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Deep League Starting Pitchers (Matz, Megill, Sanchez, & Walker)

Four more starters as I work my way through the list. Here are the ones I’ve already done.

Starting and Relievers, Part 1 & 2($$):

Deep League Starting Pitchers

Steven Matz (301 ADP)

I probably spent way too much time digging into Matz and eventually came to the conclusion that he’s a fine starter. His profile begins and ends with his pitch mix.

Steven Matz Pitch Mix
Pitch SwStr% GB% Pre-IL Usage Post IL Usage
Sinker 7% 45% 47% 56%
Change 14% 50% 24% 23%
Curve 11% 38% 17% 17%
Slider 9% 41% 12% 4%

His sinker and change got a good number of swings and misses compared to similar pitches. Also, it was a good idea for him to move away from the slider and throw the curve as a third pitch after coming off the IL. The problem there was that he threw his sinker more and the strikeouts dropped. Read the rest of this entry »


The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 989 – Pre-Lockout Free Agent Bonanza

11/30/21

The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is live. Support the show by subscribing to our Patreon!!

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PATREON

INJURIES/TRANSACTION NEWS

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Starting Pitcher GB% Surgers — Apr 21, 2021, A Review

Today, let’s move over to review early starting pitcher metrics and whether the surges or declines stuck around over the rest of the season. Unlike for hitters where depending on the type of hitter they are, the optimal batted ball profile is easier to determine, it’s not as straightforward for pitchers. So this isn’t necessarily a “good” list to be on, but it could change the shape of the pitcher’s performance. More grounders should result in fewer homers, but likely more hits allowed and a higher BABIP. So let’s get to the names of those that had increased their GB% by at least 10% through Apr 19 and see whether their GB% spikes were sustained.

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Mining the News (11/30/21)

General

Charlie Morton talks about how rehabbing players won’t have access to team training facilities if a lockout happens.

Yeah, I don’t think many people have given much thought to how a lockout could affect things like injury rehab. Folks think mostly in terms of starting spring training and the season on time. But yeah, for guys rehabbing, it could be a pretty significant thing for them.

Yeah, because their life as a professional doesn’t stop. I mean, you go from working out at the team facility — I mean, Acuña and Soroka, those guys are working out at the stadium and rehabbing with our PTs — and then you’re on your own. Which I’m sure is probably pretty unsettling, especially if you have, like, franchise-caliber players involved.

It’s tough to know if this situation should move back any player return timelines, but it’s something to consider going forward. Read the rest of this entry »


Departing the Fly Ball Revolution — Apr 20, 2021, A Review

Yesterday, I reviewed the hitters who had raised their FB% marks by at least 10% through Apr 17 versus 2020. Let’s now switch gears to reviewing those hitters who saw their FB% marks decline by at least 10% through Apr 18. Did these early FB% declines suggest a down power year? Let’s find out.

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2021 Roster Review: St. Louis Cardinals

90-72 (2nd in Division; 9th in MLB)

[PREVIOUS REVIEWS]

SP Wins: 54 (9th)

RP Wins: 36 (13th)

Saves: 50 (4th)

1+ Save: 7 (Alex Reyes 29, Giovanny Gallegos 14, Daniel Ponce de Leon, Luis García 2, Kwang Hyun Kim 김광현, Ryan Helsley, Justin Miller 1)

100+ Ks: 1 (Adam Wainwright 174)

.260+ AVG (min. 350 PA): 5 (Paul Goldschmidt .294, Tyler O’Neill .286, Edmundo Sosa .271, Harrison Bader .267, Dylan Carlson .266)

65+ Runs: 5 (Goldschmidt 102, Tommy Edman 91, O’Neill 89, Nolan Arenado 81, Carlson 79)

65+ RBI: 5 (Arenado 105, Goldschmidt 99, O’Neill 80, Yadier Molina 66, Carlson 65)

10+ HRs: 8 (Arenado, O’Neill 34, Goldschmidt 31, Paul DeJong 19, Carlson 18, Bader 16, Molina, Edman 11)

