What a difference a week makes. A week ago there wasn’t a ton of movement, but this week I felt like an overhaul was in store. We’ll get to the risers and fallers in a little bit, but first there is a bit of scuttlebutt to address. No, not Scuzzlebutt the basket-weaving monster who lives in the mountains of South Park and has Patrick Duffy for a leg and a stick of celery for an arm. SCUTTLEbutt. The largest of which has to be the surprise demotion of Rockies Opening Day starter Jon Gray to Triple-A Albuquerque. Gray had a particularly heinous 5.77 ERA, so bad that Mariska Hargitay had begun poking around Coors Field to keep an eye on things. His FIP, however, is a sterling 3.07 (11th best among qualified starters), and his K-BB% is 21.8% (12th best). You can’t even point to Coors Field as causing his troubles, with a 5.89 road ERA. This looks like incredibly bad luck, but with this demotion clearly the team is focused on something mechanical. It’ll be pretty hard to hang on to him in standard mixers, although he may not be down for too long if they fix what needs a-fixin’ right quick. I’d try to hold him in a bench spot if you can in 15+ team leagues. Elsewhere, there aren’t too many notable promotions, but there are a few new names on the back end to peep.
- Lance Lynn, MIN (SP94) – Lynn hasn’t been a part of the Top 100 for quite some time now (if he ever was, my memory doesn’t go that far back). His 8.37 April ERA had him well out of mind, and despite a 3.76 May ERA, his cumulative stats were just too stinky to consider him for the list. However, he has now posted a 2.83 ERA in June with a 9.73 ERA (albeit with a 4.40 BB/9), and has weaseled his way back onto the butt end of the action. His home/road splits are also stark, with a home mark of 2.70 ERA at home and 6.64 on the road. I’ve got to consider that anomalous. I’m not sure the walks ever get to a point where Lynn is good for your WHIP, but in deep leagues he’s at least in streaming consideration now.
- Jordan Zimmermann, DET (SP99) – Speaking of veterans I had completely left for dead, look who else crept onto the list! It’s the man who posted a 6.08 ERA over 29 starts in 2017! Yeeeeeeee-haw. Well, he just shut out the A’s over five innings, and there just might be something here. He has decided to feature his best pitch quite a bit more – the slider – and it’s working. The slider was his only pitch with a positive pVal last year, and in this last start he cranked it up to 47% usage!!! He’s used it over 30% in nearly every appearance this year, and if this last start is any indication of things to come, he could regain relevancy. It’s not a great pitch by the numbers, so we’re not looking at the next Patrick Corbin breakout or anything, but in deep leagues he might just be worth a look.
- Shane Bieber, CLE (+13) – The Biebs has been terrific since his shaky debut against the Twins, allowing just two runs over 18.2 innings (3 starts) with a 21:3 K:BB ratio. Granted the matchups were pretty sweet (MIN again, DET, @STL), but good pitchers should dominate bad offenses. With his double-plus command he won’t be one to waste too many pitches and can pitch deep into games as well, although the deepest he’s gone to this point is seven innings. The 44% hard contact rate gives me pause, but he’s missing more bats than I expected and could very well be a top 40 starter the rest of the way…provided he sticks in the rotation when Carrasco returns.
- Jonathan Loaisiga, NYY (+44) – I rocketed Loaisiga (aka Jonny Lasagna) up the ranks this week after a strong start against the Phillies. Those Phils are free swingers, and Loaisiga took advantage of that, racking up eight K’s. He has yet to pitch beyond the sixth inning, which has been an issue due to too many walks. That was never an issue for him in the minors though, and I’d expect him to be much better in that regard moving forward. I’m not super optimistic he can pile up the innings since he has extreme injury concerns and tossed only 32.2 innings in 2017. That said, he looks like hot sexy fire while he’s on the mound and should be considered at least a streamer even in very shallow leagues.
- Nick Pivetta, PHI (-16) – Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaarf. Oh man, I’ve been pumping Pivetta pretty hard and then he goes out and gives up seven earnies while getting just five outs. Mondo suckage. He’s giving me a bit of a Vince Velasquez vibe with this blow up potential. He’s been nails most of the year, but this was his third disaster start of the year where he gave up 6+ runs. I’m sticking with him everywhere, but you can consider him a streamer in standard mixers as his 4.71 ERA won’t be too coveted by anyone. His SIERA is a luscious 3.33 though, and the K-BB% is at 21%, 15th best in baseball. The homers might be a problem, I will say that, but he’s a buy-low target for me.
- Gio Gonzalez, WSH (-15) – I will say that I never liked ranking Gio inside the top 40 (where he sits now) but the production was too good to argue with and I caved in. I wish now that I had stood my ground. Gio has a cool 8.44 ERA in June as that ridiculous strand rate luck he was having finally caught up to him. 79% in April and 90% in May was completely unsustainable, and June saw that number tumble to 62%. His WHIP is back up to a more Gio-like 1.42, and the more I write the more I think SP40 is still too high for him. He’s still very usable, don’t get me wrong, but don’t expect a return to his 2017 numbers.
The Top 100 Starting Pitchers
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