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Evaluating Pitchers With New Homes Using HRPF+

After I developed directional home run park factors and converted them to a plus metric, I covered hitters who have a new home in 2020. For this portion of the series, I’ll cover some of the top starting pitchers with new clubs. Of course, there are outside factors like switching leagues and facing unfamiliar opponents but I have tried to include that in my analysis. In case you’re new to my work, I’ll cover the directional park factors real quick. For the full explanation, you can check out the original article here and the conversion to a plus metric, here.

Guts of Directional HRPF+ 

I pulled three years of batted ball data from all 30 MLB venues. Then, I broke down the data by direction: left, center, right. From there, I separated the barreled balls that were hit to each field and how many of those barrels turned into home runs. That’s the home run per barrel rate (HR/BRL%) to each field. I refer to this metric a lot, especially in my eHR metric. Of course, I found out that HR/BRL% was much higher for pulled balls than for balls hit to the opposite field. So, I had to separate all data for right-handed and left-handed batted balls. then, I ran Z-Scores using all this data for each venue to determine how left, center, and right fields compared to the league average. That’s the genesis of the data.


However, nearly 20% of all home runs were hit with a quality of contact below that of a barrel. Jonathan Metzellar of PitcherList explains this very nicely in his most recent article, Beyond the Barrel. Most of the remaining home runs are qualified as Solid Contact. Balls that qualify as solid contact are home runs between 10 and 11% of the time. I certainly had to account for those, so I devised a formula to include them in the park factors. I won’t bore you with more details and data, so let’s get to the pitchers!

I won’t cover Corey Kluber or Jordan Lyles because Globe Life Park is no more in 2020. The Rangers will have a new home with a retractable roof and a more controlled environment and different dimensions. So, the data for Globe Life Park is unfortunately useless. 

The park factors that I reference (HRPF+) measure how much better or worse a park plays for home runs based on a percentage. 100 is league average in terms of home runs relative to the same direction. For every point above or below 100, the park is 1% better or worse than league-average.  In other words, if a park is valued with a HRPF+ of 110 to left field, it’s 10% better to left field for home runs than the league average left field. The same goes for HRPF+ below 100.

Madison Bumgarner (SP – ARI) from SFG

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Oracle Park (SFG) 89 65 57
Chase Field (ARI) 106 68 98

While we only have two years of data from Chase Field since the humidor was installed, it’s clear that Mad Bum gets a downgrade to right field. Why? Because, well, right field at Oracle Park is 43% below the league average and ranked 30th for home runs hit. That was a good thing for him when he pitched there but now that he’s gone, he won’t have that advantage. Left-handed batters managed a 48.7% HR/BRL rate over the last three years at Oracle. For reference, the league average HR/BRL% for left-handed batters to right field is 75.8%. Centerfield was equally helpful for Mad Bum but what about left field? Bad news for Mad Bum. Since 2015, here are the HR/FB% to left field for Bumgarner in succession 16.4%, 23.8%, 24.2%, 30.6%. That’s a disturbing trend in a home park that played 11% below league average to left field. Now,  he calls Chase Field home that’s played six percent better than league-average to left field. Last year, Bumgarner ended up with a career-worst 12.6% HR/FB rate, which considering the juiced ball, wasn’t half bad. I can say with quite a bit of confidence, that Bumgarner sets a new career-high in home run rate, settling in with an ERA above 4.00.



Zack Wheeler (SP – PHI) from NYM

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Citi Field (NYM) 110 107 105
Citizens Bank (PHI) 115 91 114

Well, this isn’t quite the park downgrade most skeptics are projecting. To be fair, Citizens Bank Park does play more favorably for hits in general and therefore runs scored, so it is a better hitters park overall. However, for home runs, it’s very close. Outside of 2017, Wheeler has always been able to suppress home runs. And, since both left field and right field are within 10% in terms of my HRPF+, let’s focus on centerfield. Citi Field is seven percent worse than league-average (for a pitcher) on home runs to center where Citizens Bank is nine percent better than league-average to centerfield. Over the last three seasons, one-third of Wheeler’s fly balls traveled out towards centerfield. In 2017, something weird happened. Wheeler gave up an astonishing seven of his 15 home runs to centerfield in just 86 innings. Since then, he’s allowed just five homers over the last two seasons combined. His HR/FB% to centerfield over that timeframe is just four percent, which is lower than half of the league-average. Based on the scant number of homers he’s given up to center, I don’t think I can regress that number anymore. In other words, this move is essentially neutral with maybe a slight downgrade overall for Wheeler.

