Last week, I tried to find any positive mid-season changes a pitcher has implemented to improve their fantasy stock for the final few weeks. I started with pitchers owned in 16% to 30% of Fantrax leagues and will now be digging even deeper after Mike Montgomery popped up on my radar as someone making positive skill changes.
A pitcher I targetted this FAAB period was the Royals Mike Montgomery. With the Royals, he's improved his ERA, K's, BB's, and GB% by changing his pitch mix
He's increased his cutter (12% SwStr%) usage from 4% to 20% and dropped his sinker (6% SwStr%) usage from 35% to 22%
— Jeff Zimmerman (@jeffwzimmerman) August 19, 2019
Jordan Zimmermann (16%): Whoa, he’s changed his arsenal around with a mid-season introduction of a sinker (11% SwStr%, 69% GB%). It’s tough to buy too much of the change since he has a 6.29 ERA in the season’s first half and 7.31 ERA in the second half. It wasn’t until the last four starts when he started using his sinker even more (14% usage) and therefore has a 4.35 ERA, 7.4 K/9, and 0.9 BB/9.
Also, August was the first month he threw his slider (40%) more than his four-seamer (36%). He pulling out all the stops to remain relevant. Even with the changes, he’s likely a 4.25 ERA pitcher at best but in some leagues, that production level is useful.
Peter Lambert (15%): Still useless.
Tommy Milone (9%): An 8.1 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 should be playable but Milone is just too homer prone (2.0 HR/9). The Bat projects the home rate to be even higher (2.1 HR/9). It’s just about impossible to be a flyball pitcher in the Happy Fun Ball era.
Patrick Sandoval (9%): I’m intrigued. He had great minor league strikeout because of a devastating change (26% SwStr%) numbers which have carried over to the majors (9.6 K/9). His recent downfall has been the walks with 5.2 BB/9 in AAA and 4.50 BB/9 so far in the majors. The combination has his ERA estimators in the 3.50 to 4.50 range but he has a high ERA (5.79) caused by a high BABIP (.333) and low LOB% (61%). Besides Zimmermann, he’s the most interesting pitcher so far.
Jorge López (7%): Everything is getting worse for him. So far in August, he has a season-low 14% K% and season-high 12% BB%.
Sam Gaviglio (7%): Another pitcher putting up decent strikeout (8.0 K/9) and walk (1.7 BB/9) rates but getting killed by home runs (1.8 HR/9). No improvements.
Glenn Sparkman (6%): No changes, still crappy.
Edwin Jackson (6%): He’s doing everything possible with the Tigers to keep his career going. So far this month (3.86 ERA), he’s thrown his slider (18% SwStr%) more than any other pitch. He may just go cutter-slider with both generating ~50% groundballs and thereby limiting the home runs allowed. I can’t pull the trigger on him just yet because he’s Edwin Jackson.
Aaron Brooks (5%): He’s gotten worse since joining the Orioles.
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.