The Fantasy Fox offers up five quality starting pitchers -- currently struggling in various roto-league categories -- who should be acquired, via reasonably priced trades, in the coming weeks. If not sooner. (Photos: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)
Yordano Ventura, Kansas City Royals
RECORD: 3-4, 4.26 ERA, 49/18 K-BB, 1.17 WHIP ... REASONS FOR OPTIMISM: 1) Ventura has notched six-plus strikeouts six times this season. 2) Citing his 10 starts, Ventura has allowed three or fewer walks nine times. 3) The 23-year-old righty has posted four consecutive outings of seven innings. 4) Of his last three starts, Ventura has a 2.14 ERA and 19/3 K-BB ratio. 5) Ventura still has the capacity for 170 strikeouts and a sub-3.70 ERA. RECOMMENDATION: A straight-up 1-for-1 swap, parting with either a quality hitter or closer.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY SportsRick Osentoski
Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves
RECORD: 4-2, 4.87 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 49/26 K-BB ... REASONS FOR OPTIMISM: 1) Of his 11 starts to date, Teheran has surrendered zero or one run five times. 2) Teheran's home/away splits are equal parts frightening and reassuring: At Turner Field this year, spanning three starts, Teheran has a 3-0 record, 1.82 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 23/7 K-BB rate. (On the road ... the Braves "ace" has a 6.94 ERA.) 3) Sluggish start aside, Teheran has already proven himself as a productive and durable asset. For 2013-14, the Colombia native held sublime averages of 14 wins, a 3.03 ERA and 178 strikeouts. Plus, he still has plenty of time to recapture that mojo. RECOMMEDATION: Teheran would be an excellent "throw-in" to a blockbuster deal. Thinking smaller, he's ideal for a 1-for-1 swap (hitter or top-shelf reliever).
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY SportsDale Zanine
Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
2014 RECORD: 15-12, 4.54 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 159/65 K-BB ... REASONS FOR OPTIMISM: 1) Verlander appears to be at 90-plus-percent strength, in advance of his seasonal MLB debut later this week. The shoulder malady from spring training has apparently been dissipated, over time. 2) Verlander may be a little late to the 2015 party, but he still has plenty to prove: Last year's rough numbers suggest the one-time AL Cy Young/MVP (2011) is on the decline. However, it's important to note Verlander has never had major shoulder or elbow surgery (in the pros) ... and has never eclipsed the 250-inning mark during the regular season. 3) From a per-month standpoint, Verlander has the capacity for three wins, a 3.30 and 35 strikeouts. RECOMMENDATION: This one's easy: Find a power-needy owner who can no longer squat on Verlander's potential in roto leagues.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY SportsRobert Deutsch
Wily Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers
RECORD: 1-5, 4.00 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 35/14 K-BB ... REASONS FOR OPTIMISM: 1) Of his last six starts, Peralta has yielded two or fewer runs five times. 2) For the season, Peralta is a perfect 9 for 9 in giving up three or less walks. 3) For Peralta's first five starts, the Brewers offense averaged two runs per game; of his last four outings, Milwaukee held strong averages of seven runs per game. 4) Peralta rolled for a career-best 17 victories last season. And when comparing his peripheral numbers against the 2014 campaign ... the differences are largely negligible. 5) For the season, Peralta has a 3.30 ERA against non-NL Central foe. RECOMMENDATION: Peralta is the perfect, low-key throw-in to a blockbuster deal. He'll eventually hold 'centerpiece' value by season's end.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY SportsBenny Sieu
Phil Hughes, Minnesota Twins
RECORD: 4-4, 4.59 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 41/6 K-BB ... REASONS FOR OPTIMISM: 1) Very few starting pitchers can match Hughes' sterling strikeout-to-walk rate. 2) Citing his 10 starts, Hughes has walked zero or one batter nine times. The lone clunker: A two-walk effort against the Athletics. 3) Hughes has earned his seasonal ERA -- there's no way of sugarcoating it. However, he has allowed just four or fewer runs in nine of the 10 starts. That's a telltale sign that better days are ahead. 4) The Twins right-hander was superb last year, rolling for 16 wins and a 3.52 ERA. Of his final 12 starts in 2014, Hughes tallied six wins, a 2.67 ERA and absurd K/BB rate of 77-4. RECOMMENDATION: Hughes is a must-have on the struggling-assets trade market. In fact, it may be wise to directly approach Owner B and say,"What will it take to get Phil Hughes?"