Pivetta (Phillies) was not on my radar coming into the season but I was intrigued by his five strikeouts in five innings start. Here is what I saw from the 24-year-old righty in his start on April 30th against the Dodgers:
• Fastball: Four-seamer at 92-97 mph with some release side run. He got a decent number of swings-and-misses with the pitch (10%). He may have a 2-seamer he broke out a few times.
• Slider/Curve: Pitch is at 80-84 mph with 12-6 break. Sometimes it has a small amount of glove-side run. It gets called both a curve and slider by announcers and publications. It’s the same pitch. I would consider it a hard curve. It’s a plus pitch in which he can generate swing-and-misses or called strikes. He did hang a few and they got crushed (2nd video)
• Change: 86-88 mph and straight. Sometimes dropped. He’s supposedly been working on this pitch and it could use some more work. It’s not consistent. Also, it isn’t significantly slower than his average fastball and therefore lacks the ideal 10 mph speed difference. One issue he may have with a slower change, it could be too similar to his slider. He may be throwing his change harder to keep it unique.
• His pitches lineup with his scouting grades coming into the season with possible improvements with his change and control.
Before this season, he had control issues with a minor league walk rate at or north of 3.0 BB/9. In 24 innings this season (between Triple-A and the majors), he’s only walked three batters. This improvement is encouraging.
• I think he may have been overthrowing his pitches causing his slider and change not to break. His catcher told him to calm down a few times.
He could use some more seasoning. It might be rough in the majors. Maybe in the minors. There’s potential here and it rides on him maintaining his 2017 control and developing his change. I would like to see him refine his pitches before his next start.
Martinez has been jumping up and down from Triple-A to the majors over the past four season with sub par results (5.1 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, and 4.37 ERA). Back in 2014, I wrote the following about him:
Looked overmatched, especially since the Rangers took away his curveball. He may have a future in the game, but it would be nice to see him spend some time in AA/AAA refining his game.
It has taken a few seasons to refine his game. This season, the 26-year-old righty has turned things around with a 6.9 K/9, 0.7 BB/9, 2.77 ERA, and his fastball is up about 2 mph from 2016. Here are my thoughts about his April 28th start against the Angels.
• Fastball: 92-95 mph, straight with release side run. He’s getting a decent number of swinging strikes with it (8.8%). His previous high was less than half this value (4.1%). The added velocity has helped.
• Slider/Cutter: This is a new pitch and it is awesome. It has 12-6 movement at 90 mph. It acts like split-finger fastball/sinker. Brooksbaseball.net labels it as a cutter. The broadcast team called it a slider, probably because Martinez previously threw a slider. He can throw it for strikes. It generates swinging strikes (20.5%).
• Curve: 80-81 mph, 12-6 curve. He should get some swing-and-misses on the pitch and called strikes. I wonder if he is telegraphing the pitch because he hasn’t generated a single swinging strike this season.
• Change: 88 mph and straight. He ditched the pitch and only used it a couple times and both offerings were subpar. I don’t know if he didn’t have a feel for it this game or he plans on using it less with his new cutter. Historically, it has gotten average results (13.7% SwStr%).
He was a completely new pitcher in this start and I will be buying when possible. The improvements, increased velocity and a new “cutter”, move him up a grade, maybe two. He still needs to figure out how his change and curve fit with the other two plus pitches. Until then, buy now while he’s still available.
In 13 starts last season, Adleman was a fantasy non-factor with 6.1 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 1.7 HR/9 and 4.00 ERA. I ran this season’s first per-pitch evaluations and the 29-year-old righty was near the top. It was a little surprising considering his 4.70 ERA and 6.07 FIP.
Time to find the disconnect.
• Fastball: 88-91 mph, straight, insane riser. Tied for the 12th highest rise in the league.
• Curve: 71-74 mph with a sweeping 2-7 action (pitcher’s perspective). It’s OK. A little slower than I’d like to see.
• Change: 82-84 mph, Slight 12-6 sinking action. Sometimes with some glove-side run. High contact, groundball pitch.
• The big issue with him is his home runs allowed (2.9 HR/9 this season). The rising nature of his four-seamer fastball will generate a ton of flyballs (just 13.6% GB%) so some balls will leave the park. He just needs to keep the value under 1.5 HR/9 to be fantasy relevant.
• With his flyball nature, he posts some nice BABIPs (.252 in ’16, .237 in ’17). With the low BABIPs, owners should expect his ERA (4.13 in career) to be lower than his FIP (5.44) and xFIP (4.96).
Being an extreme flyball pitcher with half his games at Great American Ball Park he will allow a decent number of home runs. Additionally, he will have to go to Chicago and Milwaukee this summer which also can become launching pads. Right now, he is just a streaming option in good parks. I think his value could jump considerably if he is traded to a team with a good outfield in a home run suppressing ballpark like Kansas City, Tampa Bay, or Seattle.
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.