Go ahead, allow yourself a ten-minute cackle sesh after seeing Nick Pivetta listed as a sleeper. I’ll allow it this one time, then we’re going to get down to business, and no more cackling at what an awful season Nick Pivetta had last year. No more talk about his 4.77 ERA. No talk of his 5.05 ERA in the 2nd half. No talk about how his batting average against, slugging percentage against and wOBA against were all nearly identical from the first half to the 2nd half and none of them were particularly good. No talk about how lefties hit him like he was a dumpster Fiers. No talk about how Pivetta made you cry and crawl up into a ball every time he took the ball. No talk about any of that! No negative talk anymore after that ten-minute cackle. Okay, done? You have another 15 seconds of cackling? Then get it over with, would ya?! So, what can we expect from Nick Pivetta for 2019 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
He had the sixth worst HR/FB%. The little voice in your brain, “Wait, I thought we weren’t talking about anything negative after the opening ‘graph.” This isn’t negative, because he had the 29th lowest fly ball rate. His average launch angle was 9.9, about the same as Greinke, which works out great for this example — what a coinkydink! By the way, coinkydink would be the name of my cryptocurrency. Greinke also has nearly the same HR/FB% as Pivetta, and close enough on the fly ball rate for this example since I’ve already gone down this track this far. Greinke, however, had a 3.21 ERA and a 3.44 xFIP, whereas Pivetta’s ERA and xFIP were 4.77 and 3.42, respectively. Or disrespectively, man, you suck! But Pivetta doesn’t, he was essentially Greinke with almost 2 more Ks per nine. Greinke has better command, and–THIS ISN’T ABOUT GREINKE! Pivetta’s BB/9 of 2.80 was plenty good enough for his K/9. With men on, Pivetta gave up the fifth most home runs. That isn’t good, but home runs he can fix. He had 397 feet on average on his home runs. 397 feet doesn’t even get the ball out of parts of his own stadium. Well, he doesn’t own it, but you know what I mean. Okay, 397 feet is about average, but he also pitched almost a full run better at home, as most are wont to do. For reference sake, Jon Gray, who was also plagued with the long ball, averaged 407 feet. By the way, that’s not “for reference rice wine,” if a sushi chef is reading. Of course, why you’re really here is because of the Ks. He had the 18th best swinging strike rate. His velocity went up to 95 on the fastball, but his bread and butter was the knee buckler. Though, not a knee buckler like a wounded action hero who was shot in the leg and needs to wrap his belt around his knee. By the way, just once I want someone in a movie to get shot in the leg and be like, “Damn it, I didn’t wear my belt today.” That knee buckler was so fantastic Pivetta had the 8th best curveball, a 38.1% K% on his curve and only a 3.9% walk rate on it, while having a 41% swing rate outside the zone on the hook, i.e., hitters don’t know what to do with it and he’s cashing checks while hitters Chase at the Bank. It makes sense if you don’t think about it too long! This is a high risk, high reward pick, but there’s no reason why you can’t risk it for where he’s being drafted — currently around 160th overall. For 2019, I’ll give Nick Pivetta the projections of 12-9/3.86/1.25/208 in 184 IP with a chance for more.