Fantasy Baseball 2016: Early-Season Buy-Low, Sell-High Trade Advice – Bleacher Report
At first glance, Felix Hernandez has quelled any concerns over last season’s second-half swoon. In his first three starts, Seattle’s ace has survived Globe Life Park in Arlington and Yankee Stadium to post a 1.00 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 18 innings.
King Felix, who recently turned 30, has also induced a 64.3 ground-ball percentage, which is a sterling mark indicating tons of weak contact for his infielders to convert into outs. Stop there, and he appears poised to reclaim a spot in the pantheon of fantasy hurlers.
Here’s where the trouble begins. His velocity is trending downward on every pitch, including a fastball down from 91.8 to 89.5 mph. While he’s still spawning whiffs, he’s also struggling to locate the strike zone.
Hernandez has already issued 13 walks and thrown strikes on just 58.7 percent of his offerings. After gifting the New York Yankees six free passes on Saturday, the six-time All-Star acknowledged his control issues to the Seattle Times‘ Ryan Divish.
“You aren’t going to believe me, but in the bullpen I was painting—every pitch,” Hernandez said. “When I got into the game, it wasn’t there. There was a lot of movement on the ball. The ball was going everywhere. It was mechanics. I was behind the ball a little bit. I was all over the place.”
Among active and employed pitchers, only CC Sabathia, Bartolo Colon and John Lackey have amassed more career innings pitched than Hernandez’s 2,280.1. Three starts isn’t enough to fear the end, but he showed signs of decay by registering a 4.48 ERA and .785 opposing OPS after 2015’s All-Star break.
See if his strong surface numbers cover the stench of his command issues enough to package him as a top-15 starter.