Throwing Heat Week 12 by Michael Simione June 21, 2021 Baseball is happening! I decided for the entire season to run a weekly article on pitchers who have been “heating up.” I will dive into what it could mean for the pitcher and what you should do with them. This should be a captivating concept because it will be pitchers of all levels, anywhere from aces to pitchers you would have never drafted. That’s what it’s all about, catching players as they improve and acting on it before anyone else can realize. Welcome to “Throwing Heat!” Sandy Alcantara, MIA Last three starts: 1.21 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 21.6 K% Every time I write about Sandy Alcantara the first thing that pops into my head is “Oh Sandy.” You know from the movie Grease. Well, hopefully you know. Sandy has continued his success from 2020 and between last season and this season he has pitched 135.1 innings with a 3.06 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. Sandy’s best and most used pitch is his sinker. It is considered a “power sinker” because he throws it over 97 MPH and it tops out at 100 MPH. Imagine trying to hit a sinker moving that fast? I can’t. He pairs it with a fantastic changeup that opposing hitters love to chase outside of the zone. Then he will sprinkle in a slider and four-seam to keep hitters on the edge of their toes. The main worry with Sandy coming into 2021 was the depth of his arsenal. Thankfully the curveball and changeup have both stepped forward and are slowly becoming proven pitches. There are little doubts as to if Sandy can sustain his success moving forward. It’s crazy to think that the Marlins have three young potential “Aces” in their rotation with Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, and Trevor Rogers. Freddy Peralta, MIL Last three starts: 1.96 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 31.3 K% Freddy Peralta has had a roller coaster of a career so far. He has been thrown around pitching as a starter and bullpen arm multiple times throughout his career. After moving to the bullpen permanently in 2020 the Brewers decided to give him another chance at being a starter and it has paid off. So far this season Freddy has a 2.28 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and 35.9 K%. The strikeouts were always there for Freddy it was really a matter of consistency. Before this season Freddy would throw a nine-inning shutout then come out for his next start and give up five runs in the first inning. This was mainly due to the lack of a second pitch in his arsenal. He always had a stellar four-seam fastball but it was never enough. No one can be a great one-pitch pitcher. In comes the slider and boom, Freddy is a whole new man. He locates the slider well, it plays off his four-seam perfectly, and it creates a crap ton of whiffs. It is everything Freddy needed. Usually, we shy away from two-pitch pitchers but when both pitchers are exceptional we can make an exception. The high strikeout rate, low home run rate, and high whiff rate alone should help Freddy continue his success. Much like Miami, the Brewers have a three-headed monster here, except their monster is much meaner than the Marlins. Could you imagine facing Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta in the playoffs? Zack Wheeler, PHI Last three starts: 0.84 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 31.3 K% This one hurts. As a Mets fan, I wish he was still on the team and am saddened that he is with a division rival. At age 31 it looks like Wheeler is finally breaking out and becoming the pitcher we all knew he could be. Through 14 starts Wheeler has a 2.15 ERA and 0.93 WHIP. A massive reason for his major improvement this season lies within his strikeout rate. We were always waiting for the strikeouts to show up and so far this season he has a 31.6% K%. His second-highest strikeout rate is just 24.1%. What is he doing differently? Instead of going four-seam/sinker heavy, he is relying on the slider as his second pitch. A simple change that is making a big difference. Typically sinkers are meant for inducing groundballs while breaking balls are meant to create whiffs. His slider this season has a 39.8% strikeout rate and is the driving force behind that increased strikeout rate. Wheeler looks legit and the pitch mix change is working wonders for him. Moving forward expect him to continue to be an ace. With high velocity, a great fastball, and a fantastic slider everything is falling in place to continue his success. In my opinion, he is a top 20 pitcher moving forward. Anthony DeSclafani, SFG Last three starts: 1.35 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 23.9 K% On May 23rd Anthony DeSclafani was lit up by the Dodgers giving up 10 runs in 2.2 innings. Since then, he has pitched in four games and produced a 1.82 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. Talk about a rebound! Overall DeSclafani has had an impressive season with an overall ERA of 3.01. During the offseason, DeSclafani signed with the San Francisco Giants. To quickly go off-topic here, how about the Giants? They are becoming just like the Tampa Bay Rays by using platoon splits and having all of their pitchers drink some kind of secret sauce. Seriously, every pitcher who has gone there has improved dramatically. Just look at Kevin Gausman. Back to DeSclafani. He signed with the Giants and has since made a serious pitch mix change. Not only did he slightly increase his slider usage but he four-seam usage in exchange for his changeup. His changeup has been very successful with inducing weak contact. So far this season opposing hitters only have a .000 ISO and .221 wOBA against it. What really makes a big difference here is the change in speed. His changeup is 11 MPH slower than his four-seam. See, the four-seam is thrown around 94.3 MPH and his slider 87.5 MPH. By adding the changeup the hitter now has to deal with three different speeds instead of just two. A bold and very smart move. Moving forward I don’t see why Anthony DeSclafani would slow down. He won’t generate a lot of strikeouts but he excels at keeping the ball on the ground which should keep his ratios intact. Jacob deGrom, NYM Last three starts: 0.00 ERA, 0.31 WHIP, 54.7 K% I know deGrom was removed from his last start due to shoulder soreness, but I had to post these stats because he is just so ridiculously good. Before being pulled against the Cubs, deGrom pitched three innings with eight strikeouts. That’s good for an 88.9% strikeout rate. What’s even crazier is in his last four starts he has a 50.7 K%, 0.32 WHIP, -0.07 FIP, and 0.00 ERA. No doubt, he is the best pitcher in the world.