If your approach in RCL leagues is anything like mine, then you’re carrying maybe 2-3 starters, and filling in the cracks with well researched streamers. Part of my process, as I’m sure it is with many of you, is to check the streamonator for the highest value available probables. Then I dive deeper into the matchup stats, and follow that up with a glance at the starters recent track record. One of the more common suggestions over the past few weeks has been Mets starter Rafael Montero. Best described as a AAAA starter, he’s long been the shuttle guy, and spot starter, whenever an elbow pops in the Mets rotation. With injuries a plenty in Flushing, there’s been abundant opportunity for Montero to stick for the better part of the next month, and beyond. Let’s take a deep dive into Montero’s Sunday start vs. the Oakland Athletics, and see if he might be an arm to keep in mind, as we stream our way to the promised land.
Scouting Report: Montero’s arsenal features a three pitch mix, though his fastball has a few variations; a four-seam fastball that sits 93-95, that he can ramp up to 96, as well as a sinking fastball that sits in the same velo range as his four-seam. A low 80’s slider with slight two plane movement, and he also mixes in a high 80’s changeup. His changeup ans sinker tend to generate grounders at 50%+ clip, while his slider tends to drive more flyball contact, sometimes resulting in homers when he leaves the pitch up in the zone. Both of his secondary offerings get a solid amount of swings and misses, with his change generating a 17.3% SwStr, while his slider checks in with a 12.5% whiff rate.
Matt Joyce – 93 MPH fastball, strike 1, 86 MPH slider low and inside, ball 1, 92 MPH fastball, ball 2, 93 MPH fastball high in the zone, pop-up, 1 out.
Marcus Semien – 93 MPH fastball strike, 94 MPH fastball high in the zone, Homer, 1-0 Oakland.
Yonder Alonso – 94 MPH fastball on the outside, ball 1, slider bounces before home, ball 2, 90 MPH change grounded foul, strike 1, 94 MPH fastball on the outside fouled off, strike 2, 84 MPH slider inside, ball 3, 89 MPH changeup fouled off, 3-2 count, 88 MPH change grounded foul, 94 MPH fastball fouled off again, slider at 83 MPH fouled off, ramps it up to 96 and gets Alonso swinging.
Khris Davis – 95 MPH strike on the outside, 85 MPH slider too low, ball 1, changeup gets a groundball to short, routine play, out number three.
So far Montero is working all three pitches, and challenging hitters up in the zone. Unfortunately one of those balls up in the zone was taken for a ride by Semien.
Jed Lowrie – 93 MPH fastball on the inside, strike 1, 93 MPH fastball too high, ball 1, 93 MPH fastball on the outside, strike 2, 93 MPH fastball way inside, ball 2, 85 MPH slider too low, ball 3, 93 MPH middle-middle and it’s hit for a single.
Matt Chapman – 85 MPH slider on the outside, strike 1, slider at 83 gets a swinging strike 2, changeup on the outside, ball 1, slider off the plate at 84, ball 2, 83 MPH slider just misses on the inside, ball 3, slider hit to short for the third out.
Montero gets a one-two-three Inning thanks to a couple of ground balls after the lead off single by Lowrie. Located his slider better this inning, still has seen 3 full counts to his first 4 batters.
Jaycob Brugman – 93 MPH fastball, strike 1, changeup at 89, swinging strike 2, low changeup at 88, ball 1, 93 MPH on the outside, fouled off, 93 MPH fastball on the outside, ball 2, changeup at 88, inside, ball 3, 88 MPH changeup hit to right field, 1 out.
Daniel Gossett – 94 MPH fastball on the outside, ball 1, 93 MPH fastball on the outside, 93 MPH fastball outside again, ball 2, 94 MPH fastball, strike 2, 94 MPH strike, and he gets Gossett looking. 2 outs
Matt Joyce – slider on the inside, strike 1, 84 MPH slider fouled off, strike 2, fastball high ball 1, 93 MPH fastball in the outside, ball 2, 88 MPH fastball changeup, ball 3, 94 MPH fastball fouled off, 84 MPH slider gets a check swing and Joyce can’t hold up. Strike 3.
Another inning, another pair of full counts, Montero has now seen the count run full to 5 of the 10 batters he’s faced. He continues to nibble a lot, but had been able to limit the damage and particularly hard contact.
Marcus Semien – 92 MPH fastball and its popped up to second for the first out.
Yonder Alonso – 91 fastball in on the hands fouled off, strike 1, 84 MPH slider taken for a strike, fastball on the outside, ball 1, 84 MPH grounder to second, 2 outs.
Khris Davis – 93 MPH fastball on the outside, ball 2, slider at 84 taken for strike 1, 83 MPH slider in the middle of the plate and it’s given a ride to left field. Second homer allowed of the game for Montero. Hung that slider.
Jed Lowrie – 94 MPH ball on the outside, ball 1, fastball down in the zone, ball 2, fastball inside, ball 3, fastball again out of the zone, ball 4.
Bruce Maxwell – Fastball on the outside corner, strike 1, changeup on the outside, ball 1, changeup on the hands, fouled off, strike 2, 92 MPH fastball gets a swinging strike from Maxwell to end the inning.
Made a mistake on that hanging change to Khris Davis and he made Montero pay. Inning started for efficiently than the previous had, but in the end it was Montero’s toughest inning since the first.
Matt Chapman – starts Chapman off with a fastball, strike 1, changeup at 90, ball 1, 93 MPH fastball outside belt high, and Chapman hits it deep to right for a double.