5+ SBs: 4 (Edman 30, O’Neill 15, Goldschmidt 12, Bader 9)

BEST BUY: Tommy Edman

Edman’s primary value comes from his speed as he was 30-for-35 on the bases last year. He also chipped in 91 R, 11 HR, 56 RBI, and a .262 AVG, but he is drafted for the SBs and positional flexibility (he’ll be 2B/OF to start 2022). Only 15 guys are projected for 20+ SBs next year according to Steamer and from that group, only Myles Straw (142) and Akil Baddoo (168) are available cheaper than Edman (84). With his contact and speed, Edman is a nice BABIP away from chasing down a .300 AVG, too.

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Heaters That Crushed in 2021

As baseball history keeps telling us, a pitcher’s ultimate success often starts with the heater, providing a base of core strength for their pitch-mix body on which the glamor muscles of the breaking stuff can better be supported.

With that in mind, let’s look at the best fastballs from starters in 2022 according to Run-Value (per 100 pitches) before looking at three possible draft-day bargains. While Run Value is by no means the end-all measurement of overall quality, (nor necessarily predictive), it does give us a solid snapshot of the overall results that a pitch returned while sending up flares for where further investigation might be warranted.

Below are all of the fastballs (min n = 300) in 2021 that finished with less than or equal to a -1.0 RV/100. Also included are xwOBA, xwOBA (on contact), Groundball%, CSW% (called strikes + swinging strikes), Swinging-Strike%, and Whiff%. As a quick refresher, SwStr% is the number of whiffs divided by the number of pitches thrown (individual pitch, not total), while Whiff% is the number of whiffs divided by the number of swings. Whiff% tells you one important result (I got a whiff!), but SwStr% gives you two (I induced a swing and a whiff!). Both can be useful but are saying different things.

 

