Not Your Grandfather’s Top 100 Starting Pitchers…
It was established in the first edition of 2019 Top 100 Pitchers: starting pitchers are much like grandparents. Exciting when they’re young and healthy, disheartening when they’re old and feeble. No reasonable mind would dispute the likeness between our elders and dudes who grasp and thrust balls for a living.
Don’t get me wrong, I love grandparents and Clayton Kershaw just as much as the next Donkey, but there’s an unavoidable sadness which surfaces when those we admire begin to fall apart. Here are some pitchers inspiring sadness this spring:
Luis Severino – Shoulder (-11) The Yanks already announced he’ll be sidelined until May; my money would be on Seve missing more than just the first month. But I don’t have any money because I keep making bets on things I know nothing about, like when baseball players will return to action.
Walker Buehler – Dead arm (-1) Buehler has had many days off this spring. Like, the whole spring. It’s not a great sign, but it’s also possible we’re getting the perfect buying opportunity. Proceed with caution.
Mike Foltynewicz – Elbow Soreness (-23) I’m still holding my breath on Folty. I was excited about the Foltwich taking another step forward until this elbow soreness came along. No real news since the initial reports broke, Tommy John potential still lingers awkwardly. Poor Tommy John, Dr. James Andrews is his only real friend nowadays.
Alex Wood – Back (-15) I noted last year that parts of his delivery reminded me of Kershaw. It made sense that a lefty pitcher in Dodgertown might try to learn from C.K. Hopefully Wood isn’t emulating (insert Louis C.K. jerk off joke here) Kershaws spinal health as well.
Josh James – Quad (-6) James’s quad strain cost him the chance breaking camp in the Astros rotation, but I have a feeling this is just a convenient way for the ‘Stros to limit his innings early in the season. Then again, maybe that feeling is just the Korean food I bought off that food truck. What’s this world coming to when you can’t trust the Mexican guy selling Korean food out of the back of a pickup truck!?
Andrew Heaney – Elbow Soreness (-24) Same thing I said about Folty applies to Heaney.
Carlos Martinez – Shoulder (-18) Pretty much what I said about Severino except no timetable has been given on CarMart yet and there’s a real chance he heads to the bullpen if and when he is healthy.
Jesus Luzardo – Shoulder (-42) Jesusssssss, whyyyyyyy?! This is a huge hit for one of the the most exciting young arms in the game. Leaving him in the top 100 is probably a stretch at this point. Next season may be the year he walks on water.
Michael Fulmer – Tommy John (out for season) Another one bites the dust. I’ll touch on Fulmer a few lines below.
For what its Werth, I’m avoiding all these guys except Josh James, Buehler, and maybe Heaney if he falls well below ADP. Severino, Folty, and CarMart could be worth a gamble if they’re really faded in your late draft, but the smart money says pass and just invest in Fyre Fest #2.
The Blue Pill
The idea of pitchers experimenting with new pitches and drugs during spring training is well documented. Alright, maybe the drugs part isn’t well document, but what else are these guys doing with their spare time? Knitting? Bible study? This is why we don’t read much into spring training stats; because of all the mushrooms, LSD, and peyote going around. But one meaningful item I do take note of during spring training is an increase in libido.
It reminds me of when grandpa-Donk discovered those blue pills. It was a rough week. Eventually we had to breakdown and buy the grandparents a new bed frame so the rest of us Donkeys could get some sleep again.
But instead of a blood flow increase bringing new life to the bedroom, it’s a velocity increase bringing new life to pitchers fastballs which I’m monitoring this spring. These increases can be very meaningful; just ask 2017 Jacob deGrom, 2018 Blake Snell, and 2009 grandpa-Donk. Jeff Zimmerman of Fangraphs.com generously compiles and shares a list of all notable spring velocity increases over on Twitter. Here are the most intriguing velocity increases this spring:
|Name||2018 AVG FB Velo (mph)||2019 Spring Velo (mph)|
|Edinson Volquez||93.9 (2017)||95-97|
Now let’s not overreact to a sample so small (that’s what she said…wait, I said that to her). There’s very little to go off here and we don’t know what quality of information we’re looking at, but if it’s true, several of these guys could be headed for a major breakout or resurgence this season.
