Reynaldo Lopez allowed the fifth-most home runs last season and had game logs that would have made NBA players jealous. There were four games allowing three homers in a game and one game serving up four. There were 14 games in which he allowed at least five earned runs, with six of those games giving up six earned runs and two games with eight! Reynald-NOOOOOOOOOO. But I’m intrigued for some weird reason. Is it the 296 ADP in NFBC drafts from 2/1 to 3/9? Could be. Maybe it’s the fact that he throws mid-to-upper 90s. I’m always a sucker for speed. I blame Maverick and Goose. Or could it be the six-inning, 14-strikeout performance in April of last season? How about the complete game, one-hit, 11-strikeout game against the Cleveland Indians in early September? Let’s dig in and see if we can say Lope-YESSSSSS.

Lopez signed with the Washington Nationals back in 2012 as an international free agent from the Domincan Republic. He pitched in Single-A until 2016, when he logged 76 innings in Double-A, 33 innings in Triple-A, and 44 innings with the big club. With the major league team, Lopez finished with a 4.91 ERA, 8.59 K/9, and 4.50 BB/9. The following year, he was traded to the White Sox. He suffered a rib injury in 2017, which kept him at 47.2 innings pitched that season. In 2018, Lopez pitched 188.2 innings, had a 3.91 ERA, 7.2 K/9, and 3.58 BB/9. Last season, he pitched 184 innings, had a 5.38 ERA, 8.27 K/9, and 3.18 BB/9.

I know, I know. Yuckaldo Nopez, right?

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Remember Lucas Giolito in 2018? 6.13 ERA with a 6.49 K/9 and 4.67 BB/9. Well, the following season, Giolito broke out and ended the season with a 11.62 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, and 3.41 ERA. So, let’s not just discard Lopez to the side. With that said, change doesn’t magically appear.

Here are a few reasons why Lopez could improve:

Lopez made a concerted effort to improve both physically and mentally over the summer. Instead of going back to the Dominican Republic, Lopez worked out at the Mamba Academy with Noah Syndergaard and Lucas Giolito. “Every time one of us threw a bullpen session, the other two were there. We all shared information. I also learned about the pitches (and different grips).

He also used the Headspace app for meditation, in order simplify the thought process and learn how to slow things down on the mound. Woo sah worked for the Bad Boys. Why not for Lopez?

Finally, the White Sox made a splash in the offseason by signing Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million contract. Why is this important? Because Grandal is known as one of the best pitch framers in the game. In 2018, Omar Narvaez, Kevan Smith, and Wellington Castillo were the catchers for the White Sox. Smith was ranked 32nd in Framing Runs (Baseball Prospectus), Castillo was 104th, while Narvaez was 113th. Grandal was 1st. Small sample size you say? Fine, let’s do 2019. The White Sox catchers that year were James McCann and Welington Castillo. McCann was 104th while Castillo was 112th. Grandal? Only 2nd.

Statcast has a catcher framing leaderboard. Last season, Grandal was 3rd in all of baseball with a 51.1% strike rate. Translation: he’s damn good at getting strikes for his pitchers.

Now, let’s look at the zones where Lopez pitched the most.

Uhh, throwing in the center of the plate the highest percentage is sub-optimal. No wonder Lopez got pounded last season. The left, down, and lower right zones were the areas where Lopez attacked batters the most.

On the zone to the left, Grandal was a pedestrian 60th in strike rate, but to the right, he was 7th. The lower right zone, Grandal was 11th, while the lower portion of the strike zone, he was 9th.

Framing is not the only thing Grandal brings to the table, though. He knows how to call a game and could be calming influence for Lopez. He’s already suggested that Lopez put a new wrinkle on his slider, allowing it to travel at different speeds. The results after the most recent Spring Training outing were favorable, as he struck out five and did not issue a walk in 4 1/3 scoreless innings against the Padres.

Is Lopez going to be an ace? Probably not, but at his cost he doesn’t need to be. He’s shown that he can have dominant outings from time to time, but it’s all about managing the potential blowups. If he can do that, then he should return tons of value. Steamer has him projected for 159 innings. I get it, as projection systems average out the past three years, but Lopez pitched 184 and 188 innings the past two seasons. Maybe they are thinking that Michael Kopech will take his spot. Regardless, if Lopez does perform well, he should be closer to 190 innings than 160. If all the changes don’t manifest into pleasant results, you cut him and move on. No harm, no foul at his draft price.

