Hey, for a change we didn’t have a devastating injury this week! Huzzah! Not only that, we got ourselves a few newcomers to the list who are pretty exciting. The top 20 remains relatively unchanged, although Patrick Corbin gets a bit of a ding for the continued diminished velocity and a dip in his whiffs. Speaking of whiffs, can you Snell that Snell? Snell has a freakin’ 2.78 ERA and has had to face the Red Sox three times already. He’ll come down from that mark for sure, but he’s still really good. I didn’t write him up fully, but I trashed Zack Godley nearly 20 spots. I was as patient as I could be, but those 2017 K:BB gains have evaporated. I also believe I had Reynaldo Lopez a bit high given his lack of strikeouts, and his .218 BABIP through 10 starts is pretty absurd. Let’s check out some more of the interesting movers and shakers this week.
- Joe Musgrove, PIT (SP50) – Jeez, welcome back Joe Musgrove! He had been impressing in his minor league rehab starts, but he rolled up on the Cardinals firing on all cylinders in his debut. He shut the Cards out over seven innings, striking out seven batters without allowing a walk. You don’t want to take too much away from just one start, and the Cardinals aren’t particularly intimidating this year, but this was a really impressive debut nevertheless. His velocity was up a tick from last year and his pitch mix looked different as well with a cutter that he worked in more than his slider. It didn’t register a single whiff, so we’ll see if he continues to use it so much, but regardless of that he was pumping strikes and not simply leaning on that slider. I don’t think he’s suddenly a K per inning guy, but he’s immediately a must-own in anything deeper than a 12-teamer mixer.
- Ross Stripling, LAD (SP72) – The name Stripling always makes me chuckle because I think it sounds like a baby stripper. Not a baby who strips, which is a terrifying notion, but the offspring of a stripper, a little Stripling. I’ll see myself out. Stripling’s gaudy numbers (1.74 ERA, 10.89 K/9, 1.96 BB/9) are inflated by his 11 appearances out of the bullpen, yet he has surprised me by continuing a higher level of success as a starter that I had imagined. Since moving to the rotation (4 GS, 22 IP) he has posted a 1.23 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 12.7 K/9, and 0.8 BB/9. Holy crap. Looking further into this stretch, he has induced 56% ground balls and 15% hard contact. “Is he just getting lucky on balls in play, Dokken?? Don’t lead me astray!” Solid question, imaginary reader, and no he is not just getting lucky. He has a .377 BABIP over that span, and the extremely low hard% really has me questioning the Dodgers defense these days to allow such a high BABIP. All these tremendous results, but he really hasn’t changed anything since last year when he posted a 3.75 ERA primarily as a reliever. I can’t blame you if you want to buy in hoping for Alex Wood 2.0, or simply riding the streak. I just don’t see huge stuff here, so I’m gonna carry on expecting SP4 numbers from him.
- Daniel Mengden, OAK (+24) – As I’m writing this, Mengden just completed a two-hit shutout against the Diamondbacks. It is possible I haven’t raised him far enough. His ERA sits at 2.85 over 66.1 innings, and got-damn does he have a fine mustache!! I have a hard time pushing him too high simply because he doesn’t get many strikeouts. A 5.83 K/9 doesn’t do you much good if he stops giving you such a great ERA, and the .246 BABIP doesn’t exactly mesh with the 38% hard contact rate. That said, the WHIP will continue to be sexy, so there’s a place for him on most rosters.
- Trevor Cahill, OAK (+37) – Another Athletics pitcher! Cahill has only had two truly outstanding games, but he still deserved better than the 96 I put on him last week. With his extensive injury history it’s hard to imagine him making it through the rest of the season healthy, so that’s the primary reason not to get too invested. He’s now over the (Ca)hill in MLB pitcher terms at 30 years old, and yes I wrote that sentence only to use that pun. He’s been a bit fortunate to get that 2.75 ERA, with a .244 BABIP that won’t hold up given his obscene 46% hard contact rate. He is suddenly getting a ton of swinging strikes though at 14%, justifying the near K/inning that he’s given us so far.
- Masahiro Tanaka, NYY (-20) – We’re a third of the way through the season, give or take, and it’s time to simply take a step back and re-adjust with some of these guys. Masahiro Tanaka is one of those guys. Since the beginning of 2017, Tanaka has given us a 4.79 ERA over 234.2 innings. His K/9 and BB/9 have been very good at 9.4 and 2.1, respectively, yet all that has done to us is string us along as we continue to absorb dud start after dud start. His problem continues to be the long ball, with a 1.8 HR/9 that just destroys his value. I had given him the benefit of the doubt that he could resolve those issues this year, but at this point it’s looking like 2017 all over again. His 3.54 xFIP since the start of 2017 paints a pretty picture of what could have been, but at this point he’s just a streamer for me.
- Mike Minor, TEX (-15) – Oh no, this is no minor issue, Mike. This is major. Minor has now gone four straight starts without a quality start, and in fact only has a QS in 2 of his 10 starts. The 5.63 ERA on the season is a bit extreme with SIERA putting him at 3.92, but he has allowed 41% hard contact. Right-handed bats are absolutely crushing him with a .380 wOBA. It would be wise to sit him until he proves he can get righties out, but I’m not sure that day is coming. It was a fun experiment, Texas, but Minor was Major Awesome in the pen. Put him back there where he can dominate.
The Top 100 Starting Pitchers
You can find Dokken on Twitter @NathanDokken.