We’re 60% of the way through the season and you haven’t sued us for boredom! I can’t believe we’re not boring! I’m going to put that on my next CV so that my next potential employer can reject a “not boring” person. Or maybe that will get me kicked out of Elon Musk’s hole-digging company. Ever wonder why billionaires want to dig holes and fly into space at the same time? Probably for their space boring tech. Elon Musk watched The Expanse and thought it was an inspirational business story. I think he’d make a good asteroid maven. Can’t become president on Earth? Why not be king of your own asteroid? Rob Manfred’s probably already prepping for a 2030 Moon Base MLB game, sponsored by Gemini, where all the players get paid in Bitcoin. Then when Shohei Ohtani Jr. hits a 3,000 foot popup, Manfred will cancel low gravity on the moon and return all the players to their natural home: a row of folding chairs in a hotel lobby. I kid! We here at Razzball love Rob Manfred and everything he’s done for the game of baseball, including making the lives of pitcher rankers completely miserable by getting rid of Spider Tack. Catch me after the Greinke graphic to see what’s in store for the rest of the season!
- “The hottest add on the market! He’s made it two starts, 12 IP, giving up 4 hits and NO RUNS! ADD, ADD, ADD!” Sorry, that was just my Attention Deficit Disorder pretending to write for one of those sites that wants the “hot hand.” I lead off with Harvey this week because it gives us a good lesson in chasing the “hot” pitcher. Is Harvey really the pitcher you want to add? Let’s check the line on Harvey’s previous 12 starts: 10+ ERA, FIP/xFIP near 5.00, 2.00 HR/9. Imagine if Matt Harvey had pitched to Shohei Ohtani in the Home Run Derby — we woulda seen 700 foot dongs! [don’t Google that]. It’s like one of those junior high math problems: in the game where Matt Harvey pitched against the Nationals, Alcides Escobar, Trea Turner, Juan Soto, and Josh Bell had 16 combined AB, 0 combined BB, and 2 combined K. In other words, the top batters in the Nationals order put the ball in play 14 times (87% of the time) against Harvey and the Orioles’ bullpen, only all the hits and runs came against the bullpen instead of Harvey. Variance! So we use the example of Matt Harvey more as a mental practice to remember: Yes, there will be “hot” pitchers down the stretch. However, we need to look at the deeper stats if we’re going to trust that success to endure in season-long formats. Continue to stack against Harvey, and if I’m wrong, I’ll eat Donkey Teeth’s hay.
- The Patriot Sandlot, meanwhile, has been the unstoppable anti-Harvey, going 13K/1BB in his last appearance on his way to a near no-no / near-perfecto / near-completo / near-wet-my-pantso. Over his last 3 starts, Sandoval’s put out an ace-level 28 Ks to 4 BB, while posting a nice 2.78 ERA with all the SABRmetric stuff to agree with it. So why is Sandoval still available in nearly 50% of leagues? What are you doing — go get him now and then come back! I’ll just be here staring at my screen and maybe refreshing it a couple of times waiting for Max Scherzer to notice me. You back now? Good. Still no Mad Max pen pal cards on my part. Sandoval’s got a re-donky-teeth level of swinging strikes over the past month, nearing 20% in each of his starts except for one. I mean, come on, he’s gotta start somewhere. But that swinging strike rate is in the neighborhood of Huascar Ynoa when he came up earlier (prior to MMA fighting a bench), so you can easily see Sandoval being a top 30 SP (or even better) to finish out the year. If only the Angels had some defense and a bullpen…ENYWHEY. If you’re in a dynasty or keeper league, Sandoval is an essential addition, because he won’t be any cheaper next year.
- Speaking of wh-Huascar (make sure to say that in a Harry Caray voice), he’s making a rehab start this week. Guess who you should whu-add!
- The Mountain Man moved from the Tampa Bay Rays to the New York Mets. Seriously, did the Mets need another guy for their trainers to mess around with or something? Also, where does Rich Hill slot into the rotation after Carlos Carrasco, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and David Peterson all return? The current rotation of Marcus Stroman, Tylor Megill, and Taijuan Walker all deserve rotation spots, right? So…does Hill become the veteran clubhouse presence? A long-reliever? A foreshadowing that the Mets’ trainers know their injured pitchers aren’t coming back? What gives? The Mets didn’t have to give up a lot to receive Hill (an injured Tommy Hunter being the main piece), so perhaps Hill comes in as that “rubber armed” end-of-rotation guy that eats innings and allows the other pitchers to rest. Also, Hill hasn’t pitched this many innings since 2018, so if you’re in one of those states that allows betting on people getting injured (isn’t capitalism great?!), take the under. If you’re rostering Hill, I recommend trading him before the Mets trainers do their Dr. Death impression on him.
