Last week, the Touts opined on five surprising arms, this week we’ll flip the script and discuss half a dozen hurlers not et meeting expectations.
Which of this six are you most looking to acquire and who do you want no part of the rest of the season among Luis Castillo, Patrick Corbin, Dylan Bundy, Kenta Maeda, Kyle Hendricks and Charlie Morton?
Alex Fast (Pitcher List, @AlexFast8): I’m definitely looking to acquire Luis Castillo the most out of the six (and to be fair would have said this before yesterday’s 11 strikeout game). A majority of the problems that Luis Castillo appears to be having are mechanical; problems that I believe, with a few tweaks, could be fixed. Before yesterday’s start, Castillo was still at the top of the 2stk% leaderboard. He was getting ahead, he just wasn’t executing. He should be able to execute more consistently moving forward. The person I’d least likely acquire out of this list, as much as it hurts me to say, is Dylan Bundy. I see ace upside amongst all the other candidates, and I’d theoretically worry the most about Bundy when it came to injuries and strikeout upside. I’m aware that Hendricks doesn’t have much strikeout upside as well but it would surprise me to see 180+ IP from Bundy, it would not surprise me to see that from Hendricks.
Justin Mason (Friends with Fantasy Benefits, Fangraphs, Fantasy Alarm, @JustinMasonFWFB): I think I’d be interested in acquiring most of them outside of Charlie Morton because of health concerns. Dylan Bundy and Luis Castillo would be the top of my list of who to try and go get.
Brad Johnson (Patreon/BaseballATeam, @BaseballATeam): Easy snap pick of Luis Castillo. Besides 2020 (which hardly counts), he’s always started ice cold before finishing with premium production. All the components of his past successes remain present. I think Corbin is the guy I most want to avoid simply because the production was always so narrowly built around elite slider manipulation. The fastball has declined to unusable which is hurting his slider outcomes too.
Jason Collette (Rotowire, @jasoncollette): I’ll take a stab at Bundy. There are worse sins than giving up 13 ER to the Dodgers + Red Sox, which pushed his ratios up of late. No drop in velocity, but the slider is only getting solid rather than amazing results as it did in 2020.
Larry Schechter (Winning Fantasy Baseball, @LarrySchechter): Honestly I haven’t paid attention to any of these guys except Hendricks, because I own him on a team. I am concerned, but one game he got bombed was after missing a turn so perhaps he was rusty, and subsequently there was a game with a lot of lucky hits, and several good games as well…so I am not panicking about him and would “buy low” if given the chance.
Phil Hertz (BaseballHQ, @prhz50): Another Castillo fan. He probably had the biggest upside at the beginning of the season. The May 18th start with 11 K’s in 5 innings is a promising sign.
Patrick Davitt (BaseballHQ, @patrickdavitt): Castillo for me, too. Ryan Bloomfield recently analyzed Castillo’s slow start and did some clever research into game-time temperatures, finding that Castillo struggles in cold starts, and his first few included some that were at or below freezing. Summer’s gotta come sooner or later.
Matt Williams (NBC Sports Edge, @MattWi77iams): Definitely Luis Castillo. Most of the issues for the Reds ace have been mechanical, and possible mental due to a rough start. Castillo holds the highest O-Swing percentage of his career and has a track record of starting slow. I will avoid Corbin, who has always walked a tightrope due to his success being built around one pitch (slider). Now that the fastball is further deteriorating, the slider will be less effective.
Lenny Melnick (LennyMelnickFantasySports, @LennyMelnick): Hendricks will come around Maeda appears injured
Doug Dennis (BaseballHQ, @dougdennis41): I have a lot of Hendricks, Maeda, and Morton, so make your best offers! I think Luis Castillo had a tough result last night with a 3-run HR that barely cleared the wall at GABP, but otherwise looked terrific with 11 Ks in 5 IP. I don’t like Corbin right now. I do like Bundy. As for my trio, I just have to hope they can turn it around (heck, I’d take 2 of the 3). Heck, I’d take 1 of the 3.
Eric Karabell (ESPN, @karabelleric): I’d be good with acquiring all of them. It’s May. Talent wins out. Castillo fanned 11 in his most recent outing. He seems to know what he’s been doing wrong. I trust him a bit more than the others on a “stuff” basis. Hendricks lacks the “stuff” but he seems to have already figured things out. Don’t panic with proven arms.
