More terrible relievers turning into dominant starters, mo problems!
So it’s been an up-and-down start to this young season – pretty much all of my sleepers except maybe Corey Kluber (who I still like a lot) are doing great, Nathan Eovaldi still looks pretty good and I remain bullish on him, but Tyson Ross who I bailed on turned in a gem on Saturday.
Then to my rankings, where, yes, I didn’t have Jesse Chavez ranked last week. I had him at 102 and couldn’t break him in, then Monday night he went out and carved up the Angels for 9 Ks in 7 innings with only one earned. I mentioned that night in the comments I would have to add him in there, but before Monday he was a terrible career-reliever with only one eye-popping start at the Twins. I’m regretting not adding him somewhere (“welcome to the party, pal!”), as I streamed some guys yesterday who weren’t awful, but would’ve preferred Chavez. And I would’ve been right too, as he dealt another solid game. Here’s how he looked yesterday against the Astros:
First Inning: The first pitch Jose Altuve is a 91 MPH fastball outside, then is in there at the same speed, then again 91 and Altuve pops it up, and Josh Reddick tries to get it along the line, but it lands an inch fair for a bloop double. Very unlucky there. Dexter Fowler gets a curve outside, then a nasty two-seamer in there, 1-1.
A cutter on the hands gets a weak foul, then another cutter gets a groundout to third. So runner still on second, and Jason Castro gets a great two-seamer and misses it, 0-1. That two-seamer is working well today. Cutter is low, then a curveball is outside and Altuve takes off, but is caught at third for the second out. Either a change or splitter at 85 is low, then a fastball is outside for a walk. George Springer gets a cutter low and away, then a nice slider at 83 is in there, 1-1. A fastball or cutter at 90 that didn’t move much gets a big swing, and Springer is a few feet foul from his first home run. That was hammered, at least 10 rows back, but a loud strike. Then a cutter is absolutely ripped into left for a single. Man, best swings I’ve seen from Springer so far (I’ve watched a lot of him since the big call-up). So Chavez has runners on 1st and 2nd and misses low with the curve to Marc Krauss, haven’t seen a good feel for that pitch today, then a fastball in there, cutter fouled back followed by a cutter outside. Change-up is fouled, then a fastball is flied out weakly to left, and a relatively stressful inning comes to a close with no runs.
Second Inning: Chavez gets a quick two runs of support, and opens the second with a cutter in there to the .132 hitting Chris Carter. Chavez misses low, then that nasty two-seamer with some sink gets a bad hack, 1-2. Cutter stays outside, then another is lifted to shallow left for an easy out. L.J. Hoes taps a weak one to second on the first pitch, two fast outs. Up is Marwin Gonzalez who takes a fastball low, then a nasty cutter – his best thus far – gets barely tapped foul, 0-2.
Then a change-up at 84 on the outside part of the plate is taken to the opposite field for a single. I don’t get that pitch selection there, and a change at 84 when you’re working 89-91 isn’t going to work. I say scrap that pitch! First pitch to Jonathan Villar who gets a cutter and grounds out weakly to second, inning over.
Third Inning: The third starts with a fastball that Altuve grounds out weakly to second, one pitch, one out. Cutter catches the outside black, then a change at 83 drops low apparently – looked good to me – 1-1 to Fowler. Cutter is high, two-seamer stays inside, then the 3-1 fastball is way low – second walk for Chavez. A little shaky with control right now, he had only 2 free passes in his first 3 starts and 2 already today. Cutter is fouled back by Castro, then Chavez drops in a dandy curveball for a strike, 0-2. Cutter stays outside, then another curve is tapped foul, two-seamer stays inside, and a 2-2 cutter is ripped foul and this is turning into a good battle. 7th pitch of the at bat is a fastball on the outside corner that Castro waves at late for Chavez’s first K on the day. Chavez starts low to Springer with the change, again with the change but is in there, then a fastball is way too high, 2-1. Still a little iffy with his control today. Chavez goes to the curveball and Springer does a good job recognizing it, but laces it hard foul. Springer is locking in. Springer taps one foul, Chavez is racking up the pitch count with 50 already, then a cutter is tapped weakly to third and Josh Donaldson boots it for an error. Should’ve been an easy groundout, but instead Chavez’s pitch count will continue to climb. Chavez spikes a curveball a good four feet in front of home, then a cutter gets hit really hard by Marc Krauss, but it’s caught on the track. Chavez loves his ballpark! That’s a homer by four rows in Boston. Krauss was locked in on the cutter which I think more and more batters are going to be able to do. Regardless, it ends the inning.
Fourth Inning: At 53 pitches, Chavez’s 54th is a fastball that Carter sat on, and it’s two feet short of a homer caught on the track. It was a moonshot, but as they say in Major League, “it’s too high!” Off the monster in Boston and a homer in several parks. Fastball is low to Hoes, curveball is outside, 2-0. We’ve only seen a couple of good curves, with 4-5 really bad ones. So the 2-0 is obviously his bread-and-butter cutter (rhyme!), which Hoes laces to left and it’s caught in front of the track. That one didn’t get as solid contact as the last two outs, but another deep fly ball. A very nice change is in there for 0-1 to Gonzalez, then hits that inside corner with a running two-seamer, nice sequence for 0-2. Chavez getting it together. Fastball is way outside, but a fastball is left up and Gonzalez crushes it for a homer. So 4 straight deep fly balls, and that one couldn’t be contained. Chavez’s four-seamer is pretty straight and Gonzalez locked in on it. Curveball is low to Villar showing bunt, change-up is in there, cutter eats him up for a weak foul, then another cutter that looked like it got plenty of the outside corner is called a ball, 2-2. Chavez turned his back after that one, thought he had it. I did too. Fastball is fouled, then another is outside, and another is foul tipped into the mitt for Chavez’ second K.