Hyun-Jin Ryu (SP – TOR) from LAD

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Dodger Stadium (LAD) 98 150 95
Rogers Centre (TOR) 110 101 102

In 2019, we saw everything come together for Ryu, health, home run suppression, weak contact, luck, etc. It was a best-case scenario type of season. Now, he finds himself in the AL East. Without knowing anything about park factors, we can safely assume the competition will be more difficult. Not only is the division better, but he’ll face an extra hitter in the DH instead of the pitcher twice. However, he will receive a much more giving centerfield compared to LAD, but he’s only given up eight home runs to centerfield the last two seasons. So, maybe he gives up three this year? How about left field? Ryu’s given up 47 home runs since the start of 2017, 24 of them have gone out to left field (51%). Left field at the Rogers Centre is 12% more favorable for home runs than Dodger Stadium. Ryu’s HR/9 last year was just 0.84. For 2020, I’ll set the over/under at 1.20. Given neutral luck, I’d expect something close to an ERA of 4.00. That’s not all that playable with a below-average strikeout rate.



David Price (SP – LAD) from BOS

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Fenway Park (BOS) 96 68 75
Dodger Sta (LAD) 98 150 95

Price is in for a massive spike in home runs to center and right fields. Throughout four seasons with Boston, his HR/FB% to right field hovered around 10%. To centerfield, it was slightly lower with a HR/FB% around 9% but spiked in 2019 to a career-high 12.8%. I think it’s important to note that during his time with Boston, he gave up 33 home runs at home and 45 home runs on the road. He did throw 21 more innings on the road over that time but doesn’t account for a difference of 12 homers. I decided to look at wOBA minus xwOBA on all fly balls and line drives against Price since 2015 on batted balls to center and right field. It’s essentially wOBACON minus xwOBACON to CF and RF but excluding ground balls. 

Season LD+FB: wOBA-xwOBA (CF) LD+FB: wOBA-xwOBA (RF)
2016 -.021 -.007
2017 -.051 -.039
2018 -.124 -.044
2019 -.180 -.166

I trust Statcast’s data more in 2018 and 2019 as the kinks have been ironed out. That’s where the biggest discrepancy lies between wOBA-xwOBA. A portion of the difference can be attributed to the stellar outfield defense between Mookie Betts and JBJ. Fortunately, Betts will be roaming right field once again, so that’s a wash. Bellinger in center is a slight downgrade from Jackie Bradley Jr. But, overall, I think Price continues to partially outperform his expected metrics on balls hit to center and right on balls that stay in the yard. However, given the increase in home runs he may allow, the gap between LD+FB wOBA-xwOBA should be much smaller. That being said, the smaller outfield dimensions from left-center to right-center at Dodger Stadium should turn some doubles and triples into outs. It’s difficult to predict how this will play out. On one hand, he’ll turn doubles and triples into outs. On the other hand, the doubles/triples that he would have allowed in Fenway may turn into home runs. His ERA may go up due to the homers but I expect his WHIP and strikeouts to improve as he avoids the DH and will face weaker opponents.

Kenta Maeda (SP – MIN) from LAD

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Dodger Stadium (LAD) 98 150 95
Target Field (MIN) 97 82 94

Okay, his one is easy. A negligible change to both left and right fields, but look at centerfield! Dodger Stadium is an incredible 68 percent more favorable for home runs to centerfield than Maeda’s new home, Target Field. Over the course of his career, Maeda has given up more fly balls to centerfield than to left or right fields, respectively at nearly 40%. He definitely felt the juiced ball with a HR/9 of 1.47 in 2017 and 1.29 in 2019. However, in 2018, he allowed just a 0.93 HR/9. It seems like the generous centerfield at Dodger Stadium played a role. His 15.8% HR/FB to centerfield last year was the worst of his career and about 5% worse than the league-average. Yet, he allowed fewer home runs per fly ball than the league-average overall. This proves that Dodger Stadium hurt his number, and he allowed 13 of his 21 home runs at home in 2019. The move from the NL to the AL isn’t ideal but the AL Central has its weaknesses. Detroit and Kansas City are poor clubs and have favorable parks to pitch in. Cleveland is top-heavy but not all that deep and the White Sox are talented but young. I would bet that Maeda knocks a few home runs off his total in 2020 and ends with a sub-4.00 ERA for the second time in four years. I want Maeda over Ryu this season and it’s not all that close.