Fred Zinkie (Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, @FredZinkieMLB): There will be some great statistical analysis of Castillo within these answers, so I can keep mine short and just say that we have seen this before from him. He has a tendency to improve with the weather, and this year could end up being his most extreme version of that trend. His upside is just much higher than that of the others. FWIW, I would also be happy to acquire Bundy in a trade. On the negative side, I don’t want any part of Corbin. The strikeouts aren’t there. I’ll be very surprised if he is consistently effective the rest of the way.
Jim Bowden (Fantasy Alarm, @JimBowdenGM): I will take Luis Castillo and pass on Charlie Morton
Mike Podhorzer (Fangraphs, @MikePodhorzer): Luis Castillo’s fastball velocity has returned and his last start proves his strikeout stuff hasn’t left him. While I expect his strikeout rate to rebound, he doesn’t even need it to for his ERA to drop substantially, as his SIERA sits more than 3 runs below his actual ERA. So he’s the clear target of the six. Without that otherworldly slider and merely a pretty good one, Patrick Corbin has lost his well above average strikeout ability and has become nothing more than streamer material in shallow mixed leagues.
Chris Towers (CBS Fantasy Sports, @CTowersCBS): I’m not avoiding any of them. At this point in the season, I’m simply not changing my mind too much about a player unless I have a very good reason not to, and I don’t have a particularly good reason to do so with any of them. So I’d love to acquire Castillo, Bundy, Maeda, Hendricks or Morton at a discount. It’s a bit harder to do with Corbin, because I was already pretty pessimistic about him coming into the season and the buy-low window may have already passed. But if I have him on my team, I’m not rushing to try to move him, either.
Jeff Boggis (Fantasy Football Empire, @JeffBoggis): Buying on Luis Castillo and avoiding Charlie Morton. With Luis Castillo, he’s a player to pick up and stash until he rights the ship. There were signs that he can do this with his most recent outing of 11 strikeouts. Once you possess the skill, you own the skill, and Castillo owns the skill. He was a top 40 draft pick in most 2021 fantasy baseball redraft leagues. With Charlie Morton, the strikeouts are decent, but at age 38, he’s in serious decline. He will kill you in ERA (5.08) and WHIP (1.44).
D.J. Short (NBC Sports Edge, @djshort): I’m firmly in the Castillo camp, with Tuesday’s start showing exactly why. His struggles have been a bit of a mystery, but if you want to shoot for the moon, he’s the pitcher you should be going for rather than Maeda or Hendricks, who aren’t going to blow anyone away and rely a lot on location and command. The peripherals with Bundy are pretty nice too, so this would be a prime time to buy on him after two bad starts. Like others have said, Morton is the one to avoid. Effectiveness in decline and it’s not like he has the history of being a pitcher you can count on for a full season.
Anthony Aniano (Rotoballer, @AAnianoFantasy): Luis Castillo is the pitcher I would try to acquire. Even with a 7+ ERA is xFIP still sits in the 4’s meaning he’s pitched to some bad luck as evidenced by a career high .391 BABIP against him. His velocity still sits in the 96-97 mph range and he is still using all 3 of his pitches and his hard hit rate is 7% lower than last season. He’s too talented not to turn it around. I’m avoiding Patrick Corbin. K rate is down, wlak rate is up, HR/9 rate is up and 6.10 ERA is matched by his 5.99 xFIP and he’s pitching to less soft contact that at any point in his career. No thanks.
Ariel Cohen (CBS Sports, @ATCNY): I want no part of Patrick Corbin. I didn’t want him before the season, so why start now? The only league that I would consider him would be a shallow league where I had a comfortable lead in ERA/WHIP and can choose which matchups to play him in. Essentially, he is Chris Archer ’18-19 for me. As for who I would want the most – it would be Luis Castillo. He may be close to the level in a trade market that I could take a flyer on him for a struggling team without giving up anything close to what I had paid for him. He leads MLB in BABIP, and has a poor strand rate – so a bounceback has a good percentage chance of occurring. A prime trade target for a team that needs a boost …
Dr. Roto (FullTime Fantasy, @DrRoto): I will take a shot on Luis Castillo, hoping his last 11K start can catapult him to some sort of success. I will pass on Corbin. K rate is down and shoulder injuries
Charlie Wiegert (CDM Sports, @GFFantasySports): Castillo, Maeda, Hendricks and Morton I would consider adding via free agency if dropped. I would consider trades for them, but only with low leverage players. I don’t want any part of Bundy or Corbin! I think Castillo offer the biggest upside.
