Interested in the MLB Draft? Ralph and I are doing our due diligence to provide some perspective on the names who will be selected come June 4.

If that feels like an advertisement that’s because it was. But this column is not for amateurs or advertisements! I wanted to continue my pitcher tendencies early this year on Razzball by highlighting three arms you might classify as “weird” from various standpoints. Weird can be good. Weird can also be bad. But weird almost always deserves attention.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Reflecting on past thoughts, musings, and predictions are vital to development. Taking old thoughts, breaking down their logic, and finding flaws, helps us understand, even in the slightest way, why something we thought was wrong. Even when we’re substantially correct, human nature and inherent randomness leaves room for steps in logic to be restructured. I don’t think reflection is conducted often enough in the space of fantasy baseball, particularly because it’s hard to take time away from future predictions, which present value to readers, in favor of self-criticism, which largely presents value to yourself.

This column serves not only as a reflection on pitchers I’ve thought and written about extensively, but also gives further thought to where they will end up as we progress forward in 2018 and why circumstances might have changed.

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Baseball Twitter is one of my favorite things in the world. It’s often full of interaction between analysts and fans, even analysts and other analysts, but every so often, we’re graced with the thoughts of major league players. Those we covet for their statistical production on our fake baseball teams sometimes descend from olympus to dwell amongst us fans. Sometimes that interaction is jovial, leaving us all with fuzzy feelings of joy and hope for a better world. Other times it’s between Trevor Bauer and Lance McCullers.

Last week, the topic was spin rate, and how one can increase it. I’ll do my best to plot this spat out as concisely as possible, with links to tweets.

  • Bauer insinuates the Astros are using pine tar to increase spin rate.
  • McCullers calls foul.
  • Bauer says his issue is with the MLB, not the Astros; claims pine tar increases spin rate.
  • Alex Bregman calls Trevor, “Tyler” Bauer.
  • World asks how Bauer knows pine tar increases spin rate (no tweet, “the world” doesn’t have a Twitter account… or does it… @KanyeWest).
  • Bauer quite possibly uses pine tar in first inning of May 2 start to prove point (successfully).

We need more of this. We need all of this, all the time. Dam, I love baseball.

You’re here for fantasy content, however, so why does spin rate matter for your fantasy baseball team?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

“Romantic scouting date” is exactly what it sounds like: Ralph, myself, and a baseball game. We ventured up to slightly warmer weather than Hartford brought us a few weekends ago for more looks at Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. Ralph wrote about it (right here) and I had a great time looking at the mechanics of Sean Reid-Foley (TOR) and Dillon Tate (NYY) on my Twitter feed.

For the sake of brevity, let’s get right into two pitchers I’ve had my eye on in this edition of Pitcher Thoughts.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Each week on the Razzball Prospect Podcast, Ralph and I often touch on prospects we expect to see within the coming weeks. Over the weekend I’m convinced every General Manager in baseball listened to our podcast and decided to rid us of all talking points for our next show. Dissapoting? Indeed. But does this mean we’re finally getting more looks at prospects on the big stage? Absolutely.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Each of the last two weeks, I’ve looked at pitchers who changed something in their repertoire. The first change I looked at was my opinion of starters – Take that for data! – before that exact trio started generating substantial buzz (Corbin, Bundy, Lucchesi). I then navigated to velocity changes on two arms I was particularly intrigued by (Berrios, Castillo). Now to complete the trinity, I wanted to look at what I consider “hipster pitchers.”

Said in layman’s terms – are hipsters layman now? – these arms are following the breaking-ball trend that has taken over the game, buoyed by the philosophy that your best pitch should be thrown more than the past would suggest. Breaking balls are the most successful pitch at inducing whiffs for the majority of pitchers, that’s why the majority of starters, when broken down by pitch usage and count, will tend to utilize breaking balls with two strikes (duh!). They’re also the most fun to gif up – just ask one of the most popular baseball accounts on Twitter, @PitchingNinja.