VERDICT

 
  1. Ante Galic says:
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    Son!

    Loved the report as EVER and ALWAYS!!!

    Drafted in RCL #11. Here’s my team.

    Alfaro
    Olson
    Moustakas
    Lindor
    Jose Ramirez
    Mondesi
    Christian Walker
    Soler
    Schwarber
    Peralta
    Dozier
    Akiyama
    MallexSmith
    Bench Seth Brown

    SP – Giolito, SGRay, Lynn, Lucchesi, Odorizzi, Ray, Pearson
    RP – Yates, Hand, Betances, Hudson

    With this team, had 2 questions.

    1. Would you drop Betances to pick up Reynaldo? I believe more that Diaz will reclaim his role as the closer he was in 2018 than Betances getting back to 99 MPH like he was in 2018.

    2. I have no one to replace Mondesi if he starts the season on the DL. I guess I can wait for that event if it happens and then find a random hot MI to replace him until he gets back so that questions answered.

    Otherwise, I hope you are good man.

    Cheers,
    Ante

    • Son

      Son says:
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      Ante!!! Thanks, my man.

      That team is diesel. Tons of speed and power. Batting average could be an issue, though.
      You waited on pitching and built a nice staff.

      1) I would

      Is this your first ever RCL?

      • Ante Galic says:
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        Son!

        Thanks for your kind words and advice as always.

        a. Didn’t get to say thanks for all the really hard work that went into this report/article. Really fine work done here, you should a get a Pulitzer for it. The analysis, the data, the embedded photos (especially the bull throwing the ball) all really great work. 10/10 or Dark season 1, your choice.

        b. This is my 4th year of doing RCLs so not my first ever. I need to shore up the batting average as you say. Hopefully I can find something off the waiver wire. Also I have to be careful not to spend all my 500 moves before September 1, I did that last year. I should keep at least 100 moves by September 1 so 200 by ASB and 200 from ASB to September 1, right? Do you have a system you use on moves during the season? I’m like Grey, I like to make a lot of moves.

        Cheers,
        Ante

        • Son

          Son says:
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          Thanks, Ante!

          You know what you’re doing for the RCLs. Good luck, my man

    • Harley Earl says:
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      Nice team Ante! Love the pow-pow-pow-pow POWER!!!!

      • Ante Galic says:
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        Harley!!

        Thanks a million, words from you are really flattering because I love all your posts. Short on batting average so I need to find someone to shore that up a bit or maybe Peralta hits .310 and Mallex hits .250 and then everything is all right.

        Cheers,
        Ante

  2. KrazyIvan says:
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    No way, Jose. Unless his mindfulness excursion this summer has produced a better change up then I can’t buy a single share. He was 11% lower on groundball % then league average so he has got to keep hitters off balance or the homers will continue. His fastball is really good but he throws it too much. I don’t thing the slider usage should go up since it’s really not a true plus pitch. The answer has got to the change up. At least Giolito is there to get help with that on.

    • Son

      Son says:
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      That’s fair. He’s been bad. No ifs ands or buts about it. Yeah, the ground ball rate is a concern for sure. I think the slider is an important pitch so that the arsenal is not just fastball change up. In 2018, the pitch was really good. With that said, he’s shown bouts of dominance. I think there’s upside here

      • KrazyIvan says:
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        True. He was amazing for a short while in September. I streamed him and definitely had some fun.

        • Son

          Son says:
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          Hope there’s consistency this season. That would be very fun

          • KrazyIvan says:
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            Ended up picking him with my last pick in RCL league.

            • Son

              Son says:
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              Nice. Worst case, he’s keeping the streaming spot warm

  3. StealBags says:
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    12 Team 5×5 standard roto.

    1st Pick

    Am I crazy for taking Yelich, Tatis and Mondesi with my first 3 picks?

    • Son

      Son says:
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      Not crazy at all.

  4. LOLmets says:
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    Was there a podcast this week?

    • Son

      Son says:
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      I’m not sure. I don’t have security clearance for that information

  5. ozunaiknow says:
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    Thanks for the deep thought long shots. I am in your #66 league and looking forward to it. I like your articles and you are a nice contributor to the site.

    Steppenwolf

    • Son

      Son says:
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      Thanks, Steppenwolf! Looking forward to competing against you in the RCL

  6. Billy Angel says:
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    Son, are there different strategies that should be considered when drafting a RCL team vs. a standard ESPN team? This will be my first year with a RCL team. Thank you.

Comments are closed.