I’ve been focusing a lot on hitters so far with my 2018 fantasy baseball sleepers (clickbait). This is not by design. Hanging in my kitchen, an Elvis clock that keeps time by swiveling its hips and a poster of a cat making sushi, so I can call that room my “kitsch-en,” that’s by design. We need to find cheap pitchers who will return a better ROI just as much as cheap hitters. By the way, ROI is the douchiest thing I’ve ever written on Razzball, and I tried to make “Potatoes to chips” a thing for five years. Though, potatoes to chips, I kinda want to own Michael Wacha in every league. You can look at his 12-9 record with a 4.13 ERA and balk, but Steve Carlton had a shizzton of balks, so is this a bad thing? Not to answer, but to ruminate while sipping a pamplemousse La Croix. This isn’t even about the Cardinals making explosive players out of duds, i.e., making dynamite out of nitric acid and a manifesto. There’s one word females aren’t trying to gender neutralize, huh? You don’t hear anyone complaining it’s not personifesto or even womanifesto. Sure, leave us white men with the crap words! Now, that I’ve mansplained manifesto… What can we expect from Michael Wacha for 2018 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
Michael Wacha’s fastball average went from a previous year’s 93 MPH to 95 MPH last year. He had the 25th best xFIP last year at 3.88. Right behind him, Jake Arrieta and Drew Pomeranz. Both of these guys also had similar K-rates to Wacha’s 8.6 K/9. They both had similar walk rates to Wacha’s 3 BB/9. However, Arrieta is five years older than Wacha with a declining fastball, and Pomeranz is three years older with Fenway and the AL to deal with. What Arrieta and Pomeranz had that Wacha didn’t was an easily digestible ERA: 3.53 and 3.32 respectively. Without a blink of The Ghost of Dave Duncan’s eye, Wacha could be a 3.30 ERA this year. Wacha was also the 6th best for getting ahead in the count (66% of the time), while getting an overall swinging strike rate of around 10%, which was top 30-ish. Top 25 xFIP, top 30-ish swinging strike, top 25-ish strikeout rate, top 20-ish fastball value, top 10 fastball velocity, and an ERA at 4.13. Something’s not computing and I think it’s fairly obvious what it is. Oh, and going into his last start of the year, his ERA was 3.86, until he was left in for one more inning and gave up five earned runs without securing an out vs. the Cubs. Wacha Flocka Flamethrower is about as can’t miss as starters come if he stays healthy. That caveat is the big drawback with him, and why I think a lot of people are wary of him, or weary if they’re wearing a stocking cap on their head. For 2018, I’ll give Michael Wacha the projections of 14-7/3.61/1.24/176 in 182 IP with a chance for much more.