Fantasy Baseball: "There's a chance" for Clay Buchholz, Henderson Alvarez

      March 30, 2012 @ 11:27:46 PDT


Boston Red Sox SP Clay Buchholz
Molding the Clay

I was remised when I reread my Tout Wars mixed blog and didn't mention a few of my favorite purchases.

First: Clay Buchholz for $3. I wasn't really targeting him, but he was among a group of pitchers that I wanted to build up the back of my rotation. I thought his cost would at least match the $6 I paid for Jaime Garcia.

He matches Garcia's similarly mild K/9 upside - probably not much more than 7.00 - and will have a better offense to back him up. His division is much harsher, but if he can round out his changeup and work on his in-game tempo while building on his solid spring, we could see something close to a combination of his '08 dominance and his 2011 ratios.

***

What made me emphasize my inclusion of Henderson Alvarez, one of my $0 reserve picks, was a Friday Twitter exchange that involved two of my industry comrades, Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio's Ray Flowers and FantasyPros911's Patrick DiCaprio.

This section was spawned after Ray tweeted, which he does often and well. I always enjoy the discussions we have when I've been graciously invited to chat on the Fantasy Drive.

He said that Alvarez has "no chance" to finish as a top-75 mixed starting pitcher. He's entitled to his opinion, and I respect it, but I also disagree.

This isn't an attack. It's an opportunity to start a thread that'll help all fantasy baseball players. Productive discussions stem from dissension.

As Patrick noted, the overall volatility of the SP position - especially in the low tiers - and the mix of Alvarez's skills could easily vault him into that sector of relevance. He has a chance.

He's a Scott Baker, Ricky Nolasco type - moderate K/9, pristine BB/9 - who's much cheaper and offers similar upside, if not more for his relative cost. In 10 starts last year - sample size, I get it - Alvarez showed his guile.

Of course, skipping Triple-A last year could necessitate more farm time for the soon-to-be 22-year-old. But despite his division boasting plenty of dangerous bats and his home park becoming a bat haven, Alvarez's grounder penchant, which has a voluminous farm history, means he could easily knock his HR/9 below 1.00.

He's incorporating a slider to his fastball-changeup approach, as well; not a bad offering to get him around AL East mashers to complement his noteworthy velo. Though his location could slip a tad with its inclusion, it could also push up his dominance, as Fangraphs' Mike Podhorzer points out.

It could also ease the concern of Alvarez being around the plate so much, an issue that usually comes with such control-based arms like Baker and Nolasco.

I'm pleased at the results of Alvarez's wider pitch spectrum this spring, especially those K's. I know, I know, sample size. But at his price, positive observations within a shortened window of performance - especially when we can point to a tangible change, like adding a new pitch - should convince us to take a guarded chance on a breakout.

His indicators and skills components remain in flux, but the foundation is there for them to converge, which could produce quite the profitable yield. Could.

As Lloyd Christmas once eloquently stated, "So you're telling me there's a chance ... YEAH!" When it comes to Alvarez, ditto.

Ray and Patrick, get back to me. Let's chat. Everyone else, please join in as well.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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