Deep League Starting Pitchers (Peterson, Matz, Syndergaard, & Quintana)

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

I am examining starters going later than pick 300 in the latest NFBC ADP. Here are the previous editions:

David Peterson (364 ADP)

The 27-year-old lefty has a ton going for him. A 94-mph fastball. His ERA and ERA estimators were all under 4.00 last season. He had a 10.7 K/9 which was 14th best among all starters with at least 100 IP. He mixed up his pitches by throwing four of them over 12% of the time. His slider is his borderline elite with a 25% SwStr%. He gets a ton of sink on his pitches and had a 49% GB% leading to a 0.9 HR/9.

The only item keeping him from being one of the elite arms in the game is a lack of control.

Season: BB/9
2020: 4.4
2021: 3.9
2022: 4.1

Of the same 140 starters with 100 IP, his walk rate was the ninth highest. It’s way over my 3.5 BB/9 limit I like to set with pitchers.

There are no signs of improvement. A 3.5 BB/9 in AAA last year. It was 4.1 BB/9 in the second half and 4.5 BB/9 in September.

At this ADP, I think it’s worth taking a chance with him to see if he can halve that walk rate. If he’s able to and keep everything else, he jumps to the Corbin Burnes/Brandon Woodruff talent range. Nice upside pick.

Steven Matz (366 ADP)

Matz posted a 21.3% K%-BB% last season which would rank him 16th (min 40 IP) among starters and ahead of Yu Darvish, Zac Gallen, and Zack Wheeler. A 10.1 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 will play in any league.

He took a step forward by following the simple rule of throwing his bad pitches, fastball (52% to 48%0 and slider (8% to 2%), fewer times, and his good pitches, change (23% to 29%) and curve (17% to 20%), more.

I do expect the K%-BB% to drop some since he posted a 19% K%-BB% in 3-2 count with the league average at -3%. Still, I find his 8.7 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 Steamer projections reasonable.

With a decent base, his fantasy value is suppressed for two reasons.

First, he had a 5.25 ERA with his ERA estimators in the mid-3.00. I don’t care at all about his ERA since it’s the least repeatable pitching skill. Hopefully, it continues to suppress his cost.

The biggest issue for him last season was his health that limited him to 48 IP. In May, he spent over a month on the IL for a shoulder injury. In July he came off the IL, made one start, and went back on the IL with a torn ligament in his knee. He returned in mid-September and made five relief appearances.

He performed the same in his return. In a combined 14 AAA IP, he posted a 1.84 ERA, 11.7 K/9, and 1.8 BB/9. Over those five appearances, his fastball velocity was up just a little and he used the same pitch mix.

I’m all in at this cost and would jump him up if he gets to Spring Training and has no limitations.

Noah Syndergaard (368 ADP)

There is nothing left of the majestic Thor and while he doesn’t look it, his production is closer to Fat Thor.

His average fastball velocity has dropped down from a high of 98.3 mph to just 93.8 mph last season. His K%-BB% is down at 11%, comparable to Adam Wainwright, Jordan Lyles, and Cal Quantrill. He didn’t just throw a few innings to get to this sad state but actually threw 134 IP with 24 starts. He is just a shell of his former self.

And digging deep, every metric points downward. His K%-BB% dropped from 12% to 10% from the first to the second half. His velocity has continued declining:

And of all his pitches, his change (14% SwStr%, 45% GB%) is his best pitch.

I’d draft Jordan Lyles before Syndergaard and Lyles is being drafted 200 picks later.

Jose Quintana (369 ADP)

The 33-year-old lefty got back to throwing strikes and had a decent season (2.93 ERA, 3.72 xFIP, 7.4 K/9, and 1.21 WHIP). His strikeout rate wasn’t elite but by making 32 starts, he had the 64th-highest total (137). It’s not game-changing but fine for a fantasy team’s fifth starter.

He’s been able to keep going by just focusing on his best pitches meaning fewer fastballs and more curves and changes.

Jose Quintana’s Pitch Mix
Pitch 2021 Usage 2022 Usage SwStr% GB%
Fastball 42% 36% 11% 42%
Curve 27% 28% 14% 44%
Change 15% 20% 11% 63%
Sinker 17% 16% 4% 43%

Boring but useful profile.

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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1 year ago

[Sorry if this gets double-posted; having some trouble with the site.]

June 20th seems to have marked a turning point for David Peterson:

Thru 6/19 (40 IP): 20.5 K%, 11.7 BB%, 10.5 SwStr%, 3.60 ERA, 4.14 FIP, 4.46 xFIP, 4.49 SIERA

From 6/20 on (65.2 IP): 32.2 K% (!), 9.9 BB%, 15.2 SwStr% (!), 3.94 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 2.61 xFIP, 3.06 SIERA

The small decline in BB% might not be significant, but the massive spike in K% and SwStr% certainly is. Peterson increased his combined slider and four-seamer usage from about 60% to 70%, and both his four-seamer and changeup started getting more whiffs, while his sinker started getting more called strikes. The strike rates on his changeup and sinker were pretty bad, so reducing their usage a bit probably accounts for that slight decline in BB%. However, his four-seamer is fairly pedestrian, and found the middle of the plate far too often, so he can’t abandon the change and sinker completely. He needs the changeup against RHHs (.267 wOBA against), and the sinker against lefties, so the question is whether he can improve his control of those pitches, and deploy them a little better. As I recall, he had plus command in college and the minors, so perhaps it bodes well that he was able to make adjustments mid-season to unlock the bat-missing ability he had also shown back then.

1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Zimmerman

Thank you, Jeff! Happy Thanksgiving!