Throwing Heat Week 9 by Michael Simione June 1, 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!” James Kaprielian, OAK Last three starts: 17.2 IP, 1.53 ERA, 27.1 K% A high draft pick and high-end prospect is taking the MLB by storm right now. His name is James Kaprielian. In three starts he has a 1.53 ERA, 2.88 xERA, 3.47 FIP, 4.84 xFIP, and 4.27 SIERA. For those who don’t know xFIP normalizes a pitcher’s home run rate. Right now James’ has a 1.02 HR/9 and based on his past I would say his home run rate should rise. The League average barrel rate against pitchers is 7.0%. Thus far this season his barrel rate against is 6.7%. League average exit velocity against a pitcher is 88.9 MPH, his is 90.5MPH. What I am trying to say is, more home runs are coming. Not as much as xFIP thinks but he will likely land between his FIP and xFIP. In these three starts he has a 27.1 K% (great) and 8.6 BB% (average). The strikeout rate comes with a 9.7 SwStr% (not great). Based on his SwStr% we should be seeing a strikeout rate closer to 20%. His called strikes and CSW are slightly below average so overperforming his SwStr% isn’t likely. James has never been a high strikeout pitcher though, so this doesn’t come as a surprise. What James does do well is sequencing. He utilizes all of his pitches really well. He attacks the zone with his four-seam and slider and uses his changeup to get hitters to chase outside of the zone. What does worry me is his changeup has a 100% zone contact rate somehow. I’m not sure if that is an error but that much contact is a little scary. Although it does have a 50% GB% and -26 wRC+. So maybe all of that contact isn’t so bad. Overall the arsenal is solid all around and he seems to have a good skill set under him. The four-seam and changeup should become his bread and butter and he will need those pitches for him to be successful. Leave it to the Athletics to utilize his strengths. With that said, expect more home runs to come but don’t expect crazy regression. I figure he ends with an ERA around the 3.75-3.90 range. Honestly, in my opinion, I would be adding him where I can. Tyler Glasnow, TBR Last three starts: 20.2 IP, 3.05 ERA, 28.4 K% Give Tyler Glasnow a third pitch and you get a pitcher who has a 2.57 ERA and 36.2 K%. The most exciting part is that in eight of his eleven starts he has pitched six innings or more. He even has pitched eight innings twice. Welcome to the top ten conversation Glasnow. Merrill Kelly, ARI Last three starts: 19.1 IP, 3.72 ERA, 29.3 K% After Merrill Kelly had two blow-up starts against the Rockies and Nationals he has put together a good run of outings. In his last seven starts, Kelly has a 3.46 ERA, 3.29 FIP, and 24.6 K%. The stats look legit in those starts but there are some question marks with his arsenal. It just doesn’t blow you away. His fastball averages 91.5 MPH which is lower than the last two seasons. It gets hit hard and doesn’t induce whiffs. He has no real whiff pitches and only one of his pitches has an opposing wRC+ under 100. I think we are just seeing a hot streak here. Luis Garcia, HOU Last three starts: 16.0 IP, 1.69 ERA, 30.2 K% It seems like every season the Houston Astros have a pitcher come out of nowhere and this season that pitcher is Luis Garcia. He has been fantastic this year and even though his BABIP and LOB% call for massive regression he should be extremely valuable moving forward. Garcia has a ton of movement on all of his pitches. His four-seam could use better command but with its above-average vertical movement, he gets away with it for the most part. His cutter is his nastiest pitch in terms of whiffs. With an insanely high chase rate and whiff rate, this pitch has been virtually unhittable all season. But I am most impressed with his slider. His slider is not only 3.9 inches above average in vertical movement but 7.5 inches above average in horizontal movement. The contact numbers on his slider are ridiculous, right now opposing hitters only have a .095 wOBA, .000 ISO, .195 OPS, and -37 wRC+ against it. Wow. Garcia’s arsenal looks so good but there is one looming question here. What happens when Houston’s rotation is healthy? Their rotation when healthy is Zack Greinke, Jose Urquidy, Framber Valdez, Jake Odorizzi, and Lance McCullers. It makes sense for Odorizzi to be the odd man out but I am not so sure Houston is ready to make that move. Plus the most Garcia has ever pitched in a season is around 80 innings. Trevor Bauer, LAD Last three starts: 19.1 IP, 0.93 ERA, 32.0 K% Trevor Bauer has been dominant this season and looks to be on his way towards another CY Young award. He will continue to put up a ton of innings and anyone who has him on their team should reap the benefits.