Late-Season Arms (Beck, Berroa, Bido, Bieber, Boyle)

Note: For the next few weeks, I’m going to focus on some pitchers who I thought were interesting but haven’t had time to dive in. Most were late-season debuts while others had an arsenal change. Others came of the IL as the season was coming to a close. I’m just going to work through them in alphabetical order and once done, I move to my normal late-round starters.

Tristan Beck

The 27-year-old Beck was a multi-inning reliever until late in the season when he made three starts including five innings of one-run ball on September 30th. He leans into his slider (55% usage, 14% SwStr%) since it is his only above-average pitch. His fastball averaged 94-mph but it didn’t miss many bats (6% SwStr%).

With just the two pitches (showed a horrible curve), he struggled the second time through the order when starting (5.97 xFIP) and relieving (4.82 xFIP). For his fantasy value to increase, he needs another average secondary or his fastball to take a step forward.

Prelander Berroa

He debuted in July and then made another appearance on October 1st. In AA, he made five starts to begin the season and then moved to the bullpen for the rest of the season. He looks to be an effective bullpen arm with a 97 mph fastball and wipeout slider (25% SwStr%). Just a bullpen arm for now.

Osvaldo Bido

The righty made 16 appearances for the Pirates with nine of them being starts. He struggled with a 5.86 ERA (4.94 xFIP) and 1.50 WHIP (3.7 BB/9). He was just as bad relieving (4.95 xFIP) as starting (4.93 xFIP).

His four-seam fastball comes in at over 95-mph with a decent 10% SwStr% and just 28% GB% (tons of popups). After that pitch, his arsenal heads downward. He threw his slider more than any pitch (39%), but it only got a 10% Swstr% which is well below average for a slider. He threw a horrible sinker 24% of the time that didn’t miss bats (2% SwStr%) and got hit around (.804 vsOPS). He tinkered with a changeup that did post a 13% SwStr%.

His 4.2 BB/9 (career 4.3 BB/9) is a major roadblock to his value since it pushes his WHIP up to around 1.40. He’s never been able to get it under control over four MLB seasons and I’m not sure it’ll happen next week.

The Pirates released him and he just signed with the Athletics, so his chance for a Win took even more of a hit. The one item I’d look for with the A’s is if they have him ditch the sinker and increase the changeup usage from 10% to 25%. The adjustment probably won’t get rid of the walks but his strikeouts should head up.

Shane Bieber

The 28-year-old made 19 starts until he went on the IL in early July with an elbow injury. At that point, he had a 4.09 ERA (4.08 xFIP) with a 7.3 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. He returned at the season’s end to make two starts going 11 IP with 12 K, 5 ER, and 1 BB. So did anything change?

His fastball velocity was near his highs and lows.

When he returned, he leaned into his changeup for those two games and cut the usage of his curveball.

I’m not sure why since his change only had a 3% SwStr% on the season and no swings-and-misses during the September starts. I looked through his pitches to find any shape/spin changes and could not find any. For one final test, I plotted out his STUFFF values to see if they could point to any late-season changes.

Nothing seems out of place. I wonder how much of the perceived drop in talent was because he was no longer beating up on the other AL Central teams. He took a major step back in 2022 and having to face average or better teams in 2023 made his decline look even worse.

I don’t see a way for him to improve unless he increases his declining fastball velocity (94.2 to 92.8 to 91.3 to 91.4) since he is already limiting his fastball usage to 35%. Three of his secondaries have a 13% or better swinging-strike rate. Just expect a ton of innings with an 8.0 K/9 and a near 4.00 ERA.

Joe Boyle

After coming over to the Athletics at the trade deadline from the Reds, the 24-year-old right burst onto the scene when he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his third major league start. While his baseball card stats look great, 1.69 ERA and 0.81 WHIP, he posted a 4.59 xFIP with just an 8.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. The walk and strikeout numbers are similar stats to Clarke Schmidt, JP Sears, and Steven Matz.

He attacks hitters with a 98-mph fastball that had just a 7% SwStr% in the majors (6% in AAA). The hope was that a 98-mph pitch would miss more bats, but even minor leaguers were teeing off on it. His slider got average to plus results with a 13% SwStr% in the majors and a 21% SwStr% in AAA. Finally, he shows a curveball that doesn’t do anything.

While Boyle has the ability to miss some bats, he has struggled with walks as seen by his combined minor-league walk rates.

Season: BB/9

  • 2021: 6.4
  • 2022: 7.5
  • 2023: 7.1

And then for some reason in the majors, it dropped to 2.8 BB/9 in 16 IP. His 34% Ball% (2.3 equivalent BB/9) during that stretch backs up the walk rate. He didn’t show any signs of improving in the minors with a 6.2 BB/9 in three starts in for Oakland’s AAA team.

I did find this nugget after Boyle’s second start where he stated:

“It’s never one thing,” Boyle said when asked what has led to his command improvements. “It’s just a matter of throwing more and getting more reps. Building a process, sticking to it and trusting it. That was probably the biggest thing that helped me lower those walk numbers — being more in the zone consistently.”

I’m not sure I buy him magically finding the strike zone in the majors and he won’t struggle with it again.

One other issue is that in the majors he struggled against lefties. Against them, he posted at 0.0% K%-BB% (7.09 xFIP, 22 TBF) and a 26.3% K%-BB% (3.56 xFIP, 38 TBF) against righties. It’s not surprising to see the split since he is basically just fastball-slider.

Overall, the fastball and slider are nice foundation pieces but he’s going to have to prove he can find the plate and get out lefties before I buy in.

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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4 months ago

Thanks for this, always love reading your thoughts on these lower ranked arms!