Late-Round Evaluations: Kremer, Webb, Richards, & Stripling by Jeff Zimmerman November 4, 2020 I’m going to continue my attention on pitchers who will be on the fringes of rostering. They are the players who once the season starts, managers are going to have to make a quick decision on adding or dropping. These players will be in play all season. It’s time to learn about a few options beginning with starting pitchers. I decided to not pull the pitchers out of thin air but use the ADP from the #EarlyMocks to find them. I started at the bottom and selected any pitcher added by two or more teams (and no auto drafts). Here is an evaluation of next four starters (Part 1). #508 Logan Webb I don’t understand the pick of Webb. During last year’s draft, he was the new toy with some strikeouts (8.4 K/9) and a decent groundball rate (49%). The hope was that his .333 BABIP would normalize and his 5.22 ERA and 1.46 WHIP would drop. They didn’t and both increased. Additionally, his WHIP was further hurt by the fact he raised his walk rate from 3.2 BB/9 to 4.0 BB/9. I dug deeper and didn’t find anything to justify having him on the radar. First, there was no month-to-month improvement with September worse than August. As for his arsenal, he had and continues to have below-average (6% SwStr%) fastball. Part of his allure from last season was the swing-and-miss capability from his curve (13% SwStr%) and change (15%). Both pitches missed fewer bats while he started relying on his changeup more (20% usage to 31%). There are a few pieces to build on (GB% and changeup), but he needs to improve in almost every other facets of his game: fewer walks, better fastball (more velocity), and a refined pitch mix. There are so many pitchers I like more than him. #498 Dean Kremer Over Kremer’s first three starts, he was outstanding (1.69 ERA, 11.3 K/9, and 1.06 WHIP). Then, he blew up in his last start when he allowed seven runs in 2.2 innings. I liked to say there was some good and bad going on but I can’t. Everywhere I look, it’s bad news. The 10.6 K/9 seems fine but he only had a 10% swinging-strike rate which is more indicative of 8.5 K/9. He walked three batters in every game for a 5.8 BB/9 on the season. He struggled with walks before so this is no new development. He didn’t allow a single home run, which is insane with just a 31% GB% and playing in his small home field. He should probably be expecting a 1.3 or so HR/9 going forward. Besides his 93-mph fastball (10% SwStr%), his curve (10% SwStr%) and slider (12% SwStr%) are below league average. At the season’s end, he posted a 4.82 and 1.45 WHIP and I can make a case for him performing worse than those numbers, not better. #493 Ross Stripling Stripling completely fell apart in 2020 with his strikeouts down (9.2 K/9 to 7.3 K/9), walks up (2.0 BB/9 to 3.3 BB/9), and home runs up (1.1 HR/9 to 2.4 HR/9). With these factors all degrading, he posted career highs in ERA (5.84) and WHIP (1.50). So how did his profile change? First, his fastball velocity increased over 1 mph, so he felt he could attack the strike zone. His Zone% was up from 50% to 55%. The other change was his curveball, his second-most thrown pitch, that went from a 14% SwStr% to a 3% SwStr%. It lost 1 mph and but saw his spin rate increase. I had to go back and look at a couple of them so see if anything was obvious. 2019 2020 I couldn’t see anything with my amateur eye. All I can conclude was that he must have been tipping the pitch. The release point was in a distinct location compared to his other pitches. Also, look at this table. Batters just quit swinging it at it when it was out of the strikezone and when they did swing at it in the zone, they made contact 93% of the time. Something fishy was going on. I don’t think the disappearance of his curve is the only thing to blame. I think he got a little too excited about the added fastball velocity and he increased the usage by 5% points. Stripling has been a good pitcher in the past, but he needs to immediately fix his curve. I could see putting him on the my bench arm for a couple of weeks to see he can bring back the curve’s swinging-strike rate stabilizes. #490 Garrett Richards I didn’t expect much from Richards in 2020 after watching a few of his 2019 starts. He performed OK as a starter (4.27 ERA) and reliever (1.80). The relief ERA looks nice but it was with just a 9.0 K/9. Not ideal for a fantasy non-closing reliever and I don’t think there’s much upside beyond those numbers. The formula that made him a desired pitcher a half-decade ago was a 50% to 60% GB% to pair with a near 9.0 K/9. The groundballs are gone along with his sinker. When he featured the sinker, he had a 0.7 HR/9. Over the past three seasons, he’s moved to a four-seamer with his home rate has doubling to 1.3 HR/9. He still has the amazing slider (21% SwStr%) but it’s paired with a middling fastball. He profiles more as a streaming option than a pitcher to be counted on every week.