Speaking of pitchers, if you like the sound of my voice, which you can judge for yourself weekly on the Razzball Prospect Podcast I co-host with Ralph, I’m doing also doing a weekly “Pitcher Thoughts” podcast. It’s available on the Apple Podcast app, Stitcher, Spotify, and Soundcloud. Shameless plug!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

First off, go read Ralph’s post on Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. I always assumed – and I could be wrong – that many think us Razzball-ers are confined to our computers, changing our eyeglass prescription on a monthly basis as we go bleary-eyed from starting at our MLB.tv streams and Baseball Savant tabs. That is hogwash. Once a week, I make sure to step outside for an increment of 15-20 minutes. On Saturday, I took a leap of faith and decided to extend that window to a whole three hours as I absorbed a Hartford Yard Goats (this is their terrifyingly fantastic mascot) game with the almighty @ProspectJesus and fellow Razzball-ite @PaulTheMartin. It was a grand time, with extended looks at multiple top-20 prospects.

Alas, that is not what this post is about. I just couldn’t think of an intro and I wanted to brag about my weekend.

More bragging: we’ve been slaughtering it here on Razzball of late. Grey has made some fantastic sleeper calls including Patrick Corbin and others. My last pitcher-based column included Dylan Bundy, Jose Berrios, and Joey Lucchesi, three pitchers who spun fantastic outings in the past week and likely weeks to come.

Watching copious amount of baseball over the last 10 days, I noticed a slew of pitchers who were either up or down in velocity on certain pitches or entire repertoires. Analysis tends to hover around this data point for the first month of the season simply because it doesn’t take a lot for pitch velocity to stabilize, especially compared to other statistics we love to look at.

A lot of these risers and fallers, you likely already know about (think Kenley Jansen). So instead, I chose two pitchers with changes in velocity that can be linked to another aspect of their performance; maybe a little bit under the radar…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’m not sure how the average fan watches baseball. I assume most have a team they follow, sticking to that squad on a daily basis, regardless of continual misery or delight coming as the product of the entertainment. My strong fandom with for one team tends to win out, but I often watch games particularly with a focus on starting pitchers. This is how I plan out my days and nights. Apple TV’s multi-view feature is a godsend for this and my recent realization that MLB.tv’s desktop version has eliminated the ability to watch multiple games at once is a travesty. But I’ll survive, especially as this will help me focus my watching to fewer games in the hopes of digesting more nuanced points of interest from starter to starter.

Balance is key! Well… not when we’re talking about Dylan Bundy’s slider.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The big draft weekend is over. We made it.

Completing multiple NFBCs has left me broken and tattered; my spirit longing for the season to start and early panic to set in signaling my investment in certain players was clearly too high or low (stupid!).

I was planning on doing a deep sleepers post for my own site, but in an effort to consolidate, I’ve decided to move that to the pantheon that is Razzball.

First, however, I’d like to leave two general thoughts and impressions regarding draft season. I’m particularly interested in whether I’m alone in these observations, whether anybody disagrees, or whether you noticed anything worth mentioning. Comment below, I’d be happy to hear your thoughts.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I become obsessed with things. Sometimes it can be a particular food or an album (this Jimi Hendrix “vault cleaning” as Rolling Stone describes currently has my ear). Other times, as my mind is often tuned to baseball topics, I incessantly think about a concept from the diamond or evolution of a new statistic. Pitch tunneling is the recent topic earning a spot in my head.

This isn’t the first time I’ve gravitated towards pitch tunneling. Last year I wrote a column about Dylan Bundy’s cutter-slider, it’s usage, and why that pitch is one reason I irrationally like his volatile arm. As I’ve rekindled my interest in the concept, it was time for a refresh after Baseball Prospectus’ recent update. My motive was simple: combining what we know about a pitcher and what we can learn from tunneling might provide us with reasons for optimism.

I’ll admit, this post might get a little bit convoluted, so if you’re not in the mood to try and understand pitch tunneling and determine how much you value it, feel free to hop to one of my last three Razz articles – there’s something for everybody (On Scott Kingery; On ADP discrepancy; On Michael Wacha). Or just skip down to the heading for Patrick Corbin. I’ll try my best to keep things as simple and concise as possible. Teaching a concept is often a great form of learning, so I’ll admit that writing this post, in a way, helps me to understand the topic and its associated statistics better.

Please, blog, may I have some more?