MASH Report: Greinke, Lackey, and Tomlin

With the 2017 changes MLB Advanced Media implemented with their StatCast pitch tracking data, I’ve been scrambling to recode my pitcher injury finder. Well, it seems to be working fine and here are some pitchers it found to be concerned about.

Note: I have bumped up all 2016 and earlier values to be equal with higher 2017 readings.


John Lackey

It’s tough to tell if Lackey is hurt or he’s at a new, lower talent level. His last start was the most concerning. Here are his velocity and spin rates over the past two seasons.

John Lackey’s Velocity and Spin (2015 & 2016)
Time Frame Average FB Velo Spin
2016 (BOS to early July) 93.0 2290
2016 (6 starts before DL) 93.1 2230
2016 (after DL) 92.3 2260
2017 90.5 2210
2017 (last start) 89.5 2130

He was able to keep his velocity and spin relatively constant in 2016 considering he spent time on the DL with a shoulder injury. This season, not so much, especially during his last start. During the start, his velocity constantly dropped.

Besides the velocity drop, his couldn’t find a good release point.

4/12 Game

4/17 Game

In that game, he only struck out two batters while allowing three home runs. He just wasn’t right.

For the season, his stats still look good. The Cubs great defense has helped keep his BABIP at .277. His 9.5 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 are completely respectable to go along with a slightly inflated 4.00 ERA. On the surface, he seems fine. Sell now.

I’d sit the 38-year-old if I owned him in any leagues. He would need to prove to me he can bump up his velocity and spin. Additionally, he needs to tighten up his release points. There is just too much wrong right now.


Zack Greinke

The 33-year-old’s production has been dropping over the past few season, especially after signing with Arizona. I chalked up the decline to him aging into his mid-30’s. Then his last start happened.

Greinke set a personal all-time low average game fastball velocity at 89 mph. This sub-90 mph value is 2 mph less than his last start and almost 3 mph less than his 2016 average (92.7 mph).

Greinke’s not going to be a decent regular option throwing 89 mph. If an owner is thinking of selling, now is the time while is ERA is still under 3.50. And he’s not on the DL.

I would definitely bench him for his next start and then re-evaluate the situation.


Rich Hill

Both his velocity and spin were down in his last start. And he quickly headed back to the DL with another blister. Shocking.


Josh Tomlin

While few owners are rostering Josh Tomlin (4% at ESPN), I will give those desperate few who are eyeballing him in AL-only leagues a reason to look away. Tomlin’s velocity and spin rate are free falling.

His sinker is down 2 mph over his first three starts and down 3 mph from last year. Additionally, the pitch’s spin is down about 200 rpm from last season (2400 rpm to 2200 rpm).

He such a borderline starter in any league that any stud middle reliever would be a better option at this point.

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 three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Greinke was at pretty much the same velo in April of 2015 wasn’t he? His last start is certainly cause for concern but at the same time, he had fantastic results in his last start didn’t he? I feel like we’re not giving him enough credit. Maybe I’m missing something but barring injury he still seems pretty dang effective.