Boring Pitchers To Target

As the saying goes, boring is better. A lot of fantasy baseball players look for the next best thing. This is mainly due to the fear of missing out on a breakout or new exciting young player. Sure, it’s extremely valuable to find those pitchers but it’s also really hard to find them. What most don’t realize is that taking those “old” boring players can be just as valuable. With a long track record and decent numbers, these pitchers could give you stable innings and ratios with a predictable floor.

Although his ADP seems appropriate this year (for the first time ever) I can’t say the words “boring” without mentioning the fabulous Kyle Hendricks. To me, Hendricks is like water. A lot of people prefer things with flavor but water is essential to your body making it extremely underrated (terrible analogy). 

Hendricks typically drops down the draft board due to a lack of strikeouts. His career average strikeout rate is just 20.8%, which definitely hurts his value. Perhaps the fantasy baseball world has overvalued his lack of strikeouts. The reason being, the superior ratios he produces year in and year out as well as the high floor.  In his entire career, Hendricks has averaged a 3.12 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. His two highest ERAs for a season are 3.95 (2015) and 3.46 (2019). 

Hendricks is able to have so much success by painting the corners, creating deception, and having exceptional tunneling abilities. His sinker, changeup, four-seam, and curveball all are used over 15% of the time. In 2020 all four of these pitches had a positive pVAL as well as an ISO under .200. He is the king of boring, and the king of boring can be a lot more valuable than the young and exciting.

Mike Minor came out of 2019 riding a pitch mix change by going four-seam/changeup heavy. It clearly worked (3.59 ERA) and made so much sense since his changeup always had so much movement. He essentially rode that same pitch mix into 2020 except he produced completely different results with a 5.56 ERA. 

It’s evident that the reason for his step back was the four-seam fastball. In terms of velocity, it dipped two miles per hour from 92.5 to 90.6. Now if you look at his four-seam numbers from 2020 compared to 2019 they are basically identical. What it did affect was the changeup. You now take a difference in velocity from a solid eight MPH to just six MPH. This lead to a higher wRC+, ISO, wOBA, and HR/GB% against his changeup.

Mike Minor’s fastball has averaged over 92 MPH the past four seasons. This leads me to believe the shortened season ruined his typical ramp-up routine and he could never get it going. That velocity should come back and with it that fantastic four-seam/changeup combination. Not only that but the Royals are going to need innings out of him. He is a veteran that shouldn’t hold any restrictions and he did pitch 200 innings in 2019. 

Is Dallas Keuchel a sub-two ERA pitcher? No. But he has had an ERA above four just once in the last seven seasons. Keuchel is almost a Hendricks lite. With a career average 3.59 ERA, 3.77 FIP, and 1.25 WHIP how could one not see Keuchel as a solid anchor for their rotation?

Sure the strikeout rate of just 16.3% isn’t flashy but the repertoire leaves a high floor. He mixes it up well against right-handed hitters (RHH) and left-handed hitters (LHH). Against RHH he loves to throw his changeup, a pitch that opposing RHH’s only had a .186 wOBAcon against. Against LHH he likes to throw his slider which induced a 17.2 SwStr%. Against both, he throws his cutter and sinker, a pitch that virtually no-hitter can make quality contact against.  

Overall he uses his sinker and cutter to hit the zone with at will. While both have high contact rates the sinker had a 62.4 ground ball rate and the cutter an overall .051 ISO against. The changeup and slider he likes to throw out of the zone more and try to induce whiffs. 

No matter which way you spin it, he is the best there is for inducing weak contact. In 2020 he had a .028 HR/9, 52.8 GB%, and 4.0 Barrel%. Keuchel is great at what he does and there is no reason to think that won’t continue. He is very valuable as a high floor type of pitcher and a player to grab if your rotation seems a bit risky.

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3 years ago

Mike Minor is sexy as long as you don’t look at his slider…