I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems as though 2012 is heavy on veteran starters making a late season return after a prolonged absence. In the last week, we’ve seen Andy Pettitte and Chris Carpenter both make their returns. Heck, we’ve even had Roger Clemens hinting that he would like to make a comeback.
Now, I don’t want to turn this into a novel, so I won’t list all of my reasons, but if Clemens comes back, please don’t sign him. I’ll keep it P.C. and just say that the Astros are terrible and play in a hitter’s park. Therefore, you shouldn’t really consider any of their starters. But Carpenter and the Rocket’s old buddy Pettitte are a bit more complicated. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of adding these guys to your fantasy team.
Basically, they’re veteran arms. They certainly won’t be overwhelmed by the heat of pitching in a playoff race, with seven World Series wins between the two of them.
On that note, they’re actually in playoff races. The Cardinals and Yankees both have a lot to play for. They are not fledgling teams already looking forward to 2013. They are also not teams like the Nationals and Reds, who have already locked up a playoff birth, or the Giants, who could quite possibly have the NL West wrapped up by Saturday night. I’ve been over this before, but pitchers on those teams are susceptible to being benched for an outing (or given quick hooks), as those managers are more concerned with getting their horses rest and being sure the playoff rotation is set up well.
Additionally, both pitchers have made their first post-injury appearance and didn’t fair bad.
Pettitte went five, allowed four hits, walked two, surrendered no earned runs, struck out three, and won the game.
Carpenter also went five, allowed five hits, walked one, surrendered two earned runs, struck out two, and left in position to win, although that game was blown by the St. Louis bullpen.
It’s hard to complain too much about either of those lines. But, they don’t tell the full story.
Two words, pitch count. It’s hard to imagine either of these guys being stretched out much beyond 80 pitches, if that. This will probably last for the remainder of the season, as they are essentially on rehab assignments right now.
So, if you take a pitch count of 80 and divide that by 15 pitches an inning (a decent average), you’re looking at just over five innings. Looking at the starts, both Pettitte and Carpenter went five innings, it makes sense.
When you’re pretty much going to be maxed out at five, maybe six innings, your ERA and WHIP are greatly at risk. Look at Carpenter’s line again. Anytime you have a pitcher go five and leave with the lead, you can’t complain too much, but his ERA for that game was 3.60. One more earned run and it’s 5.40.
When you’re dealing with a pitcher on a count that’s likely not going to amount to anything more than five innings, you walk a very fine line with ERA, WHIP, and wins. Now, you don’t necessarily get hurt if you don’t get a win, but it’s dangerous to be leaning on those types of pitchers this late in the year when you need to make up ground.
Nash said something similar to this about Carpenter, but the fact that he signed him in two leagues makes me think that he’s more optimistic than I am.
I would only consider these guys if WHIP and ERA were not concerns, you need strikeouts and/or wins, and have backup plans in both categories. These are two stalwart arms, but right now they won’t bring your rotation too much stability. They’re proven vets, but I’d rather go with a younger pitcher on a bigger count.