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Best Pitches from 2020

Who needs an introduction? This piece is simply about the best pitches from 2020. I looked at a number of factors when making these determinations including run value, whiff%, K%, xwOBA, and hard hit%. I’ll cover the four main pitch types: fourseam fastballs, changeups, sliders, and curveballs. Let’s start with the heater!

Best Fourseam Fastball from 2020 (Minimum 300 thrown) – Walker Buehler 

This one was extremely close between Walker Buehler and Freddy Peralta. So close in fact, that I deferred to run value per 100 pitches thrown. Here is the pertinent data.

Fourseam Fastball - Buehler vs Peralta

Pitcherrun_valuePitchesPitch%Whiff%K%xBAxSLGxwOBA
Buehler-1132353.826.134.30.1370.2160.218
Peralta-1032965.938.639.10.1690.2730.238



While Freddy generated more strikeouts via a better whiff%, Buehler induced more weak contact with a crazy-low xBA and xSLG. The tie-breaker for me was the run value. While extremely close, Buehler just edged out Peralta in this one. Buehler averaged 96.8 mph on his heater and didn’t give up a single home run and allowed just one barrel all season. Peralta on the other hand averaged just 93.0 mph which is insane considering how successful it’s been. He did allow one homer and three barrels, so that information justifies the choice of Buehler over Peralta.

Best Fourseam Fastball from 2020 (Minimum 500 thrown) – Jacob deGrom

Jacob deGOAT of course finished 2020 with the best fastball among starters with at least 500 thrown. He somehow added velocity (1.7 mph to be exact) from a year ago and this marks the fourth straight year he’s been able to improve his average fastball velocity. deGrom manages an insane 42.9% K-rate with his heater which would be a solid rate for a slider. His .186 batting average allowed was easily the best among starters with over 500 FB thrown, second best was Lucas Giolito with a .201 BA against. deGrom features three plus-plus pitches. His slider might be his third-best pitch and it manages a 45% whiff rate. His change earned a 40% K-rate and a .253 xwOBA. Even if deGrom loses a mph off his heater next year, he’s still my top SP for 2021.

 

Best Changeup from 2020 (Minimum 200 thrown) – Devin Williams

Rookie sensation, Devin Williams provided unquestionably the best changeup in 2020. He threw it 227 times, generating a 61.2% K% with a mind-boggling 61.1% whiff rate. It allowed just an 0.032 batting average and ZERO extra-base hits. The expected metrics backed it up as well with a 0.110 xwOBA on just a 9.5% hard-hit rate. I would have loved to see what he could have done across a full 162. He was on pace for 150 strikeouts which would have ranked 55th among ALL pitchers in 2019. 




Best Changeup among starting pitchers (minimum 200 thrown) – Kenta Maeda

Of course, Luis Castillo and Lucas Giolito earn honorable mention but in my opinion, this award goes to Kenta Maeda

Maeda tossed 291 changeups this year and had the highest whiff% (45.6%) and K% (40.9%) among starting pitchers with at least 200 changeups thrown. Yeah, he was awesome but it makes Williams’ numbers above just seem impossible. Either way, Maeda’s change was great in 2020. It’s so successful because it induces so many swings outside the zone In 2020, batters chased 50.5% of the time, a career-high. When hitters actually made contact with the pitch, it was put on the ground over 2/3rds of the time and allowed just one barrel and zero homers all season. An unlikely champ but well deserving. Good luck getting him outside of the top-20 SPs next year.

 

Best Slider in 2020 (Minimum 200 thrown) – Dinelson Lamet

“Dinelson Lamet and his equal opportunity Slider. This pitch does not discriminate based on batter handedness.”


Dinelson Lamet has this one in a runaway. He easily threw the most sliders in 2020 (559 thrown) which was 53.4% of the time. This pitch is straight nasty.  Hitter’s 47.4% whiff rate (5th) and 51.4% K% (1st) is insane considering Lamet only has two pitches. He’s allowed just three home runs against his slider since the start of 2019 with over 1,100 thrown. In 2020, Lamet allowed an xwOBA of just 0.175. This one was easy.

 

Best Slider other than the GOAT Lamet (Minimum 200 thrown) – Dylan Bundy

The Honorable Mention team includes Max Scherzer, Zach Plesac, and Luis Castillo (yes, my guy LC shows up again as he improved his slider in 2020). But, the award goes to comeback pitcher of the year, Dylan Bundy! In his first season out of Baltimore, Bundy found himself in a much better ballpark and a situation where he started throwing his best pitch more frequently. I’ve been a fan of Bundy for a while now,




The point of the Tweet is that his slider was great in 2018 and even better in 2019 by the metrics but based on Pitch Value, did not produce the same results. Trust the metrics! In 2020, Bundy threw 255 sliders and his K% of 50% matches his whiff rate. As great as his slider has been in the past, it still allowed a barrel% of around 5%. This year, he did not allow a single barrel against his slider. That led to an extremely impressive 0.162 xwOBA against. 

 

Best Curveball in 2020 (Minimum 200 thrown) – Tyler Glasnow and Shane Bieber

Tyler Glasnow and Shane Bieber are essentially a virtual tie for the best curveball in 2020.

Curveball - Glasnow vs Bieber

PitcherPitchesBAWhiff%K%xSLGxwOBAHH%
Glasnow3350.1252.866.70.1980.15220
Bieber3250.09551.556.20.160.15535.3

First, let’s start with Tyler Glasnow. Wow, look at that strikeout rate! While his curve misses a ton of bats, it also induces weak contact when hitters actually make contact. The only reason it’s not the clear cut winner over Bieber’s curve is that Glasnow gave up a .277 SLG compared to a .143 SLG for Bieber. I included the xSLG for each pitch and that clearly shows that Glasnow was just a bit unlucky. He gave up three homers off his curve and while two were crushed, the other was hit at 97 mph and went 332 feet. The difference between Glasnow and Bieber’s curve is when Glasnow makes a mistake, it’s hit. Bieber has a deeper arsenal, so it’s more difficult to guess what’s coming. Glasnow has two pitches. Every once in awhile a hitter is going to guess right when Glasnow makes a mistake. The other advantage to Bieber’s curve is he buries it. See the GIF below. When hitters make contact, the average launch angle against his curve is -13 degrees! Those are worm burners. Glasnow’s while solid, is -4 degrees. Sure, Bieber gives up harder contact but if keeps it on the ground, it doesn’t matter.

via Gfycat

Now, let’s look at Shane Bieber’s breaker.

via Gfycat

I hope you enjoyed the GIFs!


AP Photo/John Bazemore)


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Starting Pitcher Rankings 31 – 152 (FreezeStats Fantasy Baseball)

Last week I released my top 30 starting pitchers for 2020. I wrote a quick blurb for each starter explaining why they were ranked where I had them. You can see that post here. I dropped Mike Clevinger to 15 overall after the news of his offseason knew surgery came through. He’s probably going to miss the first month of the season, so his ceiling is probably 165 innings. I was very high on him coming into 2020 (early rank was seven overall) but I think he can still provide some value. Last season, he threw only 126 innings and finished as the 18th ranked starting pitcher per the Razzball Player Rater. It’s reasonable to project him for around 150 innings which slots him right around the 15th SP in my opinion. Let’s dive into the rest of my starting pitcher rankings for 2020.



2020 Starting Pitcher Rankings Table 31-50

SP RankPlayerTeam
31Frankie MontasAthletics
32Zac GallenDiamondbacks
33Madison BumgarnerDiamondbacks
34Zack WheelerPhillies
35Max FriedBraves
36Mike SorokaBraves
37David PriceDodgers
38Kenta MaedaTwins
39Kyle HendricksCubs
40Hyun-Jin RyuBlue Jays
41German MarquezRockies
42Matthew BoydTigers
43Eduardo RodriguezRed Sox
44Dinelson LametPadres
45Julio UriasDodgers
46Joe MusgrovePirates
47Robbie RayDiamondbacks
48Andrew HeaneyAngels
49Mike MinorRangers
50Shohei Ohtani (SP only)Angels

Mike Soroka is known for his power sinker. It generated a ton of ground balls and weak contact. That’s great but his strikeout rate was 7.4 per nine innings. That’s not quite what you’re looking for in a top-40 arm. Remember when I was discussing Clevinger in the introduction? Well, he had a 12.1 K/9 and 27 more strikeouts than Soroka in 50 fewer innings. This isn’t about Clevinger but you can see how valuable strikeouts are.  Soroka does utilize a slider and an elite changeup that can be used as a second putaway pitch to improve his K%. With three plus-pitches, he could take the next step and become a top-25 SP. Zac Gallen and Max Fried are my top targets in this range. Of course, they have a ton of helium going into draft season, so I’ll have to pay up for them.

