Ottoneu Drip: Finding Under-rostered Pitchers: May 14, 2024

We’re a little more than a quarter of the way through the regular season and the search for useful pitching is still just as pressing now as it was a month ago. Here’s a handful of pitchers who are rostered in under 40% 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 Starters
Player Team IP FIP K-BB% Stuff+ Pts/IP Roster%
Trevor Williams WSN 36.2 2.48 12.7% 82 6.12 39.1%
Jake Irvin WSN 45.2 3.22 15.2% 97 4.96 22.5%
Cole Irvin BAL 40.1 3.38 12.5% 85 4.93 21.3%

After profiling Mitchell Parker last month, I’ve got a couple more Nationals starters on my radar. (BTW, Parker has continued to pitch well against some pretty tough competition; he’s got a 3.02 FIP through five starts against the likes of the Dodgers, Astros, Rangers, and Orioles.) Both Trevor Williams and Jake Irvin have been surprisingly solid to start this season as part of a Washington starting rotation that has been much better than expected. Williams has had spurts of success in the past, but not like this. The biggest difference maker for him has been the addition of a sweeper to his repertoire that immediately became his best pitch. It’s running a whiff rate north of 40% and batters are producing a .227 xwOBA off the big breaker. He’s yet to allow a home run this year, which is certainly the product of some good luck, but his xFIP is a solid 3.79 and his xERA is an even better 3.01. The rest of his arsenal looks pretty unchanged which means he’ll need to keep leaning on this new pitch to maintain his success. It’s probably worth riding the hot streak for now, but be weary of quick regression.

Like Williams, Irvin has added a new pitch to his repertoire, a cutter in his case. This new pitch hasn’t had the same effect as the breaking ball, though it has given Irvin a fourth pitch to deepen his repertoire. Instead, he’s found success by cutting his walk rate by more than six points down to 4.3%. Across the board, his plate discipline stats look greatly improved; he’s pitching in the zone more often, but his chase rate is up a few points and his contact rate is down a few points. That’s a pretty good combination of improvements and he’s reaped the benefits. Beyond his improved walk rate, his peripherals aren’t as good looking as Williams (a 3.60 xFIP and a 4.79 xERA), but he’s probably good enough now to stream when the matchup is right as long as his hot streak continues.

Cole Irvin was turning heads this spring with some gaudy velocity numbers, but that hasn’t carried over into the regular season. Nevertheless, he’s been a solid member of the Orioles rotation as they’ve struggled with some injuries to start the season. Even though they’ve gotten a bit more healthy with Kyle Bradish and John Means coming off the IL, Irvin should keep his job in the rotation thanks to his excellent numbers through his first seven starts of the season. The biggest change for Irvin has been his usage of his curveball. That breaking ball is now his “primary” pitch at the expense of his changeup and cutter. Batters have produced a .296 xwOBA off the big breaker, helping him manage contact against him to the tune of a .267 BABIP. As a lefty pitching in the now cavernous Camden Yards, his home park benefits him a bit more too. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is essentially unchanged from his career norms so it seems like a lot of his success can be attributed to some pretty good batted ball luck. Still, his xFIP is a decent 3.82 while his xERA is a little higher at 3.99.

Under-rostered Relievers
Player Team IP FIP K-BB% gmLI Stuff+ Pts/IP Roster%
John Schreiber KCR 18.1 2.75 12.0% 1.82 97 8.04 38.4%
Austin Adams OAK 13.2 2.48 22.4% 1.18 114 9.45 22.5%
Luke Weaver NYY 26 2.87 23.2% 1.28 116 7.29 11.3%

John Schreiber turned in a solid effort as a setup guy back in 2022 for the Red Sox. Injuries derailed his season last year and he was shipped off to Kansas City during the offseason. He’s rediscovered himself with his new ballclub and has become one of the key members of their bullpen. There are a few red flags however; his strikeout rate is about ten points lower than it was a few years ago because his sweeper just isn’t earning many swings-and-misses these days. He’s been effective despite the lack of punch outs and is earning high leverage work regularly. Plus, the Royals current closer, James McArthur, has looked a little shaky during his last few outings so there could be an opportunity for Schreiber to sneak in a few saves here and there in the future.

Injuries and command issues have always held Austin Adams back from realizing his skills as a high-leverage reliever. He’s struck out nearly a third of the batters he’s faced in his career but he’s only accumulated 108.1 innings over the last five seasons. Finally healthy, he’s been a productive member of the A’s surprisingly dominant bullpen. Sitting behind Mason Miller and Lucas Erceg in the pecking order, he’s collected 11 holds in just 13.2 innings. What’s more encouraging is that his walk rate has dropped to a career-low 8.6%. He might not get much work in the eighth or ninth innings, but he’s been a fantastic bridge to get to those two relief aces behind him.

Luke Weaver has emerged as a multi-inning fireman in the Yankees bullpen this year. He hasn’t allowed a run over his last ten outings encompassing 15.1 innings with a 20-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His changeup has turned into an elite weapon for him with a whiff rate north of 50% and just a .201 xwOBA allowed off the pitch. His ability to work multiple innings has eased the pressure off a shaky New York bullpen and they’re leaning on him pretty hard to get to their closer in the ninth.

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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14 days ago

Never Trevor, the end.