2021 Fastballs < -1.0 RV per 100 Pitches
Player 2022 ADP 2021 IP Pitch n Use% RV/100 xwoba xwob con GB% CSW% SwSt% Whiff%
Ranger Suárez 146 106 Sinker 734 46 -3.0 .244 .291 66.7 30.8 8.7 19.2
Aaron Civale 231 124.1 Cutter 476 25 -2.8 .282 .354 43.5 29.2 10.3 20.1
Ranger Suárez 146 106 4-Seam 363 23 -2.3 .260 .246 50.0 25.6 10.7 22.9
Jake Woodford 746 67.2 Sinker 428 37 -2.3 .351 .347 47.3 31.1 7.0 15.4
Danny Duffy 550 61 4-Seam 438 43 -2.2 .314 .357 19.7 28.1 15.1 26.2
Jacob deGrom 26 92 4-Seam 704 57 -2.1 .231 .331 38.5 33.7 16.2 30.0
Luis Garcia 154 33.1 Cutter 565 23 -2.0 .230 .363 42.7 30.8 23.4 42.0
Carlos Rodón 114 132.2 4-Seam 1301 59 -2.0 .279 .360 35.1 32.8 16.4 29.7
Zack Wheeler 21 213.1 Sinker 582 18 -2.0 .245 .281 65.4 22.5 10.7 17.3
Trevor Bauer 312 107.2 4-Seam 723 41 -1.9 .347 .432 22.9 30.7 11.9 25.3
Brandon Woodruff 18 179.1 Sinker 752 27 -1.9 .340 .328 56.8 27.0 7.6 15.0
Tarik Skubal 183 149.1 Sinker 328 13 -1.9 .394 .434 55.3 25.0 8.5 15.3
Drew Rasmussen 247 76 4-Seam 781 65 -1.8 .318 .370 50.0 32.8 12.7 25.0
Nestor Cortes 355 93 4-Seam 652 43 -1.8 .265 .364 25.5 29.0 10.9 23.2
Sandy Alcantara 42 205.2 Sinker 874 28 -1.8 .308 .317 64.7 28.6 9.4 18.0
Adrian Houser 410 142.1 Sinker 1266 54 -1.8 .300 .293 69.7 25.2 6.5 13.8
Freddy Peralta 51 144.1 4-Seam 1216 52 -1.7 .280 .361 29.0 33.7 14.5 31.0
Adam Wainwright 176 206.1 Sinker 861 28 -1.7 .294 .326 50.3 31.5 3.4 9.6
Corbin Burnes 9 167 Cutter 1356 52 -1.6 .253 .321 51.2 36.7 16.8 32.1
Walker Buehler 12 207.2 Cutter 514 16 -1.6 .290 .311 52.5 29.6 16.3 29.3
Pablo López 112 102.2 4-Seam 530 32 -1.6 .282 .410 28.0 34.0 11.5 22.6
Logan Webb 57 148.1 Sinker 834 38 -1.6 .319 .325 68.8 33.7 7.1 16.0
Anthony DeSclafani 237 167.2 Sinker 476 19 -1.6 .278 .325 47.6 27.7 7.8 15.5
Kyle Gibson 371 182 Cutter 428 15 -1.5 .298 .320 40.7 24.3 11.2 25.1
Merrill Kelly 켈리 433 158 Cutter 333 14 -1.5 .278 .338 36.1 23.4 9.3 16.5
Lance Lynn 61 157 4-Seam 1051 42 -1.5 .240 .324 27.4 33.6 17.0 32.5
Tyler Glasnow 738 88 4-Seam 691 52 -1.5 .301 .348 35.5 33.1 14.2 27.8
Max Scherzer 17 179.1 4-Seam 1316 47 -1.4 .286 .371 25.1 33.7 15.4 30.7
Johnny Cueto 618 114.2 4-Seam 677 36 -1.4 .292 .394 26.3 29.2 15.5 28.1
Logan Gilbert 130 119.1 4-Seam 1307 62 -1.4 .323 .386 26.8 28.7 12.2 21.6
Chris Bassitt 126 157.1 4-Seam 457 19 -1.4 .220 .314 28.9 24.9 14.9 26.7
Alec Mills 633 119 Sinker 831 43 -1.4 .357 .371 59.1 29.8 4.9 10.4
Lance Lynn 61 157 Sinker 485 19 -1.4 .298 .310 62.9 19.6 7.6 14.7
Lance Lynn 61 157 Cutter 775 31 -1.3 .244 .318 33.3 25.7 12.9 25.8
Corey Kluber 422 80 Cutter 364 27 -1.3 .330 .281 38.7 25.0 14.6 26.0
Walker Buehler 12 207.2 4-Seam 1403 45 -1.3 .331 .388 35.6 32.8 9.1 20.3
Gerrit Cole 10 181.1 4-Seam 1399 47 -1.3 .293 .423 33.5 32.0 14.4 27.6
José Berríos 75 192 Sinker 901 30 -1.3 .331 .362 49.7 28.7 7.8 14.8
Marcus Stroman 169 179 Cutter 423 15 -1.2 .314 .367 46.7 27.2 16.1 26.8
Trevor Rogers 92 133 4-Seam 1251 58 -1.2 .305 .383 28.8 33.7 12.7 26.8
Robbie Ray 40 193.1 4-Seam 1866 59 -1.2 .323 .401 31.2 29.5 12.8 24.0
Ian Anderson 135 128.1 4-Seam 1025 47 -1.2 .317 .364 52.9 27.3 9.6 21.1
Alex Wood 242 138.2 Sinker 1019 46 -1.2 .354 .401 34.0 35.9 8.5 20.5
Kyle Freeland 572 120.2 4-Seam 468 25 -1.1 .321 .322 41.8 29.3 6.2 13.6
José Urquidy 170 107 4-Seam 896 55 -1.1 .330 .383 22.9 28.3 11.3 19.8
Joe Ross 687 108 Sinker 792 47 -1.1 .371 .395 45.3 33.3 6.9 16.5
Nestor Cortes 355 93 Cutter 359 24 -1.0 .338 .373 40.6 27.9 13.1 22.6
Zack Wheeler 21 213.1 4-Seam 1360 42 -1.0 .271 .360 40.0 33.5 13.2 26.0
Zac Gallen 148 121.1 4-Seam 1128 54 -1.0 .313 .375 40.1 31.6 6.2 15.3
Bailey Ober 316 92.1 4-Seam 856 58 -1.0 .321 .425 28.1 28.5 12.6 24.8
Chris Bassitt 126 157.1 Sinker 850 36 -1.0 .357 .349 50.9 34.0 6.9 15.6
Alek Manoah 82 111.2 Sinker 492 27 -1.0 .320 .311 55.7 30.1 10.2 23.0