German Marquez is doomed thanks to Coors Field but his skills looked as sharp as ever in 2019. Maybe he was a tad lucky in 2018 but I believe he was unlucky last year. Can he tame Coors Field? That’s a tall task but I believe he should be even better on the road in 2020 than he was last year. If can post a low-3s ERA with a 1.10 WHIP and 10 K/9 on the road, he should provide enough value to warrant this rank. Shohei Ohtani likely won’t pitch in a Major League game until May. If he throws every six games, that’s 20-22 starts. Averaging six innings per start is asking a lot but that would be his ceiling in terms of innings pitched. So, I’m projecting him for 120 innings which caps his value.  I think they will be very good innings but not quite Clevinger-esque. That’s why he slots in at 50.

Here’s what I said about Musgrove this week at FantasyPros: “Musgrove added about 0.5 MPH on his fastball last year, but the big adjustment was his increased usage of his changeup. The changeup became an elite offering for him, as he got hitters to chase the pitch outside the zone over 50% of the time! In addition to getting batters to chase, Musgrove can also throw the pitch for strikes and generate below-average contact on pitches inside the zone. He pairs the elite changeup with his established slider. Between the two-plus pitches for Musgrove, he should be able to bump his strikeout rate to the 23-24% range. Given his 68% first-pitch strike rate, I anticipate another walk rate well-below league average, keeping his WHIP below 1.20. For 2019, I project Musgrove for 11 wins, 3.80 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 160 strikeouts in 163 innings.”
– Max Freeze (Freeze Stats)

2020 Starting Pitcher Rankings Table 51-70

SP RankPlayerTeam
51Griffin CanningAngels
52Jesus LuzardoAthletics
53Lance McCullers Jr.Astros
54Jake OdorizziTwins
55Luke WeaverDiamondbacks
56Masahiro TanakaYankees
57Mitch KellerPirates
58Jose UrquidyAstros
59Dylan BundyAngels
60Mike FoltynewiczBraves
61Michael KopechWhite Sox
62A.J. PukAthletics
63Carlos MartinezCardinals
64Marcus StromanMets
65Jon GrayRockies
66Caleb SmithMarlins
67Dallas KeuchelWhite Sox
68Kyle GibsonRangers
69Chris ArcherPirates
70Anthony DeSclafaniReds



Griffin Canning has a rocking slider with a 21.7% SwStr rate in 2019. His curve and change are decent as well but he served up eight homers off his fastball. I think he’s going to strikeout over 25% of the batters he faces but could run into some issues with home runs and walks. He’s likely going to be a bit of a headache but has the ability to jump a tier. Can Masahiro Tanaka get his feel back on his splitter? That’s going to be the key to his success. If he can, we are looking at a top-35 starter but I am not as confident. I expect more inconsistent outings from Tanaka in 2020. Forget Mitch Keller‘s 7.45 ERA in 48 innings last year, his stuff was ridiculous. Alex Chamberlain’s Pitch Leaderboard had him pegged for about a 30% K rate and a 23% K-BB%. That’s entering the elite territory. He has everything I’m looking for is a breakout. He averages 95-96 mph on his fastball, has an elite putaway pitch, and a curveball that induced a ton of ground balls and weak contact.

Getting out of Baltimore and AL East is the best move for Dylan Bundy. He leaves one of the worst parks for home runs to a more neutral park in LAA. He also will avoid the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays multiple times per year. He brings a very good slider and changeup to the table, so he has a chance at a sub-4.00 ERA with a strikeout per inning. I’ll take a chance on that after pick 225. Kyle Gibsons slider has a 27.1% SwStr%! Oh, and his changeup has a 20.3% SwStr% with a 60% ground ball rate. Those two pitches alone should make him more valuable but he struggles to find the zone. That and both of his fastballs are just trash. He’s going to be a bumpy ride but could find his way to some very elite outings.

2020 Starting Pitcher Rankings Table 71-100

SP RankPlayerTeam
71Sean ManaeaAthletics
72Pablo LopezMarlins
73Brendan McKayRays
74Sandy AlcantaraMarlins
75Steven MatzMets
76Garrett RichardsPadres
77Adrian HouserBrewers
78James PaxtonYankees
79Yonny ChirinosRays
80Miles MikolasCardinals
81Josh JamesAstros
82Aaron CivaleIndians
83Joey LucchesiPadres
84Merrill KellyDiamondbacks
85Kevin GausmanGiants
86Tyler BeedeGiants
87Spencer TurnbullTigers
88Dustin MayDodgers
89MacKenzie GorePadres
90Josh LindblomBrewers
91Jose QuintanaCubs
92Wade MileyCIN
93Dylan CeaseWhite Sox
94Cole HamelsBraves
95Chris BassittAthletics
96Jon LesterCubs
97Ryan YarbroughRays
98Johnny CuetoGiants
99Michael PinedaTwins
100Jeff SamardzijaGiants

Sandy Alcantara is getting a lot of love as a sleeper for 2020, but I just don’t get it. He was much better over the last two months of 2019 when he threw his sinker more often. His sinker is his best pitch but it’s not going to get a ton of strikeouts. His changeup is decent but his slider and fourseamer are bad. He’s kind of like a hard-throwing Marcus Stroman without the elite ground ball rate. Jame Paxton! UGGGHHHHHH! The injury/surgery basically puts him into the DO NOT DRAFT LIST. The timetable for his return has him coming back in May or early-June but I’d bet on late-June. I usually add a few weeks for rehab, he could basically be valuable for only three months of the season. That’s too much risk to take on. Now, Luis Severino is having forearm soreness. The Yankees need to already do some damage control with their rotation and we haven’t hit March yet. He will drop in my rankings but I can’t say how much just yet.


Josh James has electric stuff with questionable command and will be competing for the fifth starter spot in Houston. He was a popular sleeper heading into 2019 and it did not pan out. I need to see a little more out of his third pitch, his changeup, to see if he can make it as a starter. But, his fastball is legit and he flashed it with a 14.1% SwStr rate on it in 2019. Unfortunately, the numbers from the bullpen won’t translate linearly if he becomes a starter but I’m drafting skills not roles after SP75 overall.

You all know I love Tyler Beede. I talked about him on Benched with Bubba and wrote about his curveball in my underutilized pitches piece at Pitcher List. He actually has three pitches that generated a SwStr% over 15% and averages almost 95 mph on his fastball. He has the stuff to vault into the top-50 but he needs to reduce his fastball usage and throw his secondaries more often. I think Dustin May is a great breakout candidate but once again the Dodgers have 7-8 options to start games, so guessing how many innings May will get is a fool’s errand. Because of that, I can’t take the plunge on May in 12-team formats unless some favorable news coming out of Dodgers camp but in a 15-team format, he’s a great late-round flier.

Dylan Cease must work on his fastball command to become successful. He only threw it in the zone 43% of the time in 2019. That’s not good. It was also crushed when batters swung at it in the zone with a 189 wRC+ against it in 2019. That means he was missing his spots. Additionally, walks around going to be an issue, especially early on. His slider is good and the changeup has some potential, so he’s a late-round dart in 15-team formats.

2020 Starting Pitcher Rankings Table 101-152

SP RankPlayerTeam
101J.A. HappYankees
102Jordan LylesRangers
103Ross StriplingDodgers
104John MeansOrioles
105Jakob JunisRoyals
106Jake ArrietaPhillies
107Alex WoodDodgers
108Tyler MahleReds
109Austin VothNationals
110Dakota HudsonCardinals
111Zach EflinPhillies
112Kyle WrightBraves
113Cal QuantrillPadres
114Luis PatinoPadres
115Domingo GermanYankees
116Forrest WhitleyAstros
117Patrick SandovalAngels
118Nathan EovaldiRed Sox
119Austin PruitAstros
120Justus SheffieldMariners
121Julio TeheranAngels
122Daniel NorrisTigers
123Trevor WilliamsPirates
124Drew SmylyGiants
125Matt ShoemakerBlue Jays
126Homer BaileyTwins
127Freddy PeraltaBrewers
128Nate PearsonBlue Jays
129Corbin BurnesBrewers
130Reynaldo LopezWhite Sox
131Nick PivettaPhillies
132Elieser HernandezMarlins
133Trent ThorntonBlue Jays
134Anibal SanchezNationals
135Tanner RoarkBlue Jays
136Chase AndersonBlue Jays
137Marco GonzalesMariners
138Mike LeakeDiamondbacks
139Mike FiersAthletics
140Sean NewcombBraves
141Brad KellerRoyals
142Martin PerezRed Sox
143Gio GonzalezWhite Sox
144Casey MizeTigers
145Eric LauerBrewers
146Rich HillTwins
147Chad KuhlPirates
148Vince VelasquezPhillies
149Zach DaviesPadres
150Michael FulmerTigers
151Asher WojciechowskiOrioles
152Logan WebbGiants


If Austin Voth earns the fifth rotation spot for the Nationals, I will bump him up at least 15 spots. Here’s what I said about Voth two months ago.

