Splitting it up with pitchers and hitters this time around with two of each. Today’s group has just one guy likely to available in a good number of leagues, but the other three guys are definitely in that “should I sell high” level of player. Of course, there’s another whole debate on just how viable the sell high advice is in the first place, but nevertheless, these are guys that I’m more apt to keep anyway as I believe in their talents.
In this Issue:
Godley’s swing-and-miss excellence was back in full effect on Monday evening with seven scoreless in San Francisco that included nine strikeouts and 20 swinging strikes in his 100 pitches. The curveball was absolutely disgusting, netting a .250 OPS and all nine strikeouts in 16 plate appearances (56% K rate). He garnered 15 swinging strikes on 47 curveballs, the most on a curve so far this season topping Lance McCullers, who held the two spots in his first two outings with 13 v. SD and 11 at TEX. Here are a few of the many gems:
Godley’s velocity is down on 1.5 mph on the season, but his fastball is more of a triple-threat that sits 88-91 this year including a two-seamer with armside run, a sinker, and a cutter. He still has a 14% swinging strike rate and 54% groundball rate, on par with last year’s marks when he broke out. The velo bump was nice last year, but I don’t see it as instrumental to his success. Godley has become one of my favorite pitchers to watch over the last year-plus.
Sticking with the Diamondbacks, I’m keeping an eye on Ahmed after a commitment to honing his pitch selection and launch angle. It’s veeerrryyy early, but he has cut his swing rate eight points to a career-low 44%, dropped six points off his chase rate to 31%, and trimmed his groundball rate to 33%, well below a career 46% mark. The result has been a pair of three-hit games, hits in five of his six starts, and four extra-base hits of his nine total hits.
He had a big season against lefties last year (1.078 OPS in 53 PA) so I’m zeroing in on his work against righties this year to see if this breakout is actually coming. All seven of his strikeouts so far this season have come against righties (netting a 42% K in 18 PA). He is 6-for-16 against them, but a .667 BABIP won’t last so let’s see if he trims down the strikeouts and keeps the ball off the ground against righties.
I put Chapman in my sleeper lineup back in February as he was going around pick 285. Even with a little juice late in draft season, he still only peaked at pick 194 in the Main Event. His Gold Glove-caliber defense was the big draw for me because it locks in his playing time and gives him a chance to work through struggles at the dish. He has always been a big power source with a .274 career ISO in the minors (1373 PA) and a healthy .238 mark in his 326 PA debut last year (including 14 HR).
Early on, he’s really tightened up his plate approach with a mere 17% chase rate (O-Swing%), 7th-best among 193 qualified batters. This has fostered a 20% strikeout rate, down eight points from his debut last year. Strikeout rate stabilizes relatively early into the season (60 PA). That doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed to maintain the strikeout gains if he reaches 60 PA with a new rate, but seeing that it’s backed by such a sharp change in swings outside of the zone heartens me concerning the viability going forward.
If he can maintain something around this 20% mark, that really opens up some batting average upside, especially given how hard he hits the ball, but I’d gladly take a 25% mark with his 9-11% walk rate and .220+ ISO which gives him a reasonable shot at .260 AVG/30 HR in a full season. Chapman isn’t available in many leagues (nor should he be), but I included him more to promote the fact that I think he should be held in all formats and you might even consider “buying high” as long as that looks like someone not drafted earlier than around pick 130.
Back in January, Jason Collette wrote a nice breakdown of Bundy on Rotowire ($) and we discussed that piece in some detail on the podcast a day later. While many factors work together for Bundy, the key seems to regularly hinge on his slider. The pitch was removed from his arsenal as a health risk, but it returned last year with 22% usage and spurred a solid campaign in his first full season as a starter.
The pitch netted a 43% K rate and .477 OPS, good for ninth and 10th place, respectively, among the 55 pitchers with at least 500 sliders thrown. It’s been even more insane through three starts this year with a league-best 74% K rate and .221 OPS that slots third of 44 pitchers with min. 50 sliders thrown. Do you want to see it? Yaaaaaa, you want to see it:
Still just 25 years old, I wonder if we might finally be on our way to the mega breakout that was expected of Bundy years ago when he was a perennial Top 10 prospect, peaking at #2 on the Baseball America and MLB.com lists in 2013.