Pardon my delay on “The 10” this week, but we’ve got a good one today! I recently released my May SP rankings and today I’ll highlight 10 of the biggest movers and explain their move in more detail.
Jerad Eickhoff, PHI | 56 spots to 51
When I released my previous SP rankings on April 18th, Eickhoff didn’t have a rotation spot just yet. He had a fantastic 4-inning relief appearance two days earlier and joined the rotation three days later with a start in Coors Field. He held his own with a 6 IP/4 ER outing that did see him allow 11 base runners (7 H, 4 BB), but also net eight strikeouts. He followed it up with seven shutout innings against Miami. Obviously beating up the Marlins isn’t exactly a huge feat, but those innings count in all formats!
Eickhoff is de-emphasizing his fastball with a career-low 41% thrown, in favor of his slider, which is up to a career-high 25% usage. He also throws his curve at a 34% clip, though the two breakers haven’t helped him counter opposite-handed hitters. Lefties have a .978 OPS in his limited sample (19 PA) against them, but it carries on a 251-point platoon split for his career.
A lack of consistent success against lefties are why I could only get him to the Usually Start tier. You may consider sitting him in shallower leaguers against lefty-heavy lineups. He gets St. Louis his next time out and they have just three lefty/switch-hitters in the lineup (assuming Dexter Fowler starts), but then he’s setup to face Milwaukee and Colorado in the two after that, each of whom have five lefties in the regular lineup. Well, Milwaukee has four and switch-hitting Yasmani Grandal. I’d start him against St. Louis and consider a sit against Milwaukee and then Colorado is up in the air. They have just a 73 wRC+ against righties and it’s not in Coors.
Tyler Skaggs, LAA | 45 spots to 54
Skaggs was on the IL at the time of the last rankings, but due back relatively soon after they went up so I included him (I’m not including long-term IL’ers, but if they’re due back within a week or so, I’ll still slot them in, but likely lower than normal to build some caution). He returned on April 26th with a bumpy outing in Wrigley that lasted just four innings thanks in part to three homers (the wind was blowing out to center at 19 mph), but he did fan seven. I believe in a healthy Skaggs, so I boosted him a good bit on the heels of his last outing (5 scoreless in KC).
I think some may forgot that he was quite good last year save two nightmare outings surrounding a late-season injury. He allowed 10 ER at Tampa Bay in three and a third before hitting the IL (or do I say DL here because it was technically the DL last year?) and then allowed 7 more earnies 10 days later also in three and a third as he seemingly came back too early. Those 17 earned runs accounted for 30% of his season total and he allowed them in just 5% of his 125.3 innings. He had a 2.86 ERA in the other 118.7 innings of work.
Mike Soroka, ATL | 45 spots to 40
Soroka’s role was up in the air on April 18th. He started that day, but was it a spot-start or an audition to take on a permanent role? It seemed like his 5 IP/1 ER gem would be compared against Touki Toussaint’s outing two days later to decide who gets a rotation spot. Toussaint made it easy with a seven earned run disaster in Cleveland and Soroka was locked in. I was huge fan of his prior to a shoulder injury that ended his season in mid-June, but I’m buying back in now that he’s healthy once again.
As you can see, he’s the start of the Usually Start tier meaning I heavily considered pushing him into Must Start status. Honestly at this point the only way I’m sitting him is because of a stacked staff as opposed to anything against Soroka. Maybe I have 3-4 Must Start guys, 2-3 guys with strong two-start slates, and my 2-3 closers leaving Soroka on the outside in a medium-to-hard one-start week. Otherwise, he’s a full go right now.
Mike Foltynewicz, ATL | 44 spots to 37
I can’t quite recall if Folty was slated to return earlier than he did, but he debuted nine days after the rankings which is right up against the limit of where I’ll still include someone since anything over a week is a little dangerous. I’m not a huge Foltynewicz guy, but you paid a premium and I acknowledge that he no doubt has upside as I could definitely be wrong about him so I think you have to run him out there for the first 5-6 starts and see where we after the breakout 2018.
Max Fried, ATL | 35 spots to 63
Apparently, I had a lot of work to do on the Atlanta rotation as three-fifths of their arms got massive boosts. Fried was the only one of the three where I really changed my outlook on him as opposed to the role and health changes for Soroka and Foltynewicz. I had Fried pegged as a two-pitch guy who seemed kind of bland outside of some strong fastball command, but after talking with Nick Pollack about Fried on the latest Fireside, he sold me on a burgeoning slider as a path to improving his strikeout rate.
He’s thrown the slider 15% of the time in his last two starts fueling a 13% swinging strike rate overall (27% by the slider itself) and netting 15 strikeouts in the 12.3 innings of work, including seven in seven one-run innings yesterday against San Diego. We’ve seen flashes from the former Top 100 prospect before, but the development of this slider has me more excited than any time during his 59.7 innings from 2017-18.
Miles Mikolas, STL | -30 spots to 66
This is an interesting one because while I had to drop Mikolas a bit, I’m actually not running away from him entirely. In that same Fireside pod with Nick, he highlighted the fact that Mikolas is really only some slider tweaking from getting back on track despite how horrid the numbers look right now. His four-seamer is allowing a .226, the two-seamer is at .233, and the curveball is at .182 while the slider is allowing a .360! It allowed a .184 in last year’s breakout season.
Batting average against isn’t an end-all, be-all, but I’m encouraged by the fact that the bulk of his arsenal has been fine despite the ugly 4.73 ERA. A solid outing in Washington last night (6 IP/1 ER) may be the starting a big comeback. We’re still probably getting a below average strikeout rate the rest of the way even if his ERA and WHIP rebound, but a lot teams are dealing trashed ratios so I think he’s a worthwhile buy low.
Yusei Kikuchi, SEA | -21 spots to 64
Kikuchi hasn’t done much thus far so I had to drop him a decent bit. I’m not ready to say he can’t succeed in the majors just seven starts into his career (well, more like six since the latest was an opener 1-inning start), but it’s a lot easier to bench him right now. I wouldn’t cut him yet in anything 12 teams or deeper, but 10 teamers can at least consider it. He only has an 8% swinging strike rate, but it’s held down by two outings at 3-4%. He can maintain a consistent 10-11% mark if and when he gets going, but I’ve lowered him for now.
Jon Gray, COL | -20 spots to 57
I can’t justify him in the Must Start tier with a 19% K rate and 12% BB rate. The schedule gets really tough for him, too, starting tonight in Milwaukee. From there he gets San Francisco at home, travels to Boston, goes to Pittsburgh, and then gets two home starts. The trip to Pittsburgh is the only favorable setup here.
Jordan Lyles, PIT | -20 spots to 69
Lyles was hit in the hand during a great start against San Francisco back on April 19th and while he didn’t miss any time, he’s been wobbly in the two starts since, allowing six earned in his nine innings. I wouldn’t have moved him down without this injury so I’m still interested in him, but I think we should be more cautious starting him until he looks completely healthy again. I’ve got him slotted at a very nice 69, which is a spot I reserve for someone I’m very intrigued by so keep that in mind going forward. Spencer Turnbull was purposely 69 in April.
Carlos Rodon, CWS | -20 spots to 74
Well, now he’s on the IL with left elbow inflammation. So if I ran the ranking today, he wouldn’t even make it. Was the elbow inflammation behind the two duds against Detroit and Baltimore? If so, we could get re-excited about him down the line. Let’s reassess him when he comes back because it was starting to look like a breakout before his last two outings.