Masahiro Tanaka’s first 11 starts have been about as good as you could’ve hoped when you drafted him around the 30th-40th SP off the board. It felt like he was being ignored in some leagues and came at quite the value. He’s a no doubt starter this week with the way he’s been performing, but it may be a good opportunity to sell high on the veteran pitcher.

Most of the numbers are in line with his career (GB rate, LD rate, K rate, BB rate, 1st strike rate). However, there are a few indicators that he’s been a little lucky and his stuff may not be quite what it has been in previous seasons, specifically his moneymaker, the splitter.

His swinging strike rate is down to 11.1% from 14.1% in 2017 and 15.1% in 2016. His 77% contact rate is the 2nd worst of his career along with career worsts in hard hit rate, launch angle, and average exit velocity allowed. 80.6% left on base rate isn’t completely unsustainable, but it would be the highest of his career.

It’s my belief, and the numbers back me up, that the splitter is not the pitch we’ve seen in previous seasons (below), which is leading to less swing and miss, and harder contact. The vertical movement on the pitch is the worst we’ve ever seen from Tanaka. His swinging strike and K rates are down, and of his 3 primary pitches (FB, Slider, Splitter), the splitter is the only one that has a worse whiff rate at 11.69 down from 22.99 the previous season and easily the worst of his career. The batting average against the split finger is .333 this season compared to .220 and .191 in the previous 2 seasons. Similarly, the slugging percentage is up to .560 this season vs .344 in 2017.

I don’t believe that Tanaka is just going to fall apart and if you need a steady arm to balance your roster, I think he’s fine, but with his current numbers I believe you may be able to sell him high compared to what he provides the rest of the season.

 

No Doubt

Name Team Opponent 1 Opponent 2
Max Scherzer WSH MIA @CIN
Gerrit Cole HOU CHC @OAK
Clayton Kershaw LAD NYM PHI
Jacob deGrom NYM @LAD @ARZ
Masahiro Tanaka NYY SD BOS

While Tanaka is a sell high right now, you may be able to get Mad Max at a slight discount given his current numbers on the season are not sparkling as we’ve come to expect, but they should even out. Scherzer’s velocity is fine and is actually the 2nd highest average velocity of his career. If you watch him or look at the movement numbers, you can see his stuff is still nasty. The whiff rate is up on both the fastball and slider from last season along with the best overall swinging strike rate he’s ever shown. He currently has the 2nd lowest left on base rate of his career since 2009 and has been additionally unlucky with BABIP at .356. He’s getting the best ground ball rate of his career

 

Throw Em If You Got Em

Name Team Opponent 1 Opponent 2
Zack Greinke ARZ @COL NYM
Rich Hill LAD NYM PHI
Lucas Giolito CWS KC CLE

An odd mix here in this tier. Greinke and Hill are the elder statesman. Greinke would be in the No Doubt grouping above, but a start at Colorado can be a risky first start to the week, however, you can’t bench him if you’ve been riding him so far this season. Rich Hill has bounced back from a tough first 2 starts on the season to get his numbers back on track

Then there’s Lucas Giolito, who we profiled on the podcast a few weeks back, coming off a complete game shutout at Houston. There can be some concern about workload coming off a complete game, but Giolito only threw 107 pitches over the 9 innings vs the Astros. The velocity on the FB is up, the K rate took a big jump, swinging strike rate is up, and things are looking up for the former top prospect.

 

Serviceable

Name Team Opponent 1 Opponent 2
Chris Bassitt OAK LAA HOU
Marco Gonzales SEA TEX LAA
Matt Strahm SD @NYY MIA
Jon Gray COL ARI TOR
Cole Hamels CHC @HOU @STL
Steven Matz NYM @LAD @ARZ

Had to bring back an old term a group of my friends used to describe, well, just about anything. Food, fantasy players, golf shots, whatever, they’re serviceable or not serviceable. About all I can say for this group is that they are serviceable. There’s some upside here with Bassitt, Strahm, Matz, and Gray. Hamels and Marco have performed better than expected on the season.

In a game filled with high velocity fastballs and nasty breaking pitches, Marco Gonzalez doesn’t have either, but is getting the job done. The WHIP is high at 1.33, and may be a sign regression is on the way, but Marco mixes in a bunch of sub 90 mph variations on the fastball with a change and curve to keep the hitters off balance. He limits hard contact with a sub 30% hard hit rate at 29.2% (31st best), 4.9% barrel rate (51st best), and an average exit velocity of 86.9 mph (92nd). While I think there is a bad stretch potentially coming, I don’t think it’s this week as he gets the Rangers and Angels at home.

 

Brown Paper Bag

Name Team Opponent 1 Opponent 2
Lance Lynn TEX @SEA KC
Jordan Lyles PIT @CIN MIL
Sonny Gray CIN PIT WSH
Gio Gonzalez MIL @MIN @PIT
Trevor Richards MIA @WSH @SD
Michael Pineda MIN MIL @TB
Jeff Samardzija SF @MIA @BAL
Rick Porcello BOS CLE @NYY

Remember when nobody wanted Gio Gonzalez in their rotation and the Yankees said, “Nah, we’re good.”  Well, he hasn’t gotten through 6 innings yet, but he is sitting with a 2.39 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. The K rate has never been spectacular, but if you grabbed Gio at the back end of your draft or picked him up off your wire, you could definitely have done worse. There may even be a little more hope for a few more Ks as his swinging strike rate is at 10.4%, which is the 2nd best of his career, granted in a small sample size. If he qualified, his ground ball rate would be tied for 25th among qualified starters with the lede from the article, Masahiro Tanaka.