I’m moving some of these pitchers up slightly in my rankings, mainly because they were already close to the pitchers who were above them. A potential velo increase is a good tiebreaker if I’m on the fence between two arms. I’ll be closely monitoring all of these fellas as real baseball begins. Again, all of this should be taken with a grain of salt until we have a little larger sample (that’s what she said! nailed it that time).
|Name||2018 AVG FB Velo (mph)||2019 Spring Velo (mph)|
On the flip side, substantial spring velocity decreases are big red flags (see: Fulmer, Michael). Fortunately, there aren’t any big names going limp this spring; I had to dip into relievers just to create that losing libido graphic! Needless to say, I’m even less interested in jumping into bed with LeBlanc and Cobb than I was before. LeBlanc Cobb is also the name of a French porn star I met when I was backpacking across Europe after college. Nothing happened between us. Seriously, we were just friends!
Anywayyyyyyy, here’s my updated Top 100 Starting Pitchers for 2019 Fantasy Baseball (remember these are my current 5×5 draft rankings, the in season rankings will be more of a snapshot in time):
|20||Zach Wheeler||25||Velo increase|
|22||Mike Clevinger||26||Velo increase|
|25||Luis Severino||14||Shoulder injury out until at least May 1|
|29||Tyler Glasnow||34||Velo increase|
|31||Chris Archer||35||Velo increase|
|35||Yu Darvish||36||Velo increase, looks sharp|
|39||Mike Folynewicz||16||Elbow soreness|
|40||Chris Paddack||99||He’s really good!|
|49||Julio Urias||125||Velo increase & opportunity in LA now|
|50||Rich Hill||64||Great when healthy, appears healthy
3/22 Update: He’s hurt! Shocker. Move him back down 15 spots…
|52||Dallas Keuchel||47||Still no team|
|53||Alex Reyes||49||Cards bringing him along very slow|
|54||Josh James||48||Quad injury|
|61||Matt Strahm||100||In SD rotation & velo increase|
|62||Jake Arrieta||72||Velo increase|
|63||Michael Wacha||75||Velo increase|
|64||Freddy Peralta||83||Has 5th starter spot in MIL|
|65||Brad Peacock||124||Has 5th starter spot in HOU|
|66||Corbin Burnes||NA||Has rotation spot|
|67||Andrew Heaney||43||Elbow soreness|
|68||Carlos Martinez||50||Shoulder injury, major uncertainty|
|71||Alex Wood||56||Back injury|
|77||Brandon Woodruff||115||Has rotation spot in MIL|
|78||Touki Touissant||107||Leg up on 5th starter spot in Atlanta|
|79||Domingo German||108||Has rotation spot in NYY|
|91||Tyler Skaggs||70||Elbow soreness|
|92||Dakota Hudson||NA||5th starter in STL|
|103||Trevor Cahill||102||Velo increase|
|104||Julio Teheran||110||Velo increase|
|108||Luis Cessa||NA||Chance for rotation spot in New York|
|109||Jonathan Loaisiga||138||Chance for rotation spot in New York|
|117||Lucas Giolito||135||Velo increase|
|120||Edinson Volquez||NA||Rotation spot in TEX & velo increase|
|122||Ryan Borucki||148||Velo increase|
|124||Ervin Santana||NA||Rotation spot in CHW|
|141||Nick Kingham||94||No rotation spot?|
|142||Martin Perez||NA||Velo increase|
|143||Gio Gonzalez||133||Signed with NYY|
|144||Chase Anderson||65||To the bullpen|
|148||Wade LeBlanc||101||Velo decrease|
|149||Daniel Mengden||112||Demoted to AAA|
|150||Danny Salazar||119||Will he ever pitch again?|
|155||Alex Cobb||145||Velo decrease|
|NA||Michael Fulmer||105||Tommy John|
Find Donkey Teeth on Twitter @DonkeyTeeth87. Subscribe to his podcast with @DiktaSausagePod: Ditka, Sausage, and Fantasy Sports on Itunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.
All ADP data courtesy of NFBC and all statistics courtesy of Fangraphs & Baseball Savant.