Quick Look on Hellickson, Santiago, Tropeano and Hand

My list of pitchers I want to look at is getting a little thin. Let me know if you have any suggestions. I have access to MiLB.tv  so I can also look at some minor leaguers.


Jeremy Hellickson

Why I watched: Recent rumors of him getting traded.

Game(s) Watched: 9/19/14 vs White Sox

Game Thoughts

• His two stop windup drives me nuts. Here are three examples at the 25 sec to the 50 sec mark from his start before the one I watched.

I thought it might add some deception and hitters would do worse against it. I was totally wrong. Here are his K%-BB% with no runners and runners on over his career:

Season: K%-BB% (bases empty), K%-BB% (runners on base)
2010: 17%, 17%
2011: 8%, 2%
2012: 8%, 9%
2013: 12%, 11%
2014: 7%, 18%
Career: 10%, 9%

He had problems finding the strike zone this year with no one on as seen by his 9.4 BB%. I bet his early season elbow surgery, which caused him to miss half the season, was the culprit.

• The 27-year-old right hander threw a straight 88-91 mph fastball with a bit of release side run. This pitch is nothing special at all. It leads to a ton of flyballs (22.5% GB%) and no strikeouts (3% SwStr%). He is forced to use it because it is the only pitch he can throw consistently for strikes.

• His change was between 78-80 mph and it just eats hitters up. It comes in exactly the same (horizontally and vertically) as his fastball, but 10 mph slower. Hitters are looking to crush his fastball and end up looking stupid on this pitch. He get an insane 22% SwgSt with it.

• He didn’t throw his curve much, but it was an effective pitch. It was around 73-77 mph with a 12-6 motion. Once or twice he was able to drop it in for a called strike. His SwStr% is 12% with it.

Final thoughts: I don’t like what I saw. I think he may not be fully recovered from his operation, or may even need another one. I will pay attention if he still uses his windup or goes exclusively out of the stretch in spring training. He isn’t ownable in all but the deepest of leagues.


Hector Santiago

Why I watched: He is pitching like the pre-2013 Hellickson where his ERA (3.53) is consistently less than his FIP (4.41) because of a low BABIP.

Game(s) Watched: 9/24/14 vs A’s

Game Thoughts

• The 26-year-old lefty throws across his body starting from the 3B side of the pitching rubber. It is not as pronounced as other left-handed pitchers. The motion frustrates LHH (2.67 FIP), but RHH love to face him (4.89 FIP)

• His fastball (label a sinker and four-seamer, but are the same pitch) was straight as an arrow. I couldn’t tell, but they may be a rising fastball as seen by is ~25% GB%. It is a flyball generating machine and he has been lucky enough for most of the balls to stay in the park. The high flyball nature will lead him to a lower BABIP.

• His 82 mph change was straight and erratic. Sometimes he would get some late sink on it.

• The cutter looked OK, but he couldn’t throw it for strikes.

• He threw a curve which broke 10 to 4 and was around 80 mph. Nothing special.

Final thoughts: Santiago is not fooling anyone. Hitters are just teeing off on him, especially right handers. He gets no swing-and-misses and just hopes the ball stays in the park. He is only useful in deep AL only leagues and then probably against lefty loaded lineups.


Nicholas Tropeano

Why I watched: Just traded from Astros to the Angels

Game(s) Watched: 9/22/14 vs Rangers

Game Thoughts

• The 24-year-old right hander was OK, some good, some bad.

• His fastball was 88-91 mph with some release side run. It was his main called strike pitch.

• His change was nice and came in loopy at 79-81 with sink. Although he used it as a chase pitch (13% SwStr%), he could throw it for strikes.

• The slider/curve had a 12-6 motion at 80 mph. It is a great put away pitch if he is ahead in the count (18% SwStr%).

• His pitches don’t have enough difference in horizontal movement to throw off left-handed hitters. He may have problems striking them out (21 K% vs. RHH and 11% K% vs. LHH).

Final thoughts: He has the chance to be a good pitcher if he could improve his fastball in some way. He has two swing-and-miss pitches, but he needs to get ahead in the count for them to work. He will need to mess with his fastball before he can take a step forward.


Brad Hand

Why I watched: Some report that he turn his season around late (5.26 ERA in 1H, 3.89 in 2H) by turning into a groundball, no walk pitcher.

Game(s) Watched: 9/24/14 vs. Phillies

Game Thoughts

• 24-year-old lefty had a nice easy motion, but was a little wild with three walks and one hit by pitch. Before those walks, he hadn’t walked a hitter in three games.

• His pitches and motion ate up the lefty heavy Phillies lineup.

• All his pitches break down in some way. To start off the game, all of the first five batted balls were on the ground.

• He throws two fastballs (89-93 mph). They are basically the same except right near the plate, the 2-seamer/sinker dips (72% GB% for the season). Besides the insane ground ball rate, it gets an above average amount of swings-and-misses (5.3%). I love this pitch and wish he use it even more.

• His change was 85-87 mph with a nice drop at the end.

• His curve was at 76-78 mph with a 10-4 motion which he could throw for strikes if needed.

• Both the curve and change are acceptable with is fastballs to finish of hitters

Final thoughts: I am going to own some shares in 2015. I like the late season improvement and would like him to use the 2-seamer even more.

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 once, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Thanks, Comcast
8 years ago

I think that’s a pretty accurate assessment of Tropeano. He was effective at AAA when hitters chased fastballs out of the zone more often, but he struggled to find the zone with his four seamer early in the count during his major league debut.

And my worry is that if he does start throwing it in the zone, he’s going to get hammered. His best chance of success may be pitching backwards, and I’m always hesitant to bet on a right-handed starter without an above average fastball.

8 years ago

An improved fastball would certainly help the change-up play up, which is his best pitch. Even as it is, I think he can be a decent workhouse. I’ve heard comparisons to Jason Vargas, which seems about right in terms of his ceiling. The funky delivery adds some deception but could lead to arm issues.

I think the Astros sold low on him. Foolish organization, you just can’t have too many decent young SPs. Sounds like Jason Castro is on his way out, but there are better ways to get a new catcher.

8 years ago
Reply to  Name

I definitely prefer House if he has a decent defense to smother all those grounders. Assuming CLE can improve their infield (hey there, Mr. Lindor) then I prefer House for fantasy teams in 2015.

I think I prefer Tropeano’s upside long-term, but he has more work to do as you said. They’re both underrated.

8 years ago
Reply to  Name

Btw its Tropeano, with an R. I figured the title was a typo, but you called him “Tope” here. The article has it right, though I think he goes by Nick Tropeano, not Nicholas.