I’ve gotta say, it’s nice to have a full week’s worth of games to work with. Last week felt a little like picking nits, and I’m nary a nitpicker. One thing I still would like to see though IS SOME FRIGGIN CALL UPS. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had even a couple of mid-level names like Shane Bieber or Freddy Peralta called up. You haven’t really even got any value from uber-prospect Walker Buehler since early June. It would be nice to infuse some new blood into this list, but we do have a fair bit of moving and shaking to discuss. We did see two impressive debuts in back-to-back days for the Cardinals in Daniel Poncedeleon and Austin Gomber. For our purposes however, I don’t think there’s much there. Poncedeleon was a fine conquistador of the minors, but is a low upside option as a starter and appears to be headed to the pen anyway. The same can likely be said of Gomber with Carlos Martinez supposedly back this week, although he makes for a more interesting starter if they were to stretch him out. There are at least some veterans that have crept on to the back end of the list to mix things up. I mentioned Homer Bailey in yesterday’s Two Startapalooza, whose fastball is up to 95 after a couple months on the DL, and he tossed his slider and curve more with good results. I’d like to write up Stroman, but there isn’t that much to say. I couldn’t tell you the last time he cracked the list, but he’s been solid over the last month or so, so despite the total lack of strikeouts he’s in the 90’s. Unfortunately, Stephen Strasburg is back on the DL (shocker) with neck issues. He returned long enough to torpedo your ratios for a week, so that’s nice. Here are some of this week’s newcomers, risers, and fallers.
- Derek Holland, SF (SP81) – Holland is a bit of a tricky player to value right now. First, his numbers since June 1st: 2.74 ERA / 1.13 WHIP, 11.7 K/9, 2.3 BB/9. I imagine a lot of you are as shocked at those numbers as I am. Those are ace-like numbers, but they come with a caveat: some of them are out of the pen. Holland has been a bit of a swing man (heyooo) for the Giants, but even as just an occasional starter/long reliever he makes for a useful fantasy piece in deeper leagues.
- Yonny Chirinos, TB (SP87) – Speaking of confusing pitcher roles, enter the Rays. They have openers, closers, starters that are relievers, and relief in their bathrooms. That is a toilet joke. Chirinos actually did start a game in his return from the DL, and he posted a baseline quality start in a tough matchup with the Yankees. If there is a downside with Chirinos, it is that – he’s going to be pitching against a lot of AL East opponents over the second half. At least there are the Orioles, who he should be able to beat up on. He has good control and gets plenty of whiffs (11.5%) and chases out of the zone (34.5%) to net a strikeout per inning. I’m not going crazy over him or anything at SP87, but he can be a useful starter down the stretch.
- Kyle Gibson, MIN (+11) – It’s taken me a while to buy into Kyle Gibson. I’m a Twins fan, and I’ve seen a lot of bad Kyle Gibson over the years. Now that I’m bought in, he could be on the move to another team at any moment as the Twins seem set to sell anything that isn’t nailed down. While he still walks more than you’d like (3.49 BB/9) his strikeout rate has shot up to 8.79 K/9 this season from 6.89 last year thanks to his slider. He’s using it more and tossing his changeup less, and it has helped him take a step forward. His slider has been one of the best in the league, with a 1.82 pVal that ranks 12th best among qualified starters. His ability to sequence the pitch and tunnel it with his fastball has helped his fastball play up as well. The walks will still catch up with him from time to time and he’ll lay an egg, but he’s a solid option overall.
- Jameson Taillon, PIT (+12) – It’s been a bit of a roller coaster season for Taillon. Despite tossing a 1-hit shutout, he left April with a 4.83 ERA over 31.2 innings. His June/July ERA has been 2.90/3.03 though, and it’s time to give him a little more love. Coinciding with his success has been the increased use of his new slider. It’s helped him reach a career-high 10.1% swinging strike rate. It’s made him very consistent too, as he hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in a start since May 22nd. I normally have just a nip of Jameson, but this week I couldn’t help myself and took a double shot.
- Shane Bieber, CLE (-8) – It was a rough day at the office for Bieber in his last start, as he got shelled by the Pirates for seven runs in just 1.2 innings. He’s now given up at least three runs in five of his first eight starts, showing less of a floor than many expected from him. While the ERA is 4.80, he’s suffered a ridiculous .378 BABIP, putting all of his ERA indicators under 3.62. However, I’m going to go ahead and say that I don’t buy his peripherals. He doesn’t walk many batters, which is good. On the flip side of that coin, however, is that he lives in the strike zone. Without overpowering stuff, he’s going to get knocked around more often than you’d like. His 48% hard contact rate shows us that, and when you allow that much hard contact, bad things are going to happen. He’s still a mixed league streamer, but don’t set your expectations too high.
- Freddy Peralta, MIL (-20) – Freddy’s first four starts were stellar. A 1.59 ERA / 0.71 WHIP, 13.9 K/9, and 3.6 BB/9 had the fantasy community drooling like Joey Chestnut when he sees a hot dog on the fourth of July. His four starts since haven’t been quite so dandy: 6.10 ERA / 1.35 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, 5.7 BB/9. The walk rate was there in the minors as well, which shows us why he wasn’t regarded as a top prospect. His fastball is excellent and deceptive with multiple movements that he can manipulate from pitch to pitch, which is good because he throws it 77% of the time. He’ll need to work on his changeup more if he’s going to reduce his poor split against righties though (.342 wOBA vs LHH; .151 wOBA vs RHH). More than anything, he’ll need to improve his command to get back in our good graces.
The Top 100 Starting Pitchers
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