So here’s something ridiculous – I think the Oakland A’s are my least favorite team. Scratch that, F THE CARDS! Even if they do have the best fans in baseball… A’s are my least favorite AL team. And it’s nothing to do with particular players, trying to be “hipster” and not liking Monyeball (It’s a cool movie! Love the music.), or residual ire due to the Warriors. Ugh, NBA with only 2 or 3 competing teams every year – BORING! It just seems like every year, their offense is lacking, yet they pound on pitchers when you least expect it. Cough, James Paxton, cough. It’s so annoying! It all started when I owned CC Sabathia on some dynos back when he started with the Yankees, and it felt like every April or May the A’s would tag him for 7 or 8 runs every game. Plus, ya know, I didn’t buy into Josh Donaldson and Khris Davis decided to be a consistent power hitter in a shittier park, but we’ll end this absolutely ludicrous rant here.
Due to the above, I don’t watch a ton of A’s, so I have yet to see Andrew Triggs pitch. His scouting report is unimpressive: his fastball actually lost velocity to be a sub-90 MPH pitch, he gets groundballs which usually means Ks should be low, is 28 and a converted closer, and it just all feels like smoke and Black Mirrors. He’s a robot! But maybe that perception is a reaction to my A’s bias, especially since he went into yesterday with three straight scoreless start wins. Well, he did allow 2 unearned runs in one of em and 1 in another – yet another reason I think it’s Black Mirrors. So I decided to watch his start Sunday afternoon to finally get the book out on the guy, and here’s how he looked against the Mariners:
First Inning: As Triggs takes the bump, the broadcast shows a graphic that Triggs is allowing a .257 BAA for righties, but .067 against lefties. Aight fine, I won’t lie, I didn’t do this one live…. Foreshadowing! Fastball in there to Jarrod Dyson at 89, 89 gets a whiff on the outside black, sinking fastball has Dyson lay off, then a huge sweeping slider bends straight into Dyson’s knee for a HBP. To be fair, that slider had a ton of movement! So a fast runner (who may be hurting) on first, and two-seamer runs inside to Mitch Haniger, slider bends outside, fastball is in the zone and Dyson steals 2nd. Then 2-1 is bunted perfectly by Haniger, and Triggs has to make a strong play to gun him down for the first out. Moves Dyson to 3rd easily though. Nice to see good fielding from Triggs. Two-seamer hits the outside edge to Robinson Cano, fastball dribbled foul, then slider is poked through the infield playing in for an RBI single. EARNED RUN STREAK QUICKLY OVER! Damn, that’s as routine a groundball to 2nd as you could imagine, but infield was just in. Why you can’t hit a fast leadoff guy! Triggs misses outside to Nelson Cruz, then nice two-seamer hits the outside corner, 1-1:
Nice movement! You can see his little hop delivery too. Two-seamer on the hands fouled away, slider outside in the dirt, then slider again that would’ve been strike 3 anyway with crazy 1-to-7 movement gets the whiff for the second out.
Straight from the Minor League team in Brockmire stands Dan Vogelbach who fouls the first one off, slider pulled hard foul on a liner, two-seamer way outside, high fastball fouled back, slider low and away, cutter bareeeeeely misses the outside corner, then 3-2 payoff pitch is hit pretty hard to left on a line, but right to Matt Joyce for the final out.
Second Inning: The red hot Taylor Motter takes a fastball barely low, two-seamer again dribbled foul, then wicked two-seamer again hits the outside black, 1-2.
Sheesh! Then follows it up with a slider bending the other way. I can see the appeal and how he gets Ks…
Then cutter in the zone is flared to left, but Joyce is there for the first out. Two-seamer in there to Guillermo Heredia, then fastball grounded routinely to second, two outs. Slider bends in there to Mike Freeman (who?), two-seam paints the outside corner, two-seamer barely misses, cutter stays outside, fastball at the knees bounced barely foul, slider stays outside, then slider again grounded easily to second for a smooth-n-easy 1-2-3 inning.
Third Inning: Still a 1-0 game and Mike Zunino takes outside, two-seam sinks way low, then elevated two-seamer with virtually no sink is hammered to left for a single. Overcorrected. But first-pitch fastball to Dyson is flared to left center and hangs up long enough for the catch, quick first out. Then first-pitch cutter (I think – didn’t do much) is hit hard to third, and off Ryon Healy‘s glove for another single. Mariners first-pitch hackin’! Cutter stays outside to Cano, two-seam sinks low, cutter hangs wayyyyy outside, and with the count 3-0 out comes Stephen Vogt for a powwow. Two-seam is right in there, then two-seam again runs way low and outside with Cano holding up for a walk. Bases loaded. High cutter at the letters gets the strike call on Cruz, two-seam barely misses the outside black, cutter bends wayyyyy outside, cutter fouled back, fastball stays inside, then 3-2 Triggs goes cutter and it doesn’t quite nip the front door for a bases loaded walk. Yuck. TWO EARNED RUNS NOW! Vogelbach takes outside, two-seam outside, cutter in there, Vogelbach chases an outside fastball, then two-seam again on the outside black gets a whiff for a huge second out. Cutter way outside on Motter – Triggs doesn’t have that pitch today – then two-seam right in the wheelhouse of a righty – a little in, a little low but well in the zone – gets hammered to left for a grand salami. SIX EARNED RUNS – – we get it, hah. Wind is blowing out a little and it was barely over the high wall, but still hurts. Two-seam hits the outside edge to Heredia, then fastball is popped foul but caught by Yonder Alonso to mercifully get Trigga outta the inning.