Dallas Keuchel (SP – CHW) from ATL

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
SunTrust Stadium (ATL) 88 100 100
U.S. Cellular (CHW) 110 107 113

Keuchel had a wild 23.1% HR/FB rate last year with the Braves in an abbreviated season. Normally, a ratio that high would be a death sentence to a pitcher’s ERA. But, Keuchel still managed an ERA of 3.75 thanks in large part to a 60% ground ball rate. His sinker and changeup both generate a ton of ground balls. However, his sinker was crushed when elevated in the strike zone. On his sinker, he gave up six home runs on just 16 fly balls in 2019. Moving from Atlanta to Chicago is clearly a negative for Keuchel, not only because the park is more favorable for hitters to all three fields but he’ll also face the DH. Because Keuchel gives up so few fly balls, I don’t think it’ll completely decimate his ratios given the park change. I’m more concerned about his dipping zone rate. It hit a career-low 33% last year and hitters aren’t exactly chasing often enough to justify the drop. It showed up in his walk rate that went from 6.6% in 2018 to 8.0% in 2019. His strikeout rate will once again be below 20% and if his walk rate jumps to nine or 10%, he could finish with a 4.50 ERA in 2020.  

Wade Miley (SP – CIN) from HOU

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Minute Maid (HOU) 136 73 129
GABP (CIN) 121 132 136

Miley jumps from one hitter’s haven park to another. At least he leaves the American League and the DH to go to the NL where lineups are generally weaker. Great American Ballpark is the most favorable (or unfavorable for pitchers) for home runs in all of baseball. Minute Maid Park in Houston is a hitter’s park to both left and right fields, so there’s a minimal change for Miley on pulled and opposite-field fly balls this coming season. Then, there’s centerfield. If you recall, Minute Maid used to have Tal’s Hill in center field and was 435 feet to dead center. In 2015, the hill was removed and the fences were brought in to a distance of 409 feet to dead center. My park factors only include the results after the fences were brought in and it still performs poorly to centerfield. That’s because the left-center field fence is 404 feet away from home plate. Okay, enough about Houston, let’s focus on Miley. He gives up a lot of fly balls to centerfield. In fact, over 40% of his fly balls head out to center. He gave up just three homers to center last year with just a 4.9% HR/FB rate. I expect that to at least double if not triple in 2020. That could be the difference between three and nine home runs to centerfield over the course of a full season. With an unknown opening day, I think he may give up three or four more home runs in 2020 then if he stayed put in Houston. 

Cole Hamels (SP – ATL) from CHC

Park (Team) LF HRPF+ CF HRPF+ RF HRF+
Wrigley Field (CHC) 105 106 79
SunTrust Stadium (ATL) 88 100 100

Entering the twilight of his successful career, let’s find out if Hamels can bring back some fantasy goodness in the ATL. While Wrigley has a higher HRPF+ to center field, it’s mostly due to the cheap home runs when the wind is blowing out. The difference between the two parks and their three-year average in terms of HR/BRL% is within one percent. Hamels will see more significant changes to left and right fields. As a left-handed pitcher, he sees the righty-heavy lineups most of the time. Righties have done pretty well against the southpaw with a .330 and .321 wOBA in 2018 and 2019, respectively. The good news for Hamles is that 60% of the home runs he’s allowed since the start of 2018 have gone to left field. Wrigley was slightly favorable for home runs to left where SunTrust should suppress them a bit more. I expect Hamels to allow fewer home runs to left field in his new park but the short porch near the right-field line could allow for some non-barreled balls to drop just over the fence. I’m not chasing Hamels in drafts even though he’s cheap. I’d look for upside plays such as Corbin Burnes, Justus Sheffield, and Kwan-Hyun Kim over the crafty veteran. 

Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.





Photo courtesy AP Photo/John Bazemore

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Starting Pitcher Rest of Season Rankings Update (June 2019)

It’s nearing the end of June and we are rapidly approaching the mid-point of the 2019 season. I can’t believe had quickly the first half has gone! It doesn’t matter whether you are in first place or in the bottom third of your league, you should still be competing. Two years ago, I was in a head-to-head league where I was in 10th place (out of 12 teams) at the end of June and managed to make a couple of trades and key waiver wire pickups where I vaulted all the way to third place by September. I ended up staying hot and winning the league after three weeks of playoffs. I understand that in Roto formats, this is much more difficult to do, but even if you’re in the middle of the pack, you have a chance. Below are my rest of season rankings for starting pitchers and relief pitchers for standard roto 5×5 leagues. If you have questions regarding specific players in the format in which you play, please feel free to comment. Keep in mind the vs ECR and +/- ECR is based on the expert consensus rankings, not my previous rankings. Click here to see my May update.


