What do you think of when you see AA? If you said Aaron Ashby, then you are the nerdiest of fantasy nerds. Kudos! While Ashby is on the shortlist for me, I have to admit that Alcoholics Anonymous and American Airlines were front and center. The beautiful thing about the simulation…err….universe that we live in is that there are connections galore. Alcoholics Anonymous consists of humility, discipline, and a spiritual awakening. American Airlines has vehicles that fly above the clouds but can plummet to the earth due to a confluence of factors. That sums up Ashby for fantasy baseball. He can strikeout batters with the best of the best yet he’s been dropped in 12.6% of ESPN leagues over the past week. Is this a time to be humble and acknowledge the current reality over his last two starts (10 earned runs allowed) or is it a time for analytical discipline in order to achieve the upcoming spiritual awakening?
Ashby is 6’2″, 181 pounds, and throws from the left side. He was selected by the Brewers in the fourth round of the 2018 MLB draft.
Throughout his minor league career, he showed a penchant for striking out batters, as the K/9 was over 10 in three seasons. He did a good job of limiting the big flies but control was the big bugaboo, posting a BB/9 over 4 twice.
Last season, he made his MLB debut and pitched 31 2/3 innings in The Show. The K/9 was 11.08 while the BB/9 was 3.41. The swinging strike rate was a 13.3%. This season, the K/9 is 11.01 while the BB/9 is 4.09. The swinging strike rate is 12.8%.
He was in and out of the rotation early on because of the deep pitching staff for Milwaukee. But then injuries struck and he has started the last four games. He went 5 2/3 innings against San Diego, striking out five without allowing an earned run. He followed that up with 12 strikeouts in six innings while giving up only one earned run against the Cubs.
The last two starts haven’t been so good. He faced the Padres again, but this time San Diego got him for four earned runs. Ashby did strike out nine in six innings, though. In his most recent start, the Nationals bombed him for six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings. He only struck out two.
This prompted the rage drop by many. Was it warranted? That’s what we are going to try and decipher.
Washington has been tough against left-handed pitching all season. While they are only 28th in ISO, they have struck out the fewest times against them. So, the matchup wasn’t a particularly good one. Digging into the log for that particular game, Ashby allowed a whopping 13 hits but the BABIP was .522, so he did experience some misfortune.
The Nationals made great contact and the swinging strike rate was only 8.7%. That’s not shocking because Washington has been the best in those departments all season long. Still, Ashby got them to chase outside the zone 49.1%. The fastball looked fine, as it averaged 96 mph.
I have not seen anything that points to a fundamental change. It’s baseball. Bad outings happen and, the elevated BABIP from his most recent start shows that he was unlucky.
Ashby has a swinging strike in the 13% range. Only 18 other pitchers can lay claim to that. Ashby has a K/9 over 11. Only nine pitchers have a K/9 over 10.
The big bugaboo for Ashby is the walk rate of 4.09, and that will always cause turbulence anytime you board Ashby Airlines. That said, the upside is too much to ignore. If he’s been dropped, I’d scoop up because you cannot find this kind of upside often. Now, if the Brewers rotation gets healthy and he goes back to being a long reliever or spot starter, then I can understand eschewing him.