“At age-27, he’s not a highly rated prospect but showed impressive skills in 2019 with a 17.8% K-BB% and a 3.30 ERA in 43.2 innings. His fastball wasn’t bad, but it’s his secondaries that get me going. All three of his secondaries, CU, CT, CH generated swinging strike rates north of 16.5%. The curve is the best of the bunch with a 38.9% strikeout rate. We are dealing with limited samples but hell, it’s after pick 250 and there is a top-150 ceiling here.”

In addition to Voth, here are some of my favorite dart throws after SP-100. Ross Stripling, Tyler Mahle, Patrick Sandoval, Austin Pruitt, Drew Smyly, Corbin Burnes, and Chad Kuhl. Kuhl missed all of 2019 with Tommy John Surgery and hasn’t thrown a pitch in a big-league game just yet. I’m skeptical but if he wins a starting spot out of spring training, I think he’ll be valuable once he gets his rhythm down.



Photo credit: Prospects Live

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Fantasy Baseball: Starting Pitchers to Stream Week 26 (9/23 – 9/29)

Welcome back to the FreezeStats weekly streaming article. Each week I cover anywhere from five to six starters who are available in at least 75% of Yahoo/ESPN leagues per FantasyPros. This is it! The final week of the Major League Baseball season. With fantasy Championships on the line next week, it’s now or never. No more wasting time, let’s get to the top streaming options to help win you your league!

Top options under 50% Owned 

Obviously, if these guys are available, grab them immediately and start them next week.

Jeff Samardzija (SP – SFG) 43% home vs COL

Homer Bailey (SP – OAK) 30% owned, @LAA Wednesday, 9/25


Anthony DeSclafani (SP – CIN) 41% Owned @PIT

Top options under 25% Owned 

Dylan Bundy (SP – BAL) RHP 18% Owned, @TOR, Monday 9/23
Some positives for Bundy include an increased ground ball rate and a decrease in his home run rate. Those, of course, are related. This year, his HR/FB% is two percent lower away from Camden Yards. That’s the good. Now, the not so good. The Baby Jays have been better of late but are still near the top of the league in terms of strikeouts. With Bo Bichette banged up, the Jays aren’t all that scary. This matchup will come down to home runs. If Bundy can limit them, I believe he’ll be an asset to your team, otherwise, he’s going to tie you to the WHIPping Post. Either way, he’ll pile up the strikeouts. I’m streaming here for strikeouts and upside in 12-team and deeper leagues.

Dinelson Lamet (SP – SDP) RHP 20% Owned, home vs LAD, Tuesday 9/24
Speaking of strikeouts and upside. Lamet is definitely a higher ceiling option than Bundy. His floor is about the same given the strength of his opponent. But wait! The Dodgers have struggled of late since they have clinched the division with just an 81 wRC+ in the last two weeks. Lamet has been a strikeout machine since his return from the IL. His 12.57 K/9 would rank third among qualified starters behind just Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer. So yeah, he’s been pretty damn good. He struck out 14 Brewers in his last outing and hasn’t allowed more than four earned runs in any of his 13 starts. The Dodgers are dangerous, no doubt, but I’ll take the hot hand in Lamet. STREAM  For Ss& Gs, I like Lamet in his final scheduled outing in Arizona on Sunday as well. There’s a high likelihood that the Padres cut his final start short or worse, skip him altogether but he’s worth a stream there as well if it happens. The Diamondbacks have been the worst team offensively for the last 14 days with a paltry 57 wRC+.


Anthony Kay (SP – TOR) LHP 3% Owned, home vs BAL, Tuesday 9/24
The Orioles have been decent lately but still slight below-average in terms of wRC+. However, on the road, they are in the bottom five in the league with a sub-80 wRC+ and a near-25% strikeout rate. Kay has a good fastball and a decent curveball which should be enough to limit the damage from Baltimore hitters. In limited MLB action, Kay has induced groundballs over 50% of the time and an impressive sot contact rate of 25%. He’s yet to allow a home run and based on his low strand rate and elevated BABIP, he’s due some positive luck. I don’t necessarily expect his homerless streak to continue but I think he’ll limit baserunners against a team that doesn’t walk much. Ultimately, I’d expect about five innings with two earned runs are fewer with a handful of strikeouts. It’s slim pickings next week and this will have to do. I’ll STREAM here.

Tyler Beede (SP – SFG) RHP, 5% Owned, home vs COL, Thursday 9/26
Beede just got torched by the Braves this week. Prior to the outing, he was coming off of two scoreless starts against the Marlins and the Dodgers in LA. He draws the Road Rockies which is very different than the team he faced in Colorado back in early-August when he gave up five earned runs. Only the Marlins have been worse than the Rockies away from home this season. With a 73 wRC+ and 26.6% strikeout rate as a team away from the thin air, Beede has a nice setup. Combine that with the fact that Beede has a solid (if unspectacular) 4.02 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP at home in Oracle Park. Beede has a good 95 mph fastball that has performed much better in the second half. He’s managed double-digit swinging strike rates in each of his last three starts. I like Beede to close out the season on a high note. STREAM

Reynaldo Lopez (SP – CHW) RHP, 19% Owned, home vs DET, Friday 9/27
Here’s the ultimate gamble. Do you want to leave your fantasy championship in the hands of Reynaldo Lopez? The first thing I want to look at is how he’s performed against the Tigers this year.  He has two good and one bad start against Detroit this year. It adds up to this: 

1 W  17.1 IP  4.15 ERA 1.21 WHIP  25 K 30.6% K-BB

The last two numbers jump out at me. He’s clearly been able to miss bats and has limited walks. That’s kind of the Tigers M.O. this year. They are young, aggressive, and just flat out bad. Lopez’s success has been tied to his velocity. He’s much better when he averages 97 mph on his fastball. In his last game, he averaged under 97 mph but five of the previous six outings, he averaged over 97 mph. This is a gamble, there’s no doubt. But, and this is a big Kardashian sized butt, he has the potential to throw a championship-winning gem. If he’s averaging 97+ mph with command, he’s going to strike out 10 batters. Of course, the floor is low, but if you’re looking for an edge, STREAM Rey-Lo.


Zach Eflin (SP – PHI) RHP, 25% Owned, home vs MIA
Well, look who’s back. My preseason sleeper has not had the best season but at the end of the day looks like a decent value for a pitcher taken well after pick 300. Over the last month, since he earned his rotation spot back, he’s smokin’ with a 1.57 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. The key to his success is a 57% ground ball rate. He’s throwing his sinker more often and it’s actually been successful. It doesn’t get strikeouts but generates worm burners almost 64% of the time. I like Eflin against a weak Marlins club who have only hit 10 homers over the last two weeks. I think Eflin is the perfect play at the end of your week who should provide solid ratios and a 50+% chance for a win. After rolling with Bundy, and Lopez, I need a safer option. STREAM

Here’s the link to my googlesheet covering the entire list of streamers for the 2019 season. I’ll have a recap in the next few weeks to figure out where I can improve for next year.

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


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Starting Pitchers to Stream Week 22 – 8/26-9/1

Welcome back to the FreezeStats starting pitcher streaming article. You know the rules. All of the options I discuss below are available in at least 75% of Yahoo/ESPN consensus ownership rates per FantasyPros. Our options are plentiful next week, so let’s attack the weak offensive clubs. There’s a nice mix of high ceiling options with high-floor guys mixed in.

