Ottoneu Drip: Finding Under-rostered Pitchers: June 10, 2024

Now that we’re more than two months into the season, we can do a bit of digging to see if we can find pitchers who have improved from month-to-month, specifically looking at Stuff+ since it’s pretty reactionary to changes in a pitcher’s repertoire. Here’s a handful of pitchers who are rostered in under 50% of all Ottoneu leagues who could be nice pickups if you’re looking for an option to fill in for an injured starter or looking for another bullpen piece.

Under-rostered Starting Pitchers, Last 3 Starts
Player Team IP FIP K-BB% Stuff+ Apr Stuff+ May & Jun Pts/IP Roster%
JP Sears OAK 19 2.94 12.0% 106 96 6.11 43.8%
Spencer Arrighetti HOU 14 3.51 16.4% 67 87 5.24 30.0%
Albert Suarez BAL 14 2.51 12.3% 86 88 6.00 24.7%
Joey Estes OAK 18.1 1.90 20.9% N/A 101 7.23 8.8%
Mitch Spence OAK 18.1 2.39 11.6% 101 102 6.02 5.6%

There are three starters from Oakland listed above which is a bit of a surprise. JP Sears is the most recognizable of that trio as he’s enjoyed spurts of success over the last two seasons. His downfall has been a particularly bad home run problem — something that particularly hurts his value in Ottoneu. In an effort to curtail those long ball woes, he’s adjusted his pitch mix to feature his sweeper as his primary pitch while also increasing the usage of his sinker to try and generate more contact on the ground. His flat four-seam fastball will always encourage fly ball contact but he generates the majority of his swings-and-misses with that pitch so he needs to strike a balance between whiffs and contact management. Recently, he’s been able to thread that needle; over his last three starts, he’s allowed just seven runs in 19 innings while running a pretty good 2.80 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and most importantly, keeping the ball in the park.

The other two Oakland starters are a bit more unproven. Mitch Spence was a rule-5 pick this offseason and is getting a chance to prove himself in the rotation over the last few weeks or so. Across his first five starts in the majors, he’s allowed just nine runs in 26 innings and is running a solid 3.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio out of the rotation. His underlying Stuff+ metrics look pretty decent, with his slider standing out in particular. He’s also running a groundball rate over 50% which gives him a little more value in Ottoneu if he can continue avoiding the long ball.

Pressed into the rotation for the same reasons Spence was, Joey Estes is making the most of it as well. A clunker of a start against the Astros back on May 16 is weighing heavily on his results, but outside of that ugly outing in Houston, he’s allowed six runs in 23.1 innings in his other four starts with a great strikeout-to-walk ratio. Stuff+ also loves his slider and cutter and his command of his four-pitch mix has been outstanding so far.

Spencer Arrighetti has taken a while to acclimate to the big leagues but he’s been on a pretty good run of starts recently. He’s allowed four runs across his last 14 innings with 19 strikeouts. His biggest issue is his lack of command; his walk rate is pretty high and he’s allowed at least two free passes in each of his starts this year. His Stuff+ scores have improved pretty dramatically from the first month of the season, with most of the improvements stemming from his fastballs. He’s in the same zone as Sears where his heaters get crushed when batters put them in play, but he’s also generating a significant number of whiffs with the pitch. Right now, he’s found that balance between earning swings-and-misses while also avoiding too much hard contact.

With injuries decimating the Orioles rotation, Albert Suárez 수아레즈 is getting another shot as a starter. So far, he’s allowed just seven runs in 29.1 innings out of the rotation. All the things I said about him back on April 23 still hold true:

“His calling card is a mid-90s fastball with plenty of carry that he can command at the top of the zone. Batters have swung and missed on nearly 20% of the heater’s he’s thrown in his two starts so far. That’s a ridiculous whiff rate, especially for a fastball. His repertoire is rounded out with a changeup and cutter, both of which are returning decent results so far.”

The ridiculous whiff rate on his fastball has fallen to merely above average with more exposure to big league hitters, but he’s still putting up solid results anyway. His ceiling might not be as high as expected based on his first three starts of the year, but he’s a solid fill-in starter who can provide quality innings for your team.

Jake Mailhot is a contributor to FanGraphs. A long-suffering Mariners fan, he also writes about them for Lookout Landing. Follow him on Twitter @jakemailhot.

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