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.

The other issue is that none of his pitches cause weak contact (i.e. flyball or groundball leaning). They are prone to solid line-drive contact and that fault can be seen by his career .305 BABIP and 1.4 HR/9. He’s limited the damage with a sub-3.00 BB/9.

There are going to be good and bad days for him depending on how hard he gets hit around. Having the Cardinals’ Gold Glove-laden defense behind should help some, especially with his career 1.4 GB/FB rate.

Tylor Megill (327 ADP)

In 89 innings, Megill struggled with home runs (1.9 HR/9), but after digging under the hood there is a ton to like.

First, he’s got an above-average three-pitch mix.

Tylor Megill Pitch Mix
Pitch SwStr% GB% Usage
Four-seam 9% 37% 58%
Change 18% 47% 21%
Slider 15% 56% 19%

The fastball sits at 95 mph and trended up as the season went on.

The home run numbers should regress some, especially if he goes away from the fastball a bit. When he threw it fewer times, the homer runs dropped along with his ERA.

It’s about impossible to know if allowing home runs is a skill of his with just 89 IP.

Enough with the home runs. His 19% K%-BB% was similar to Tyler Mahle (117 ADP), Alek Manoah (82 ADP), Chris Bassitt (132 ADP), and Luis Garcia (158 ADP). I’m going to trust these numbers going forward.

If anyone is looking for a sleeper, here is one.

Sixto Sánchez (327 ADP)

There has not been much news on Sanchez’s recovery from shoulder surgery until just a couple of days ago when he said he was at 100%.

His health and how much the Marlins allow him to throw next season will be the number one driver behind his fantasy value. Managers are going to need to check in on his preseason velocity and any reports on how long they plan on throwing him during games.

When on the mound, there is a lot to like about Sanchez with a 98-mph fastball, few walks, and a groundball rate over 50%. He attacked hitters with a balanced four-pitch (four-seam, sinker, change, slider) approach with each pitch’s usage between 23% and 27%.

In the short 2020 season, his best pitch was his slider (18% SwStr%, 68% GB%). The final results were a little disappointing with a 14% K%-BB%. It was on par with the 2021 seasons of Drew Smyly, Taijuan Walker, Dane Dunning, and Johnny Cueto. Kind of blah. Also, he has never posted a K/9 over 9.0 while going through the minors.

The lack of strikeouts will limit his upside, but he profiles as someone similar to Max Fried, Marcus Stroman, or Kyle Gibson. For me, 2023 seems like the season to buy all-in.

Taijuan Walker (335 ADP)

Walker’s average fastball velocity was up 1 mph, but none of his results followed the improvement. His ERA and ERA estimators ranged from 4.42 to 4.57. That’s just not rosterable except when he’s facing a weak opponent. Fantasy owners were hoping his 2.70 ERA returned from 2020, but his over 4.50 ERA estimators, as expected, did a better job of predicting his 2021 season.

Going over his profile, there is not much to see. The big red flag was his K%-BB% dropping from 17% in the first half to 10% in the second half. The possible cause was the enforcement of the foreign substance rules with his pitches losing about 150 rpm

Also, the struggles could have been from a shoulder injury he dealt with in late July. Probably a combination of the two.

It’s tough to see any upside with him, but that doesn’t mean he’s useless. As for rostering him, I like the idea of adding him in draft-and-hold or best ball formats where the good matchups can be exploited. In redraft leagues, he’s probably only worth streaming.

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR twice, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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2 years ago

I’m with you 100% on Megill. He lacks the prospect pedigree, which will keep his price down. Watching him with place his pitches well throughout the zone, he reminds of Rick Reed, an underappreciated pitcher during their late 90s run (possibly partially due to his former Scab-status)

Maybe there is additional room for growth with his gained experience as well as working with a good teacher in Scherzer. There’s too many Mets fans in my league to get away with drafting him at a discount, but I’ll try.

2 years ago
Reply to  Salty

I see the same things in Megill but I would argue, based on FG pitch values, that his 3 pitches are right at average, not above average. That said, it means there’s not a bad apple in the bunch and he has an opportunity to develop all 3 pitches into something better. If that HR rate regresses, which early Steamer projections say it will, then he might put together a nice season in 2022.

Also, you have to like 6’7″ lefty power pitchers. His 95 mph fastball probably looks more ominous coming out of his hand that much closer to the plate.

2 years ago
Reply to  Salty

Isn’t Megill with the Twins now? Or did they release him and he signed back with the Mets?

2 years ago
Reply to  murraygd13

Nevermind, that’s Trevor Megill