Top Starting Pitchers – Last 30 Days

Below is a table of the top starting pitchers in terms of fantasy for the last 30 days. I’ll highlight a few of them below to see if we can expect success or regression moving forward. (The columns can be sorted).

Zack WheelerMets4261.950.90
Max ScherzerNationals4392.120.91
Carlos CarrascoIndians4431.931.10
Jameson TaillonPirates4262.381.21
Zack GreinkeDiamondbacks3351.260.70
Tanner RoarkNationals3252.000.93
Vince VelasquezPhillies3241.841.02
Jake ArrietaPhillies3222.011.05
Patrick CorbinDiamondbacks3433.441.12
Rich HillDodgers3352.231.18
Trevor BauerIndians3501.881.23
Jon GrayRockies2251.520.71
Dereck RodriguezGiants2271.230.72
Carlos RodonWhite Sox2251.260.84
Sean NewcombBraves2212.050.91
David PriceRed Sox2232.001.00
Justin VerlanderAstros2502.351.01
Masahiro TanakaYankees2361.781.02
Zack GodleyDiamondbacks2362.901.03
Jack FlahertyCardinals2362.731.06
Clayton KershawDodgers2292.511.11
Lance Lynn- - -2292.601.16
Jacob deGromMets1411.700.89
Trevor RichardsMarlins1321.530.92
Gerrit ColeAstros1333.041.10
Charlie MortonAstros1262.701.24
Derek HollandGiants0302.130.83

Let’s talk Tanaka. This is what he looks like when he’s not serving up dingers, only 0.89 HR/9 in the last 30 days. Tanaka is rocking a 24.2% K-BB% and a .288 BABIP. For his career Tanaka has a .276 BABIP, so I don’t see much regression at all unless the home run issues come back. I’m fully on board here, his ground ball rate is up and he has three pitches working for him the last month.

I’m also loving Patrick Corbin! Despite another great start from PC, he’s been unlucky with a .351 BABIP and a low 65.9% strand rate. He’s at an elite K-BB% just ahead of Tanaka at 24.5% and leads the league in the last month with a 1.38 FIP! I don’t care that he only throws 90 mph, his slider is devastating. In the last 30 days, Corbin has a 55% ground ball rate, a 39.5% O-swing, and a 16.1% SwStr rate! I’m buying him as a top 10 SP.

A few others I think can maintain a high level of performance this year include Carlos Carrasco (29.5% K-BB% last 30 & 16.8% SwStr), Justin Verlander (38% K-BB%! .337 BABIP to regress), Gerrit Cole (.328 BABIP, 70.4% Strand rate), and Jacob deGrom (29% soft contact, 38.3% O-Swing). Yes, I know they are all aces, but this is what makes them aces. If you want to acquire them, act now and be ready to pay for them.

Sean Newcomb highlights (lowlights) the list of pitchers I think will regress. His K-BB% is 11% in the last 30 days. He’s managed to get by with just a .167 BABIP and an over 90% strand rate. Combine that with a sub 8% swinging strike rate and a low chase rate means he’s in for some major regression. With all the contact he’s giving up, plus the BABIP and strand rate which will normalize will leave you tied to the WHIPping-Post.

Carlos Rodon is about to come crashing down. He’s keeping the ball in yeard with a 0.31 HR/9, but that simply won’t last. His 13.0% K-BB% tells me that his WHIP is coming way up. Combine that with a .181 BABIP and an 85.4% strand rate. Similar to Newcomb, there are a few blowups coming with Rodon in the home stretch.

Some other regression candidates include Jon Gray (16.7% K-BB%, .162 BABIP), Jack Flaherty (11.3% BB rate, .235 BABIP, 90.6% strand rate), Dereck Rodriguez (.181 BABIP, 88% strand rate, 7.4% SwStr rate),  and Trevor Richards (.232 BABIP, 91.3% strand rate).

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.

Ma-(man)-sahiro Tanaka 2018 Sleeper Post

Tags: Masahiro Tanaka, Sleeper, 2018 Projections, @MaxFreeze

What a crazy up and down year for Tanaka and most of it was down.  Something that could keep Tanaka from being underrated in 2018 were two of his final three starts of 2017 (last regular season start & 1st post season start against the Indians).  In those starts he combined for 14 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 0 ER, 22 Ks!  Yes PLS!  In the 15 strikeout game he had SWStr% of 21.4% and that wasn’t even his highest SwStr% in the month of September.

Speaking of SwStr%, he had a career high in 2017 with an amazing 15.1%!  Is that good??  Well, let’s see. Kluber had a 15.6%, Scherzer had a 15.5%, and Sale (who had 308 Ks) had 14.9%.  That rounds out your top 4, YES Tanaka was 3rd in all of baseball!

Tanaka has always been above average in K rate and SwStr % but 2017 was nuts and his 9.79 K/9 was a career high, but even that impressive K rate does not jive with his insanely high SwStr %.  His K/9 should have been somewhere between 10 and 11. Now I’m drooling. In other words he was unlucky.

Tanaka being unlucky in 2017 is an understatement.  His HR/9 and HR/FB were 1.77 and 21.1% respectively ranking 3rd and 1st worst for qualified starters.  Ouch Bro.  1st worst sounds weird, kind of like bratwurst, but bratwurst sounds great! Ok, back to it!  Even his .305 BABIP was unlucky IMO though it’s near league average.  But, and this is a BIG BUT, his career BABIP coming into this year was .275!  How about his career low LOB % 71.5% in 2017 which is 4 % below his career average.  Str8 up unlucky.

I know what you’re thinking.  His FIP is 4.34 Max, that’s high and I don’t like it!  You’re right.  But his xFIP and SIERA are 3.44 and 3.52 respectively.  I’ll trust the xFIP and SIERA over FIP!  When xFIP and SIERA are in agreement, I like that.  Listen, he certainly had some Memory Loss in several starts due to the long ball. That SHOULD decrease in 2018.  All in all, Tanaka is my pick for most unlucky pitcher of 2017.  Think Robbie Ray in 2016. Tanaka could have a Robbie Ray type 2018 with less Ks and less BBs.  Oh and then there’s AL East v NL West thing, so there’s that.

Switching gears, the injury thing comes up every year with Tanaka and he just keeps taking the ball every 5th day (except for 1 short DL stint in 2017).  At some point, you just have to say he’s beating the odds until he doesn’t and his arm falls off.  For now, I love me some Tanaka for 2018.  Early ADPs have him going anywhere from 117 or around SP 30.

2018 Projections:

15 Wins, 3.41 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 204 Ks in 190 IP. 

Looks like a top 15 SP to me FAM!  YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST!