“I want to be a cardiologist, to be a heart surgeon, but I don’t know how that’s gonna work with baseball as well. So, I might do something business-related, so I get a little bit of business acumen going into the real world. And then once I’m done with baseball, I can probably go back and continue my study in medicine.”
–17-year old Triston McKenzie in 2015
I mean, Triston McKenzie achieved both of his dreams, right? In his major league debut, McKenzie surgically sliced through the heart of the Tigers lineup, giving up one run over six innings while whiffing 10 batters. And you know what? There’s a very good chance that he takes the heart out of Zach Plesac, whose arbitration schedule would be delayed if Cleveland keeps him at the alternate site much longer. Is it too early to call McKenzie the “Cardiac Kid?”
Since Plesac and his saddlebags-boi Mike Clevinger were exiled from the MLB team as punishment for breaking Covid protocol, the Tribe have won six straight games and the hitters are *gasp* completely league average over the past week. With stellar performances like McKenzie’s on Saturday, Cleveland management may decide to keep Plesac down a bit longer to delay his arbitration schedule. “But my dad played when they put quaaludes in the water cooler!” Zach shouts from the alternate site. We’ll hear about the fate of Plesac and Clevinger on Monday, probably about the time you’re reading this article. Let me know if the comments what happened!
Before we get to the pitchers, let me take a minute to plug the work we’re doing over on the football side of Razzball. If you like what I’m doing here, check out I’ve written on the football side, and give the other authors a look and a follow as well. This year I’ll be captaining the football equivalent of pitchers–the quarterbacks! Can’t wait to help you with your fantasy football draft!
August 24-30, 2020
Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: We’re either halfway or one-third through the season, depending on a team’s ability to dodge Covid. For those roto and best ball players, your teams are still alive for another month. Hooray! If you’re playing head-to-head, well, you might be in the playoffs next week depending on what your league decided. Hopefully you chose something sensible, like, giving the championship to the manager who owns the fewest snapback hats.
Shortly after I submitted my article last week, Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize got called up and pitched for the Tigers, Sixto Sanchez debuted on Saturday night for the Marlins, and Triston McKenzie tossed a gem for the Indians. I’m still maintaining my rookie dart throw policy: these players have no track record against MLB talent, and 2020 has been notoriously hard on pitchers. Pick them up at your own discretion.
News and Notes
Sixto Sanchez — Grey and Hobbs already smothered you with words about Sixto this week. I’m adding Sanchez into the dart throws, and you should too. Keep in mind the Marlins are a wonky team this year, and their bullpen is pretty awful, and that bullpen will need to do A LOT of work to catch up to the rest of the league. Like his teammate Jordan Yamamoto, Sanchez has great pitches but just may not be that fantasy relevant due to the playing situation.
James Paxton — Paxton had some promising starts over the past two weeks, increasing his swinging strike rate while lowering the exit velocity and hard hit percentage against him. However, this week he felt a twinge in his forearm…and maybe he was feeling it before too…but anyway, he’s shut down for at least two weeks. Paxton was gaining a bit of velocity on his fastball, which was already nearly 5mph down from his career norm, suggesting he was working through an injury. If you’re rostering Paxton, you might want to trade him before his two-week break becomes off-season rehab. Paxton in dynasty? Whew. He’s an IL-stash, but he’s one of the first I would drop if you need roster space.
Frankie Montas — Frankie had been looking solid to start the year, but over the past two weeks, his performances were suboptimal compared to his season averages: a 2% worse swinging strike rate, a whopping additional 8MPH on his exit velocity, and a stunning hard hit rate 25% higher than usual. Montas is still one of the top pitching options on the top hitting team in the league, so keep those fingers crossed that it was just a bad couple weeks. On the plus side, his fastball has gained nearly 1MPH in the past two weeks, so he’s trying to adjust. If you’re the betting type, Montas is your “buy-low” option. If his increased velocity turns into Ks instead of barrels, on a team with hot bats he’ll be the late-season surge you’re looking for. Like I said, it’s a bet. But you don’t win friends with salad, right?
David Peterson — Peterson had been crawling up the top 100 list with some nice performances, but, those performances were with the Mets. You know the rest of the story. Peterson woke up with shoulder soreness, and the MRI revealed no structural damage, so in Mets-speak, he’ll probably need a bionic arm replacement. Dart throw at your own risk, but he’s off the top 100 for now.
Yusei Kikuchi — It’s been a minute since we mentioned Kikuchi-san. He’s lost 0.5MPH on his fastball over the past two weeks which resulted in a 1.6% swinging strike rate lower than his normal rate. However, batters had 10% less hard hit balls than normal against Kikuchi over the past two weeks, which is a positive sign that Kikuchi’s off-season changes are stabilizing. The rest of season rater has him at 79, and given that he’s still rostered in less than 40% of leagues, he’s a great streaming option for ratios. Just don’t expect a ton of wins with that Mariners offense.
Yu Darvish — The stats in the table below don’t include Darvish-san’s brilliant Sunday start, where he gave up 1ER over 7IP while striking out 10 White Sox batters. The White Sox have been crushing the ball this year, so Darvish’s Sunday start showcased the 1MPH that he added to his fastball in the past two weeks. Yu Darvish, Go! Also, “go” is the number 5 in Japanese. He’s at number 5 on the Top 100. OK, sheesh. Moving on…
Pablo Lopez — What’s up Pablo, honey? He’s in the top 10% of FIP on the list, sports a wildly low 84MPH exit velocity on batted balls, and he’s making batters whiff at a 14% rate. The rest-of-season-nator (my term) has him at 39! 2020 is so messed up that a Marlins pitcher has cracked the top 40! There hasn’t been a Miamian in the Top 40 since Pit Bull. Lots of love for Pablo, but again, the Marlins are wonky this year. Lopez could not give up a run the rest of the year and still not get a win because the Marlins’ bullpen has combined for nearly a 5.00 ERA. In dynasty leagues, absolutely pursue Lopez.
Yonny Chirinos — In the before times, the entire Rays staff was in the top 60 of this list. Now, Yonny Chirinos joins Brendan McKay in line for season-ending surgery, while Charlie Morton continues on the IL. [checks calendar] Well, I don’t think we’re seeing Chirinos in a starting capacity until 2022 or so. And the Rays have a lot of pitching talent. So, if you’re holding him in dynasty, set him free to the waiver wire.
Highest Velocity Gainers over the last 2 Weeks: The following pitchers have picked up some steam in the August heat, meaning they are the most likely to see an uptick in performance data: Derek Holland (1MPH), Yu Darvish (0.9MPH), Frankie Montas (0.9MPH), Ivan Nova (0.8MPH), Johnny Cueto (0.7MPH), Corbin Burnes (0.6MPH), Nate Pearson (0.5MPH), Kevin Gausman (0.5MPH), Max Scherzer (0.5MPH), Freddy Peralta (0.5MPH), Josh Tomlin (0.4MPH), Zack Greinke (0.4MPH)
Notable Velocity Losers over the last 2 Weeks: These pitchers have lost the most velocity, and it *might possibly* indicate that they’re tired, not fully worked up, or something is wrong on the horizon: Max Fried (-0.4MPH), Carlos Carrasco (-0.4MPH), Masahiro Tanaka (-0.4MPH), Merrill Kelly (-0.4MPH), Rick Porcello (-0.4MPH), Tyler Glasnow (-0.5MPH), Yusei Kikuchi (-0.5MPH), Kenta Maeda (-0.6MPH).
As for the above, you can see that most of these players were not full-time SP last year or had issues during summer camp. Maeda also threw nearly 110 pitches in his no-hit bid. I’m not saying to dump these players. But! If you’re the researching type, these are the players I would start investigating.
Deep League Streamers: Reynaldo Lopez (73% owned on a hot-hitting team), Elieser Hernandez (48% owned), Spencer Howard (35% owned), Jake Arrieta (60% owned), Vince Velasquez (22% owned), MacKenzie Gore (31% owned), Chad Kuhl (26% owned), Kolby Allard (5% owned), Touki Toussaint (19% owned), Brandon Bielak (65% owned)
We’ve got an additional column this week: the hard hit % from the past 2 weeks as compared the the pitcher’s full season stats. A positive number indicates the pitcher was getting hit harder than usual, and a negative number indicates they were better than their season rankings. In short, you can see where players are trending positively or negatively, and make your own decisions based on that info. Data is sourced from FanGraphs and the Razzball player rater, and compiled by yours truly. If you like what you’re seeing, please share widely online or support Razzball with a membership. If you’re unable to do either of those, show some love in the comments and I’ll give you a virtual high five.
FIP=Fielding Independent Pitching; SwSt%=Swinging Strike %; EV=Batted Ball Exit Velocity; Hard Hit%=percent change in hard hit batted balls over the past two weeks compared to season stats; ROS=Player Rater rest-of-season rank. Green=Top 10% of performance in that category. Red=Bottom 10% of performance in that category.
|Rank||Name||FIP||SwSt%||EV||Hard Hit %||ROS|
|67||Lance McCullers Jr.||4.43||10.1||89.7||1.7||34|
Aye, you made it this far, didn’t ya. EverywhereBlair is, well, located at home right now. He’s a historian and lover of prog-metal. He enjoys a good sipping rum. When he’s not churning data and making fan fiction about Grey and Donkey Teeth, you can find him dreaming of shirtless pictures of Lance Lynn on Twitter @Everywhereblair.