Winning an AL or NL only league nearly always comes down to hitting one or two of those 1 dollar guys who turn into 20 dollar guys (see Bautista, Jose) combined with not grabbing the one dollar guys that absolutely tank your team (see Matusz, Brian, who absolutely ruined one of my teams last year). Let’s take a look at five of the pitchers who are currently going at around 1$ in AL Only leagues that I think could help owners win their league this season.
“Woah! I thought you said he tanked your team last year.” Yep, he did, but Matusz is also the first name that came to my head when researching this article, and it’s not only because I always mispronounce his name. Matusz falls directly into one of the most underrated categories of players in all of fantasy baseball: Post-hype sleepers. People seem to forget just how great of a prospect Matusz was, holding his velocity consistently in the high 90’s deep into games with phenomenal control and great secondary offerings, and this spring he seems back to his old self. Sure, he had an ERA over 10 last year, but there’s another pitcher who used to be in the AL East who once had an ERA over 10: Roy Halladay. Case closed, Matusz is the best 1 dollar guy out there, and I’d even go up to 6 or 7 on him if need be.
Most people probably don’t remember this, but last year the Oakland A’s won the bidding on Iwakuma. While they couldn’t come to an agreement, it is rumored that he was offered tens of millions of dollars from the team but just decided to turn it down since he thought he was worth more. Well, just a year later the Mariners inked him to a deal for a fraction of that price, thanks to Iwakuma’s tough season in 2011 in Japan. However, at 1 dollar, I think Iwakuma is a phenomenal value, at least while he’s pitching in Safeco. Iwakuma won’t win you your league like Matusz could, but he’s going to post an ERA under 4, with a K/9 that won’t kill you (I’d estimate around 6 to 7/9) and I would pay up to 3 bucks for him, as he’s a guy who will almost no-doubt get up to 180 innings this season.
Garcia is a good buy at buck, even if his stats do regress. Garcia’s main problem is the possibility that he loses a spot in the rotation, but I don’t think Phil Hughes is going to beat him out for the No. 5 spot. While he’s pitching, Garcia will get his fair share of wins, and have a very good WHIP, while maybe not posting the best K’s or ERA. Still, at a buck, I’d happily grab Freddy Garcia, even if he’s not the sexiest pick in the world.
Derek Lowe got extremely unlucky last season, with an ERA about 1.3 higher than either his FIP or xFIP, and there’s very few players who are a better bet for 180+ innings than him. Lowe has the upside to post a phenomenal WHIP, and although he isn’t going to blow you out of the water with the ERA or K’s, at 1 dollar, almost any pitcher who is a guarantee for 150+ innings is worth the money.
Danny Duffy is an upside pick more than anything else, as his stats last season really didn’t make any sense. His walk rate of 4.36 was his highest since High A, and I think that will certainly regress into the low 3’s next season. Duffy is nearly guaranteed an all-year spot in the rotation thanks to the Royals putrid pitching staff, and their bullpen is good enough to hold leads for him even with the loss of Soria. I think Duffy could get you 12-13 wins, around 150 K’s, and not horrible WHIP and ERA numbers, with the upside for more than that. Getting Duffy at a buck is a phenomenal bargain in AL only leagues, and I’d happily take that lottery ticket on him rather than grabbing a guy like Jon Garland who I know is probably going to suck.
By Moe Koltun, exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com. Read more of Moe's excellent fantasy insight over at RotoAnalysis.com. Have a fantasy related question? You can follow the site on Twitter @RotoAnalysis or Moe on twitter@moeproblems.
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