Alex Young (SP – ARI), 19% owned @SFG, Monday, 8/26
The 25-year-old has been serviceable but unspectacular with a 4.04 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP, and 6.8 K/9 this year. That strikeout rate is embarrassing in today’s game but there’s a silver lining. His chase rate and swinging-strike rate are both above league-average so he’s due some positive regression there. In addition, his curveball is borderline elite with a 44% K rate and a 20.3% SwStr rate. He draws the Giants in Oracle Park who have a 75 wRC+ and just 48 home runs at home this season. That’s fewer than one home run per game for those of you scoring at home. Young has already faced the Giants twice that resulted in one good and one bad outing. The good one came in San Francisco. I like Young next week against the Giants, but he doesn’t have massive upside. I’ll still STREAM.


Adam Plutko (SP – CLE), 6% owned, @DET, Tuesday, 8/27
Speaking of teams who have struggled offensively at home, I give you the Tigers. They are tied with the Giants for the lowest wRC+ at home and have a 25.5% strikeout rate as a team. They’ve whiffed even more frequently since the trade of Nick Castellanos and, of course, are worse offensively. If you thought Young was boring, Plutko might put you to sleep immediately. He’s striking out fewer than 6.0 per nine innings but sports a scant 3.8% walk rate. He does induce whiff outside the zone at a high clip but doesn’t generate as many whiffs as Young overall. Plutko lacks a putaway pitch. My concern with Plutko is fly balls and home runs. His fly-ball rate is 48% and he’s given up 2.2 homers per nine innings. The Tigers tagged him for three longballs the last time they faced, so given the limited upside, I’m STAYING AWAY here.

Anthony DeSclafani (SP – CIN), 19% owned, @MIA, Wednesday, 8/28
Here we go again, back on the dance floor with Tony Disco. Finally! A guy with a strikeout rate better than one batter per inning. He’s added one mph to his fastball and has the best swinging-strike rate of his career. He’s struggling with home runs this year (who hasn’t) but he gets to face the Marlins in Miami. He’s given up 13 homers in the road but five of them were in two outings at Wrigley. The Marlins are not nearly as good as the Cubs offensively and Marlins Park is much more forgiving for pitchers. The Marlins are in the bottom five in terms of wRC+ and strikeout rate this year. DeSclafani is coming off two straight one-run outings, so I like his chances in this one. I’m STREAMing.


Dinelson Lamet (SP – SDP), 25% owned, @SFG, Thursday, 8/29
I’ll tell you right up front that Dinelson Lamet is my top streaming option next week. He’s right at 25% ownership mark, so in deep leagues, he’s probably gone. In 10 and some 12-team leagues, he should be available and plucked up quickly. Lamet has a robust 12.07 K/9. Yes, you read that right. He has an insane 14.4% SwStr% and a 68.9% contact rate. For reference, that would rank seventh and fourth respectively among qualified starters. There’s absolutely no reason a pitcher with that type of swing and miss skill should be available. His one downfall is his control as his walk rate is a smidge below 10%. But don;t worry, he’s going up against one of the worst offensive teams in the Giants in the most favorable park for pitchers. STREAM STREAM STREAM

Dylan Bundy (SP – BAL), 16% owned, @KCR, Saturday, 8/31
I’ve always had a soft spot for Dylan Bundy because he has a really good slider and solid changeup. His K-BB rate is typically in the mid-to-upper teens, combine that with two plus pitches and I just feel like he should be better. The AL East is a nightmare for pitchers and his home park doesn’t do him any favors. He’s away from Baltimore next week against the Royals who are third from the bottom with an 82 wRC+ as a team. Bundy decreased his obscene home run rate from a year ago and while it’s still above league-average, he’s not giving up as many fly balls. That’s in part due to an increase in his changeup usage that generates grounder over 55% of the time. He just dominated the Royals on 8/20, and I’m back in next week. STREAM

Eric Lauer (SP – SDP), 8% owned, @SFG, Saturday, 8/31
The last three options all have the ability to pile up strikeouts, Lauer on the other hand, not so much. However, he’s been solid at limiting home runs this year at 1.14 HR/9 which, believe it or not, is better than league-average. He throws a ton of strikes, so he’s not likely to be hurt by free passes. Pitching in Oracle Park for this start is ideal for Lauer’s skill set. I discussed how poor the Giants are in Young’s blurb, especially at home. I tweeted this earlier in the week showing how the Giants lack an offensive star. If Kevin Pillar, Evan Longoria, and Mike Yastrzemski are the batters Lauer has to worry about, I’ll take my chances. Buster Posey is a shell of himself and is 16% below-league average offensively. Lauer has a good chance at a quality start and win. I’m Streaming here.


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


Starting Pitchers to Stream for Week 13 (6/24-6/30)

I’m a little late with this streaming post today, so I’ll spare you the introduction. The good news is, I have a plethora of streaming options for next week, seven to be exact! Remember, all of these options are available in at least 75% of FantasyPros Consensus leagues. Here we go!

C.C. Sabathia (SP – NYY)  13% owned, home vs TOR, Monday 6/24
The Blue Jays are typically a nice option to stream against. As a team, they have a strikeout rate of nearly 26% over the last two weeks. They also have to travel to New York (albeit from Boston) so typically teams are a little sluggish following a traveling day. Meanwhile, the Yankees are currently at home for their current series against the Astros, so no traveling. Both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have returned, so run support should be plentiful. Sabathia has also been great at home this season with a 2.18 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. Also, as a left-handed pitcher, he negates the short porch in right field by limiting LHB to a .152 BA and a .211 wOBA. The Blue Jays will likely stack righties against CC but I’ll take my chances. I expect two to three earned runs, five to six strikeouts and a great chance at a QS/W. STREAM but stay away from his 6/30 start in Boston.

Adam Plutko (SP – CLE), 5% owned Home vs KC, Monday 6/24
This is a matchup play for sure but Plutko has limited walks to just under one per nine innings this season. The Royals are without one of their most dangerous hitters in Adalberto Mondesi who hit the IL this past week. Hunter Dozier has returned, but overall, the Royals lineup lacks elite power bats. Over the last 14 days, the Royals have just a 79 wRC+ well below league-average of 100. In addition to limiting walks, Putko has managed to give up six earned runs over his last three starts (2 in each start) and has boosted his strikeout rate in his last two outings. He’s been fantastic at getting ahead of hitters which he’s done 69% of the time and that’s allowed him to induce swings outside the zone over 35% of the time. Plutko’s issues are with home runs, and it’s been ugly at just under three home runs per nine innings. However, four of them came against the Rays in one start. A quick peek at BaseballSavant shows me he’s been unlucky. His xwOBA is just .318 compared to his .340 wOBA and his eight barrels against should have yielded five to six home runs rather than the nine HR he’s given up. I think Plutko is able to limit damage to just one home run in this outing which should provide positive results. STREAM

Chris Bassitt (SP – OAK), 23% owned, @STL, Tuesday 6/25
The 30-year-old veteran right-hander has managed a very respectable 3.64 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP on the season. There’s nothing special I can see in regards to his pitch mix but he’s improved his average fourseam velocity by 1.2 MPH from last year. By increasing his velocity, he’s been able to effectively pitch up in the zone with a 40% strikeout rate and a 22.2% infield fly ball rate on his fourseamer. It has really complimented his cutter that he throws low and out of the zone. The Cardinals are not the offensive juggernaut I thought they would be after acquiring Paul Goldschmidt. They have managed just a 92 wRC+ (100 is league-average) this season. Normally I don’t love OAK pitchers away from home but Busch Stadium actually scored lower on the HR/BRL home run park factors. Bassitt’s also carrying an 8.81 K/9 so facing the pitcher’s spot a couple of times could yield at least a strikeout per inning. I’m streaming here.

Dylan Bundy (SP – BAL), 19% owned, home vs SD, Wednesday 6/26
On the surface, Bundy looks similar to last season’s disaster and his 17% K-BB rate this year (17.3% in 2018) proves this point. However, Bundy’s BABIP against is down .033 at .283 which is closer to his career .294 mark. He’s also decreased hard contact against which is down almost seven percent. While his home run rate is only down a slight margin, Bundy’s luck has normalized a little bit. His changeup which I thought had some very bad luck last year is now a plus pitch by FanGraphs pitch value. Paired with his slider and Bundy has a nice one-two punch. Over the last month, Bundy has a 3.86 ERA with a 10.44 K/9. The Padres have been better of late but still carry a high strikeout rate as a team. This is the ultimate high-risk/high-reward play. I’m feeling lucky with Bundy pitching better and the Padres traveling across the country. STREAM

Anibal Sanchez (SP – WAS), 24% owned, @DET, Friday 6/28
Streaming against the Tigers has been a consistent theme for me this year. For Ss and Gs, let’s look at the Tigers numbers at home this season: 35 games, 22 HR, 25% strikeout rate, 6.5% walk rate, 70 wRC+. The 70 wRC+ for the Tigers is tied with the Giants as the worst home rate in the league. Home runs go to die in centerfield at Comerica, so Sanchez should be safe. In regards to Sanchez, one number intrigues me, 27% cutters. That’s how often he’s throwing the pitch this year but it’s up to over 30% in his last four starts where he’s sporting a 1.54 ERA. As a result, his usage of his fastball (his worst pitch) continues to diminish. Sanchez is a nice play for decent ratios and a win. I’m Streaming.

