Select Late-Season Arms (Montas, Nicolas, Paddack, Phillips, & Plassmeyer)

Note: For the next few weeks, I’m going to focus on some pitchers who I thought were interesting but haven’t had time to dive in. Most were late-season debuts while others had an arsenal change. Others came of the IL as the season was coming to a close. I’m just going to work through them in alphabetical order and once done, I move to my normal late-round starters.

Frankie Montas

The 30-year-old Montas faced just seven batters last season where he struck out one and walked another. In his appearance, his fastball velocity was down 1.6 mph compared to last season and 2.0 mph from 2021.

Additionally, he struggled to find the plate with a 38% Zone% and a 42% Ball% (equivalent to a 5.2 BB/9).

For now, I’m just going to keep my distance until he signs with an organization. His current NFBC ADP in draft-and-hold leagues is pick 391. It seems like the spot is when managers are throwing darts at long shots.

With everything up in the air, I’d only consider him in a redraft league where I could drop him immediately if he struggles.

Kyle Nicolas

The 24-year-old righty moved up from AA (12 starts) to AAA (23 games, 6 starts) and finally to the majors (4 games, no starts). The first appearance was a disaster (7 ERA in 0.1 IP) but was fine in the next three (1.66 xFIP).

Nicolas popped on my radar because he was mowing down batters.

  • Level: K/9
    • AA: 10.6
    • AAA: 12.8
    • MLB: 11.8

He starts with a 97-mph fastball that had an 8% SwStr% in the majors and 12.3% SwStr% in AAA. His slider was his main swing-and-miss pitch (19% SwStr% in AAA, 18% in the majors). He shows a curveball that grades below average (8% SwStr% in AAA, 11% in the majors).

His results should be better but he can’t find the plate. Over his minor league career, he has a 4.6 BB/9 with a 3.6 BB/9 ball in 2021 A-ball being his lowest mark. In AAA this season, it was up at 5.8 BB/9. Usually this high-strikeout, high-walk pitchers end up as relievers.

He could end up being an interesting starter if he finds the strike zone.

Chris Paddack

The 27-year-old returned late in the season to throw 5 IP during the regular season and 3.2 IP in the playoffs. In a total of 8.2 IP, he struck out 14 batters while just walking one and allowing three earned runs.

The Paddack’s big improvement was his pitch velocities shooting up to career highs and 2.6 mph higher than in 2022.

The added velocity could be from bulking up during his rehab.

Paddack used the lengthy rehab process to add around 20 pounds of muscle to his slender 6-foot-5 frame, and surprised himself by how much stronger he felt and how much harder he was throwing once he could see the finish line ahead.

His fastball’s previous highest swinging-strike rate was 10% in 2019. Last season, it was 17% with his changeup at 24% SwStr%. While he has tried several times, he’s never been able to find a third pitch. With an NFBC ADP of around 460, I’d gladly take a chance on him.

Connor Phillips

The 22-year-old Phillips was promoted in early September by the Reds where he struggled with walks (5.7 BB/9, 40% Ball%) and home runs (2.2 HR/9). The combination led to an unrosterable 6.97 ERA (5.01 xFIP). The home runs might not always be an issue with his groundball rate varying between 29% and 47% in the minors (34% in the majors). The walks are another matter.

In the minors, the rate ranged from 3.8 BB/9 to 6.7 BB/9 for an overall average of 5.2 BB/9.

The hope is that his strikeout rate (11.3 K/9 in the majors, 12.8 K/9 career minor league rate) will carry him. He attacked hitters with a 96-mph four-seamer that only had a 5% SwStr% (7% in AAA) that he threw 63% of the time. He also had a plus sweeper/slider that posted a 22% Swstr% (15% SwStr in AAA). He throws a horrible curve 10% of the time for no reason. Without an average third pitch, he struggled the second time through the order with a 15% K%-BB% the first time and down to 8% the second time.

Because of all the pitches he throws for the strikeouts and walks, he struggles to make more than 5 innings. Twice in the majors, he needed to be pulled before completing the fifth inning because he was nearing 100 pitches (99 and 95). There was a reason he only got four Wins in 24 AAA starts.

If Phillips repeats his 2023 season, he’s unrosterable and the drafting community agrees with his 637 NFBC ADP. While he will need a third pitch to be elite, just throwing strikes will make him rosterable.

Michael Plassmeyer

The Phillies promoted the 27-year-old for one start on September 30th. In 3.2 IP, he got shelled by allowing 8 hits (3 HR) while plunking three batters and allowing 10 Runs. In 2022, he got into two games with a 3.39 ERA (2.62 xFIP).

There is just nothing to get excited about. He made it to AAA back in 2019 as a 22-year-old and has been in AAA ever since then with 11 total major-league innings. Phillies have little faith in him and for good reason.

His four-seamer clocks in at under 89 mph. I can’t believe he doesn’t throw a sinker to keep batted balls on the ground. Hitters are teeing off his his fastball (61% usage) with four of the eleven hits off him going for home runs. These are not the fastball comps you are looking for.

And to keep hitters looking slow, his best secondary offering is a changeup (15% SwStr%). Finally, he offers a slider that did have a 15% SwStr% in AAA but the swing-and-miss didn’t transfer to the majors.

His fastball is just too hittable and he needs to drop the usage down to around 40% and trust his other pitches. If that doesn’t work, oh well because his current plan of attack isn’t working either.

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

Comments are closed.