Did anyone actually see that The Adjustment Bureau movie? I only remember the trailer, but I imagine a lot of those dudes in bowler hats tinkering with Jeff Samardzija yesterday. Sheesh! As Lone Star would say to Princess Vespa, “WELCOME TO REAL LIFE!” PS – go Brewers.
Anyway, whilst Samardzija got dusted by the regression fairies, Roenis Elias is a guy I’ve thought about a few times cracking my weekly top 100, but I could never pull the trigger. I spot started him here-and-there across a few leagues with middling results, and the few times I’ve watched him, he’s been kinda blah. Given it wasn’t my full attention… Big looping curveball and a decent heater from a lefty is good enough for the Majors, but is it good enough for your mixed fantasy league? Then I saw he went all shutty-outty on the Tigers yesterday, and felt he warranted a harder, GIFfy look. As a guy available in a ton of shallower leagues, I decided he’d be a perfect candidate for this week’s Profiling:
First Inning: Elias opens the game with a 91 MPH fastball to Rajai Davis for a called strike one. Another heater is a tad outside and slapped foul, then that big bender at 79 gets Davis to dribble it to third, and a great barehand play by Kyle Seager gets the speedy Davis by a step. Big play there – easily could’ve been an infield hit. A 92 MPH fastball is fouled by Ian Kinsler, then a change-up at 87 – that didn’t look like a good pitch – gets belted to center, but James Jones tracks it right in front of the track for a pretty hard-hit out. Some good fortune early on. And up is the big fellah – Miguel Cabrera takes a fastball low, another heater is way outside, change-up at 87 is cut on and missed, fastball on the hands at 93 is fouled back, then a nasty 80 MPH curveball bending 10-4 gets Cabrera swinging to end the inning. That curve is nasty, and 93 from a lefty’s heater with deception is solid, but I don’t like that change-up only 5 MPH slower, even though Miggy did miss one.
Second Inning: Shockingly getting a run of support off Max Scherzer early, Elias starts Victor Martinez with a fastball low, again is low, then is outside – 3-0. Can’t blame Elias for being tentative to V-Mart. And another fastball is outside, four-pitch walk. I understand the caution, but on all fastballs. Hmmm. But he’s right back in the zone with a heater to Torii Hunter 0-1, Hunter fouls off a curve, then a high fastball at 92 ties up Hunter who can’t quite hold up his swing for Elias’ 2nd K. That was a bad looking hack – fooled him there. Fastball on the outside to Austin Jackson – that looked mighty outside – then a nasty change-up at 85 gets AJax to whiff, 0-2.
Man, that was so much better than the change-ups in the first inning – I might’ve been wrong to doubt that pitch. The 0-2 is an 83 drifting change outside, 1-2, then fastball is way upstairs, 79 MPH curve is in the dirt – full count. Back to the change – this one at 83 and working it! Jackson is way in front, strikeout number three, and I’m sold. That’s three good pitches for Elias working right now. Elias starts Nick Castellanos with a 77 MPH curve backdooring him, and if that keeps working for strike one – it’s understandable how well Elias did in this one.
Next pitch is a fastball off the plate, and Castellanos reaches and pokes it to center for a single. That was certainly a ball, so credit Castellanos. 92 MPH fastball is in there to backup Tigers catcher Bryan Holaday, then a change-up is grounded weakly to Elias, and it’s an easy out to end the inning.
Third Inning: A fastball is fouled off by Danny Worth to start the third, then a check swing foul, then another nasty change-up – almost looked like a slider it had so much downward and lateral movement, for Elias’ 4th K. So through the first 9, 7 first-ball strikes, but is outside to Davis, then a high fastball is rocketed, but it’s speared at first for an out. That was a loud one. Huge breaking ball goes too far inside to Kinsler, same spot with the change, then he has to go to the heater at 93; it’s smoked again, but Seager backhands it for the third out. Two very hard hit balls there – Elias is having some luck helping as well.