Jaycob Brugman – Fastball at 93 fouled back, strike 1, 93 MPH fastball fouled off, strike 2, 85 MPH slider bounces and catches Rene Rivera behind home plate for a wild pitch, Chapman advances to third, slider low and inside, ball 2, ball on a fastball on the outside, and Rivera throws out Chapman at third, 93 MPH fastball is hit for a dribbler up the middle for a base hit.
Daniel Gossett – Tries to bunt on a 93 MPH fastball, foul, strike 1, 91 MPH fastball is dropped in front of Rivera, he throws to first for the second out.
Matt Joyce – 83 MPH slider gets a swinging strike, 84 MPH slider on the outside, ball 1, 92 MPH fastball gets a grounder to Reyes at short, out number three.
Despite allowing two hits to open the inning Montero gets out of the fifth unscathed. The base running flub by Chapman cost the A’s at least a run. That’s two consecutive innings for Montero without a full count. Baby steps Bob, baby steps.
Marcus Semien – 83 MPH slider, ball 1, slider up in the zone fouled off, strike 1, 92 MPH fastball on the outside, ball 2, fastball on the outside, ball 3, 93 MPH fastball popped up to Jay Bruce on the foul line, ball drops on Bruce but he guns out Semien at second. 1 out.
Yonder Alonso – Changeup at 88 and Alonso swings in the first pitch and grounds into the shift. 2 outs.
Khris Davis – first pitch fastball at 93 is hit to Reyes at short for the third out.
A 7 pitch inning for Montero, who’s gotten some lucky breaks the last two innings, but has also gotten bad contact earlier in counts. When he gets contact on his slider and change, he gets grounders.
Jed Lowrie – 92 MPH on the inside, ball 1, 93 MPH fastball to the warning track and Conforto makes the catch. 1 out.
Bruce Maxwell – 93 MPH fastball down Main St., strike 1, 92 MPH fastball hit to left, and Conforto makes the catch. Two outs.
Matt Chapman – 83 MPH slider off the plate, ball 1, 84 MPH slider off the plate, ball 2, 83 MPH slider hung high in the zone, and Chapman gives it a ride to left for a long bomb.
Jaycob Brugman – 93 MPH fastball and the first pitch is hit to left for the final out of the 7th.
Final Line: 7 IP, 7 Hits, 1 Walk, 3 Runs, 3 Home Runs, 4 K’s, 5 Swinging Strikes, 99 Pitches, 61 Strikes
Summary: Very solid start for Montero, I was expecting to see him struggle with control, but he was able to work around all those full counts early, and limit the damage. His breaking ball is a solid pitch when it’s down in the zone, though doesn’t get as many whiffs as you’d like to see. Due to this, Montero is more likely to succeed driving week contact than missing bats. Neither his aforementioned slider or changeup gets a great deal of swinging strikes. He nibbles a lot with the slider at the bottom of the zone and that’s by design. My ultimate conclusion is Montero is a matchup play, particularly for weak opponents at home, but not someone I would roster outside of a 16 team league.
Updated Top 100 SP
(rankings for ROS based on 12-team Roto)
Disabled List (Ranking When Active): Clayton Kershaw, LAD (3), Noah Syndergaard, NYM (8), Johnny Cueto, SF (28), Chase Anderson, MIL (29), Brandon McCarthy, LAD (42), Matt Shoemaker, LAA (54), Aaron Sanchez, TOR (66) Matt Andriese, TB (68), Hyun-Jin Ryu, LAD (75 will add next week), Scott Feldman, CIN (84), Matt Harvey, NYM (99) Brandon Finnegan, CIN (100)
- Two starters who have been strong over the last month, despite reports of their demise, are Gerrit Cole and Jake Arrieta. Cole’s gone 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA, 9.4 K/9, and a 1.69 Bb/9 over his last 6 starts, while Arrieta is 3-2 with a 2.97 ERA, 6.2 K/9, and a 3.22 Bb/9. Obviously Cole is actually pitching in a way that supports his recent run of success, Arrieta looks like he’s getting lucky.
- Speaking of hot runs over the last month, very few have been better than the Dodgers Rich Hill. The ancient lefty is 4-1 in his last 6 with a 1.93 ERA, and insane 6.5 K/Bb over that time. If Hill can keep his fingers slick, he might be the most undervalued arm down the stretch.
- Looking for a starter you can buy at a value? Look no further than the Phillies Aaron Nola. The former first rounder is 4-1 over his last 6 with a 1.70 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, .190 BAA, 10.6 K/9, and 2.7 Bb/9. The best part is how deep he’s getting into games, in five of those six starts he’s gotten out of the 7th inning. Great add in points leagues or QS formats.
- Looks like Masahiro Tanaka is back to his old self, despite blah starts in two of his last three. Over the last month he’s 2-2, with a 3.46 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, .238 BAA, 9.6 K/9, and a 1.4 Bb/9. Prolly not such a bad buy either, at the right price of course.
- Stay away from Mike Leake right now. Not only are there reports he’s having trouble maintaining “optimal body strength” between starts, he’s been junk with a side of blah sauce for a month plus. His ERA over his last 6 starts isn’t terrible at 4.11, but his 4.7 K/9, and 4.1 Bb/9 are big ol’ red flags.
- I want to trust Jon Gray, but I don’t think I can really trust Jon Gray. My apologies to all the people who’s ratios were impacted by my over-rank. Like Cougs might say “I love me some Gray, but Ralph is dreamy.” I’ll leave this right here…(3 hi Jake)