Throwing Heat Week 7

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: 21.0 IP, 0.86 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, 38.9 K%

It’s nearly impossible to crown the best pitcher in baseball right now. Jacob deGrom and Gerrit Cole are just way above everybody else, yes including Shane Bieber. Cole has been beyond dominant with a current 1.37 ERA, 1.10 FIP, and 39.3 K-BB%.

You can’t poke any holes in his arsenal. The four-seam induces whiffs in the zone, the slider induces whiffs inside and outside of the zone, his curveball produces ground balls, and the changeup provides a change in velocity. None of these pitches give up hard contact and his command is on point. One could argue that next year he should be a top-five pick.

Julio Urias, LAD
Last three starts: 19.0 IP, 3.32 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 28.2 K%

With a season-long ERA of 3.26 and a WHIP of 0.91, it looks like Urias is well on his way to becoming an ace for the Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s actually insane to think about facing the Dodgers staff in the playoffs. How is anyone going to beat them? Walker Buehler, Trevor Bauer, Clayton Kershaw, and Julio Urias will be almost impossible to win a series against.

Back to Urias. The strikeout rate currently sits at 26.9% and rising while his walk rate has dipped to 3.6%. His command has looked better and his whiff rate has increased because of it. He is trending in all of the right ways and you love to see it. You could worry about the hard contact he has let up so far this season but Urias has historically had a low HR/9 so he should be okay.

The big question mark in the room is innings. We all know the Dodgers like to mess with innings as they try to go into the postseason as healthy as possible. The most Urias has ever pitched was about 110 innings and that was back in 2016. You have to think they limit him at some point which could easily frustrate fantasy managers.

Jon Lester, WSN
Last three starts: 16.0 IP, 2.25 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 15.2 K%

Old man John Lester is off to a hot start! In three starts he has produced the numbers you see above. With it comes a 3.16 FIP but an issue you’ll quickly see is his xFIP. Sitting at 4.66 you have to think regression will hit Lester soon since he has yet to let up a home run. The low strikeout rate, low whiff rate, and high LOB% make this start a mirage. All I can say is ride him while he blindly runs towards an inevitable cliff.

Casey Mize, DET
Last three starts: 18.0 IP, 3.00 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 17.8 K%

Casey Mize seems to be making a turn for the better here. In his last three starts opposing hitters only have a .050 ISO and .245 wOBA against him. Both great numbers. What he seems to be doing is favoring his fastballs over his breaking balls.

He has upped the four-seam and sinker usage and each pitch have an astonishing .000 ISO against them. The pitch mix change also comes with better command. Against right-handed hitters Mize is consistently putting his sinker low and inside. This inevitably helps set up his slider, a pitch he loves to throw on the outside of the plate.

To boot these three starts were against very capable offenses, the Royals, Red Sox, and White Sox. Mize likely won’t ever reach high strikeout territory but he is good at what he does and that’s creating weak contact.

Zach Davies, CHC
Last three starts: 16.1 IP, 1.10 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 11.9 K%

After a blow-up in Atlanta where he let up five runs in 3.2 innings, Davies has been on a good run. Besides being the most boring pitcher on planet earth his current peripherals don’t look too appealing. Does anyone here really want to own a pitcher with a 5.60 ERA, 6.61 xERA, 5.00 FIP, and 13.2 K%? Davies has beat out his underlying numbers his entire career so we could see a full Davies rebound. Even if so, wouldn’t you rather take a chance on someone with actual upside?

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