This should be old hat by now. If a prospect is called up, I’m going to profile him. It’s what I do. When my two worlds collide into one, everything suddenly stops, and I become one with the ball. Feeling each twist and turn, as I tumble out of Walker Buehler’s hand and into Yasmani Grandal’s mitt. That was supposed to be more poetic than homo-erotic thriller, but I’m not sure I achieved that. Oh well, any-fracking-way, Dodgers super-prospect, former first round pick, and Vanderbilt ace made the start on Monday… Wait for it, before being sent back down on Tuesday. It’s a rough life for these prospects. One minute you’re sipping champagne from between Charlotte McKinney’s dirty pillows, and the next you’re back in Omaha eating at Denny’s. (They actually sent Buehler down to Hi-A Rancho, with the intent of adding an arm to the pen for the remainder of the week, before recalling him for Saturday’s double-header against the Giants.) My guess is Buehler will be back in Hollyweird, canoodling with Charlotte once again. Here’s what I saw on Monday.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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Strong takes are my thing. Whether it be needling Baseball Prospectus over their Jorge Alfaro ranking, clashing with consensus over Rhys Hoskins, or why Shohei Ohtani wasn’t a bust before he ever threw his first regular season pitch. My opinions are strong, and I’m not one to back down if I truly believe something based on first hand looks and research. I mean, don’t even get me started on the “newly-promoted” Tyler O’Neill takes. It’s almost as if I’m the head of my very own agency, lobbying for my players value like Scott Boras with a briefcase of binders.  Yet another player who’s represented by my pretend “on-line defense agency” is Padres rookie phenom Joey Lucchesi. I ranked him 161st in my mid-season 2017 Top 200 prospects, and even predicted a 2018 MLB debut. I’m not alone on this site in my love for Lucchesi, my best friend since forever, Lance, wrote about him as a deep sleeper in late March. There’s also this tweet I tossed out there in December. Needless to say, without further chest thumping, I’m a fan of Lucchesi. There’s been a bit of misinformation out there regarding his repertoire, pedigree, etc. Today I hope to set some of that straight after watching his most recent turn against the San Francisco retirement home.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

Remember way back when, like three years ago, when the Mets “young pitching staff” was all the rage? We talked about how “setup” the Mets were for the future behind the strength of arms Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and of course their back-page-darling, Matt Harvey. While deGrom and Syndergaard seem to have overcome injuries to return to form, the same cannot be said for “The Dark Knight”. While his pitching exploits once made him the King of NYC, it’s been his off-field shenanigans that have grabbed the wrong type of headlines of late. But… with a spark in his first start vs. The Phillies, the inevitable “Is Harvey Back?” headlines and bylines popped up on the pages of print, digital, and telepathic media. (Pssst, if you don’t get your news telepathically in 2018, you’re behind the times.) Wow, if you’re waking up from a coma, you’d be shocked to learn that, A. Matt Harvey stinks (or has stunk) B. Telepathy has gone mainstream. Thanks Uri Geller! That got a bit off track, here’s what I saw in Matt Harvey’s start on Sunday night.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

Yeah, this post is dedicated to all the people that told me Ohtani would never amount to nothing, to all the people who called me crazy for my enthusiasm, when I was just trying to inform my readers, and all the prospectors in the struggle. You know what I’m saying? And it’s all good Grey-be, Grey-be. It was all a Dream, I watched NPB games on the TV screen, upper-90’s velo, nasty split, mechanics clean. Worried about hanging breaking balls. Every spring training start he got mauled. I let the hype pop, until the hype dropped. Smoking weed in the draft room, laughing as lesser Perts talk. Way back when the humidor was supposed to cutback. Enough of that…

Okay, so obviously I’m excited about Ohtani, I’ve been writing about him for two years, and yesterday he made his debut. It’s was glorious, actually glorious is a little strong, it was more good. But I’ll take good. Here’s what I saw on Sunday.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