Eric Lauer (SP – SD), 13% owned, Home vs STL, Friday 6/28
Lauer’s not the most exciting option but he’s been effective outside of his two blow ups at Coors Field. Subtracting these two starts from his season ERA, we get 3.11 for an ERA outside of Coors Field. Next week’s game is not at Coors Field. If you don’t love that math, Lauer has a very rock-solid 2.70 ERA at Petco. Lauer has also increased the usage of his curveball which is his best pitch. I’ve already discussed the Cardinals and their below-average offensive performance to date, so Lauer seems like a nice option. I’d love to pair Lauer’s safe floor with Bundy’s high but volatile ceiling next week. Stream.

Dakota Hudson (SP – STL), 25% owned @SD, Saturday 6/29
Hudson has looked great over his last seven starts and now owns a 3.36 ERA on the season. He won’t pile up strikeouts but has somehow managed to induce ground balls nearly 62% of the time when everyone is trying to elevate. He pairs a 94 MPH power sinker with a cutter which is where he can generate whiffs. Manny Machado and the Padres are heating up but Hudson hasn’t given up more than three earned runs since April 15th! He’s totaled eight straight quality starts. He might tie you to the WHIPping Post but should limit runs and has great shot at a win. Of course, he’s a must stream in QS leagues. Either way, I’m streaming.

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


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Fantasy Baseball Top Starting Pitchers – Last 30 Days

After I went through the top starting pitchers over the last 30 days, I noticed quite a few veterans who were previously not highly touted coming into this year. I’ll try to stay away from the Max Scherzer’s, Justin Verlanders, and Walker Beuhler’s because we know they are great. And they are. Yes, Buehler has turned the corner, the slow start may have been lingering fatigue from several stressful playoff innings in 2018, but he looks every bit like an ace over the last month. A quick note on the Braves signing of Dallas Keuchel. I’m typically not a fan of Keuchel but given his extreme ground ball tenancies and landing in a great spot with the Braves, he could have some SP3/4 value in 12-team mixed leagues the rest of the way. I’ll be interested to see how his control metrics look because he has to keep walks down to be successful. The schedule for the Braves going forward is light and SunTrust Park is moderately friendly for pitchers.

Note: These numbers do not include statistics from last night.



Top Ranked Starting Pitchers - Last 30 Days

NameTeamWSOERAWHIP
Julio TeheranBraves2220.681.05
Hyun-Jin RyuDodgers4230.800.92
Lucas GiolitoWhite Sox5430.970.65
Jake OdorizziTwins4351.301.01
Max ScherzerNationals2471.361.06
Charlie MortonRays5421.460.78
Rich HillDodgers3381.501.07
Mike SorokaBraves4261.510.73
Sandy AlcantaraMarlins2241.691.00
Trevor RichardsMarlins3281.740.94
Pablo LopezMarlins2271.880.87
Adrian SampsonRangers5301.991.07
Dakota HudsonCardinals3201.991.14
Eric LauerPadres3222.030.97
Justin VerlanderAstros3422.230.61
Walker BuehlerDodgers3392.250.91
Mike MinorRangers2402.271.37
Zack GreinkeDiamondbacks2252.350.95
Brad PeacockAstros3332.431.08
Chris SaleRed Sox1642.450.79
Griffin CanningAngels1282.700.83
Lance LynnRangers3412.781.11
Kyle HendricksCubs5402.810.94
Stephen StrasburgNationals4352.910.94
Frankie MontasAthletics4372.931.08
Sonny GrayReds2302.931.23
Clayton KershawDodgers3282.971.11
Wade MileyAstros3353.091.23
Brandon WoodruffBrewers3363.380.91
Dylan BundyOrioles2303.381.13
Gerrit ColeAstros1443.411.00
Matthew BoydTigers1423.411.19
Blake SnellRays1363.411.28
Noah SyndergaardMets2343.601.05
Kenta MaedaDodgers3333.670.74
Robbie RayDiamondbacks3463.861.44

Robbie Ray (SP – ARI)
Ray doesn’t quite belong on this list but he’s piled up the strikeouts and compiled three wins over the last month. What’s interesting to me is that his walk rate over the last 30 days is under 10%. It’s 9.9%, but still, that’s an improvement for Ray. His FIP is a 2.81 and his strikeout rate is a robust 32.8%. One reason for his success recently is getting ahead of hitters. Over the last 30 days, his first-pitch strike rate is 63.8% but only 56.1% thus far in 2019. This is huge for Ray. He’s also throwing his slider more often which is great for his strikeouts. He’s been able to throw his curveball for strikes (Zone% 46.3% this year compared to 37.9% in his career). I’m monitoring Ray because if he can maintain a 64% F-Strike% and bump his zone rate over 40%, he could get back to 2017 results, or better! Maybe I’m biased for throwing Ray out there as the NL Cy Young winner in my Bold Predictions article.

Julio Teheran (SP – ATL)
Teheran is MLB’s ERA leader over the last 30 days. But, how? How about a .181 BABIP, and an 87.1% strand rate? Oh, and he hasn’t given up a home run over the last month! He has seemingly done the impossible. Based on his embarrassingly low 6.2% K-BB%, he’s due for some major regression. But how much and why am I asking so many questions? Well, his 3.52 FIP shows quite a bit of regression but his 5.26 xFIP and 5.47 SIERA show that he’s been one of the worst pitchers over the last month. Regression is going to hit Teheran hard, very hard. If you’ve owned him through this stretch, congratulations, now flip him for almost any player that could help your team.

Lance Lynn (SP – TEX)
Am I just focusing on boring veterans here? Well, kind of, but, Lynn’s metrics are the opposite of Teheran’s. Lynn has been very good over the last month and his xFIP and SIERA are right in line with his 2.78 ERA. Plus, his FIP is way down at 1.75! A 28.6% K-BB rate will do that for you. Along with a nice boost in his strikeout rate, he’s also suppressed home runs. While the metrics are showing that his elevated strikeout rate should continue, I don’t expect the home run suppression to continue given his home park. That being said, Lynn looks like a nice option going forward. He’s throwing more strikes and increased the usage of his cutter/slider at the expense of his sinker. I have no issues with Lynn performing like an SP 4 the rest of the way.


Charlie Morton (SP – TB)
The 35-year-old has had a hell of a year and a hell of a second half to his career. He’s been fantastic and while his ERA-estimators expect some regression, they fall between 2.65 and 3.33. His velocity is starting to decline but he’s adjusted by throwing his curveball more frequently, introducing a slider, and reducing his fourseam/two-seam fastballs. This pitch mix change has resulted in a career-best strikeout rate of 30.2%. As with most pitchers who increase their usage of breaking balls, he may find himself in more deeper counts which could lead to additional walks. He’s held them at bay thus far. He’s also top 10 in the league among qualified starters in allowing the lowest quality of contact. I don’t fully trust his home run rate that’s almost been cut in half, so there should be some regression. Still, let’s enjoy this and I would expect something close to his xFIP of 3.33 the rest of the way. In this era, that’s a top 20 SP with an elite strikeout rate.

Mike Minor (SP – TEX)
Minor is another Texas Ranger and previously a boring veteran who is succeeding. The ERA and strikeout numbers are good but that WHIP stands out like a sore thumb. I’ll address the WHIP right away. He’s carrying an inflated .365 BABIP over the last 30 days. Obviously, that’s extremely high and won’t last but he’s managed to strand those runners 89% of the time. That explains the elevated WHIP and a low ERA. On the season, he’s carrying a .298 BABIP, so that seems just about right. So, does that mean I trust his current 2.52 ERA on the season? No, not quite. The strikeout gains are real given a 12% swinging strike rate (SwStr%) and 30% called strikes plus swinging strike rate (CSW%). Minor could be a trade candidate if the Rangers don’t compete this year. If he goes to a contender in a better park, he could provide top 30 value the rest of the way. If he stays in Texas, there will be a few long hot nights that are going to make you wish you kept him on your bench.

