It’s rough to start a list that brings me as much joy as this with the sad trombone, but this is how we have to begin when we lose Clayton Kershaw. Sad trombone. There’s no current timetable for his return from biceps tendinitis, and the most recent update has him playing catch from 60 feet for five minutes. Yippee. I like to think he’s actually just practicing an eephus and he’s going to start working it into his repertoire. In any case, he’s not close to a return. Sadly, DL trips have become commonplace for Kershaw. At this point you have to bake a DL stint into his projection every year, and to me that puts him squarely behind Mad Max and Sale moving forward.
Kluber is also showing a few chinks in his armor, so that dude has to watch out for pointy objects. While he’s got a cool 2.62 ERA, his FIP is 3.94. His swinging strike rate is down a full 5% from 2017 while his contact rate is up 9%. He’s getting fewer reaches out of the zone and is missing far fewer bats in the zone. I don’t foresee an implosion of any kind per se, but among elite options he’s got my eyebrow raised.
- Kevin Gausman, BAL (+10) – Don’t look now, but it’s the first half of the season and Kevin Gausman isn’t sucking! He’s actually got five quality starts in eight tries with a 3.18 ERA. He’s still just as obnoxiously homer prone as ever with a 1.41 HR/9, but hey, at least he’s consistent – his 2016-2018 HR/9 rates are 1.40, 1.40, and 1.41. He’s chucking his splitter more than ever at 22%, which is a key element to his success. He gets 23% whiffs with it and 64% grounders, which is a great way to limit the damage when you’re pitching in hitter-friendly AL East parks. He’s been fortunate not to have to face the Red Sox yet, but that luck runs out next week as he’ll head to Fenway for a true test of his talents.
- Andrew Heaney, LAA (+18) – The Injury Bug has been a real meany to Heaney, sapping his 2016 and ’17 seasons almost entirely. He’s proving that he’s back with his recent performance, going three straight starts without allowing more than two runs. He’s throwing more offspeed stuff than ever, with his slider and changeup accounting for 43% of his pitches. Neither pitch has really been elite, but they’ve been good enough to limit batters to a .192 BAA on the change and .177 on the curve. He’s getting enough whiffs and reaches to hover around a K/inning, and his command has been very good. I’m not sure how many innings the Angels will let him throw this season, but in the short term I’m buying in.
- Tyler Skaggs, LAA (+30) – Another Angel in the outfield…err…on the mound! Skaggs really seems to be rounding into form over his last three starts, with a 25:6 K:BB ratio and 2.28 ERA over 23.2 IP. He has the luxury of being able to feed lefties heavy doses of curveballs while his changeup helps keep righties off balance. He’s in the same boat as Heaney insofar as it’s a bit up in the air how many innings the Angels will let Skaggs toss, but I’m all about riding him until that day comes. Come for the 3.07 ERA, stay for the 9.41 K/9.
- Jose Berrios, MIN (-8) – Berrios began the season with a 3-hit shutout of the Orioles and followed it up with a clunker, but then posted back-to-back seven shutout inning starts. It’s been pure misery ever since. Over his last four starts he has an 8.84 ERA with just 11 K’s to 8 BB’s over 18.1 IP. The problem? His curveball has left the building. The whiff rate on his curveball while he was rolling was over 22%. His last three starts? 6%. He failed to even record a whiff on his curve in his latest start against the Angels. He’s just an adjustment away from getting back to form, but until you see him put together a good start, he should be on your bench.
- David Price, BOS (-37) – I had Price overranked a bit to begin with, but a blow up start against the Rangers and a DL scare with some tingly fingies has me dropping him precipitously. Apparently Price plays Fortnite morning, noon, and…nite…and it gave him carpal tunnel syndrome. This is almost as weird as that time Matt Harvey hit the DL because he was holding his pee too long. Baseball is so damn fun! You don’t see stuff like this in any other sport. Can you imagine Aaron Rodgers missing a game against the Vikings because he was playing too much Fortnite and his hand was numb? Or LeBron James missing an NBA game because he held his pee the entire bus ride from Cleveland to Boston? Like Matt Harvey’s pee, David Price is a streamer that you aren’t forced to hold.
- Dylan Bundy, BAL (-48) – You know when someone gives you a purple nurple, how it only hurts for a short time but the bruise lasts for days? That’s how you felt after Bundy’s start on Tuesday. It hurt to see that box score, and while that immediate pain is gone, your ERA and WHIP are gonna be bruised for a while. Here’s his line, in case you missed it, in the first inning of his start against the Royals: Single, Homer, Homer, Homer, Mound Visit, Walk, Walk, Mound Visit, Homer, Mound Visit to pull Bundy. It was one of the worst starts in the history of baseball, 7 ER without recording an out. So, if you were wondering what it would take to get me to drop a starter nearly 50 spots without an injury, here it is. He had been nothing short of awful for the two starts before that, but that happens to everyone from time to time. Three in a row makes a trend that I am not going to trifle with until further notice. He’s droppable in standard mixers, if you didn’t rage-drop him immediately after that start already. In deep leagues I’d treat him as a hold-and-bench, but I can’t judge you if you have absorbed all three of his miserable starts and just want to wash your hands of him.
The Top 100!
You can find Dokken on Twitter @NathanDokken