Throwing Heat Week 8

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!”

Spencer Turnbull, DET

Last three starts: 18.1 IP, 1.47 ERA, 25.7 K%

The year of the no-hitter is upon us! We are just two no-hitters away from breaking the record for most in a season. Some love it, some hate it. I love it. Give me all of the no-hitters. 

Spencer Turnbull has been on quite the run this season. Only once in six starts has he allowed more than three runs and it was against the Yankees. If you type Turnbull’s name into that little search bar on Baseball Savant and take a quick glance at his page you will notice an immediate pitch mix change. This season he has decided to cut back on the sinker and rely on the four-seam and slider. Finally! I was hoping he would do this last year but he has finally made a change for the better. 

Let’s talk about that slider of his. He loves to throw it glove side low and away to right-handed hitters while jamming left-handed hitters. The fact that it moves both vertically and horizontally makes it a difficult pitch to make contact with. Which of course leads to good results, seeing as the slider is above average in whiffs, chase rate, and virtually all contact metrics. To really measure how good this pitch is you shouldn’t look at his no-hitter but his game against the Kansas City Royals on 5/13. In that game, he threw his slider 21 times. He induced 10 whiffs and three called strikes. That equates to a 62.0 CSW%. Sixty-two. Sixty. Freaking. Two.

Moving forward, it seems as though Turnbull could perform well for the rest of the season. He has a deep arsenal with an elite slider. His current 2.88 ERA comes with a 2.76 FIP and 3.75 SIERA. While he might not get you a ton of strikeouts you should benefit from his skill set in the long run. 

Corey Kluber, NYY

Last three starts: 20.2 IP, 2.61 ERA, 26.9 K%

Oh look another no-hitter! I have to say although I am a Mets fan I was rooting for Kluber to do this. After two abysmal seasons, it is pretty awesome to see this happen. Kluber was able to get his first career no-hitter by relying on his curveball. He looked like the old Corey Kluber and his fastball looked just as dominant as it was two years ago. 

Kluber has actually had a really successful season thus far, something the Yankees really need from him. Through nine starts he holds a 2.86 ERA and while indicators show regression is likely this is by far the best outcome anyone could have asked for. He should be solid from here on out but with him it has always been about health. If he can stay healthy he could finish the season with an ERA south of 3.50. 

Kevin Gausman, SFG

Last three starts: 20.0 IP, 0.90 ERA, 38.0 K%

If I could take one thing back from the year 2021, it would be the fact that I was out on Kevin Gausman and currently have zero shares. I know it is early but still. I felt that split fingers are hard to throw for an entire year and eventually Gausman would lose his command over the pitch. Well, it hasn’t happened yet and he looks unstoppable. 

Through nine starts he has an ERA under two and a strikeout rate hovering right around 30%. The split-finger that I was so afraid of holds a 25.9 SwStr%, 45.5 O-Swing%, .065 ISO, and .165 wOBA against. How could I be so stupid?

Aaron Civale, CLE

Last three starts: 20.2 IP, 3.48 ERA, 23.8 K%

If you are in quality starts leagues you must be loving Aaron Civale. In nine starts he has gone over six innings seven times. Five of those have ended in quality starts. This is what the Indians do and this is a big reason why Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, and Aaron Civale were so valuable on draft day.

Overall Civale has continued to show off his stellar command by placing his four-seam and cutter high and tight with his breaking pitches low and away. Sure the strikeouts aren’t there but he utilizes his pitches really well and so far it has lead to a 3.30 ERA. 

Garrett Richards, BOS

Last three starts: 19.2 IP, 2.75 ERA, 17.7 K%

For Garrett Richards it has always been about one word: health. In six seasons he has only pitched 247.0 innings. That is on average on 42 innings per season. In that span though, his ERA sits at 3.57. You can see my point.

Moving forward there is some worry here as he has been letting up a lot of hard contact. Hit two main pitches have let up a wRC+ of 127 and 136 as well as wOBA’s of .344 and .358. The whiffs aren’t as high as they were last season and the WHIP is currently suboptimal. If he stays healthy I’d expect him to finish the season with an ERA right around four.

Matt Peacock, ARI

Last two starts: 10.1 IP, 3.48 ERA, 16.7 K%

Matt Peacock is a 27-year-old prospect who had some recent success in AA ball. He has ten appearances on the year leading to a 4.91 ERA. In his two starts though, he has put up the numbers you see above and one of the offenses he faced was the Dodgers. 

The question of the day is, is there something here? In these two starts his BABIP sat at .273 (lucky) and his LOB% at 85.4% (lucky again). The FIP was 4.30 and his HR/9 was 1.74. This doesn’t give you optimism. What Peacock does well is he doesn’t walk anyone, like ever (3.3 BB%). He is also really good at inducing groundballs, in these two starts he had a groundball rate of 62.9%. This could lead to him overachieving that bad FIP number we see above.    

Overall an interesting pitcher. The lack of strikeouts limits his potential but he knows what he is good at and utilizes it well. If the Diamondbacks keep him in the rotation he could be an interesting speculative add in deeper leagues.

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