SleepersJune 20, 2007

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Sleeper Watch

By James Dee

Sometimes a wake-up call is all that’s needed to get a star going. Jeremy Guthrie seems to be one of those players. Put on waivers by the Cleveland Indians on January 19th of this year, Jeremy Guthrie looked to be a high-priced bust. Luckily for Jeremy, the Baltimore Orioles didn’t think so. They promptly scooped him up off waivers and he ended up making the team in the bullpen. Guthrie didn’t exactly thrive, posting an ERA of 7.84, but after injuries to starters Adam Loewen, Kris Benson, and Jaret Wright, Guthrie finally got his chance to be a starter in the majors.

Guthrie’s potential was always evident to those who followed him in college and the minor leagues. After a two year hiatus from BYU, Guthrie joined the Stanford Cardinals in 2001, and in two years there he posted a 26-6 career record with a 2.65 ERA while striking out 264 hitters in 291.2 innings. Drafted by Cleveland with the 22nd pick in the first round of the 2002 Amateur Draft, Guthrie came to the pros with high hopes. He went up and down for three years, never really showing his abilities in the majors. In 2006 with the Indians minor league team, the Buffalo Bisons, Guthrie posted a 9-5 record with a 3.14 ERA. He had some minor control problems, with a less than 2:1 K/BB ratio, but he kept his WHIP to a very respectable 1.23 in those starts. Guthrie used his 91-93 MPH fastball as well as a good slider, curve, and change, to propel him to the majors with the Indians again in 2006, but he was not well suited for relief work. He posted a high ERA and low strikeout totals, which eventually led to the Indians putting him on waivers, where Baltimore found their hidden gem.

Since becoming a full time starter, Guthrie has truly flourished, sporting a flashy 1.70 ERA. He is averaging better than 7 innings, 4 strikeouts, and one walk per start. Pitching deep into games with such a low ERA would tend to lead to many victories, but the Orioles are averaging only four runs per game when he starts. For a team scoring nearly half a run more per game in 2007 and near five per game in 2006, one would expect Guthrie’s run support and win total to start increasing.

Apparently the only category Guthrie is not dominating in this season, wins, is enough to keep people from picking up one of the hottest pitchers in the majors, as evidenced by his 18.2% owned rate in ESPN leagues. For some reason, his excellent performance in his last start prompted some people to drop Guthrie, as his owned total is down 2% from the previous week. Perhaps some are scared off by his pitching in the AL East, but his pitching schedule looks to be like this for the next seven starts:

At SD, vs NYY, vs LAA, at Tex, vs CWS, at OAK, and vs TB.

Aside from the Yankees game at home, this schedule should hardly scare anyone away, and really should encourage fantasy teams to put Guthrie in their lineups for every start with confidence. So go out and grab Guthrie before your opponents look at the AL ERA leaders and see this stud glaring back at them from the third spot.

James is a 23-year-old accountant who spends most weekdays from 4-10 watching/tracking baseball and trolling the Cafe. He is also a golfer who is struggling to cope with the 110 degree heat in Las Vegas. If you ever come out here and want to hit the links or play some poker just let him know, and he is always game for a little side action.
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