Fourth Inning: Let’s see how Triggs responds still down 6-0, and fastball runs away from Freeman 0-1, cutter fouled off, two-seam hits the inside edge, 1-2 fastball runs away again, then two-seam runs back into the high inside black for strike 3 looking with Tom Hallion doing the patented Mortal Kombat strike 3 call. Whoopsie! Great slider bends into the zone to Zunino 0-1, same pitch fouled back, then two-seam hits the outside edge for another Hallion backwards-K call! Haha. Big slider low and in to Dyson – I bet he’s mad Triggs threw that pitch again after it hit his knee the first AB – two-seam has Dyson unable to check his swing, two-seam runs back to the plate for a nice strike two, then two-seam again popped to short for a nice bounceback inning.
Fifth Inning: Still 6-0, and Hainger is first-pitch hacking for his second straight AB and gets another single off the first pitch. Maybe the reverse splits are legit! Then two-seam in the zone is rocketed to left center by Cano, but it’s caught on the track by Jaff Decker for the first out. That’s a homer in hitters’ parks! Cruz takes a cutter way outside, same pitch – again way outside – two-seam sinking action gets a whiff, two-seam misses low and away, then fastball is flied lazily to right for the second out. And Bob Melvin doesn’t buy into the possibility of reverse splits – with Vogelbach coming up, he yanks Triggs. Triggs got him for a bad strikeout the last AB too… Melvin is a dunce.
Final Line: L 4.2 IP 81 Pitches (48 Strikes) 6 ER 5 Hits 2 Walks 4 K Gamescore: 32 Gamescore+: 36.8
Final Analysis: Well, two straight duds from the pitchers I’ve profiled… Whoopsie! But Triggs was a popular add in a lot of leagues due to the hot start, so I think it was good to see him in action. As always with shorter outings, the Gamescore+ comes out favorable, but it wasn’t by a wide margin. Triggs was definitely hit around.
I’m not surprised the fastball velo is down this year on Fangraphs. He’s pretty exclusively a two-seam guy now. Brooks Baseball has them separated by 4-seam/sinker, with 4-seam used 4.6% of the time, and the “sinker” (which is a sinking two-seam, but whatever) 49.5% of the time. That said, I figured he was just throwing more two-seams this year, but the split was the same in his small sample last year. The “sinker” is just down from 91.3 MPH in 2016 to 89.8 MPH this year. Kinda interesting since league-wide velos are up too, so that’s maybe 2.5 MPH slower… It has so much movement though, that velocity isn’t the be-all, end-all though… With good running action and sink, it makes sense it’s his most utilized pitch. The cutter wasn’t working at all for him this game, with inconsistent movement and he was throwing them wayyyyy outside to righties. Hah, as I was editing this together, I saw this tweet. The slider/slurve had good movement and he could throw some for strikes – kinda wish he tried to lean on that pitch a little more this start.
As you’ll read below, I just have trouble with these low-velo, paint-the-zone guys due to their very narrow margins of error. I know I’m not breaking any ground with that thought, but it seems ever-more apparent thus far in 2017. If his two-seam doesn’t sink, he gets tattooed. If he didn’t have his slider along with not having the cutter, this would’ve been even worse. I had a theory while writing this that maybe he would have opposite splits due to how the two-seam works (running away from lefties vs. running back into the zone for a righty), but in 2016 he was 27:9 K:BB against lefties for a .275 AVG, and 28:4 .233 to righties. It was a small sample of course, but it’s concerning since he’s .283 AVG 8:3 K:BB to righties on the young season, and a crazy .079 BAA for lefties with a 5:3 K:BB. So once the lefties start hitting him, this could be really bad. He remains in my ranks since he does have the movement and pitches in a good park, but I’ll need to see that cutter consistently working and if he can survive the regression against lefties before buying in in a mixed-league context.
Updated Top 100 SP
(rankings for ROS based on 12-team Roto, green for risers, red for fallers)
- Well, Madison Bumgarner happened… Even off the field, they’re at risk of arm injuries now! Gotta keep him ranked I guess, and likely have to stash him even if you have your DL spots filled, but man it’s tough to weigh where he’ll be, with a timetable that could go beyond 2 months…
- As we’re seeing with the ups and downs of Dallas Keuchel, the low-velo control guys just have such a small margin of error, that I’ll rarely rank them well. I know EVERYONE was off Rick Porcello or Kyle Hendricks, but I kinda wish I was one of the further out. I know I’m weirdly using Keuchel (who is pitching great) as an argument against slow-velo guys, but we’re seeing the thin line they walk comparing 2016 to 2017 thus far.
- Why I still like Ivan Nova! Unlike those guys, he still throws pretty hard. He’s gonna be this year’s Hendricks. Still find it hard to believe I was one of the few buyers.
- WHERE ARE YOU NOW?!
- The numbers and perception on Blake Snell could never be lower, but damn, every time I see the kid pitch, he looks like he’s sooooooo close. I still think all 4 of his pitches are plus pitches when located. Likely dropping him in a lot of redraft, but I am a buyer in dyno.
- Yuck for Kevin Gausman. I was pretty low on him coming into the year, but didn’t think he’d look this bad. For some reason, he’s not throwing his split-finger not even close to as much as he did in the second half last year, so I worry he’s not using that pitch as much due to arm-stress concerns… No idea.
In redraft, you’re probably done with Triggs too giving him the quick trigger finger, any of you guys holding on? And what do you think of the ranks this week? Join the conversation in the comments below, or call in to the Podcast and leave us a message we’ll answer on air! Happy pitching, Razzball Nation!