If I didn’t give Smith a Quick Look, I feel I was failing. I watched the 26-year-old lefty’s game from the 22nd (good camera angle) when he went 6 IP, 2 ER, 10 K’s, and 0 walks.
• Fastball: 91-94 mph. Kept it down and commanded it well. Hitter just couldn’t get a read on this pitch but I couldn’t tell exactly why. Some hitters are seeing it well since it has given up all his home runs.
• Change: At 83 mph and straight. Its deception was based on a speed difference. It’s been effective so far with a 21% SwStr% but I could see it get worse if hitters can sit on it.
• Slider: 79-82 mph. Just nasty with a 20% swinging-strike rate (SwStr%). It broke hard-and-down to his glove side and will give lefties nightmares. He was not afraid to backdoor it to righies.
• He throws straight to home with no weird arm angles. I suspect he’ll have less of a split because of the traditional windup.
Conclusion: Smith has some good pieces but I’m not sure how they fit together. In the game I watched, his control was spot on but he has a 5.0 BB/9 on the season. I wonder if his control comes and goes.
Smith’s profile reminds me of Chris Sale with an effective and commandable 4-seamer, great slider, and a token changeup. It’s tough to find a lefty with his pitch mix and command.
For a value going forward. He’s at 24% Fantrax ownership but I think it should be around the 86% level (75th starting pitcher) with other effective unknowns like Jakob Junis, and Miles Mikolas. I would not have an issue if an owner valued him around 50 overall with the likes of Rich Hill and Luis Castillo.
I watched the righty’s major league debut from yesterday when he dominated the Cardinals.
• Four-Seam Fastball: 90-94 mph and straight. He commanded the pitch well but it was dominating in any other way.
• Slider: 84-86 mph and loopy with a downward break. I see it more as a slurve. Hitters weren’t able to get a read on this pitch and took a ton of half and full swings at it (34% SwStr%). A possible new reason for its effectiveness is that it is a new pitch for him this year and the Cardinals may be working off old scouting reports.
• Sinker: 92-93 mph with some sink and glove side run. Nothing special
• Curveball: An 80-83 mph pitch with a nice 12-6 break. This pitch used to be his best non-fastball and could work as a nice third pitch.
• Changeup: 85-86 mph. This pitch had almost no movement and was below average.
• Kingham had some batted ball luck with a couple of balls to the warning track which might have gone for extra bases when the temperature rises. Also, the strike zone expanded a bit in the later innings as the perfect game was still intact.
• His fastball velocity noticeably dropped during the game from around 94 mph in the first inning to 91 mph in the final inning.
Conclusion: His slider is a game changer to go with his above-average command. I don’t know how he was getting players out without it.
I’m not sure where I’d value him on just this start but I think he is a must own in every league as he reveals his true talent level. I could see him be a 9 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 which puts him in the Tyler Skaggs and Tyson Ross level of pitcher. Buy now or the chance to own his, if it evenexists, will pass.
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.