If you’re at all familiar with management theory, then you’re probably aware generally of the “Peter Principle”. The concept is simple, managers rise to the level of their incompetence. Here’s where you think about your current manager, and snicker. Are you done? Okay, so it’s concept that many of us can relate to, some of us first hand. But what does this have to do with the subject of today’s profile Marlins starter Dillon Peters? Ahhh, his name is Peters? It works right? But perhaps there’s more there. Or maybe I’m overthinking. Yeah, totally overthinking it. Then again, is it possible that Peters has risen to his own level of potential incompetence here in the Bigs? His numbers over the last two years in the minors have been phenomenal, rarely letting up multiple earned runs in a game. In fact over the last two years, across 37 starts between high A and AA, Peters has amassed a 21-9 record with a 2.11 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, .224 BAA,  7.5 K/9, and 1.74 Bb/9. While allowing just 5 balls to leave the park in 191.2 innings. So to say he’s on a great run the last few years is an understatement. Will that continue here in the majors or is he due for a heavy regression? Through Peters first few starts he’s been solid but lucky. I actually intended to profile his start last Tuesday at Philadelphia, but pivoted to Sunday’s turn for the rescheduled home game vs the Brew Crew. I figured in case things went awry in Milwaukee recency bias would win out. Here’s what I saw.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

To anyone from Southeastern Massachusetts my title means something to you. If you’re anything like me it signifies the first time in your life you were severely disappointed. I can still remember packing into my parent’s station wagon with another family my parents were friendly with. We were headed to the “World Famous King Richard’s Faire“. Six year old Ralph couldn’t believe I was headed to THE fair of THE King Richard. I mean he was the best king ever, and here I am headed to his fair! Me, lowly 6 year old Ralph with a golden bowl cut! Welp, much like everything else in life since, it was a massive disappointment. What was supposed to be a day of jousts, knights, kings and princesses, quickly turned into reality. That reality was drunk bikers with swords, mutton, and the inescapable smell of feces and urine. The strangest part is it smelt just as much like urine as it did poop. It was as if the two smells were competing for dominance, each pushing itself to it’s limits but neither overtaking the other. Needless to say I never went back. I could have, but I did better things with my time like drinking or masturbating. What does this have to do with Garrett Richards and his most recent start? Well let’s just say I was excited, only to be disappointed. That’s my big market tease, trust me you’re bound to be disappointed…

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

There’s an old expression in Major League Baseball, “As the sun sets on one Weaver, another rises from its ashes.” I have to say it was rather prophetic to predict the spontaneous combustion of Jered Weaver’s career. Then again, it’s not like there weren’t clear signs that we had reached the end of the line with our most recent Weaver. I mean the man was throwing 67 MPH in his last few starts, or years, but whatever… That brings me to today’s subject, our new shiny Weaver, complete with new car scent! I’m of course alluding to Cardinals rookie phenom Luke Weaver. The 24 year old right-hander got his first taste of the big leagues last year to mixed results. He looked brilliant at times, and caught too much of the plate at others. The issues with Weaver are rarely related to his pitching however. He’s had an inability to stay healthy over the course of his career, never exceeding 120 innings pitched in a season. As for the player himself he has one of the more exciting upsides of any arm in the minors, mixing swinging strikes, with weak contact, and elite control. Since his most recent callup in late August, Weaver has posted back to back starts with 10 Ks and 1 walk, while limiting his opponents to a .224 batting average against. There’s nothing I love more than digging into the start of a player I’ve been touting for a year plus. It’s even better when that player’s twitter handle (@DreamWeava7) has a Boston accent! I’m in LOVE!! Previously Weaver has ranked 48th (pre-season), and 60th in my mid-season, which is lofty praise. As anyone who reads my prospect work will tell you, I discount pitching prospects pretty heavily for fantasy purposes.  Enough of the small talk, here’s what I witnessed in Weaver’s Sunday start.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