 

Risers

Dallas Keuchel (SP – ATL) +44 (93 to 49)
After a long layoff, Keuchel has finally signed with the Atlanta Braves. It’s a sweet spot to land given the soft schedule in the NL East, the quality of the ballclub as a whole, and the pitcher-friendly environment at SunTrust Park. Plus, the infield defense for Atlanta has been pretty good which compliments Keuchel’s extreme ground ball approach. Yes, Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies have not been great per FanGraphs Defensive metrics but it’s not a great measure of success in smaller samples and both ranked in the top five at their respective positions in 2018. Keuchel won’t pile up the strikeouts but he should limit walks and home runs. The projection systems have him at an ERA just under 4.00, so he should provide fantasy teams in 12 and 15-team leagues with plenty of value going forward.

Lucas Giolito (SP – CHW) +19 (39 to 20)
Giolito once again is a big mover as he pushes the top 20. Maybe I was a little reluctant to fully buy-in after only one month of success. However, since 4/17, he’s basically been the best pitcher in baseball with eight wins, a microscopic 1.25 ERA, a 0.82 WHIP, and 77 strikeouts in 65 innings (last night excluded). Everything I said last time applies to this update with Giolito with the exception of the elite strikeout rate. Since my late-May update, he’s had a nasty 18.6% swinging strike rate (SwStr%) and has a 33.6% strikeout rate. I still think the home run rate and BABIP will rise which is the reason for my hesitation in putting in the elite class. Regression can hit hard like it did last night against the Cubs. Still, owners have hit the jackpot with the soon to be 25-year-old.

Griffin Canning (SP – LAA) +30 ( 76 to 46)
Despite the hype of many other young pitching prospects, it’s Canning who has come out and been unexpectedly successful. So, his .244 BABIP is likely to rise but all of the other metrics seem to be in line with his surface numbers. Besides, he’s rocking a 21.5% K-BB rate that’s tied for 20th among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched. Canning is an extreme fly ball pitcher, so home runs will occasionally be a problem but keeping his 94+ MPH fastball up in the zone while keeping his changeup and breaking pitches down has helped boost his strikeout rate. His 16% SwStr rate is absolutely insane. I’m riding Canning but know that an innings cap could be in order especially once the Angels are out of the playoff race.



Lance Lynn (SP – TEX) +- (unranked to 40!)
I never thought I’d be ranking Lance Lynn in the top 40 starting pitchers, but here we are. Lynn’s career-low walk rate in a full season is 8.6% way back in 2012. He’s currently sitting on a walk rate of just 6.1% which he combines with a current career-best 26% strikeout rate. K-BB rate is one of the best in-season measures of future success and Lynn’s 19.8% K-BB% ranks 16th among qualified starters. No, I don’t trust his 4.16 ERA because his .345 BABIP is sure to come down based on his career .305 BABIP. He’s also throwing harder with an average fastball velocity of 94.6 MPH (up 0.6 MPH from 2018 and up 2.0 MPH from 2017)! I think I trust his xFIP of 3.85 more than anything. Let’s call it 3.75-3.85 going forward which is pretty solid given the current landscape of pitching.

Kyle Gibson (SP – MIN) +19 (64 to 45)
While others are salivating over prospects such as Zac Gallen or Dylan Cease, Kyle Gibson is out there slinging it with a career-best K-BB rate of 19.3%. Gibson is already dealing with a home run issue evidenced by his 19.3% HR/FB rate that’s nearly five percent over the league average and he’s still managing a 3.70 ERA and a sparkling 1.17 WHIP. Gibson might be the definition of a boring veteran. But that’s OK. The issue with rookie pitchers, especially for ones on non-contending teams is an innings cap and inconsistencies. I’d rather roll with a veteran like Gibson who is showing the best skills of his career and plays for a contender in a weak division. Besides, his metrics are all trending in the right direction despite a subpar outing last night.

