Late-Round Evaluations: Pérez, Porcello, Matz, Fiers, & More by Jeff Zimmerman December 4, 2020 I’m continuing my attention on fringe starters. They are the starters who once the season starts, managers are going to have to make a quick decision on adding or dropping. These pitchers will be in play all season. I’m using NFBC’s ADP and starting at the bottom and selecting any starter drafted by half the teams. Here is an evaluation of the six more starters (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5). #273 Martín Pérez Pérez has shown glimpses of being decent, but by a season’s end, he was unrosterable (career 4.71 ERA). Martin’s struggles stem from his fastball velocity going up and down. His results follow the velocity changes. Here are his stats over the past three seasons at various velocity ranges. Martín Pérez’s Results at Varying Fastball Velocities FBv IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA > 94 mph 104 7.2 4.0 0.5 3.97 93 to 94 mph 100 7.4 3.1 1.8 5.23 < 93 mph 109 5.6 4.2 1.7 6.61 Simply, he can not be used once his velocity dips under 94 mph which is about two-thirds of the time. He might be worth a stab late in a best ball league because only the good starts count. #269 Steven Matz Matz has always allowed his fair share of home runs (1.5 HR/9) during his career, but his 4.1 HR/9 from last season just tanked his value (9.68 ERA) especially when paired with a .341 BABIP. The pathetic results were disappointing since he added over 1 mph to his fastball and his strikeout rate jumped from 8.6 K/9 to 10.6 K/9. With the added velocity, his sinker’s spin should see some increase, but the jump in spin was more than expected (22.5 Bauer Units to 23.6 Bauer Units). The pitch was supposed to sink, but instead, it dropped one less inch, and its groundball rate dropped from 43% to 27%. It wasn’t much of a sinker. Looking at his other pitches, the spin and velocity changes were all over the place. It seems like he took a hodgepodge approach to improve his pitch mix and it ended up a mess. Now, he did deal with an August shoulder injury that could have bothered him all season. I assuming not since he came into the season throwing harder. Maybe throwing harder is what broke him. Some downward home run regression should be expected, but it’s tough to know his new/different talent level. There is likely a correct answer to his struggles, he just has to reach it. #266 Mike Fiers Fiers had found a way to be a decent major pitcher by not striking anyone out and allowing way too many home runs. Both became front and center when he lost 2 mph off his fastball and his strikeout rate dropped from 6.1 K/9 to 5.6 K/9. His BABIP jumped (pitches were more hittable) and when paired with all the home runs, they push his ERA over 4.50. He or the A’s noticed the velocity decline and he threw his fastball less (52% to 45%). And for some unknown reason he didn’t throw his curve more (13% SwStr% in 2019) and instead he moved to a bad cutter (5% SwStr%) and a decent splitter (13% SwStr%). With the 2 mph loss, he didn’t back off throwing his three fastballs (combined 72% usage). What are the odds of an MLB pitcher surviving throwing an 88-mph fastball almost three-quarters of the time? None. Less than that. His usage needs to get down to at least 50% with the splitter and curve making up the rest. More Kyle Hendricks, less Lance Lynn. #260 Rick Porcello The former Cy Young winner seems to be getting worse each year. His biggest issue is his love for his fastball (54%). Throwing his four-seamer a ton might make some sense because it has a 9% SwStr% because his non-fastballs have become worthless (not one with a swinging-strike rate over 10% in 2020). His sinker needs to be ditched at this point with a 3% Swstr% and 44% GB%. Unlike Fiers and Matz, there is nothing for Porecello to build on. One day soon he can stay home and shining is CyYoung every day. #259 Josiah Gray Gray would be a perfect target in a deeper draft-and-hold league but he’s a Dodger. He’ll be promoted and demoted going to the bullpen and will start a few games and probably work gate security and be part of the grounds crew. #257 Daniel Lynch Lynch progressed to high-A in 2019 so he still maybe a year from the Royals promoting him. Now, if promoted, he has a well-rounded profile and should be a consideration in all leagues.