Brandon Woodruff (SP – MIL)
Woodruff just stood up to the Astros in Houston and escaped with a no-decision. The Astros are missing a bunch of pieces but a WHIP of 1.00 and six strikeouts is pretty impressive. His fastball has been great and he slings it 95+ MPH. Prior to last night’s game, his pitch value is 14.2 on the fourseam and sinker combined (10.7 on the fourseam). In addition, his 12.2% Swinging strike rate and 40.1% strikeout rate off his fastball are among the best in the league. Here is Woodruff’s heatmap on fastballs when ahead in the count.

Some other pitchers who succeed throwing 95+ MPH with elevated fastballs are Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. Walker Buehler is getting there as well. Having that foundation is strong and can sustain success. I might actually be buyiug high on Woodruff.

Mike Soroka (SP – ATL)
Soroka saw some regression last night giving up 10 hits and five earned runs against the Pirates. Coming in he was carrying some crazy extreme numbers including a 17.6% infield fly ball rate, 58.4% ground ball rate, and a 2.9% HR/FB rate. In an era where the sinker is fading, Soroka throws a power sinker over 40% of the time and hitters have struggled against it. He’s getting ground balls almost 70% of the time on it! That’s Dallas Keuchel territory in terms of overall ground ball rate. Can he succeed pitching to contact though in this era or with hitters adjust? The ceiling isn’t as high with Soroka but I could see him with similar results to Kyle Hendricks as a best case scenario. Worst case, let’s not go there. I think he will be good but let’s not get carried away.


Dylan Bundy (SP – BAL)
Last year’s home run leader (in a bad way) has pitched well recently. His HR/9 over the last 30 days is down a respectable 1.23 compared to his ugly 2.13 HR/9 from last season. How is he doing this? Well, he’s throwing his changeup more frequently (10% more frequently) and while it was a negative pitch by pitch value last season, it’s neutral so far in 2019. It’s actually a solid pitch with a chase rate over 40%, a zone rate over 40%, and a SwStr rate over 16%, which is a Money Pitch per Nick Pollack of Pitcher List. The results were atrocious last year on the change with a 220 wRC+. He’s got it down to 102 wRC+ or essentially league average. He’s also managing to get ground balls nearly 60% of the time compared to 49% last year. So, the changeup is better and the slider is still very good. However, his fastball is awful and regression is coming in terms of BABIP. He won’t keep a .255 BABIP and home runs will always be an issue as long as he calls Camden Yards home. He will be better than last season but I still can’t fully buy in.

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


Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

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Weekly Rundown – When Wil Myers Ever Slow Down?

Welcome to a special edition of Weekly Rundown with the All-Star break coming up this week. There’s actually nothing special about it except I gush over Jose Ramirez. Just as we all predicted, he’s tied for the league lead in homers and the Phillies are in first place. Does anyone realize than Franky Lindor has 85 runs already! How about Scooter Gennett leading the NL in batting average with Nick Markakis right on his heals. That seems about right. Nope. It’s baseball.

HOT Hitters
Welcome back Wil Myers! Myers is on a homer binge as he’s blasted 6 HR in the last 7 days and has chipped in with 2 steals, he’s been the top player over the past week. Is it just me or has Myers put up more production since coming off the DL than Hosmer has all season? I’m kidding obviously, but Hosmer has really had a boring season hasn’t he? I’ll touch on him later. Anyways, Myers has got his groove back and is no longer swinging at garbage outside the zone as much and in return has got a 50% hard contact rate over the past week. Remember, Myers is a 30-20 type player, so he could rip off double digit homers and steals the rest of the way.

Brett Gardner is playing baseball everyone! At nearly 35 years old, he’s still putting up some solid numbers as he’s popped 4 dingers and stolen 2 bases this past week. Get this, in the last two weeks, Gardner has a 12.9% walk rate with a 9.7% strikeout rate to go with a minuscule 2.7% swinging strike rate and a 100% zone contact rate (yes, he has not had a swing and missed in the zone since June 29th). Now, the rest of his batted ball profile leaves something to be desired, but as long as he’s making contact and getting on base, he will have value.

Whoa Starling Marte has hit a couple home runs and stolen 6 bases while hitting .407 in the last eight days. I’ll admit, I did not expect Marte to bounce back so well offensively, especially in the power department. But, here we are and Marte has 11 HR and 24 steals. Yup, those are stud type numbers. Actually, it basically matches Trea Tuner’s output to date. The issue is that Marte rarely plays 150 games, a total he’s reached once in his career. So, personally, I’m selling high. Now that he’s killing it going into the break, maybe you can flip him for a top 10 SP or a top 25 hitter.


Carlos Gonzalez has shown some life hitting three home runs, driving in 9 runs and hitting .450 this week. Now, the Rockies have been at home for a good portion of these numbers, but it’s still impressive. Unfortunately, I’m not buying this. He’s stockpiling stats at home but his IFFB% is up, his soft contact is up, and he’s swinging more but pitchers are throwing him less strikes. He’s also doesn’t run much anymore, so you aren’t getting value there. Oh and then there’s the Home/Road splits. He’s hitting .320 with 7 homers at home, good for a .409 wOBA but is hitting .243 with 3 homers good (bad) for a .280 wOBA on the road. Obviously, ride this out until the break, maybe you can flip him. He’s kind of a hitting streamer, but only at home from here on out.

We are past the 81-game mark and therefore Brian Dozier has started to go nuts. This dude has blasted 49 home runs in the second half the last two seasons! To put that in context, he’s hit 43 home runs in the first half of the last THREE seasons. Dozier basically turns into Aaron Judge in the second half. As I look at his profile, I’m not predicting 20+ homers in the second half this time around, but wouldn’t be surprised if he rips off another 15 with a handful of steals. That’s good for a top 35 player the rest of the way.

Mike Trout or Jose Ramirez, rest of season, who ya got? It’s seems crazy, but it’s not. Ramirez has four more home runs this week to tie him with Just Dong Martinez on the season, and has added a couple steals over the past 7 days. He’s driven in 10 runs over that time and there’s literally no stopping him. The best part about Jo-Ram’s transformation which began in 2017 is that he’s improved hard contact and increased his fly ball rate without sacrificing his already elite plate discipline. He’s actually improved on O-Swing the past three seasons. Oh and his .296 batting average could be unlucky with his .272 BABIP.

Hot Mentions: Alex Bregman has 4 HR and 8 RBI; Justin Smoak 4 HR and 7 RBI, Mookie Betts hitting .552 with 11 runs and 8 RBI this past week

HOT Pitchers
Do I have to lead with Chris Sale every week? No, but he’s striking everyone out and has allowed 1 ER in his last two starts. He’s struck out 24 batters in his last 13 IP, that gives him five straight games with at least 11 strikeouts. I think I’m bumping Sale up to number one overall for SPs in my All-Star break rankings coming out in a few days. Sale is kind of a machine. A really tall, rail-thin baseball slinging machine. At some point in his career he may breakdown, but I’m not betting against him at this point. No fire sale here.

Kyle Gibson just won’t go away. He’s grabbed a couple wins along with 18 Ks in his last two outings and this looks legit. Gibson is breaking out at age 30! I know, that’ seems late to be stuck with acne, but I digress. Look, Gibson has improved on his strikeout rate but he’s also throwing less strikes. As a result, the walks have jumped up. His hard contact against is up this year but the HR/FB is down. I’m not completely sold that he can keep this up. Walks + hard contact does not mix well. He’s 12-team viable, but as a back end starter.

Is Ross Stripling an Ace? I’m asking for a friend. Check out this post from @Smada_bb from yesterday basically comparing what Stripling has done in the first half compared to the best pitchers in the game. The answer is yes, he’s an ace. His strikeout rate is great, he doesn’t walk anyone, induces nearly 50% ground balls and an above average IFFB%. Sure, the LOB% isn’t going to stick at 90% and I do think the strikeout rate dips just a bit. Even still, he’s probably a 2.75-3.00 ERA pitcher with a great WHIP and solid strikeout rate. So, yeah, that’s a borderline top 10 SP.


I finally get to pour myself a nice glass of Jameson and discuss Taillon with you. He just came off a 10 K outing and has 16 over his last two starts. His 2.87 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in that time frame is more than solid. It’s all the slide-piece that he’s added. He’s had nine games started since the addition of the slider and here are the results: 3.29 ERA 1.19 WHIP 24.6% K%, 6.4% BB%, 11.2% SwStr, and a 3.07 FIP. MMM, that’s smooth, just like my favorite Irish Whiskey. I’m exciting for this development, but I still think Taillon is capped around a top 30-35 starter the rest of the season. That’s helpful, but I wouldn’t sell the whole barrel (get it) for him.