Ranger Suárez, PHI, (152 ADP, SP 46)

Sinker, -3.0 RV/100 (1st by pitch), Four-Seamer, -2.3 RV/100 (1st by pitch)

It doesn’t answer every question about whether or not Ranger Suárez will continue his dominant transition to starting but having two premium fastballs is a nice base to bet on. As is a 1.51 ERA (2.35 FIP) over 12 starts and 65.2 IP in 2021 after Suárez spent May-July in the bullpen, posting a 1.12 ERA (3.32 FIP) over 40.1 IP.

He had two pitches make our leaderboard but it was the sinker that became the workhouse of his 2021 breakout – and the leader in our RV/100 clubhouse – using it to induce a 66.7% GB% (seventh-highest rate among qualified starters), while locking up righties on the inside.

Just ask J.D.

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Suárez had just 67.2 IP in the majors prior to last season (and only 4 IP in 2020) but the change in his pitch mix is clear:

Ranger Suárez 2018-2021 Pitch Usage
Pitch Type 2018 Use% 2019 Use% 2020 Use% 2021 Use% SP Use% RP Use%
Sinker 23 29 35 46 45 47
4-Seam 37 24 26 23 24 19
Changeup 20 27 19 24 22 28
Slider 17 20 20 8 9 6

Along with the elite groundball rate, Suárez’s sinker had just a .244 xwOBA against it (second-lowest) and also got more swings and misses in the second half (a majority of which was as a starter), going from a 5.7 SwStr% and 13.7 Whiff% to a 10.1% SwStr% and 21.4% Whiff%.

While you’re not necessarily looking for them, getting a little extra whiff gravy with your sinker is always nice:

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

How his sinker and four-seamer play off of each is a seam-shifted discussion for another day but I believe heavily in them as a strong base and love how they work with Suárez’s overall pitch mix. While there is some worry in projecting 160+ IP for someone who has a max of 106 IP, his groundball weapons (and the low-stress innings that hopefully come with them) make me more confident.

At his current draft price, Suárez could end up being one of 2022’s best bargains.

Luis Garcia, HOU (157 ADP, SP 48)

Cutter, -2.0 RV/100 (2nd by pitch)

After just throwing twenty of them in 2020, Garcia’s cutter arrived in 2021, with only Aaron Civale’s returning a better RV/100. But the .223 wOBA against it was first among qualified starters, as was a .230 xwOBA. And while its 42.7 GB% wasn’t impressive, things were much better in the second half, rising from a 33.3% GB% to a 50.0% GB%.

The increased groundballs were nice but what makes Garcia’s cutter really shine is its primetime whiffery. It’s 23.4% SwStr% was not just first in the majors, it was nearly seven points better than the 16.8% SwStr% put up by Corbin Burnes’ in second place.

When it came to finishing batters off, Garcia’s cutter lived down and to his glove-side. Of his 167 K last season, 60 batters were finished off by whiffing at a cutter – and 43 of those came in the zone 14.

For further illustration, I recommend the modern retelling of Mr. Wendal; a tale of flail, told in three parts.

Here, have a cutter, Mr. Wendle:

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

In fact, no brotherman here, have two:

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Actually, have three. Because Mr. Wendle’s soul was so wrecked by cutters in his first two at-bats, that he was willing to offer at this one in his third – and wasn’t very pleased with himself:

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

We could guess at what he’s muttering at the end but this is a family-friendly website.