Yu Darvish (SP – CHC) +11 (46 to 35)
OK, so it’s not like we can fully trust Darvish but take a look at his numbers over the last four starts: 2.96 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, a 25.5% strikeout rate, AND just a 7.5% walk rate. That includes a four ER start in Coors Field. I’m focused more on the walk rate that was north of 14% just a couple weeks ago. Darvish is throwing his cutter more and his slider less. He seems to have better control and command of the pitch and its yielded very solid results. In fact, his cutter is a Money Pitch (42.1% O-Swing, 50.4% Zone%, and 20.6% SwStr%) and has a minuscule .198 wOBA against the pitch compared his career .301 wOBA. Compare that to the .360 wOBA against the slider this year. I think Darvish is headed in the right direction, so he gets a bump. Although, he does have top 20 upside, so there’s still a ways to go.


Zac Gallen (SP – MIA) +13 (98 to 85) and  Dylan Cease (SP – CHW) +16 (117 to 101)
After slighting these two in the Kyle Gibson blurb, I’ve gone ahead and moved up both Cease and Gallen. Both will have their limitations as I previously discussed but both are nearing promotions with Gallen getting called up with Pablo Lopez hitting the 10-day IL. Gallen at least has the backdrop of Marlins Park to soften his inconsistent starts, so I prefer him to Cease for the rest of this season. In addition, the projection systems prefer him to Cease. That being said, both are very talented prospects and given the starting pitcher options ranked below, I’ll roll the dice on these top prospects for the upside alone. 

Fallers

German Marquez (SP – COL) -11 (21 to 32)
We knew Coors Field would make for rocky starts but now Marquez has begun to struggle on the road as well. His K-BB rate remains solid at 18.5% but his ERA has ballooned to 4.57. Even in a year with the inflated league-wide ERA, that stings a little from one of your top two or three pitchers. I’m not completely discouraged because the ERA-estimators still show solid skills, but we can’t trust them as much as we would like given the Coors backdrop. There are some positive signs, he hasn’t lost any velocity and he’s throwing his curve and slider more than ever. The issue is with his slider. It’s not performing well after it basically saved his 2018 season. After checking the movement of his slider, he’s lost about an inch of drop and a half inch of horizontal movement. As a result, it’s getting hit hard when he leaves it in the zone.

Based on the heatmap, he’s either burying it off the plate or leaving it center cut. Fortunately, the results against his slider in terms of O-Swing, O-Contact, and SwStr are still great. It’s about location. He’s not far off which is why I didn’t drop him further. If an owner is giving up on him, I’d go buy him on the cheap.

Joe Musgrove (SP – PIT) -18 (36 to 54)
Musgrove was one of my favorite mid-tier starting pitcher targets this year. I landed him on a couple of teams and was feeling good after the month of April. Since then, Musgrove has been a different guy. His strikeouts are down, walks are up, and while he’s getting unlucky with his low strand rate, his home run rate looks like it’s due to elevate a bit. I believe in Musgrove’s talent but between his velocity dip and Ray Searage’s pitch-to-contact philosophy, I feel the need to drop him in the rankings. It’s too bad because his slider is getting better results than it ever has in the past. In addition, his curveball has seen an increase and it’s also yielded great results. The problem is his fastball and he’s throwing it over 60% each of the last two outings. I’d like to see it under 50% and see something like 25% sliders, 15% curveballs, and 12% changeups.

Jimmy Nelson (SP – MIL) -33 (60 to 93)
Coming off a devastating shoulder injury and surgery, Nelson has clear rust to shake off. It’s been nearly two years since he last pitched prior to his first start earlier this month. This is not someone I’m taking a risk on given the length of his layoff. I think we will see flashes of brilliance from Nelson but those starts will not outweigh the rough outings where he can’t find his control. In addition, the feel for some of his pitches may go in and out as well. This is not a roller coaster I want to get on. I will very likely be back in on Nelson in 2020 as long as he can stay healthy. 

Yusei Kikuchi (SP – SEA) -35 (44 to 79)
After showing some flashes in April, Kikuchi has proved to be unusable in 12 team leagues. He now has an ERA above 5.00 and a strikeout rate below 7.0 per nine innings. He has been absolutely crushed by the long ball giving up 17 home runs in just 80.1 innings pitched. He’s already given up 10 homers off his fastball and a .406 wOBA against the pitch. It’s evident that he needs to reduce his fastball usage that is just north of 50% usage to date. His slider and curve have been decent and the slider can get plenty of whiffs. That’s the reason I haven’t completely buried him because I think he has a chance to be a somewhat successful junkballer. If that happens, his strikeout rate should improve and he could be useful. I’ll be monitoring his pitch mix going forward.