Zack Goldey has turned in a couple nice starts and even threw a scoreless inning in between this past week+. He’s given up only 2 ER in his last 13 IP with 16 strikeouts. Godley teased us earlier this year looking like he was getting back to last year. The problem is his cutter. It’s not good this year like is was in 2017. It’s way to hittable (if that’s a word), contact is up 8% against it and he’s given up an OPS of 1.015 when throwing the pitch. His control is off as well, so the walks are an issue. I’m not trusting this from Godley. You hurt me before bro, I won’t let you do it again.

Freezing Cold Hitters
I mentioned Eric Hosmer in the Wil Myers blurb and here he is! He’s been trash this past week netting 3 hits in 35 at bats without a homer or steal. I think Hosmer is the new example I use for Ground and Pound. I’ve been wanting to dig into Hosmer’s profile because I need a good dry heave. He’s upped his strikeout rate by 6%, swinging out of the zone more than league average and it’s backed up with an elevated 12.1% swinging strike rate. Here’s the kicker, he’s hitting the ball on the ground 62% of the time! That’s worse than Yelich, like way worse. Now he’s hitting under .250 with a .305 BABIP. Sure, he probably brings that up to .275 but with under 20 HR, he’s not worth much in terms of fantasy. No thanks.

Anthony Rizzo has just never got on track this year. He’s two for this last 23 without a home run. His power numbers are down but his season has been partially salvaged by driving in 60 runs. Really proving the the RBI stat is super meaningful. A .242 average and 12 HR is not going to cut it. Who does he think he is, Eric Hosmer? Rizzo has been unlucky with his .243 BABIP, especially with a solid 25% line drive rate, that does not compute. His hard contact is down, which is concerning because his fly ball rate is also down. Unless he changes his approach, we might have to expect a modest 20 homers from Riz this year. The average should rebound some and he will drive in over 100 runs, so there’s that.

Speaking of Chicago First baseman, Jose Abreu has been awful with only 1 hit this past week and a pathetic OPS of .100! Come on man, it’s the second half, you’re supposed to go nuts. Abreu has me more concerned than Rizzo. His hard contact is way down, like 6% down and his IFFB% is up. He may be pressing because his O-Swing is trash right now. He’s got to correct that by not chasing at bad pitches. If he’s not pressing, then he’s hurt. Either way, I cannot recommend him as a buy in the second half.

Trea Turner is hitting .138 this past week but has somehow managed 4 runs! “Thanks Anthony Rendon for driving me in whenever I’m on base.” That was Turner to Rendon after one of their games. Turner hasn’t stolen a base this week and I’m beginning to think he won’t sniff 50 SBs this year. Trea will be fine just as the Nationals heat up. He won’t reach the heights we hoped for but owners will be happy with Trea at the end of the season. Would I take Marte over Turner right now? Not a chance.

Hey Chris Taylor, maybe your 2017 was a bit of a fluke. It’s his lack of contact that’s the problem. He’s actually swinging outside the zone less but is whiffing more. His zone contact is nearly 5% below league average. That’s not good. I think he could still hit 20 homers but is only 4 out of 9 on the bases. Without a significant speed component to his game, he’s just another guy who is eligible at a bunch of positions. Best case scenario, he goes 20-10 with a .265 average.


Freezing Cold Pitchers
Mike Foltynewicz has been beaten around recently with 10 ER in his last 12.2 IP along with 4 homers! I’m willing to look the other way a bit because he came off the DL three weeks ago, but he was due for a little bit of regression prior to the injury. I am encouraged because his swing strike rates in the last three games have all been higher than his season rate of 10.6%. If Folty can prove that he can maintain his elevated strikeout rate, he’s a top 25 SP. A this point, I need to see a couple more starts before making a recommendation on buying or selling.

Dylan Bundy’s roller-coaster season continues as he’s allowed 10 ER in his last 7.1 IP with 5 walks and only 5 Ks. I recently rage dropped Bundy in my H2H 12-team mixed league. He’s too sporadic for H2H leagues and gives up far too many homers. His only plus pitch is his slider and when his control is off, you’re bound to get stuck with a 5-6 ER outing. A 1.74 HR/9 just isn’t going to play. I love the swing and miss stuff and believe in his upside, so I’d hold in 15-team leagues and deeper. Here are his earned runs given up in his last 7 games: 5, 5, 2, 4, 0, 0, 3. He also has two 7 run outings as well. Ugh, frustrating.

Tyson Ross was a pretty cool story for the first two months. Since then, he’s sporting a 5.91 ERA with only 29 strikeouts in 42.2 IP. Ross looks toast and probably needs the break more than anyone. Maybe he should take a couple weeks off on the DL. If he doesn’t, he is going to be a pitcher I look to stream against. Even if he does hit the DL, I can’t trust him again this year. Move along everyone.

Matt Boyd is another long-shot coming into the year. He showed some promise over the last year+ and with the addition of Chris Bosio as the pitching coach, I figured either Boyd or Norris would see some improvements. I don’t know what happened to Norris. He’s probably living in a van down by the river, literally. Boyd at least looked great for a couple months. He still wasn’t getting strikeouts. Turns out hes more or less the same guy he was last year. A low-end streamer. I guess Bosio isn’t some magic pitching genius. Oh well.

Weekly Rundown – Bye-Bye Hanley Hello Moreland

So, Hanley Ramirez was DFA’ed by the Red Sox yesterday. He is due $15 Million if the Red Sox can’t find a trade partner.  Ramirez was 0 for his last 20 prior to being released but there could be more to the story. If I’m an owner in a shallow league, he’s gone but if I’m in a 15-team league or deeper, I’m holding until I know where he lands (and hopefully that happens soon).  This helps J.D. Martinez move to DH more often and gives Mitch Moreland more playing time. I’d pick up Moreland as a flyer, he’s hit 2 bombs in the last 2 games.

HOT Hitters
Remember how Mike Trout had a slow week in last week’s rundown? It was written is jest because we all know Mike Trout doesn’t slump. He takes a quick break and reals of 3 homers and 4 steals in a week. Trout must be getting jealous of all the Mookie Betts talk and now with 15 homers and 12 steals through 50 games and is on pace for 48 HR and 38 SB. Is that good?

Gleyber Torres has largely been regarded by scouts as a great MLB prospect but the fantasy community was luke warm on him. The buzz was all over Ronald Acuna and recently Juan Soto and for good reason. All Torres has done has hit 6 homers in the past seven days while driving in 12 runs and hitting .348. In this current home run culture, it’s difficult to predict how well a player’s minor league power production will translate to the big leagues. At this point, I’m adding about 30% on to whatever the projection system tells us. Torres looks like a top 12 player at the position ROS.

Jesus Aguilar has taken advantage of the Eric Thames and Ryan Braun injuries by blasting 4 homers and driving in 9 runs in the last seven days. Aguilar is 27 years old and has always had power, but struggled in 2017 with strikeouts. He’s below a 23% K rate this year. He doesn’t have great plate discipline, but has improved on his contact rate from last year. Braun is back but I would continue to own Aguilar until further notice. His average should drop, but he’s hitting a ton of valuable fly balls and hitting the ball harder than ever.

Don’t look now but Alex Bregman is getting hot in May. Sound familiar? Well, he didn’t hit his first homer until mid-May last year. He’s hitting .400 with 2 HR and 2 SB this past week. Bregman’s batted ball profile is almost identical to 2017 except he’s hitting the ball little harder; that’s good! You know what’s even better? He’s walking at a 14.6% clip and striking out at an 11.4% clip. You read that right, his O-Swing is below 20%, which is elite, and his contact rate is nearly 88%, also elite. Little Breggy is about to go nuts the remaining four months and I’m buying everywhere (but you should have bought him on draft day).

Another prospect, Austin “Dewy” Meadows has been raking. We all have prospect fatigue with Meadows because he wasn’t great at age 22. Come on guys, prospect growth is not linear. Say it with me, JK, don’t. The kid is hitting .440 with 3 bombs and a steal since the call up. Obviously, super small sample but his exit velocity has been great and he’s making a ton of contact. He’s not a BUY yet, but I’d be holding him during this hot streak. Marte is back so wait to see how the playing time shakes out between Meadows and Polanco.

