Throwing Heat Week 15 by Michael Simione July 12, 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!” Sonny Gray, CIN Last three starts: 15.0 IP, 1.80 ERA, 1.13 WHIP Is it just me or does it seem like people are always too low on Sonny Gray? Through 12 starts this season he has a 3.19 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 30.2 K%. He has a crazy deep arsenal and has had a SIERA under four for three straight seasons now. Where is the love? His “last three starts” numbers do include a game on 6/8 where he was injured and missed roughly a month. In his two starts back from the injured list he has pitched 12 innings with a 2.25 ERA and 30.6 K%. A good sign showing that he is fully healed and ready to go. Before we move on we do have to mention something that happened in his last start. In the fourth inning, Gray let up two runs and decided to run into the clubhouse and change all of his clothes, cleats included. He said he needed to “reset and start over.” He then proceeded to pitch three more innings without letting a single hitter reach base. Legend. Alex Wood, SFG Last three starts: 17.1 IP, 2.08 ERA, 0.98 WHIP Have you ever seen the movie Space Jam? If not, you might be a lost cause. Well, in Space Jam at halftime Bugs Bunny pretends to have a secret juice that Michael Jordan uses and when he gives it to the team they think it gives them powers. They all end up playing to their max potential and eventually win the game. I’m convinced the Giants are doing this. It’s getting to the point that when a pitcher goes to San Francisco you need to just buy-in because they have been phenomenal at getting the most out of their players. Don’t get me wrong Alex Wood has been good in the past but in 2019 and 2020 he was completely lost on the mound. In those two seasons, he pitched 48.1 innings with a 5.96 ERA. This season he has pitched 83.1 innings pitched with a 3.67 ERA. Wood has a fantastic sinker, changeup, and slider combination. He utilizes them to their max potential and it allows him to be successful even though he only throws 91.7 MPH. Moving forward I think we are seeing the Alex Wood of old and he should continue to have success. Even his basic underlying metrics look great with a 3.75 FIP, 3.64 xFIP, 17.4 K-BB%, and 3.76 SIERA. All of this comes with the obvious caveat, health. Wood just needs to stay healthy and you can rely on him happily for the rest of the season. Jose Berrios, MIN Last three starts: 18.1 IP, 2.45 ERA, 1.15 WHIP Fantasy players seem to either love or hate Jose Berrios and I have no idea why. How can you dislike a pitcher who currently has five straight seasons with a 4.00 ERA or lower. Combine last season and this season and he has four straight seasons with an ERA under 3.90. To boot, he is a workhorse pitcher who rarely gets injured. Stop the hate and just accept the love of Jose Berrios. Jameson Taillon, NYY Last three starts: 18.2 IP, 3.38 ERA, 1.18 WHIP Jameson Taillon has been a mess this season, but with his recent success could he be making a turn towards better days? Sure his last three starts look good in terms of numbers but in one of those starts he let up five runs against the Los Angeles Angels. The two starts he had success in were against the Mariners and Royals, two offenses that aren’t exactly the best. Personally, I don’t think he has turned the corner just yet. What I think people need to realize is that Taillon is coming off of a serious injury and he also hasn’t pitched since early 2019. Pitchers usually don’t just come back and pitch well right away. They have to make mechanic changes and get back into game shape. This season Taillon’s main issue has been his fastball and the reason being his command. When Taillon commands it on top of the zone well you get a great start from him, but when he consistently misses and leaves it over the middle you get a start like he had against the Angels. The point being, these things take time and when you are coming off of that Taillon went through it can’t be easy. Keep watch though, if he starts to improve in the last two months of baseball he might be a solid buy-low in 2022. Luis Castillo, CIN Last three starts: 20.1 IP, 1.77 ERA, 0.98 WHIP Luis Castillo is finally back, sort of. In his last seven starts, he holds a 2.00 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. That is awesome. The weird part though, his strikeout rate in those seven starts is only 23.9%. In Castillo’s last two seasons he has averaged a strikeout rate of 29.4%. This seems to be a stepping-stones type of thing for Castillo though. The first step is to get the ERA down. Check. Now it’s time to get the strikeouts up. Castillo is just too good with too good of stuff to be a bad pitcher. Fully expect him to chug along and give fantasy players the pitcher they knew they drafted.