There’s a narrative making the rounds that today’s Pitching Profile subject Collin McHugh just started throwing a slider. This on it’s face isn’t completely true, his repertoire included a slider two years ago, but he scrapped it in 2016 in favor of a cutter. So the “throwing a slider now” people are insane, and this is open and shut case. Right, Ralphie?” Actually, their narrative is partially correct, because while he did formerly throw a slider he didn’t go back to the pitch he scrapped before last season. He’s throwing a different slider. A reworked version he picked up from clubhouse showboat Brad Peacock. Who picked the pitch up from some shoe salesman named Jordan Jankowski, who picked his up from a decoder ring at the bottom of a box of Count Chocula. Anyway, back in 2015 when McHugh experienced a break through with the Astros, he threw his “old” slider nearly 45% of the time. It’s funny that everyone forgot he threw a slider back then, considering it accounted for such a high chunk of his usage. In fact he threw his breaking pitches, (he also has a high spin-rate curveball), 67.1% of the time.  Leading his 27.2% fastball usage to rank as the second lowest in the majors behind only R.A. Dickey during the 2015 season. Before 2016 began McHugh’s usage of his ineffective slider was scrapped completely for a cutter, and an increased reliance on his hook. The results didn’t change, in fact in someways they got worse, but that’s not important, and here’s why. Fast forward to 2017, and McHugh missed a majority of the season’s first half with an elbow injury. The player that has emerged since is a completely different animal. Throwing his fastball more than 50% of time, and with a new and improved low 80’s slider, one with increased movement from his former offering. The question for today, “Is this a new and improved model or just a redesigned Grand Am?”  Let’s look under the hood and see.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

It feels good to finally be able to use a Demi Lovato song in my title. Forget Chad Kuhl let’s talk about Demi! What star power! What charisma! What a voice! Name another song besides the one in the title! You can’t!

**inner-monologue** Wait, don’t take that bet. Don’t show your true colors when you don’t have to. I mean, it’s not like I Ralph Lifshitz am actually a Demi Lovato fan. PFFT! That would be preposterous! **inner-monologue-out**

Chad Kuhl of the other hand, different story. Now he is a someone who’s fandom I’d consider! (You don’t believe me do you?) The 24 year old righthander, has followed up a promising rookie campaign with an inconsistent 2017. That’s not to say this season hasn’t had it’s bright spots. He looks on pace to reach at least 150 innings, his velocity has jumped nearly 3 miles per hour on the fastball, his swinging strike rate is up, and despite a 4.52 ERA, he’s been slightly unlucky (68.5% LOB, .316 BABIP). Luck aside he’s struggled to limit contact, and has always walked a few more batters than you’d like to see. Since the calendar turned to July, Kuhl has been a top 30 starter going 4-2 over 10 starts with a 3.21 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .211 BAA, and his 21% K% is up about 2% from his career norm. More than likely this is a hot streak but with a player this young it’s best to see for ones self. Today we’ll dig into Kuhl’s most recent start vs St. Louis at home to get a closer look.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   

As the season rolls along, my choices for starters to profile should be wearing thin. Luckily for all of you, myself, and my relationship with anyone not in the Crab Army, spot starts and rookie callups give me the perfect intersect of my two worlds. Now as any good Seinfield fan knows, worlds colliding can be catastrophic. Just ask George Costanza. That however is not the case for your loyal and eccentric Prospector/Pitchspector. It’s all good on this end. Why? Because I’m more than happy to dig into the ratio roulette that is rookie starting pitchers. In the grand tradition of my messiah like activity on the prospect side, I’m here to observe these wild cards, provide my take, and lead you on the path to true fantasy salvation. This is a really long winded, and pompous, way to say I’m profiling Reynaldo Lopez’s White Sox debut today. I’ve been lower on Lopez than many other prospectors in the industry. For what feels like two years now, I’ve been constantly banging my shoe on the table of the United Prospect Nations, sternly proclaiming that “Lopez is a pen arm!” I’d make a joke of my followers storming the town square with Pier 1 style tiki torches, but the rest of the Lifshitz clan prolly wouldn’t appreciate that. Anywho, here’s what I saw.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
   
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