Fifth Inning: So still protecting a 2-1 lead, and a fastball gets the outside corner on Altuve, 0-1. A good change drops in there, and Chavez throws the cutter on the outside corner and Altuve swings badly, 3rd K, one down.
Change drops in, then Fowler fowls one (hah), 0-2. Fastball is high, a curve is fouled back, another heater is high and outside, then a curveball dips low and inside, full count. The payoff pitch is the four-seamer and it stays high. Third walk for Chavez, so not as sharp this start. A fastball doesn’t get the call, 1-0 to Castro, change is in there, a cutter gets in the bottom outside corner, another cutter is fouled, still 1-2. Chavez dials up the two-seamer, and Castro misses it – late again with the swing – for Chavez’s 4th K. A change-up gets the outside corner on Springer, another change is low, fastball fouled back, then a nice cutter right on the outside black gets a swing-and-miss and Chavez strikes out the side.
Sixth Inning: At 87 pitches, Chavez is reaching the end of the line and it’s low to Krauss, then outside, gets in there, then a change gets one rolled foul, 2-2. A high cutter at 86 gets a late swing, and up to 6 Ks for Chavez. Four in a row. Cutter is in there for a strike, another is fouled back by Carter, a change is fouled back, then a fastball is high, 1-2. Cutter bends just outside, couldn’t get Carter to chase, then a curveball is hit off the end of Carter’s bat for a weak fly out. A nice change is in there, a cutter bends just outside, change-up low, a cutter fouled back, and Chavez’s final pitch is a curveball tapped pretty weakly down the third base line, and Hoes is thrown out to end the inning.
Final Line: W 6 IP 103 Pitches (65 Strikes) 1 ER 4 Hits 3 Walks 6 K Gamescore: 63 Gamescore+: 63.6
Final Analysis: So what to make of this game… My Gamescore+ came out right even with the Gamescore, a lot of weak outs but also some hard hit outs caught on the track in spacious O.co Coliseum.
I like the cutter. It’s his main pitch that he throws about 40% of the time, and that seemed spot-on to his usage yesterday. But as I mentioned in the 4th, it’s easy to anticipate when Chavez falls behind in counts, and I don’t think the rest of his arsenal is good enough to sustain this kind of success. Mixing in a straight four-seamer, a pretty good two-seamer when he’s on, a below-average change-up and a hit-or-miss curve, none of those really stood out besides the good two-seamers to complement the cutter. I really don’t know what to make of this – his average velocity before yesterday’s start was 91.5 and I don’t think he hit 92 a single time in this game, plus he walked three after only two in his first three starts combined. Did I see a slightly off Chavez? I did catch some of his start against the Angels, and he seemed about the same to me then…
Sorry about the waffling, but it’s head-scratching. Everyone knows regression is coming, but to what extent? I feel like I’m still wishy-washy putting him at 67. Remember, these ranks are for the rest of the season, and even though that has him with a lot of fringe-guys in shallower leagues, Chavez absolutely needs to be owned right now while hot. Chavez lucks out and misses the Rangers early this week and gets a start at Houston. You obviously like that one, and we’ll see how the Astros hitters adjust. After that it’s at Texas. Whew-ee! I’m scurred there. After breaking down this start, yes I’m still mad I couldn’t scoop him up for this matchup, but I’ll let him be on another owner’s team when he faces the same line-up a second time then Texas. The regression could start sooner rather than later.
JB’s Updated Top 100 SP
(rankings based on 12-team Roto – green for risers, red for fallers)
- I still like Cosart’s stuff and his upside career-wise, but I don’t see how you could feel comfortable starting him in virtually any leagues. Bums me out.
- Jon Lester is looking really good. 29:4 K:BB and I watched him mow down the lowly White Sox the other night. Man that was a great lefty battle against Chris Sale. I wish I wasn’t so meh on him coming into the year.
- Sorry Indians fans! Both Salazar and Kluber are struggling after success last year. I still like Kluber a lot and think he’s undervalued – he got a little unlucky yesterday early on and probably rattled him a tad. Still fought hard though, I think good things will come.
- Zach Wheeler has walked 3 in each of his last 2 starts and a little worried about his control.
- The Ks are back for David Price, but the fantasy-ace-ness is not. He’s got a little bit of a high BABIP and HR/FB rate so his xFIP and all those “normalizing” stats look good, but I’m content to keep him out of my top 20 for now. Had a commenter worry about that one, but a rough start this past week made me feel a little better…
- I think one of the most overly-dropped pitchers that shouldn’t be is Drew Smyly. Had his first start jerked around, and hopefully they just line him up in the rotation now. Next start should be against the White Sox, I think he’s a must-play there.
- Yeah, I have no idea how you could feel safe starting Dickey right now. He’s still in my rankings for the [slight] upside, but man, I should’ve buried him much further. Hated him coming in the year and I did rank him lower than most ranks I saw, but even a late-round flyer might’ve been a waste pick…
If you have any pitcher questions or additional thoughts on Chavez or hate for the rankings, as always shoot below and happy week 4!