Alex Reyes is the guy that’s going to be the difference maker on my points league teams this season. Well, except in any league where any of my opponents read this post. If I’m thinking outside of my “points league box”, he has the potential to make a difference in all fantasy formats this season. I see him as a mid-season sleeper that’s going to take up a roster spot for at least one or two before you have a chance to see if holding him will pay any dividends. This is a risk I am willing to take, and is one I’m recommending to the rest of you.
Let’s take a look at the possible scenarios, starting with the worst case scenario. You draft him. He then occupies a roster spot and when he comes back he pitches out of the bullpen with mediocre results. I guess getting re-injured would actually be the worst case, but I’m going to ignore that possibility since injuries are unpredictable. Unless the player’s name is Grady Sizemore, Troy Tulowitzki or David Wright. So what then? If your roster has enough room, you stash him. If not, you drop him in redraft leagues.
Let’s not forget that Reyes was the top pitching prospect in all of baseball just one year ago and he’s only 23 years young. I realize he’s coming off of the dreaded Tommy John Surgery, but at this point that surgery has become an exact science.
It is anticipated that Reyes will return around May 1st. That would be approximately fifteen months after surgery. From what I’ve read he’s about fifteen pounds slimmer and eager to get back in the game. If my math is correct he’s lost one pound per month while on the disabled list. While he’s not throwing at one hundred percent yet he will be headed to Jupiter in the coming days to begin preparing for Spring Training and the 2018 season. In case you were uncertain, that’s Jupiter, Florida, not the planet. His days of going to Jupiter planet (getting high) are long behind him.
Rumor has it that he could very likely be headed to the bullpen when he returns to St. Louis. While this might make sense to initially control his workload, Reyes is a starter.
But let’s just say he’s stuck pitching out of the pen. Luke Gregerson has been named the Cardinals closer for 2018. I believe the phrase “as of today” was included in the statement. If that’s not a ringing endorsement I don’t know what is. Gregerson did have 31 saves for the Astros back in 2015, but has since relinquished the closer role to Ken Giles. When he initially signed he was expected to be the setup man, the role he’s had most recently in Houston. Last season he gave up 13 home runs in just 61 innings. his home run to fly ball ratio was 23.6 percent. Not exactly ideal for the ninth inning pitcher.
Enter Alex Reyes. If he’s coming out of the bullpen, why can’t it be in the ninth? He is a strikeout pitcher that doesn’t give up home runs. Would it be so bad if you ended up with the Cardinals closer?
But as I said, Reyes is a starter. What does the Cards rotation look like for the coming season? Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas and Luke Weaver. The only two I feel good about are CarMart and Weaver. Wainwright’s recent injury history is enough to keep me away. Did I mention he just had arthroscopic on his right elbow. Wacha is a wild card. Lastly we have Miles Mikolas who spent the last three season pitching in Japan. He has a total of 91.1 Major League innings under his belt, the last coming back in 2014. The most interesting thing about him is his nickname “The Lizard King” which was given to him after eating a lizard in the bullpen in a 2011 Arizona Fall League game. Wait, I lied. His best feature is his mustache.
I’d like to take a quick look at Alex’s 46-inning stint in the Majors back in 2016 when he went 4-1 with a 1.57 earned run average and 52 strikeouts. That’s 10.17 K/9, but he did walk 23 batters. That’s a walk every other inning. Not exactly comforting. Even though that’s in line with his minor league numbers I expect the walks to come down. It will have to. He allowed just one home run in those 46 innings.
Translating this performance to points, Reyes totaled 141 points over 46 innings. That’s 3.06 points per inning pitched. However, I’d like to take a look at his performance as a starter. He started five games that season. His first two starts were a little shaky as he gave up 13 hits, 5 walks and 4 earned runs over 11 innings. He did strikeout 12 and walked away with a 1-0 record, beating the Cubs who lost a league low 58 games. Over his five starts Reyes pitched 28.2 innings. He allowed 25 hits, 7 earned runs and 13 walks. He struck out 29 and had a 2-0 record and a 2.19 ERA. His WHIP was high at 1.32, but so was his strand rate. Reyes averaged 15.996 points per start over these five starts.
To put that into perspective let’s look where that would rank amongst 2017 starting pitchers. Corey Kluber set the bar with 24.76 points per start, following by Chris Sale (22.46), Max Scherzer (22.03), Clayton Kershaw (21.7) and Stephen Strasburg (19.92). Ervin Santana, who had a great season, finished with 15.93 points per start. Jimmy Nelson was at 16.13. So Reyes would fall somewhere between. I realize it’s a small sample size, but that’s the sample he’s given us. For shits and giggles here are a few other notables. Justin Verlander (16.76), Yu Darvish (14.9), Chris Archer (14.64) and Aaron Nola (15.7).
Narrowing our focus to St. Louis, here’s how Reyes compares. Luke Weaver (16.1, 10 starts), Carlos Martinez (15.75, 32 starts), Michael Wacha (12.3, 30 starts) and Adam Wainwright (10.69, 23 starts). As for the Lizard King, he’s buried in Paris.
My prediction is that Reyes will be starting games before seasons end and he could very well be the push you need in the second half of the season. Move over Felix, there’s a new king in town!