Kevin Gausman (SP – ATL) -62 (45 to 107)
I know Gausman landed on the IL, but that’s not why he has dropped in the rankings. It’s because of his 6.21 ERA and 1.51 WHIP. Now, his K-BB rate isn’t all that bad at 14.1% and I think his .339 BABIP and 57.6% strand rate are due for some positive regression, but he’s become a two-pitch pitcher. He throws is his fastball and splitter over 95% of the time. The increased use of his splitter is the reason for his bump in strikeout rate but also has hurt his walk rate. Given the fact that hitters can just sit on the fastball, he’s been crushed the second time through the order with an 8.14 ERA! I’ll be monitoring his pitch mix upon his return but if he continues throwing two pitches, I’m not even giving him a look despite his second-half success in the past.

Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.


Photo Courtesy of  JAE C. HONG AP


Dallas Keuchel – 2018 Fantasy Outlook

Dallas Keuchel turned in a Solid bounce back campaign in 2017 after a down year in 2016. The 2015 Cy Young Award Winner did miss some time last year (two DL stints for a neck issue) but came back strong to finish with a 2.90 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP in 145.2 innings. The overall Ks were not great at 125 but that was offset by 14 wins. Unfortunately wins are the most difficult category to predict but luck is on your side when you have the offense of the Astros behind you.

Let’s talk about why Dallas will be overrated in 2018. His surface numbers look much closer to his 2015 Cy Young season numbers but I’d argue he’s closer to the guy he was in 2016. First, his K rate is nearly identical, 7.71 in 2016 and 7.72 in 2017 and his BB rate actually went up in 2017 to 2.90 from 2.57. Let’s look at BABIP which was a career low at .256 in 2017, his previous low was in 2015 at .269. Now, to be fair you can’t just say well a pitcher’s BABIP against is below the league average of .300, so he’s going to suppress because Keuchel does induce a lot of weak contact. So while I think he’s similar to Kyle Hendricks in this regard, I think a BABIP around .280 seems more comfortable. Along with the weak contact I love that he leads the league in ground ball rate at 66% and in turn limits home runs in an era where everyone and their great aunt Clare is hitting balls 425 feet. Wait, is this a LOVE post or a bust post, I’m getting confused.  

Take a look at the graph showing ERA, FIP, and BABIP.  BABIP and ERA basically are in line with each other with the exception of 2012 (partial year).  And his FIP had improved every year from 2012 – 2015 but in 2016 and 2017 it’s leveled off in the high 3s. The ERA stayed low and the BABIP stayed with it. As mentioned earlier, I expect that BABIP to bounce back up and the ERA will go with it. Also look at HR/FB which shot up in 2017 and now his margin for error is minimal with Keuchel, a few less GB and a few more HR with a rising BB rate = 4+ ERA and limited K upside.

I can’t deny that Keuchel is a good major league pitcher but I’m looking at his numbers regressing and I haven’t even mentioned his LOB % of nearly 80%! I do think his Ks will go up near 8.0/9 due to the fact that he does have a very good sinker/slider combo and mixes his pitchers very well. However, another issue arises when I look at his zone% which was only 37% and while he does get hitters to chase those pitches out of the zone over 32% of the time, I think hitters are going to start to be a little more patient with Keuchel and you’ve already seen some that with the increased walk rate. So I don’t expect a decrease in walk rate back to his career numbers.

Typically the margin for error with a pitcher that doesn’t have overpowering stuff (90 mph on his fastball) is so slim (Shady) a slight adjustment takes Keuchel from a 3.00 ERA guy to a 4.00 ERA guy. So to recap, Keuchel needs to do the following perfect to be successful: locate all pitches, get ahead in the count, get hitters to chase, suppress HRs, and get weak contact/ground balls. I don’t doubt he has the ability to perform on some of those tasks, but I’m betting he under performs on his projections especially since he’s had trouble staying healthy (he’averaged under 157 IP the last two seasons).

Projections for 2018: 170 IP, 13 Wins, 3.82 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 154 Ks

His early ADPs are around 64 overall, going as the 17th SP off the board. I’d rather have Aaron Nola, Jose Quintana, and Masahiro Tanaka among others.