 

Eyes Wide Shut

Name Team Opponent 1 Opponent 2
Brad Keller KC @CWS @TEX
Tommy Milone SEA TEX LAA
Aaron Sanchez TOR @TB @COL
Felix Pena LAA @OAK @SEA
Ivan Nova CWS KC CLE
Daniel Norris DET @BAL @ATL
Trevor Cahill LAA @OAK @SEA

Free Streamonator Pick of the Century, OF THE WEEK: Tommy Milone. Now, it’s possible that Milone doesn’t stick in the rotation, so, my apologies if news come out about that, but put a solid performance together in his first start of the season, and should get another look. Anything is better than Wade Leblanc, right?

 

I Immediately Regret This Decision

Name Team Opponent 1 Opponent 2
Adam Wainwright STL @PHI CHC
Homer Bailey KC @CWS @TEX
Ryan Weber BOS CLE @NYY
Adrian Sampson TEX @SEA KC
Jose Urena MIA @WSH @SD
Jefry Rodriguez CLE @BOS @CWS
Merrill Kelly ARZ @COL NYM
Antonio Senzatela COL ARZ TOR

Notes and TBD 2 Starts

  • It’s possible that the Angles, Padres,
  • The Rays don’t announce any of their starters ahead of time, but it looks like Yonny Chirinos (Serviceable) could get 2, but not sure if that will be as the starter or the pitcher following an opener. The other 2 start option for the Rays hasn’t been announced either, but an educated guess would be Ryan Yarborough (Eyes Wide Shut).
  • The Indians haven’t announced their starter for Tuesday yet. May be Adam Plutko, but wait and see. If it’s Plutko, he’s likely in the “I Immediately Regret This Decision” tier.
  • Phillies have yet to say who’s going for them on Tuesday. Sounds like it’s either Nick Pivetta or Vince Velasquez. Both likely sit in one of the bottom 2 categories with games vs STL and at the Dodgers.
  • Depending how the Reds rotation works out with the Doubleheader, Sonny Gray or the TBD 2nd pitcher for the day could have a 2nd start to wrap up the week.
  • Orioles may use a 6 man rotation, but Gabriel Ynoa looks like he’s getting the start Monday. With him being on a limited work load and maybe not getting the 2nd start, he likely falls to the bottom group. It’s possible that Dan Straily gets used as the long man following Ynoa in these starts as well, but you don’t want to run Dan Straily out anyway.

 

 

  1. LT says:
    (link)

    1) Notes and TBD 2 Starts

    It’s possible that the Angles, Padres,……???????

    2) Trevor Richards is pitching at home against SF tomorrow.

    • 1) Not sure what happened there, but Angels and Padres may be running 6 man rotations out there.

      2) Yep. I must’ve cross referenced the wrong thing and got the wrong match up, thanks.

      • KrazyIvan says:
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        Miami plays one more against Washington tomorrow. Urena starts that one and Richards gets SF on Tuesday.

  2. Cable says:
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    h/h points…..12 team league redraft…

    what SPers would a Domingo German @ Tanaka package bring back….

    • I’d think with those 2 pitchers you could look at somebody in the top 10 or 15 SPs as a return.

  3. DeltronZ says:
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    CBS sports has Strasburg going 5/28 @ ATL, and 6/2 v MIL. ESPN has him starting 6/4 v White Sox. Does CBS have this one wrong? Strasburg would have four days rest but the Nationals would only play 3 times.

    • B_Don

      B_Don says:
      (link)

      As far as I can tell, Strasburg is gong to start 5/28, but with a day off in the week, the Nationals would have to skip somebody in the rotation for him to get 2 starts. Likely a 2 start guy for next week.

  4. Timber Maniac says:
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    Oddly enough, Greinke’s been money in Colorado. I looked into it when he had a start against them earlier this season. Still never lost there.

    • B_Don

      B_Don says:
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      His start there earlier in the year was fine, but it’s always added risk going into Coors with the different conditions. His ERA has generally been okay in Coors at a career 4.21, but WHIP takes a hit at 1.45.

  5. Andrew Sowa says:
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    what are your thought on Ryan Yarbrough @ TOR and @ MIN

    • B_Don

      B_Don says:
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      Fits somewhere in the Eyes Wide Shut category for me. Not somebody I’m excited to start right now until I see a little more from him. Soft tossing lefty is not the easiest path to success. It’d likely have to be 15 teams or more for me to take a look at him despite his May improvements.

  6. DeltronZ says:
    (link)

    CBS now has Jordan Lyles as a single-start SP this week…going 5/28 @ Reds, and then 6/4 v Braves next Monday. They’re not making it easy for their customers to prepare lineups. Is it Scott White or Heath Cummings that projects the pitcher starts? I should probably send one of them a note via Twitter. I know this isn’t easy, but they’ve been all over the place this year.

    • The Pirates are a weird one this week with a double header and a day off. It could be any of Lyles, Kingham, or potentially Mitch Keller if they leave him up on the MLB roster. From all the sources I could find, they predicted it was Lylez, but the Pirates haven’t announced who will go on Sunday yet.

      That may lead to what has made this year more difficult. I can’t remember teams avoiding the announcement of pitchers as much as this season, especially with openers and 6 man rotations. 2 start pitchers is tough to keep up. I publish this article and can really only make comments if things change. I believe CBS has an active document that they update, but we’re all guessing to some extent since teams don’t announce officially.

      • FTR, I believe Scott White is primarily in charge of 2 start pitchers at CBS this year, and he typically does a good job.

        If you go back to my last week’s article for 2 start pitchers, the chart at the bottom is what I use to best predict pitchers plus all the news info I can find.

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