A slew of pitchers are being dropped in ESPN leagues for week five. Some deservedly, some maybe not so much. Which of these pitchers (and a few hitters) might be worth snagging off of waivers for your fantasy team?
Max Scherzer -19 percent
There are some major concerns with Scherzer's early season struggles. His velocity is down two mph on his fastball and slider, which has resulted in an early K/9 under six and a rise in contact rate against about five percent over his career average. Still, Scherzer was drafted in the mid rounds on draft day because of his upside. If you have a bench spot to burn, it wouldn't be the worst idea to give it to Scherzer and monitor his velocity going forward.
Joel Piniero -19 percent
I'll start off by saying that I don't normally endorse pitcher like Piniero. His high contact/low strikeout approach is very risky. Still, Piniero's numbers (ERA aside) don't look all that different from what he did in 2009. He is still generating a ton of ground balls (59.1 percent), limiting line drives (15.5 percent) and even getting hitters to swing at pitches outside the strike-zone over 30 percent of the time. On the season Piniero has three good starts and two horrible ones. The two horrible ones happen to be his last two outings. All of his pitches have seen a drop in average velocity this season from last, so this is something to keep an eye on.
Piniero won't have the impact he did last season, but as long as he continues to get ground balls at such a high rate, there will still be favorable matchups in which he might warrant a start. The Angels defense, that ranks 26th in Team Defense Efficiency, is not doing him any favors.
Javier Vazquez -18.3 percent
While I have my concerns over Vazquez, as notes in this article, his track record suggests that there is still a ton of upside in his strikeouts. I suggested in said article that I wouldn't mind buying low on Vazquez if the price were "rock bottom". Well, if he has been cut, that is even better than rock bottom.
Garrett Jones -10.5 percent
Two days into the season Garrett Jones owners were thinking they had a fantasy monster on their hands for the 2010 season. Jones had hit three home runs in those two games. He has hit one since.
The good thing about Jones' plate approach is that he's taking walks (20) and limiting his strikeouts (17). While this is good for OBP leagues, it also represents a sort of "held back" approach from Jones since running into his early season slump. Jones has hit almost 50 percent of his balls in play on the ground. He hit ground balls about 40 percent of the time last season. Obviously, if Jones hits the ball on the ground this often, he's not going to hit as many home runs. Given his minor league track record of hitting the long ball and the power he showed at the big league level last season, Jones should be able to turn his GB/FB rates around before long. When he does, the power should return.
Jason Kubel -10.5 percent
Todd Helton -10.4 percent
Same ole' Todd Helton, just no home runs yet and only six RBI. In the end, Helton should be a light version of James Loney, which isn't great, but useful if your team needs help at a CI or UT.