Jose Rondon has 2 homers and 2 steals in only 4 games this past week. Wait, who the hell is Jose Rondon? Is he a cross between Jose Ramirez and Hector Rondon? Does he throw 95 but also hit a billion extra-base hits? No, he’s actually a middle infielder for the White Sox. He’s hot right now, but has below average power and plate discipline, so you can move along once he cools off or starts seeing the bench.

Ronald “McDonald” Guzman is hitting .368 with 4 homers and 8 RBI in the last seven days plus he’s serving up double quarter pounders and Big Macs! Busy week. This is his second hot streak this year but I don’t expect it to last. His 23.4% HR/FB with a 31% hard contact rate will not last. He hits a ton of popups and strikeout too much, nothing to see here.

Hot Pitchers
I think people are leaving Jacob deGrom off of the list of best pitchers in the game. In his last 2 starts he’s given up 1 ER and struck of 21 batters in only 14 IP. This is his best season yet as he approaches 30, his K rate has risen the last 3 seasons while his walk rate remains stable. His velocity is great, he is inducing a career high IFFB%, and has 3 great pitches. He’s the only contender to Max Scherzer for the NL Cy Young, That’s right, no one else matters!

Ross Stripling or as I call him “The Stripler” has been strilpling batters of hits in his last two starts. He somehow has 19 Ks in his last 12.2 IP with only 1 ER and 2 W. Should you buy into this? Could you use a near 11 K/9 and a sub 2 BB/9, then yes, absolutely BUY! Most of Stripling’s numbers are legit, his soft contact is over 20% and he’s inducing a ton of popups. His fastball isn’t great but his slider and curve are very effective. The K rate may drop a little bit but his command and skills are solid.

Mmmm, what’s that smell? That’s the sweet aroma of Blake Snell who’s gone 14 IP, 2 ER 16 Ks and 2 W in his last 2 starts. I really wish I owned him everywhere and I’m surprised I don’t because I wrote a sleeper post on him coming into the year. Did you know Snell is averaging over 96 mph on his fastball and has 3 plus pitches? That fastball is up 1.5 mph from last year and his SwStr bump justifies the 9+K/9. His walk rate is down over 2%, there’s no reason Snell shouldn’t post a sub-3.50 ERA. Owners should enjoy the profit.

Tyson Ross took a few years off to help make chicken, but he’s back and looks like vintage Ross. I always thought his little brother Joe would be great, buuuut that hasn’t happened, so we will settle for big Tyson. In his last 12.2 IP, Ross has 2 W, 11 K 3 ER. He’s probably not going to boost your K rate; yes I know it’s currently over 9.5/9 but he’s got a high walk rate and his zone% is 37%. I think walks will be an issue and as the strikeouts go down, we may see some blowups. Either that or his arm falls off with a 44% slider%. I’d try and sell him as a top 35 SP.

Michael Wacha has seemed to right to ship after alternating good and bad starts. He’s strung together 4 very good starts capped off with his last two where he went 12.2 IP with 14 K, 3 ER 11 H+BB. That’s great but a 21.4% K rate and a 9% walk rate along with a 40% ground ball rate doesn’t get me excited. He’s done all that with a reduction in HR%. I think the HR rate jumps up and when that does, the walks wiil really come back to bite him. Oh, did I mention his velocity is down over 1 mph from last year? No, well I’d be selling. I think he should be rostered in 12 team and deeper leagues, but he’s not a top 40 SP.

The Dylan Bundy roller coaster ride continues. He has been good in his last two starts after being basically the worst pitcher in baseball for three straight starts. It’s all about Bundy’s fastball as to whether or not he will be sucessful. If he fastball has good command and his veloicty is over 92 mph, he can twirl gems like he did against the Chi-Sox. I understand that t was the White Sox and they are terrible, but I like what I’ve seen the last couple of starts. I’m trustung him until he crushes me again.

Freezing Hitters
Nelson Cruz is coming off an elbow injury where he missed a couple of games but he’s 2/14 in his last 5 games with no homers and 1 RBI. He’s not striking out more but he is walking less and his chase rate and swinging strike rates are both up which verifies those numbers. He’s also been hitting the ball into the ground more and popping it up a bit more. Again, he’s been dealing with injuries, so it’s certainly possible he bounces right back once he’s healthy. Then again, he’s also about to turn 38, so once he’s at that cliff, it’s a steep drop. I’m holding or trying to buy low right now though.

CJ Cron was one of my highlighted players last week as he was King Cron. Now it seems like he suffers from Cron’s disease. Ok, sorry for the off-color joke. Here’s the thing with Cron, he strikes out over 25% of the time and walks less than 6% of the time. He is hitting the ball a little harder but hits too many popups. He also isn‘t pulling the ball at a high rate so I dont believe he keeps up this home run pace. He’s probably a .260 hitter with 25 home runs.

Anthony Rendon is 6 for his last 26 with no homers, no RBI, no steals and one run. The production isn’t there but hitting in the middle of the Nationals lineup should provide plenty of opportunities. His approach is just fine, he’s walking almost as much as he’s striking out and he’s hitting the ball harder than last year. His BABIP and HR/FB should go up, I’d be buying if there’s an opportunity.

Xander Bogaerts is 2 for his last 18 after a scorching start to the season. He’s barreled nearly 15% of his batted balls which is fantastic. He’s just had a tough week, but should be just fine going forward. The only thing that concerns me a little bit, and I mean a very little bit, is his increased K rate and decreased BB rate. He’s chasing a little more out of the zone and his contact% is around 77% which is about league average. Nothing too crazy but if that continues he may be prone to a few more cold streaks than usual.

Rhys Hoskins is 3 for his last 27 with a HR and a double. This is not a week long slump, it’s been the entire month. This is not skill based, it’s more about making adjustments. He had a similar 3 week stretch to finish 2017, so I am hopeful he can get it back. He needs to get his timing back. It’s interesting because his high drive% (best type of batted balls per xStats) is double league average and his poor hit% is below league average. He’s been a bit unlucky in the power department. It’s the strikeout rate which is timing based and not skills based as I mentioned earlier.

Freezing Pitchers
Zack Godley was absolutely demolished last time out with a 16.20 ERA and a 3.90 WHIP! I mean, if the WHIP was his ERA that would be ok I guess. Anyways, his outing before than was good, but 3 of his last 4 have been bad so color me concerned. Let’s see, velocity is down, barrels against are up, and ground balls are down (but not literally, his GB% his lower than last year). His Z-Contact is 92% right now which is very, very bad. If you’re in a 10 team league, he’s a drop, but in deeper leagues, keep him on your bench and see if he can turn it around.

Sean Manaea looks completely lost and he’s really had one good start since his no-hitter. What’s going on here? Well, if you remember, at the time of the no-hitter Manaea had a 100% LOB rate with a sub .150 BABIP. You had to know that wasn’t sustainable, right? RIght? He’s currently at a much more reasonable 74% LOB rate and a .225 BABIP which still may regress. I think Manaea is a 3.75 ERA guy, which is fine, so I’d hold him right now.

Rick Porcello started the year off like he was the 2016 Cy Young, HAHAHA. Yeah what a joke, but he’s been very bad recently. Bad is probably an understatement as he’s given up 19 runs and 17 ER in his last 4 starts. Sure, the BABIPs have been high in those starts but the walks have been up as well. Early in the season, he wasn’t walking anyone. Ok, so it doesn’t sound like I’m endorsing Porcello but I am. His GB% is nearly 50%, his soft contact against is over 22%, and his contact% has dipped under 80% for the first time in his career. I’m buying Porcello.

Julio Teheran has come back down to earth unlike his HR/9! Ohhhhh BURNNN!. His 4.20 ERA should go up even more in my opinion. His K rate is bad his walk rate is high, he’s giving up more than 1.5 HR/9. There’s literally nothing to like here. His average fastball is down below 90 mph. If you rode him early on and dropped him a couple weeks ago, that’s great for you. If you still own him, I’m sorry, you need to drop him and move on.

Lucas Giolito oh my goodness! He gave up 7 ER in 1.1 IP his last time out. Would you believe me if I told you his BB rate is 4% MORE than his K rate? He’s last among qualified starters with a 7.53 ERA and he hasn’t even been unlucky. If anything, he’s been lucky, his BABIP is .266 and his HR/FB is only 8.6%! LOL He actually could get worse. It looks like the White Sox will have to take the loss on this one. At least Reynaldo Lopez is pitching well. One out of two ain’t bad.

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