The slipperiness of Garcia’s cutter illustrated above isn’t much of a mystery given its movement on the horizontal plane, breaking 5.7 inches in 2021 and giving him 2.6 more inches of break compared to cutters thrown at a similar velocity/extension – or 84% above average.

That kind of break pairs nicely with a four-seamer that gets premium rise, as well as a changeup that also gets above-average break and a slider that gets elite movement on both planes. If you’re counting along at home, that’s four pitches with excellent (and complimentary) movement profiles on a team that excels at maximizing pitch mixes. Hopefully, the Astros can help get it dialed in against left-handers, against whom Garcia had a 4.55 FIP and allowed a .353 wOBA in 2021, compared to a 2.81 FIP and .241 wOBA vs RHH.

But knowing what we know about how nasty his cutter has gotten, the movement profiles of his other pitches seem like they could be very complimentary in better neutralizing lefties and give Garcia a better chance to keep turning the lineup over.

Garcia is developing a nasty out-pitch and should again be backed by an excellent bullpen and offense, which should put him in line for plenty of wins – especially if a continued ascension of the cutter helps get him deeper in his starts. And after 155 IP in 2021, there shouldn’t be many restrictions on the soon-to-be 25-year-old right-hander.

Given all the goodies, a post-150 ADP sounds delicious.

Drew Rasmussen, TB (247 ADP, SP 73)

Four-seamer, -1.8 RV/100 (sixth by pitch)

Acquired from the Brewers as part of the Wily Adames trade, Rasmussen only pitched 75 IP in 2021, 50 IP of which came in the second half, with his four-seamer over that time returning a  -2.7 RV/100 that was second only to Ranger Suárez. Averaging 97.1 mph and 2437 rpm (14th-highest), while getting 9% more vertical movement to similar fastballs, the heater burned bright in 2021.

Please rise:

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

It’s easy to see why the Rays were intrigued by Rasmussen’s stuff, as the high-velocity, high-spin heater is made even more effective by being paired with a slider that also gets serious movement on the vertical plane:

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

It might be easy to trust Rasmussen’s stuff but his role certainly can’t be, given the Rays track record of unpredictability. He’s currently penciled into the starting rotation (and projected for 151 IP by Steamer) but how his final usage shakes out is not guaranteed. However, I believe in the talent and his draft price (at least, for now) makes it so it won’t cost a lot to find out how real it is.

Everyone else can take the Shanes by the Bay around 150 picks earlier, I’d rather take a chance on the discount their less-heralded teammate comes with.


The Current Starting Pitcher NFBC ADP Landscape

For this exercise, we will be looking at starting pitchers and their NFBC ADP as of 11/29/21. It’s always interesting to see how the crowd thinks, who they seem to value, and how fantasy managers are shaping their drafts. For instance, how many pitchers are going in the first round? How many fantasy managers are grabbing two starting pitchers in the first three rounds? A lot to unpack and a lot of different aspects to analyze. We will go by round and after each round, we will discuss briefly what we are seeing! To note: this is based on Draft Champions which is a 15 team format with about 14 completed drafts.

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Joining the Fly Ball Revolution — Apr 19, 2021, A Review

Why do we care about a batter’s fly ball rate? Because all else being equal, a higher fly ball rate will result in more homers, so paying attention to a hitter’s batted ball profile is important. Typically, analysis centers around a hitter’s raw home run total and whether it’s higher or lower than expected at any point during the season. Sometimes, we see HR/FB rate thrown in as well to assess how real the home run surge or collapse might be. But fly ball rate, or FB%, is just as important, as it’s one of the three drivers of home runs, along with strikeout rate and the aforementioned HR/FB rate.
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Justin Mason’s 2022 Starting Pitcher Ranks: 11/29/21

2021 is over and we turn the page to 2022. Here are my current ranks for the outfield position for 2022, my second of the offseason. I will post updates as things change with signings, injuries, or news in Major League Baseball.

You can review my ranks for other positions here: https://fantasy.fangraphs.com/category/rankings/ Read the rest of this entry »