Michael Beller (The Athletic, @MBeller): On the plus side, it’s Luis Castillo by a mile. No need to repeat all the reasons that everyone who answered before me already pointed out. Conversely, I have zero interest in Patrick Corbin. This downside was always well within his reasonable range of outcomes, and I just don’t see how you trust him at all given the production he’s allowing with both his slider and fastball.
Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus, @MikeGianella): I know it’s obvious (based on all the other answers so far), but it’s Castillo and I’m not sure it’s close. His DRA and xERA are significantly better than his ERA and while it’s not all misfortune, he hasn’t nearly been the disaster his surface numbers look like. Strikeouts drive the earnings bus for pitchers in fantasy, and he’s an elite pitcher in the category when he’s on. Corbin is my avoid. His velocity was up in his May 13 start against the Phillies but dropped down again against the Cubs. I don’t know if there’s an injury lurking here but I don’t want to invest any trade capital to find out.
Shelly Verougstraete (Dynasty Guru, @ShellyV_643): Even before his 11K game, my pick was easily Luis Castillo. His struggles have been mind boggling (maybe he is tipping his pitches?) and I will buy elite stuff every single time. I’m staying for away from the NL East guys, Corbin and Morton. I was scared of both coming into the season and their starts, obviously, have not changed my mind.
Frank Stampfl (Fantasy Pros, @Roto_Frank): My favorites to try and acquire from that group are Luis Castillo, Charlie Morton, and Dylan Bundy in that order. Each of those three starting pitchers ranks top-12 in ERA-FIP among qualified starting pitchers. Castillo’s most recent outing reinstilled my confidence in his changeup, which was one of his biggest issues this season. Patrick Corbin is the name I’d least be looking to acquire. While the velocity has been up this season, so are his walks and hard-hit rate against. If he strings a few more decent starts together, I would be looking to sell Corbin.
Zach Steinhorn (CreativeSports2, @zachsteinhorn): As long as you’re not lacking in strikeouts, Kyle Hendricks is a fine buy-low trade target. He’s coming off his best start of the season and I simply refuse to believe that a guy who has been one of the most consistent starting pitchers in the game over the past seven years has all of a sudden lost his ability to pitch at a high level. Note that his .341 opponent BABIP is by far a career-high and could help to explain his career-worst 11.8 H/9. I’ve never been a fan of Dylan Bundy and viewed him as overrated heading into this year. Aside from last season’s impressive 11-start sample, Bundy has been a below-average starting pitcher throughout his big-league career and his home run issues have resurfaced this year (7 HR allowed in just 43 1/3 innings). At this point, it might be too late to trade him for anything close to his preseason value, but if you can still swap him for a top-60 SP, I’d make that move.
Adam Ronis (Fantasy Alarm, @AdamRonis): Luis Castillo is one I would look to acquire. There’s been some bad luck, but some encouraging signs in the last start with increased velocity and 21 swings and misses. Dylan Bundy is also one to acquire. He struggled in his last two starts against the Red Sox and Dodgers, which are two of the best offenses. A lot of the underlying numbers are good and he has an xERA of 3.56 and I can tell a lot of the people with Bundy are frustrated.
Clay Link (Rotowire, @claywlink): I like pretty much everyone listed here as a buy-low in a trade — minus Corbin — but Castillo and Bundy in particular. The Reds’ defense is bad and will continue to hinder Castillo, but I’m confident the whiffs on the changeup will be there. Castillo’s fastball velocity should tick up a little as the season progresses as well. Bundy is perhaps an even better target since his acquisition cost in a trade is significantly lower. Wins will remain tough to come by with Mike Trout out, but Bundy has been abnormally unlucky in that regard to this point. Things look mostly fine for Bundy under the hood.
Todd Zola (Mastersball, @toddzola): Gratuitous plug #2, like last week, I thumbnailed each pitcher in my Z Files on Rotowire. Unlike last week, hopefully these guys won’t succumb to injury like three of the five subjects last week. Anyway, like everyone, I’m on Castillo refinding the magic on his changeup. Secondarily, give me Bundy who was fine before betting shellacked by the Dodgers and Red Sox. I’m also most leery of Corbin since it’s all about his slider and a reversion to form is hindered by the fifth most innings since 2017. That said, Maeda has me baffled and I’m beginning to buy the narrative he benefited more than most from the soft Central region last season, leading to unreasonable expectations.