Throwing Heat Week 11 by Michael Simione July 11, 2022 The season has begun and we are back with Throwing Heat! For those who didn’t read these articles last season, this weekly article focuses on pitchers who are pitching well. When we are further into the season it will be based on a pitcher’s previous three starts but for now, it will just be their most recent starts. This article’s beauty is that it highlights all types of pitchers from the best in the league to pitchers who are barely rostered. If someone is on a hot streak they will be in this article. I will also tell you if the hot streak is legit or if it appears to be a facade. I hope you enjoy it! *Stats as of 7/11* Luis Castillo, CIN Last three starts: 20 innings pitched, 0.90 ERA, 11.25 K/9 Luis Castillo is having himself a nice little season since coming off of the injured list. In 12 starts he holds a 2.92 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. The WHIP is significant because Castillo’s career WHIP is 1.21 and last season it sat at 1.36. A big reason for the dip in WHIP for Castillo is the fact that he decided to live inside of the zone more. Castillo has always chased high strikeouts by trying to get hitters to swing and miss outside of the zone. While it works it also always caused him to have a higher walk rate and a WHIP that held him from becoming elite. This season his zone rate has spiked up from 39.6% to 44.6% which also lead to his chase rates being down about three percent. While he isn’t striking hitters out at a 30% clip his walk rate has dipped to just 7.8%, much better than the 9.3% from last season. Sacrificing some strikeouts for a better WHIP and ERA works for me, especially if it means Castillo being a better pitcher overall. Spencer Strider, ATL Last three starts: 18 innings pitched, 0.50 ERA, 15.00 K/9 Spencer Strider is on another planet right now. In the last month, no pitcher has a higher whiff per swing rate than Strider. It’s a big reason for his phenomenal numbers since May 30th when he officially became a starter. As a starter, he holds a 2.83 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 39.2 K%. A 39.2 K% is absolutely wild. While this is insanely impressive there is a knock against Strider. It has been just eight starts and maybe teams will start to find his weaknesses and one of them as people continue to point out is the fact that he is a two-pitch pitcher. Personally, it doesn’t bother me because both are elite, just look at Tyler Glasnow. I also think there is potential in his changeup that could become his third pitch. Either way, if he continues this stretch into the end of the year he will be a very high draft pick for 2023. Spenser Watkins, BAL Last three starts: 17.2 innings pitched, 1.02 ERA, 6.11 K/9 This three-start stat line comes with a 2.25 FIP, 4.45 xFIP, 4.44 SIERA, and a 13.4 K-BB%. Not great. What’s weird here is the fact that his velocity has actually decreased over one tick for these three starts and yet he pitched better. Regardless, he has a 4.15 ERA on the season and is showing regression. He isn’t much more than a streamer and I don’t see anything in his profile to make me think this stretch could continue. Alex Wood, SFG/Alex Cobb, SFG Last three starts: 17.2 innings pitched, 2.04 ERA, 9.17 K/9 / Last three starts: 15.1 innings pitched, 2.35 ERA, 5.87 K/9 It looks like Alex Wood and Alex Cobb’s horrible, terrible luck is finally starting to turn. Both of these pitchers have been victims of terrible defense and a high BABIP. Both of them have solid skill-sets and with the Giants organization behind them, they should be able to figure this out and turn it around. I still think both of these pitchers are solid buy-low’s. Taijuan Walker, NYM Last three starts: 26.1 innings pitched, 2.05 ERA, 8.20 K/9 Not only is Taijuan Walker enjoying a nice three-start stretch here but he is also enjoying a nice season overall. He holds a 2.63 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 15 starts and in nine of those he has pitched at least six innings. We all know Walker has talent but this seems eerily similar to last season. He had a dominant first half to only tank in the second half. I always felt this was due to stamina though as it was the first time Walker had really pitched for a few seasons. His stamina should be better this season but it is hard to tell what the future holds. Walker is a bit of a gamble in my opinion and perhaps trading high could be smart but I truly think he is a flip of the coin for the rest of the season.