy.

Mengden will most likely be a quality streaming option this season, but I would make sure to weigh out my options carefully before adding him to my fantasy team.

Ryan Yarbrough, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (Sell)

I really like Yarbrough as a potential sleeper, but I can't seem to bring myself to buy into what he is currently doing. With an 84.5% contact rate and 48.9% swing rate, it seems very unlikely that his strikeout rate will continue at his current pace. Sadly his strikeout rate will most likely be below average and may even drop below 20%. If that's the case, Yarbrough will need to be someone with a spectacular batted ball profile to warrant a waiver wire add. Currently, his batted ball profile looks very average, which means he should only be owned in deeper formats.

Matthew Boyd, SP, Detroit Tigers (Sell)

Boyd has been spectacular this year even with a below average strikeout rate and 47.2% fly ball rate. Just by looking at Boyd’s 4.94 xFIP and 4.0% home run to fly ball rate we can predict that his early season success will most come to an end unless some serious changes are made.

With an average walk rate, below average strikeout rate and soon to be above average home run rate, Boyd should most likely be avoided in most leagues.

Jeremy Hellickson, SP, Washington Nationals (Sell)

Hellickson has struggled after his rookie campaign of 2011. With a contact rate close to 80%, it will be hard for Hellickson to continue to have a strikeout above 20%, so he would most likely need to hold batters to a below average line drive rate. Sadly, he has posted the second worst line drive rate of his career at 24.8% and hasn't held batters to line drive rate below 20% since his 36 1/3 inning campaign in 2010. With a below average strikeout rate and batted ball profile, I would be skeptical of Hellickson's success going forward.


Which May Breakout are you most likely to buy into the rest of the season?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    Caleb Smith, SP, Miami Marlins
    (123 votes)
  • 26%
    Daniel Mengden, SP, Oakland Athletics
    (63 votes)
  • 7%
    Ryan Yarbrough, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
    (18 votes)
  • 6%
    Matthew Boyd, SP, Detroit Tigers
    (16 votes)
  • 7%
    Jeremy Hellickson, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
    (19 votes)
239 votes total Vote Now