Fourth Inning: Still up 1-0, Elias is back to the big bats and starts Miggy with a change-up way outside, another change low, fastball low, and down 3-0 just like the top of the 2nd. Elias gives him a fastball right down the middle, and Miggy greenlights it and flies out to center. Lucky break there, but was an easy out. I would’ve expected a little more patience or better contact from arguably the best hitter in baseball. VMart takes a curve for strike one, a change-up breaks in there (geez, again looks like a slider, crazy), big curveball gets nicked foul, change-up outside, fastball fouled out of play, change-up outside, 2-2. Nice AB from VMart, and he taps a curveball to the mound – Elias doesn’t field it cleanly, but Brad Miller is able to scoop it up and VMart’s incredibly slow wheels keep him from an infiled hit. Wasn’t hit hard, but for 80% of major leaguers that’s a hit. 94 MPH heater is in there to Hunter, that’s his best so far, fastball way inside, then a curveball gets a weak grounder to end the inning.
Fifth Inning: A fastball is outside to Jackson, then low and outside, then AJax chases ball 3. That’s three of the five innings he’s started iffy. Change-up that looked outside barely nibbles the black 2-2, then a perfectly placed 93 MPH fastball doesn’t get the call inside, full count. Good location though. He then bends a curve at 78, it swooshes in the backdoor to get Jackson looking. Wow, good stuff. Change-up is a dandy and gets a big swing and miss from Castellanos, bends that curve in there, 0-2. Fastball at 93 is some chin music, 1-2, Castellanos fights off another heater, then again backdoors Castellanos and freezes him, 6th K, two down.
First-pitch fastball is rocketed foul by Holaday, then a hanging change-up at 87 gets laced to center for a single. Elias hasn’t been perfect with those, got caught with a mistake there. Worth takes a curve in there, fastball high, curveball in the dirt gets a swing called on the appeal, then the 1-2 curve is rolled to third, and the play is made to end the inning.
Sixth Inning: Elias gets another two runs for a 3-0 lead, and starts Davis with a fastball outside, 0-1. Davis has two near hits so he’ll be a tough out. Elias gets a change-up in there, Davis swings and misses on a curveball dipping low, another curve is tapped foul, then a heater at 93 is laced – but a few feet foul first base side. Another near hit for Davis. Fastball is high, then another curve is popped straight up and collected by Mike Zunino for out #1. Elias is pounding the zone with curveballs – pretty impressive. Outside at 93 to Kinsler, a hanging curve outside is tapped foul, fastball outside, a good change-up at the knees is in there, then a curveball in the dirt gets Kinsler trying to hold his swing, but he’s called out at the plate. Kinsler is upset, but replay shows it a good call. Fastball low to Cabrera, heater at 93 inside, fastball again gets the call on the outside corner, then a hanging change gets grounded to short to end the inning.
Seventh Inning: VMart opens the 7th and takes a fastball outside, fouls a heater off, change-up is high, fastball outside, down 3-1. Elias goes to a fastball in a dangerous count, and VMart pops out to shallow right, one down. First-pitch change-up is rocketed towards the mound, and Hunter splits the gap up the middle for a well-hit single. Another first-pitch change-up is hit in play by Jackson, but it’s an easy flyball to right, two down. Elias gets a curve in there to Castellanos, change is low, then the 1-1 fastball is off the end of the bat for a lazy flyball to left, inning over.
Eighth Inning: Elias’ pitch count is solid at 92, and starts outside with the fastball, another heater fouled off by Holaday, fastball inside, a great curveball at 76 gets the zone, then another at 79 – a little faster and sharper – gets a swing-and-miss, one down – 8 Ks. Worth takes a fastball low, change-up in there, then a fastball runs too far inside and nicks Worth for a HBP. So he’ll have to work around a baserunner, but the first-pitch curveball is grounded right to third with Seager playing in, and even with the speedy Davis it’s a very easy double play. Great timing.
Ninth Inning: Hoping to go the distance, Elias is at 101 pitches and is outside at 92 to Kinsler. Velocity still there. Change-up is outside – wait it’s called a strike?! That was way outside! Another change sliced foul, curveball barely tapped foul, another curve pulled foul, then a well-located fastball at 93 on the outside edge gets flown out very lazy to center, one down. So two more tough outs, and Elias hits 94 on a first-pitch strike to Miggy – wow.
