Andrew Cashner | San Diego Padres | @ Cubs on Wednesday
Cashner is your typical young flamethrower who racks up strikeouts but struggles with control. In 130 career innings, he has a 25% K% and 10.5% BB%. In eight career starts he has a 25.7% K% and 4.4% BB%. That’s probably a small sample size anomaly, but there’s a chance that the windup suits him.
But Cashner has another skill beyond just the strikeout ability; he gets a ton of groundballs. His career ground ball rate is 51.3%. If he can keep that rate up as a full-time starter, he’ll join some pretty elite company. In the last ten years, there have only been three pitchers with a full season of 24%+ K% and 50%+ GB% at the age of 27 or younger. Those three were Jon Lester, Francisco Liriano, and David Price.
Dillon Gee | New York Mets | @ Miami on Wednesday
If you take a look at Gee’s player page, you’ll see that the last three articles on the site in which he has been linked were written by yours truly. To say I’m his biggest fan might actually be the truth despite the fact that such a statement so rarely is. But he has displayed skills in the past that still have me convinced he has potential. He’s generated swings and misses at an above average rate, he’s had above average strikeout and walk rates, and he’s had an above average ground ball rate.
But this year he has struggled in all three of those departments. The culprit pitches have been his curveball and changeup, which is a huge problem because those were his swing and miss pitches last year. About 34% of both his curves and changes last year went for balls. So far this year his curve has been a ball 61% of the time, and his change has been a ball 40% of the time. And he got a whiff on 38% of swings at his change last year while only 24% of swings at his change have ended with a whiff this year. Hopefully, it’s just early season struggles and Gee needing a little time to find his feel.
One encouraging thing is that Gee’s release point has been very consistent this year. Below are his release point charts for this year and last with 2013 appearing on the left.
Aside from the consistency, these charts are also encouraging because his release point so far this season (again, that’s the box on the left) resembles his release point in April, May and June of 2012. In those three months his xFIP was always below 3.70. It was only in his last two starts of the season in July when his release point started to move further away from his body that he became less effective. The shift away from his body late last year may have had something to do with the blood clot that knocked him out for the remainder of the year. But whatever the reason, the release point is back where it belongs now.
It’s understandable if you’re reticent about the guy with a 4.21 career ERA who has a 5.96 ERA so far this season. But he’s shown the skills, and he has a matchup at Miami this week that is as good as matchups get.
David Phelps | New York Yankees | Home to Houston on Wednesday
Phelps has some similarities to Cashner. They’re about the same age, they’ve both worked out of the pen and in the rotation, and they both rack up strikeouts as well as walks. But unlike Cashner, Phelps doesn’t have an apparent second skill like Cashner’s ground ball ability. As a result, Cashner’s probably the better long-term option. But given Phelps’ matchup this week, no one could blame you for thinking Phelps is the better option for the week.
No team has struck out at a higher rate than Phelps’ upcoming foe, the Houston Astros. In fact, no one has been anywhere close. The Astros have struck out in 27.4% of their plate appearances, and the free swinging Braves are next at 24.5%. Phelps is primed for a big strikeout total on Wednesday night.