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Crawfish Fantasy: The Astros' Stellar Rotation

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What a difference a few weeks make! The Astros' starting rotation has been one of the best in the biz over the past month, and fantasy managers should take notice.

Bob Levey

What a difference a month makes! This time in May I remember describing the Astros' starting rotation as "un-rosterable" in Fantasy Leagues. Apparently, messieurs Norris, Lyles, Harrell, Bedard, and Keuchel took exception to my tone and decided to prove me wrong.

Over the past 30 days, the Astros' rotation has posted the third-highest WAR (3.9) in the Major Leagues, trailing only the Tigers and Mets. Their cumulative stat total is a 2.90 ERA (2nd) with a 1.24 WHIP (13th) and a 6.26 K/9 (25th). The strikeouts leave a lot to be desired and the 26th-ranked bullpen is more likely to blow a game than not, but Fantasy Owners should cease shying away from Houston starters.

Check out the individual stats over the past month:


Pitchers
Rank
% Owned
IP*
ERA
WHIP
K/9
QS
Bud Norris
277 14% 39 2.77 1.26 6.46 5
Jordan Lyles
39 11% 39.2 1.59 1.06 6.58 5
Lucas Harrell
723 3% 28 4.18 1.39 5.46 3
Erik Bedard
278 1% 36 3.00 1.33 6.50 4
Dallas Keuchel
187 2% 31.1 3.45 1.18 6.03 4

In deep mixed and AL-only leagues, it's tough to see why any of these guys remain unowned. In particular, Bedard's track record as an effective major league starter when healthy should drive up ownership. Lyles was the 39th ranked player in all of baseballdom, and only 11 out of every 100 leagues contains a manager who owns him. How quickly people forget that Baseball America ranked him in their Top 100 only a couple seasons ago! Norris has finally brought that WHIP down, and Keuchel has arguably been the Astros' second-best starter during the past month.

What gives? These guys should be owned in almost all leagues unless they start falling back to Earth. In his article yesterday , clack shows that the recent success is no fluke, and that by BABIP, there's even room for future improvement from where they stand today.

Do you readers have any thoughts on why Astros' starter's ownership is still so low? Do you expect the success to continue, or do you think a couple of these guys will go down in flames, taking their fantasy managers with them? Do you expect anybody to improve? I look forward to your thoughts, and now I'm off to pick up Lyles in most of my leagues.

Note: illinibob took a week off from this week's fantasy column, but asked me to mention his prediction that Brandon Barnes would become fantasy relevant. If Barnes' holds down the starting job, Bob may be right!