Might have been his best first-pitch fastball all game. Again at 94 outside, then a curveball chopped up the middle gets fielded cleanly for an easy out. Last but not least is in the insanely hot VMart, and the first pitch is a heater flown out to center for an easy catch, and complete it up! Amazing that it’s the Mariners first CG this year and a fantastic game from Elias.
Final Line: W 9 IP 111 Pitches (72 Strikes) 0 ER 3 Hits 1 Walk 8 K Gamescore: 88 Gamescore+: 83.4
Final Analysis: Any time you go the distance it’s a dandy, and Elias came to play. But both according to my Gamescore+ and at my eye level, Elias had some luck going for him. Especially early. Rajai Davis got thrown out on a great play from Seager to start the game, then Kinsler hit one to the track (hardest hit all game). If those go differently, this could’ve been a completely different start. A few other outs were loud, and home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt gave Elias a huge outside corner. All that said, all three hits were singles, his breaking stuff was mostly nasty, and the “lucky” outs would’ve only been singles as well.
Starting with the heater, it usually sat 91-93 and topped at 94. Elias’ delivery has a little deception, but the fastball is an average pitch. I may have oversold it in the open. But the off-speed is where he excelled, throwing a change-up when it was good at 84-85 – when bad at 87. As I mention a few times through the recap, it occasionally has some big downward and lateral break making it look like a slider. Then his best pitch – the curveball – is a power pitch going 76-80. This may sound hyperbolic, but his stuff reminds me of Chris Sale. Huge bending breaking ball with a change-up and fastball. But Sale’s command is better and he has a much better heater.
So where to adjust my rankings to let Elias in? Well, he still barely cracks it right now. This was obviously an outlier game as he’s only gotten to 7 innings twice in 11 starts, and never past 7.0 IP. His Gamescore had never topped 65, so this was certainly a career-game for the youngun. I think his overall numbers look about where they should be, and this complete game isn’t a sign of out-of-nowhere acedom. His fastball isn’t good enough to get over control issues if he doesn’t have the change-up and curveball working. With a young pitcher without a glowing pedigree on his off-speed stuff – I think it could get him in trouble here and there. However when it’s all working, you get games like this shutout or the 10 K performance at the Yankees. Going at TB next seems decent, but then the Yankees come to Seattle for a second turn against him. That will be a big test. If he doesn’t get shelled in that one, it looks like it’ll be at San Diego mid-month. That’s one that’ll for sure look saucy in a couple weeks.
JB’s Updated Top 100 SP
(rankings based on 12-team Roto – green for risers, red for fallers)
- I’m not really worried about Scherzer, but 2+ walks in 4 straight before yesterday, three bad ones in a row, it’s just enough of a nitpick to slide him down a couple. Plus yesterday was 9 hits and 4 earned against the Mariners with no Robinson Cano!
- Don’t look now, but Homer Bailey has quality starts in 5 of his last 6 games. It’s still under the radar since he hasn’t had that dominant outing yet, but I’m encouraged enough for a green.
- You wanna know who might be the most consistent pitcher in baseball? Yovani Gallardo. As in, consistently “meh”.
- I might be crazy – but I’m all in on Heaney who looks ready right now. I thank all you commenters for making me consider Heaney over all the middling guys and I realized since I see him being an impact arm right away – he needs to be ranked as such.
- Ugh, friggin’ Doug Fister. I mighta been wrong there.
- Smyly is making me frowny.
- Yikes, Danny Salazar is even worse in the Minors. This is going to take a while.
- If we talk about Minors, we have to cross our fingers that’s not in Tony Cingrani’s future. Lately he’s been pitching as good as Gallardo in the consistent blah department.
- Ya know, I was down on Quintana heading into the year and he’s pretty solid. Not much upside, only a decent K rate, but won’t destroy you. Probably an oversight to not have him ranked yet.
- Another setback for Pineda. Should rub some pine tar on his back…
- Speaking of rubbing, Rubby De La Rosa! Stuff looked pretty good. Cautiously optimistic.
Thoughts on the Elias adjustment? Rankings got a craw in your britches? Shoot comments below and merry pitching!