Oh, the world we live in today. Computers. Phones. Internet. Baseball followed so adroitly that even the deepest of prospects are owned in NL/AL-only dynasty leagues. It’s a wonder any of the farm kids even have and fun with this kind of scrutiny!
But even with all the stats, all the Moneyballs, all the Jonah Hills… We still get a 27-year-old Cuban starter, who had a 6.85 ERA and unreal 2.03 WHIP in 23.2 AAA innings, allow only 1 ER in his first two MLB starts (with a 70 then 58 Gamescore – see what I did with the title there?!). Part of the fun of baseball – on any given day you just never know! Remember when Phil Humber had a perfect game? Exactly.
For just as hard Odrisamer Despaigne has thrust himself into the fantasy baseball lexicon, just as little is known. I remember seeing his name when he was signed, but that’s about it. Only 3 Ks in these two great starts, but hey – can’t hurt to take a deeper look. Just look at what fellow countryman Roenis Elias is doing, and he had virtually no buzz either. Cubans know what they’re doing on the bump! So I picked Despaigne for this glorious Monday’s PP and broke down how he looked:
First Inning: Despaigne’s first pitch is a sinking 89 MPH fastball in there for strike one on Ender Inciarte. I intentionally didn’t look up any of Despaigne’s scouting reports to go in this analysis fresh. Next is a slider at 86 running in, another slider on the hands is pulled foul, then a very slow curveball at 66 almost catches the high outside corner, 2-2. That almost looked in there – and pitch tracker called it a Eephus… Fastball is fouled off, then another slider on the hands jams Inciarte, but it’s hit slow enough to get him safe at first for an infield single. Very weak hit to start. Gerardo Parra is first-pitch swinging, and hits a sinking fastball to left for an easy first out. Paul Goldschmidt takes a fastball outside, another heater outside, then gets a sinking fastball in there with Inciarte stealing 2nd. A nice looking curveball on the outside edge barely dips low – that’s the best break I’ve seen so far – then a perfect painting fastball on the outside edge gets strike 2.
Surprised Despaigne wanted to attack with first base open against Goldy. Then again that curveball, and it’s even close but called ball four. Man that looked really close, Bud Black is furious. So runners first and second, and Miguel Montero looks at a fluttering curveball that’s off catcher Yasmani Grandal‘s glove, but Inciarte didn’t pick it up in time and the runners have to hold. Some bad breaks, but a good break there – runners should be at 2nd and 3rd. Slider is way inside, 2-0, then a fastball on the outside edge gets opposite field blasted for an RBI single. Dbacks up 1-0. Not a terrible pitch with some tail, but Montero stayed with it, and good thing Inciarte didn’t move up earlier or else it’d be 2-0. Runners at the corners and Aaron Hill takes outside, again heater outside, then a fastball right down the middle gets popped up. Huge out there in shallow center, keeping the runner at third. And a lucky pop out too, that looked hittable. A good first-pitch fastball is in there to Martin Prado, slider is chopped foul, another slider is horrifically outside and saved by Grandal to save a run, 1-2. He had to hop up and fully extend to get that one. Big save there, second time that second run didn’t score. Curveball is low and outside, but then a fastball tailing a bit in the zone gets foul tipped for strike three. Huge K there for a non-K guy.
Second Inning: After a rough first inning, Despaigne is inside with a slider to David Peralta, fastball is in there, another slider on the hands hit foul, then that slow breaking 66 MPH curveball is taken, and it fooled Peralta and probably home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott as well…
…because where did that miss! Despaigne is mad, and pitch tracker had it way in the zone too. 2-2 slider looks like it hits the upper inside corner, and again no call. Pitch tracker has it nipping the zone. Some tough calls, and the payoff pitch is way inside. Rough walk. Up is rookie Nick Ahmed who takes a slider low and outside, then a cutter is ripped foul about 20 feet to the right of the foul pole. Ahmed is tiny too, surprised at that power. Despaigne is outside, then gets one in there, then another fastball is grounded to second, and it’s sharp enough to get the double play. That sinker was right down the middle, but hit to the right spot. Two down, and opposing pitcher Mike Bolsinger takes strike one, and another sinker is slapped to short for an easy third out.
Third Inning: Fastball inside in the dirt to Inciarte to start the 3rd, another fastball is just outside, gets one in there, cutter on the hands is pulled foul, then either a mini-curveball or change-up in the inside of the zone sounds like it breaks Inciarte’s bat for an easy flyout to right. Curveball is in there for strike one on Peralta – 66 on the gun – then fastball on the hands is flared out to left for an easy second out. 92 MPH fastball hits the outside of the zone to Goldy, good to see Despaigne ramp up the velo against the Dbacks only good (well, best) hitter, fastball at 90 is inside, slider low and in the dirt, then a nasty two-seamer darts across the zone in on Au Shizz’s hands for strike two.