- Speaking of an under-rostered player in a sketchy role on a team, let’s talk about the TyLord! Megill doesn’t have an astonishing provenance in his draft ranks (8th rounder) or a track record in the minors (about 50 IP above AA-ball), but every once in a while, a player just needs the ticket to the big show to show off. Megill’s available everywhere (except EverywhereBlair), and he’s tossing a sweet 10+K/9 with a sub-2.00 ERA and sub 4.00 xFIP to go with that. Sure, he’s getting a bit lucky, but aren’t we all Daft Punk sometimes? Megill’s swinging strike rate has actually plummeted recently, going sub-10% in his last two starts, meaning that batters are probably getting video on him and are ready for his pitches. That said, he’s allowed 2 barrels all year and has a 0.90 HR/9 so far, which will get you singing “One More Time” for 18 hours on end. In his previous starts, Megill had a whiff rate above 15%, which shows the ability for him to miss bats, and now he’s just transitioning to avoiding hard contact while he adjusts himself. Wait, did I just write that? He’s only 25 years old and barely has experience above AA, so fingers crossed that he’s learning from Str0 and Taijuan Walker about how to adjust…and it doesn’t hurt to have deGoat as your rotation partner too. Roster Megill in all formats, although don’t be afraid to cut him if he can’t re-up his swinging strike rate soon.
- Do you like how I make this a serialized list, with one pitcher leading to the next? It’s like Cloud Atlas but for imaginary baseball nerds. ENYWHEY. Speaking of the Adjustment Bureau, Taijuan Walker went from having a solid 2021 to getting blown out twice in a row. Gee, can’t think of who else that’s happened to recently. Ferrit Mole? I love rodents! But for Walker, yeah, he’s been blown up a few times, and we’re all living in a post-stick world where pitchers are having various levels of adjustment. Took Cole two starts to adjust. It’ll probably take lesser mortals a few more starts to adjust. Walker’s troubles are really stemming from his less-effective slider, which has a 5% swinging strike rate in the post-stick world. His 4-seamer, however, is more-or-less within the lower confines of whiff tolerance. As a parent, I can tell you a lot about whiff tolerance. But trust me, it gets better! Walker, however, hurt his shoulder batting earlier this week, so he might have joined the Jack Flaherty club of “UNIVERSAL DH NOW!” Seriously, outside of Ohtani, pitchers are batting .100 and have a 50% strikeout rate. Let’s be done with this “pitchers must bat” mess and move on. Don’t worry too much about Walker, except for that injury and omygodthemetstrainers.
- Jackson Q. Publick Flaherty has progressed to bullpen sessions and will be facing live batting soon. We’ll likely see him back in mid-August. Did anybody in your league drop him? Hah! Profit for you. Flaherty was a top 10 pitcher before getting injured while swinging a bat, Ozzy Osbourne style.
- Speaking of top 30 pitchers ROS that are just sitting on the wire, Chris Sale is ready for you to take the discount and brag about it on the internet. He’s up to about 4 IP in Double-A ball in his return from Tommy John surgery, and he’s absolutely destroying the poor boys. We’ll likely see him mid-August, where he’ll be able to put in a solid run of outings for fantasy baseball teams on the playoff run. If you’re in a dynasty, he’s absolutely worth a grab right now because his value has never been lower. Let him destroy the competition come September and then trade him in the off-season if you like.
Sale with 13 pitches in the first inning, 9 for strikes. pic.twitter.com/pyGeIWhElp
— Portland Sea Dogs (@PortlandSeaDogs) July 25, 2021
- You wanna see a guy who was really affected by spin rate? Then look elsewhere because it’s not Gausman. Ha! Tricked you! I’m like the Loki of fantasy sportswriters. Now give me a prime-time show with a major media producer. [Offers from TruTV come trickling in] No, not like that! ENYWHEY. Gausman is on the struggle bus right now and it has almost nothing to do with spin rate; he’s a fastball/split-finger/changeup guy, and his spin rate has been more or less flat (sure, a slight decline) following the crackdown on spin. But, his swinging strike rate has been dramatically worsened by…something. You want to see a graphical representation of Splash Mountain? Look below!
So what the Coolio is going on here? In his past two games, Gausman’s pitches off the plate have been hammered, which isn’t…ya know…the usual. But certainly, he’s struggling to miss bats, which leads to worse outcomes overall. But all great pitchers have periods of struggle, sometimes lasting upwards of a month or more. It’s just too bad for all of us fantasy managers that he’s struggling right now, when the fantasy playoffs are coming up. So, fingers crossed that Gausman gets it figured out ASAP. In the meantime, you’ve got my breakdown of Patrick Sandoval and Tylor Megill above, who are each available in 50% or more leagues. Grab them as ballast while Gausman rights the ship.
We’re entering the phase of the season where we might see some really weird players taking starting pitcher roles. Like, good ol’ Colin McHugh, who makes his debut in the 40s today. Wait, is this the weather report for New York in December? ENYWHEY. There’s a non-zero chance for pitchers of all utility roles to take starts because the majority of MLB clubs are about to start limiting IP (unless your name is Lancelot Lynn), and pitchers like Rich Hill and Colin McHugh are willing to
sacrifice themselves play as much as their team needs to make the playoffs. So, if you’re browsing the ol’ Streamonator and see a player you don’t recognize starting, come take a look at the confidence scale and see that, yes, I don’t trust them unless their name is Robert Ray.
Have an awesome week everybody! Be sure to check out Razzball Football as we get underway for the preseason!
Week 24 Pitcher Data.xls
|Lance McCullers Jr.||22.85||138.1||16.00%||4.05||31.50%||16.6|
|Chase De Jong||97||43.2||10.20%||5.06||25.50%|
|Chi Chi Gonzalez||104.9||87||6.50%||5.31||23.50%|