From the Minor League Ball Mailbag:
"What is your take on Eddie Butler of the Rockies? He has struggled two years in a row pitching in the majors. Should I give up on him in my dynasty league?"---Y.T.
Well there's no real way to spin Eddie Butler's troubles into something positive. Through 16 major league starts this year he went 3-10 with a 5.90 ERA. The traditional stats were not a fluke as his FIP was just as bad as the ERA at 5.91. His K/BB ratio was poor at 44/42 and he gave up 102 hits in 79 innings. He also made 11 starts for Triple-A Albuquerque in the Pacific Coast League and was hit hard there too, with a 5.40 ERA and a 37/25 K/BB in 63 innings, 71 hits allowed.
Was this just a thin air curse?. In the unfriendly confines of Coors Field he ran up a 6.22 FIP and a 5.33 xFIP. He was slightly less horrible on the road at 5.72 and 5.11 but that's still very weak sauce. As noted he was not much better in Triple-A and while it is true the PCL isn't an easy place to pitch, he did nothing there to make anyone think he would do much better in a different environment.
A couple of years ago Butler was thriving with an impressive combination of a high strikeout rate, high grounder rate, decent command, and good scouting reports on the quality of his stuff all the way to Double-A. That's all gone backwards. His K/IP ratios have declined sharply over the last two seasons, he missed time with shoulder trouble last season, and the scouting reports have deteriorated along with his stats.
Although he can still hit 96-97 MPH, observers who have watched him pitch frequently report that his slider is not as sharp as it was two years ago, his fastball doesn't have as much action low in the zone, and the decline in his harder stuff has reduced the efficacy of his change-up. It would be nice if we had PITCHf/x data from 2013 California and Texas Leagues to compare to 2015 to nail that down more specifically, but I don't see any reason to doubt the observer reports given what's gone on here statistically.
In dynastic fantasy contexts, I would cut bait with Butler. That doesn't mean he can't or won't improve eventually, and it would not surprise me at all to see him re-emerge down the line as a roster-worthy talent, although my guess is that would be in the bullpen and with another team. But for fantasy purposes banking on a Rockies pitcher is always risky and Butler's current issues are serious enough to raise that risk to unacceptable levels.