Nastiest pitch of the day. Despaigne goes to that curveball, and it barely misses the upper outside zone 3-2. Then a change-up – a tad lower and a tad further in – gets the called strike three to ring up Goldy.
Great, great attack there against one of the best MLB hitters.
Fourth Inning: After a rocky start, Despaigne is cruising at 50 pitches, and Montero weakly grounds out the first-pitch sinker to second. Great start. Despaigne has a curveball slip out of his hand and it sails about 4 feet over Aaron Hill’s head. Wow. Then slider is low and outside and skips past Grandal for two straight wild ones. But he corrects it and gets a fastball in there, slider way low, then cutter a good bit outside for a walk. Unlike his first two BBs, that was a lost one. Two-seamer is in there to Prado, then that groundball inducing sinker on the hands is pounded in the dirt for a tailor-made double play to end the inning. Best way to erase walks!
Fifth Inning: Stop the presses! The Padres pick up two runs of support. So the first time protecting a lead, Despaigne tails a first-pitch two-seamer in there to Peralta, slider inside is yanked foul, but the 0-2 change-up is hung right down the middle and Peralta blasts it to right for a single. Not a good pitch there. That slow, slow curveball at 67 is in there for strike one on Ahmed, slider outside, cutter low is fouled back, slider is way low and outside – another good save by Grandal. 2-2 with the runner on the move Ahmed tips it foul, and then a sinker is laced to right, but Chris Denorfia got a great read and catches it on the slide. Nice play there. Bolsinger bunts the first offering foul, but the second bunt is perfect and moves Peralta to second base. Two outs, runner at second, and Despaigne again starts with the slow curve and gets it in there. He can throw all his pitches for strikes. Inciarte takes a late swing at a change-up in the zone, then the 0-2 curveball at 73 is grounded to second for an easy end to the inning.
Sixth Inning: Still a 2-1 game and Despaigne’s 73rd pitch is a curveball fluttering outside to Parra, sinker is laced just foul down the first base line, cutter on the hands again ripped foul, then a curve on the outside corner is dribbled down the first base line, and Grandal makes a perfect play to get him out. That was like a swinging bunt – good D. Au Shizz takes a fastball outside, slider outside, 92 MPH fastball a bit high, then the 3-0 two-seamer is elevated for a four-pitch walk. Despaigne was not giving Goldy anything to hit. Sinker inside to Montero, fastball perfectly on the inside lower black evens it up, then the 1-1 curveball is hung a bit down the middle, and Montero ropes to first. But Tommy Medica fields it cleanly, gets it to second, and it’s back to first for the third DP of the day. Great defense from the Pads this inning.
Seventh Inning: Now at 83 pitches, Despaigne is outside, then tails that two-seamer in Hill’s backdoor (cough), slider dives low, a perfect slider on the outside corner is in there 2-2, curveball is poked foul, another curveball is way outside and in the dirt, then a sinker on the outside upper edge is lined for what could’ve easily been a double, but Medica full extension and in the air makes the catch. Medica doing everything on D! Slider is in there to Prado, curveball dips low, fastball high and outside, slider low and outside, 3-1. Despaigne tails that two-seamer at 91 on the outside black for 3-2, and the payoff change-up is rocketed to left, but it’s caught in front of the track on the run by Seth Smith. At Chase Field that might’ve been a homer. Long live Petco! First-pitch cutter to Peralta is yanked through the hole for a two out single. So all three batters this inning have hit the ball hard. Sinker is in the dirt to Ahmed, tails that two-seamer in there – that’s been his best and most consistent pitch today – cutter is outside, sinker is dribbled foul, then the 2-2 sinker is hit well opposite field between first and second for another two-out single. It’s Ahmed’s first Major League hit, and it chases Despaigne out of the game at 102 pitches. But the 2-1 score holds for Despiagne’s second win.
Final Line: W 6.2 IP 102 Pitches (59 Strikes) 1 ER 5 Hits 4 Walks 2 K Gamescore: 58 Gamescore+: 54.8
Final Analysis: Despaigne has some pretty good stuff that moves each and every other way across, and in, and down the strike zone. This might be a silly comparison, but his stuff is almost like a knuckleballer in that is goes in every direction at some various speeds. Of course, Despaigne gets to 92, but hopefully you get what I mean. Because of the lack of Ks and hard hit balls – especially in the 7th – he scored much lower with his Gamescore+, exactly how the stat was intended.
