Throwing Heat Week 18

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!”

Max Scherzer, LAD
Last three starts: 3.15 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 29.5 K%

Max Scherzer just recently had his Los Angeles Dodgers debut and it was a doozy. Against the Houston Astros he pitched seven innings, allowed two runs, and struck out ten. He finished the day with an overall 39.0 CSW% and a curtain call from the fans. When Scherzer pitches well the game is a lot more fun to watch.

As for the season, Scherzer continues to have one of the best seasons of his career. I mean this is typical Scherzer, right? The guy knows we all doubted him, he heard everyone discuss the age cliff, and he decides to go out there and prove everyone wrong. His overall 2.75 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and 34.5% K% are just fantastic. If you drafted him this season you got one hell of a bargain and you will continue to reap the benefits from it.

Jameson Taillon, NYY
Last three starts: 1.42 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 25.7 K%

Guess who had the second-lowest ERA in the month of July. Jameson Taillon. His 1.16 ERA came with a 20.5 K%, 0.97 WHIP, and 3.46 FIP. I’m assuming you would like to know if this will stick?

When it comes to Jameson Taillon it all comes down to his four-seam fastball. When he started the season in April it sat at 93.5 MPH, in July it averaged just over 94.0 MPH. I wanted to point that out because when a pitcher comes back from a serious injury it can take time to come into their own. Taillon needed to get starts in and get back into game shape. Well, he certainly has shown improvement as he has moved along. One, by increasing his fastball. Two by now locating his fastball towards the top of the zone on a more consistent basis. Three by finally putting it all together with his curveball and slider. All of his underlying contact numbers and ERA numbers follow the success of his fastball. Guess which month his fastball performed the best? That’s right July.

If Taillon can continue with what he did in July then it looks like he is home free. Of course, that is easier said than done. He did flash brilliance with his four-seam in May for a bit but then it fizzled out. Hopefully, Taillon can stay consistent and it was just a matter of getting his reps in.

Frankie Montas, OAK
Last three starts: 2.84 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 37.8 K%

Frankie Montas has had somewhat of an up and down season this year. There were times where a lot of people have given up on him. Well, Montas has completely flipped the script. Since July first he holds a 2.65 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 32.0 K% in six starts. Wow.

When researching I figured maybe it was the fact that he started to really feel his split-finger again because for those who don’t know the split-finger is a hard pitch to be consistent with unless you are a split-finger god sent down from heaven like Kevin Gausman. What I found was the fact that Montas went from throwing his split-finger 17% of the time throughout the season to 34% of the time in July. In doing so here are his split-finger numbers: .105 wOBAcon, 32.0 SwStr%, 0.0 Barrel%, and a 37.9 CSW%. Those are elite numbers.

Moving forward Montas should be much better as long as he keeps this pitch mix. I’m not sure what took him so long to do this because it’s not like his split-finger was bad all year. Again, he should pitch really well moving forward because these July numbers seem legit. There is not low BABIP or high LOB% here and the FIP matches exactly what the ERA is showing. If you own Montas you should be excited.

Luis Castillo, CIN
Last three starts: 2.37 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 31.6 K%

Luis Castillo you dirty dog you. First, you cause chaos by making the fantasy baseball community think you are a bad pitcher. Then you start providing ratios without strikeouts causing a stir of worry as to whether they will ever come back. And now, well now you are doing it all, you are quite the mensch.

Let’s all learn a lesson here. If Luis Castillo struggles early in the season again, what do we do? We buy low or we keep holding on. He is clearly a slow starter and a bad cold weather pitcher. Castillo’s stuff is just way too good with too much movement to not be a quality starter. Would I suggest drafting him in the first two rounds? No, but if you can get him as your SP2 he could be a good option. As for the rest of this season, Castillo is a must-start no matter the matchup.

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I love watching the word “mensch” slowly work its way into common usage, but I find I still often must explain it to non-Jews.