I think I did too many fantasy baseball sleepers that were outfielders. I should’ve braked earlier and did more starting pitcher sleeper posts. On Monday, I start the rankings, so individual posts from moi will be on hold until I get out all the rankings. This was a clumsy way of saying there’s more pitcher sleepers, but they’re gonna have to wait until I’ve finished the rankings. Actually, that last part was clumsy too. Any hoo! Vince Velasquez, or as I call him, Vince Velasquez! Does he have another name I don’t know about? VV looks too much like a W, which is like how an inverted W is really just an M. I think I just did a tangent from my tangent, if my trigonometry knowledge is ack-ewe-rah-teh, which is the pronunciation of accurate according to my bootleg copy of Rosetta Stone. Ah, we had some good laughs, didn’t we? Wait, we didn’t? Aw, man. Last year, Velasquez had a 10.4 K/9 with a 3.67 xFIP. His ERA was 4.12 due to an inflated BABIP, a lower LOB% and giving up four-baggers like he was late-starting Catholic schoolgirl. So, what can we expect from Vince Velasquez for 2017 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
You know what gets my pulse beating like the Tell-Tale Heart in The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror? A 24-year-old kid that can strike out all kinds of motherfrakkers. His fastball velocity dipped a mile last year from the previous year, but it was still 94 MPH and it came with better control. His walk rate was down to 3.1 from 3.4. Control is always the last thing to come (which is true for urination too). Some pitchers don’t control their stuff until they’re 26 or 27 years of age. If Velasquez is already headed that way, imagine if he gets to a 2.7-ish BB/9 this year, then we’re talking about him in the same breath as Carrasco. Yes, even your hot, halitosis breath. Better command could also show itself in other ways: less homers, more ground balls, more Ks. He’s similar to Robbie Ray in that everything is working off the fastball. His slider, curve and change feed the knockout fastball. What was interesting (to me, your interest may vary), Velasquez allowed the fourth highest percentage of balls hit the opposite way for starters with 130+ IP. Let’s just say, if hitters are hitting everything the opposite way, they’re not doing much damage. Velasquez was tied with Scherzer, Kluber and Duffy. If I could DeLorean you back for a second, Velasquez K’d 16 and walked none against the Padres last April. That’s obviously not expected every start (though I wouldn’t kick it out of bed!), but that shows you what he’s capable of. Velasquez doesn’t induce many swings on pitches in the strike zone. That’s not necessarily a good or bad thing. If someone is throwing hard, a hitter may not have time to react to a pitch. The AL Cy Young was dead even with the number of swings he induced on pitches inside the strike zone, and, let me just say, Velasquez does everything else better than Porcello except command. Where it matters, Velasquez really excels. The percentage of times a batter makes contact with a pitch when swinging inside the strike zone? Now remember I just told you not many swing at his strikes so they’re fooled. Well, they’re so fooled only 83% of the time contact is made on swinging strikes. That’s tenth best in the majors. The top twenty is a who’s who of guys you want: Scherzer, Kershaw, Duffy, Price, Jo-Fer (RIP), Verlander, Chris Sale, Syndergaard, Salazar, Bumgarner and Velasquez. Seriously, can you think of a better barometer than “The ball is in the strike zone and I’m gonna swing and I’m gonna hit it and this is so awesome” and then the ball is swung at and missed 17% of the time. For 2017, I’ll give Vince Velasquez the projections of 11-11/3.54/1.23/177 in 155 IP with a chance for even more.