After looking primarily at hitters in recent editions of this fantasy column, this week’s entry will take an in-depth look at the pitchers who could be part of several May trades. Even more so than hitters, pitchers tend to have uneven statistics during the early weeks of the season, as they do not appear in most games. A few excellent or bad outings will change a pitcher’s numbers significantly, but should not change how he is viewed in the trade market.
And as always, the market for these odds can easily be found by entering their name into the Yahoo Trade Markets page, which will show you their recent returns in other leagues.
players to achieve
Kevin Gausman (SP, Toronto Blue Jays)
For the second straight season, Gausman has shown incredible skill (27.6% K-BB rate) while dealing with terrible luck (.327 BABIP, 68.8% strike rate). His ratios are good (3.14 ERA, 1.08 WHIP), but there is a scenario where his luck takes a turn in the coming months and he enjoys a stretch where he is as successful as any pitcher in baseball. I would be happy to do business of choice gerrit cole Or spencer stryder For Gausman and one other player who fills a need on my roster.
Joe Musgrove (SP, San Diego Padres)
Rostering Musgrove has been an exercise in frustration this year. The right-hander opened the season with a toe on the IL and has posted a 6.75 ERA and 1.58 WHIP since returning to action. Musgrove looks much better, putting up expected stats on Statcast (4.36 xERA, .230 xBA). There’s a good chance that Musgrove will experience an improvement in fortunes during the next few weeks, and he has the potential to be a borderline ace.
Devin Williams (RP, Milwaukee Brewers)
Williams ranks 17th in baseball with seven saves without errors. The right-hander has been excellent when called up (0.59 ERA, 0.85 WHIP), but he’s had the misfortune of getting just seven save chances from a division-leading team. My suggested move is to offer a closer who has a worse skill set but makes a significantly higher total save. speaking of which …
player to trade away
Emmanuel Claes (RP, Cleveland Guardian)
It should be easy for Claes to get the king’s ransom, as he was closest to the board for most of the 2023 draft and has accumulated three more saves than any other reliever thus far. But the underlying numbers show some cause for concern. Claes’ strikeout rate has dropped dramatically year-over-year to 15.8%, which coincides with a decline of over 1 mph on his average fastball velocity. He leads the majors in saves and will be closer to average from this point forward if he doesn’t regain his lost momentum.
I would be happy to trade Claes for the aforementioned Devin Williams and another player who fills my team’s need.
Sonny Gray (SP, Minnesota Twins)
Gray is probably the most obvious sell-off candidate among starting pitchers. He’s off to a great start this year, leading the majors in ERA (1.82) and earning that mark by posting an impressive 66:21 K:BB ratio. But Gray doesn’t have a great track record in terms of durability, and his career 3.50 ERA suggests he’s pitching in over his head right now. Those who can trade him for ace-level returns should have the courage to take this step.
Shane Bieber (SP, Cleveland Guardian)
On the surface, Bieber still looks like the low-end ace he was projected to be this season; ERA of under-3.00, over six innings per start. But looking beyond those numbers reveals some concerning trends. His strikeout rate is way down (17.8%), and his WHIP is way up (1.21). Most ERA metrics put his expected mark between 4.00 and 5.00. The end of May could be Bieber’s last chance to make an ace return.
John Gray (SP, Texas Rangers)
I wouldn’t be quick to trade Gray, but I also wouldn’t oppose a move if another manager were eager to acquire him. The right-handed batsman is on the heater now, having given two runs in 20 innings in his last three outings. But Gray has fared better with his skills overall this year, benefiting from an 84.3% strikeout rate while posting a poor strikeout rate of 18.4%. Every popular ERA indicator assigns him a mark close to 5.00.
Tyler Wells (SP, Baltimore Orioles)
I’m having trouble placing Wells in this article, because he’s the type of pitcher I often draw on when rounding out my staff. The right-handed batter has some walks that keep his WHIP down, and he works in a pitcher-friendly park, which should limit his total damage to many fly balls. Still, I must admit that no starter has enjoyed Wells’ combined level of luck in BABIP (.163) and strike rate (89.3%) this year. Those who can bargain for a more stable property than that should consider doing so.