Throwing Heat Week 22

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!”

Gerrit Cole, NYY
Last three starts: 0.47 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 40.0 K%

It’s becoming harder and harder to deny having Gerrit Cole as the number one starting pitcher for 2022. Trust me as a Mets fan I know just as much as anyone how amazing and valuable Jacob deGrom is in fact based on Razzball’s player rater deGrom is still the fourth most valuable pitcher this season. That includes all of the time he has been on the injured list. My take is that deGrom had to perform at a historic rate to be worthy of his draft spot and moving forward how confident can we be with his health? The increase in velocity that we continue to see could be the reason for this. Consider them 1A and 1B but I think for next season I have to put Cole at 1A.

Max Fried, ATL
Last three starts: 2.14 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, 24.3 K%

Max Fried has been a little up and down this season with a rough July but for the most part, he has been a formidable pitcher with a 3.51 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Some might have hoped for more from Fried with what his draft cost was but some might have underestimated his eventual regression in terms of home runs.

Moving forward or even into next season Fried is a solid pitcher who should consistently provide solid ratios year in and year out. He has a decent fastball with a big loopy curveball that induces a ton of ground balls, and a slider that creates chases as well as whiffs. His three-pitch arsenal is a complete one and this seems to be who he is, just don’t expect a big strikeout surge from him anytime soon.

Chris Sale, BOS
Last three starts: 2.20 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 24.2 K%

It has been all butterflies and sunshine for Chris Sale in his four starts for the season. The Red Sox desperately need him and he will be utilized to the fullest the rest of the season. Sale has actually been gaining velocity with almost every start and he is a must-start no matter the matchup moving forward. If you held onto him all season, kudos to you.

Jake Odorizzi, HOU
Last three starts: 2.30 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 30.3 K%

Jake Odorizzi went on a run like this earlier in the season by utilizing his fastball and changeup more than any other pitch in his arsenal. Odorizzi has actually been performing well for five starts now with a 2.77 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. I wouldn’t expect it to last though, that 2.77 ERA comes with a 4.12 FIP, 87.7 LOB%, and 4.49 SIERA. The strikeout rate is decent but just like the last time he went on a nice run, it will likely come to an end.

Steven Matz, TOR
Last three starts: 2.12 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 11.6 K%

Steven Matz has a really odd profile and it’s hard to tell how to utilize him. Here is the good from his last four starts: 1.64 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 50.7 GB%, 1.09 WHIP, and 4.3 Barrel%. A low ERA with what clearly looks like a lot of weak contact and good command. All good things you want to see.

But then here is the bad: 13.3 K%, .232 BABIP, 84.7 LOB%, 7.5 SwStr%, and 5.17 SIERA. A lot of regression from numerous metrics and an extremely low strikeout rate and whiff rate. Which leaves us with what the heck do we do with this?

The soft contact is nice and all and he could definitely beat out his underlying metrics but Matz has continuously shown a lack of consistency. With a below-average strikeout rate he likely isn’t worth the risk. If his ratios slip you will have nothing to fall back on and he becomes a completely useless pitcher for fantasy baseball. I would proceed with caution.

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Odorizzi’s 5 game run also coincides with a pretty soft schedule – Rockies (outside Coors), Royals, Mariners twice and Rangers. However, he may continue to get some more cupcake matchups – if the Astros stay on a 5 man rotation his schedule the rest of the way is: SEA, @TEX, ARI, @LAA, TBR. (If his spot gets bumped a day in the next 2 weeks that @LAA start becomes an @OAK start but the TEX and ARI starts should be solid since he starts a middle game in each series.)