Blake Snell (Rays, 1st Half stats: 5-7 with 4.55 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 126 K:33 BB, and 3.31 xFIP through 95 IP, 19 GS) is a reigning Cy Young award winner and likely a 2nd/3rd round pick in your fantasy drafts. And it is true that he has been coming along in in past few starts, allowing 4 ER while posting 21K:4 BB in his last 16 IP. However, his numbers on the season are still pretty gross if we’re being honest and there are lots of frustrated owners that may want to cut ties with Snell. You may not be able to get him as cheap as you could a couple of starts ago, but he can be had at a pretty substantial discount.
While his fantasy numbers don’t look too pretty, especially compared to last year, most of his metrics are actually pretty similar. In 2018 he posted an 11.01 K/9 to go along with a 3.19 BB/9. This year? Actually slightly better at 11.94 K/9 and 3.13 BB/9. Snell posted a 3.30 SIERA and a 3.16 xFIP in his 2018 Cy Young campaign. This year, his 3.55 SIERA and 3.31 xFIP are both just a tad higher. Batters are actually making hard contact slightly less this year (34.6% vs 35.7%), and his swinging strike rate of 17.5% this year trumps last year’s 15.1% mark. Yet hitters are hitting .246 against him this year compared to just .176 last year. This is partially explained by his .341 BABIP this year, compared to a .241 mark last year. So he’s either been getting really unlucky this year, or he was getting really lucky last year. Probably a little of both, as his career .293 BABIP suggests. Another blemish is that the long ball has been hurting him a lot this year, as his 1.33 HR/9 is up compared to last year’s 0.80 mark. All in all, Snell hasn’t been a vastly different pitcher than he was last year. His metrics are mostly on par with last season’s, yet his ERA is more than double what it was in 2018. Snell should have a huge bounce back 2nd half, and he can still be acquired for pretty cheap.
Steamer ROS: 5-3 with 11.47 K/9, 3.37 BB/9, 3.26 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 3.36 FIP through 71 IP (13 GS)
1st Half: 7-4 with 4.55 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 110 K:30 BB, and 4.04 xFIP through 112 2/3 IP (18 GS)
With an NFBC ADP of 38, Syndergaard has also been a huge disappointment for fantasy owners this season considering how early he went. His 7 first half wins are certainly nothing to sneeze at, but that’s about it. He has been especially harmful when it comes to the ratios, as his 4.55 ERA ranks 63rd out of the 79 pitchers who qualify. His 1.24 WHIP ranks 40th in the league, and his .253 bating average against ranks 50th. Once an elite punch-out pitcher (10.68 K/9 in 2016), his 8.79 mark ranks 36th in the league behind guys like Tanner Roark and Tyler Mahle. It’s not a completely awful K/9, but those who drafted him expected better results and more strikeouts. Syndergaard has also been brutalized by the long ball this year, as his 1.12 HR/9 and 13.2% HR/FB are way up compared to last year’s 0.52 and 7.8% figures. His swinging strike rate is a tad lower than last year (-1.3%) and his BABIP is actually slightly lower at .309 vs .320.
So why try to buy him then? The answer is value. He has pitched pretty poorly this year, but who is to say he can’t have a huge 2nd half? We’ve seen him perform right up there with some of the best arms in baseball when healthy over the past few seasons. Another reason is that his underlying metrics suggest he has been pitching better than his ERA indicates. His 3.81 FIP is 29th best in the league, and ahead of guys like Nola and even Verlander. Syndergaard’s hard hit percentage is the 2nd lowest in the entire MLB at just 27.7%. The only guy with a better mark is Stephen Strasburg. His soft contact rate of 21.2% is the 7th best among MLB pitchers. Syndergaard’s average exit velocity of 85.8 MPH is the 15th lowest among pitchers with 100+ batted ball events. As these numbers show, batters are not hitting the ball very hard off Syndergaard. Hitters are batting .253 against him, but via lots of soft contact and bad luck. As the season goes on, things should start to even out in his favor. While his strikeout numbers aren’t up there with the league leaders, his average fastball velocity (97.8 MPH) is 7th highest in the league. So it’s not like he has a rapidly declining skill set or anything. I envision a huge 2nd half for Syndergaard, and he can be purchased pretty cheaply right now. His value could also skyrocket if he gets dealt to a contender at the deadline.
Steamer ROS: 5-4 with 9.24 K/9, 2.42 BB/9, 3.77 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 3.61 FIP through 80 IP (13 GS)
1st Half: 4-6 with 4.64 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 107 K:32 BB, and 4.09 xFIP through 97 IP (18 GS)
If you say something enough, you can speak it into existence right? Because in that case, Captain Jack WILL be a top flight arm one of these days. I must admit I am biased towards Flaherty, but to be fair the 23 year old has shown a lot of promise so far in his early career. Primarily last year, as he has had his fair share of bumps in the road this season. His 4.64 ERA through his first 18 starts this season ranks 66th among the 79 pitchers who qualify. Flaherty’s control hasn’t been the sharpest, as his 2.97 BB/9 ranks 54th in the league. Oddly enough, that is actually an improvement from last year’s 3.52 BB/9. What has really been hurting Flaherty this year is the long ball, as his 1.86 HR/9 ranks 75th among the 79 pitchers who qualify. That mark is significantly up from his 1.19 HR/9 figure last year, as is his 20% HR/FB (15.2% in 2018) that ranks 72nd out of 79. Flaherty has surrendered at least one home run in 15 out of his 18 starts this year. Ouch!
Despite his struggles, I view Flaherty as one of the best buy low candidates heading into the 2nd half. His value as a whole is very low, so he can be acquired for cheap. And I’d put money that his 2nd half stats are significantly better than the first half. Flaherty’s 4.09 xFIP ranks 34th out of the 79 pitchers who qualify, ahead of another personal favorite of mine in Jose Berrios. His 4.12 SIERA ranks 26th among the same group, ahead of Nola and Luis Castillo. At 23.8%, Flaherty induces the 2nd highest percent of soft contact in the league. One thing Flaherty has done well this year is punching out opposing batters. His 9.93 K/9 ranks 19th in the league, and his 26.4% strikeout rate ranks 21st. Despite his high walk rate, Flaherty’s K-BB percent of 18.5% still ranks 22nd in the league. Not only has he been striking batters out at a healthy clip, but he is also generating a lot of swing and misses. Flaherty’s 12.3% swinging strike rate ranks 17th in the league, and suggests that the K’s should keep rolling in for him. For better or worse, I’m all in for a huge 2nd half for Flaherty.
Steamer ROS: 5-4 with 10.19 K/9, 3.24 BB/9, 3.88 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 3.97 FIP through 71 IP (13 GS)