Throwing from various arm slots at all sorts of different speeds, Despaigne is the quintessential control/pitch to contact hurler. Fastball variants of the sinker, two-seamer and cutter ranged from 87-92. That two-seamer had some great tail at times as in the third GIF above. The sinker could also paint as in the first GIF. Despaigne’s slider at 83ish-85 was used about as much as his curveball, that varied wildly from 66-75. The slider was solid with decent break to throw in on the hands of lefties, but he didn’t use it as much against righties. The curveball was used a lot to try and get strike one taking, but also as a high and outside location after three or four inside. Late in the counts, he’s hoping it’s taken for strike three – not hacked on. He also mixed in a few change-ups around 75ish, which didn’t do much to work off the fastball. The one that got Goldy looking just fell in with Au Shizz looking for something else. As the numbers thus far suggest, he’s not gonna be a K guy with this arsenal.
Two starts in, two wins, and an ERA under 1. I don’t think even the Despaigne family saw this coming. But he’s got good stuff that moves everywhere to draw contact – on top of pitching in Petco. He’s never going to get the Ks, but he’s got enough variance in pitch selection, speed, and arm slots to be a backend starter in the Majors for a while. But what does that mean for fantasy? Well, he’s certainly NL-only ownable (and I’m sure was picked up either right before or right after his debut), but he’s not a top 100 Roto option. No Ks and no real upside. Points leagues should have some interest though, especially in home starts. All that said, that 7th inning was brutal. Two very hard hit outs, then two hard hit singles. Seemed like the DBacks were finally catching on, and that abhorrent AAA line gets back into your memory. For home starts in good matchups against guys who have never seen him before – he indeed is worth a spot-start look. Unfortunately, his next start is home against the Giants (who he faced in his debut) and I don’t feel great about him in a second turn this early. Then if the schedule holds, he’s up at the Dodgers – don’t love that – but mid-July home against the Mets. Most leagues should be interested in that one.
JB’s Updated Top 100 SP
(rankings based on 12-team Roto, and from this point to the end of season – green for risers, red for fallers)
Dropped Out: n/a
- Don’t give up on Heaney. Absolutely cruised and had about as unlucky a start as a guy can have. I watched his whole outing yesterday, and he gave up 7 singles (out of 8 hits) – 6 ground balls with only one hit really hard. One was a bunt single that if Casey McGehee fields cleanly is an out. The sixth inning was ridiculous – two outs then ground ball single, the only fly ball single was a broken bat flare by Cespedes, then Donaldson a ground ball single, then first-pitch home run by quad A Nate Frieman. Easily could’ve been out of the inning three times over. And he had a 4:0 K:BB in that start against the A’s (already one of the league’s best lineups) who lead the Majors in bases on balls by 40! Sure a little ranty, but wanted a long answer on why Heaney is not going anywhere in my ranks. One final thought – he stayed composed, and was talking with the other Marlins starters right away instead of sulking/pulling a Mejia. I’m gonna make the rest of my quick hitters… quicker…
- Alex Wood looked awesome.
- Of course I mention how C.J. Wilson had given up 76 hits in 99.2 innings last week, and since then 16 hits in 8.2. I hate fantasy baseball sometimes…
- I didn’t move him up dramatically, but Jonathon Niese hasn’t given up more than 3 ERs in a game the whole season! Then again, only one of his 16 starts had 0 ER. He doesn’t K much and has limited upside, but that’s pretty amazing. Dare I say… amazin’.
- The quote from Keuchel about his wrist and he’s scared because he’s never gone through a wrist injury scares me as well. Still off the two straight 4 walk games and uncertain about his health. Eesh…
- Jake Arrieta is this week’s big riser. I should’ve bought in earlier – he has good stuff, but we’ve never seen anything close to this from him. He should be next week’s I’m thinking…
- I hate Phil Hughes so much. Of course, now that I’ve dropped him again in several leagues, he’ll run off four straight scoreless starts. Just so hittable, yet only when I have him on my teams…
- Lay out the red carpet for Taijuan Walker!
- Very little movement on Tim Lincecum. I think I might be able to throw a quality start against the Padres…
- For the first time this year, I haven’t added/dropped anyone. J.A. Happ? Eh. Charlie Morton? More eh. Jesse Hahn is close; I wish I knew the outcome of today’s start against the Reds. If it’s a good one, he’d get up into the 80s pretty easy, but I’m still waiting it out. I’ve never seen him pitch either, so I’m going to try and tune in especially since my Brew Crew are off.
Thoughts on Mr. Spellcheck? I’m sure I’ve got a few boo-boos in your mind in the rankings as well, so as always, shoot your comments below and may your ERAs and WHIPs be microscopic!