You might’ve heard this guy’s name before as one of the guys I want in every league per my pitchers pairings post (say that fast 117 times!). So, how did it all start? Well, I was looking at Marco Estrada‘s peripherals and I fell in love. I couldn’t figure out what I was missing because it all looked so good. Like good good. Like Barefoot Contessa in a negligee with Jeffrey locked out of the house good. Like going to Supercuts and actually getting a super cut good. Like not having to spell out your name after you order a latte at Starbucks good. I will now blow your mind. For starters with 130+ innings, Estrada had the 7th best K-rate in the major leagues with a 9.30. That usually comes with a ton of walks or a top ten starter price tag. Estrada had the 14th best walk rate (1.89) in the major leagues. For K/BB, he had the third best rate in the majors behind only Cliff Lee and Kris Medlen. Not that these things can be done by petting a rabbit’s foot, but he was actually unlucky last year with a 3.64 ERA and a 3.48 xFIP. He had an above-average first pitch strike percentage, above-average with swings generated on pitches outside the strike zone and above-average percentage of swings and misses. In his career as a starter in 176 innings, he has a 8.85 K-rate and 1.99 walk rate. His peripherals match those of an ace. Estrada’s Down Side, “Are you choosing to ignore me or just not seeing it?” I don’t see any down side whatsoever. So what can we expect of Marco Estrada for 2013 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
Unlike the guy he’s most compared to due to their clubhouse proximity, Estrada didn’t fade in September like Mike Fiers. (Though, I do like him too — feast your big brown eyes on my Mike Fiers fantasy.) In 37 2/3 IP in September, Estrada had a 2.63 ERA and 39 Ks with a .219 BAA. Down Side, “Hello! He’s gonna be 30 years old this year, where was he until now? Pitching pee-poor middle relief, that’s where.” Also, Estrada possesses enough “stuff” for his K-rate to make sense. He’s not like Fiers with an 88 MPH fastball. He pounds the strike zone– Down Side, “He was a journeyman prior to this year?! Have you seen some of his prior year walk rates?! What about the bushel of homers he allows?! Is this thing on?! Hello!” Okay, I don’t think I can ignore his down side anymore. Down Side, “Finally!” Estrada has a few red flags. He came out of nowhere at 29 years old. Even Cliff Lee, who didn’t seem to put it together until the age of 29, had a very solid year when he was 26. Players don’t fall by the wayside with ace stuff and suddenly emerge at 29. There’s a chance that Estrada was just misread as a reliever due to his inconsistency. In 86 1/3 IP reliever innings, he had a 3.54 walk rate and a 5.00 ERA. Also, homers tended to undo Estrada, which made him a lousy reliever. The fly ball is still an issue. Only Phil Hughes had a worst fly ball rate for all starters. Estrada may be a 6 IP, 4 ER, 8 Ks guy more often than not with homers being his downfall. That September I talked about previously, he only gave up two homers all month and had a 2.63 ERA. In July, he gave up 6 homers in 32 2/3 IP and he had a 4.13 ERA. Still, he’s worth a flyer late because maybe–just maybe–he’s figured out how to give up only the occasional solo shot and be extremely valuable. As I did in the top 60 starters for 2013 fantasy baseball, I’ll give him the line of 10-10/3.74/1.26/175 in 185 innings.