“Which one of you is Marco?”
“We are all Marco.”
Name that movie!
Of course that is none other than everyone’s favorite sex trafficking classic Taken, starring Liam Neeson who brings some serious badass-ery as ex-government agent Bryan Mills. But on a day that Blue Jays pitcher Marco Estrada flirted with perfection, we all weren’t Marco, but rather we all wanted Marco who is just 13% owned in Yahoo fantasy leagues at the time of writing this post.
If you recall, Estrada also took a no-hitter into the 8th inning of his previous start against the Orioles before giving up a hit and a run in that 8th inning. In his start on Wednesday at Tampa Bay, he was perfect through 22 batters after Josh Donaldson made one of the top plays that we will see this season, full on diving into the stands along the third base line to catch a foul ball. The very next batter then hit a soft dribbler to Donaldson at third base and he charged in on it, barehand grabbed it, and then fired it over to first base, but the runner beat the throw by the slimmest of margins to break up the perfect game and the no-hitter. Estrada went on to pitch 8.2 shutout innings, allowing 2 hits and no walks while striking out 10. However, he was unfortunate to not come away with the victory as his offense could not muster any runs while he was still in the game.
With the amazing effort of near perfection, Estrada now has a 3.45 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 63 K/23 BB in 73 IP. His ownership level in season long fantasy leagues is sure to skyrocket, but is it worth it to pick him up? The quick answer is yes it is worth it as long as you’re not dropping anyone of value, because there is little harm in picking up players who are hot. But you have to know what kind of player that he is so that your expectations are kept in check.
Estrada has been around the league for several years now and he’s always been a pitcher to post ERA’s that are higher than his SIERA because of the fact that he is one of the more extreme fly ball pitchers in the league and gives up a lot of home runs. In fact, he led the league last year in HR allowed with 29 despite having only pitched 150.2 innings. However, he has always had the knack for posting above average strikeout rates and walk rates with career marks now at 8.37 K/9 and 2.46 BB/9. Estrada is at his best when he is locating his changeup well, because that is his bread and butter pitch. It is also a pitch that he is throwing at a career high rate this season, upwards of 32.0% of the time, so he seems to be having a good feel for it.
It was expected that with Estrada joining the AL East after spending his whole career in the NL that he would become even more homer prone and would see a downtick in his strikeout rate. Well so far, his strikeout rate is down from his career rate, but he is actually managing a career best HR allowed rate at the moment, which is the primary reason for his success this season. If he can keep preventing the long ball then he is going to have a good chance to put up a career best season. However, it is tough to say if he will be able to do so or not. I would lean towards him not doing so because of the division that he pitches in, so he could see an inflation in his numbers soon. But even so, he should be a positive contributor in WHIP without hurting the ERA too much, and also chipping in a decent amount of strikeouts. If you need the pitching help then I think that it is okay to grab Estrada, but just know that he will have starts where he just gets pounded by the long ball.
Let’s see what else happened on Wednesday!