We back baby! The Pitcher Profiles are back!
It’s a brand new season, so we got some brand new digs! Hah not really, just some new GIFfing magic to help make the posts pop a little, and see some pitches a little clearer. Even better content if these posts are too long, and you just watch the GIFs then scroll to the ranks!
If you’re new to the Profiles, I break down a starter’s outing pitch-by-pitch, to try and portray how they “really” looked. We’ve seen multiple guys have a lucky BABIP day – or a few flares fall against them – that can really skew their numbers (especially early in the year). The Profiles try to help give an eye level account, leaving nothing to question. I also developed my own “Gamescore+” stat, that I will continue scoring for pitchers getting Profiled. With Statcast data now out there, I still need to work with Rudy to automate it!
So to our subject today, I know I’ve Profiled Sean Manaea before… Here’s his 2016 Profile, but I decided to go back to the well and see if he’s maintaining his good stuff that he showed in the second half last year. Plus in that Profile, it was his Major League debut and I thought he looked a lot better once he settled into the rotation by August and September. I mostly hope and pray he looks good in a tough matchup @TEX so Grey would feel bad about laughing at my high Manaea rank. My order of baseball priorities – 1) Brewers 2) Proving Grey wrong 3) My SP Ranks 4) My fantasy teams. Here’s how Manaea looked yesterday afternoon in the desert:
First Inning: Manaea’s first pitch is a two-seamer away, 1-0 to Carlos Gomez. 93 MPH 4-seamer is slung in there and Gomez dribbles it to second, easy first out. Manaea is then seemingly way inside on Elvis Andrus but gets a very generous call, then fastball on the outer edge is grounded routinely to short, two quick and easy groundouts. Fastball outside to Nomar Mazara who can’t hit lefties, fastball looked to paint the low outside corner but called a ball, then 2-0 is a fastball hit hard towards the gap, but Jed Lowrie makes a nice diving play to get Manaea a nice 1-2-3 groundball inning on all fastballs.
Second Inning: Fastball high and tight to Mike Napoli kicks off the 2nd – might be able to shave him! – 85 MPH nice, sinking change-up dips low, 2-0 is 92 MPH high and away, and Manaea losing a little control. 92 is about right down the middle, fastball again low and away gets a whiff, then the payoff pitch is a slider on the outside edge that gets waved through for his first K. What a bounce back falling behind 3-0! Grey’s boyfriend Rougned Odor takes a first-pitch slider, and it’s in there for strike one:
Man, if he can command that for first-pitch strikes, look out! Then high-and-tight 94 MPH fastball is yanked down the line, and caught a few feet in front of the 325 wall for the second out. Close to a homer, but seemed like he got way under it – Texas effect! Ryan Rua takes a fastball outside, then that outside slider bends into the back of the zone, 1-1:
Love that pitch! Fastball well high, then nassssssty change-up at 86 gets a whiff, 2-2. Manaea goes fastball and almost paints the low inside corner at 94 but taken, then 3-2 slider jams Rua, but he flares it enough off his fists for a bloop single. Ugh. Then first-pitch fastball hit hard to left by Robinson Chirinos for a legit single. Nice hit there, now runners 1st and 2nd. Anddddddddddddd first-pitch slider is murdered by Joey Gallo who must’ve been sitting off-speed for a 3-run homer. All set up by a fluke bloop. Figures. But that was a hanger in the zone… Can’t do that. Grey’s ex-boyfriend Delino DeShields takes 95 just off the outside – Manaea throwing mad now – 94 is bunted through, outside change-up fouled off, 95 on the outside corner fouled off, then slider sweeping across the zone that FoxTrax had inside gets the call for a taken strike 3. Yeah the homer was bad, but the BABIP gods set that one up… Still liking what I see.
Third Inning: And ummmm, first pitch of the 3rd hits Carlos Gomez in the hip to open the 3rd. Yikes. And then his first pickoff attempt sails several feet wide and Gomez ends up at 3rd on Manaea’s error. Let’s see if he can settle down at all. Fastball barely high and tight on Andrus, change-up in the dirt, 94 is just off the outside edge, another 3-0 count. Then 93 MPH is outside. Ever since he hung a slider to Gallo, this is turning into an implosion. Fastball low to Mazara, 6 straight balls. 1-0 slider gets a swing-and-miss, Mazara game him a favor there, slider again gets another whiff boring down at the knees on the inside, slider again this time in the dirt, and Andrus takes second base. Really wasn’t that wild of a pitch… But Manaea ties Mazara up with a 94 MPH fastball on the hands for his 3rd K swinging.
Napoli swings through a first-pitch change-up, and man that’s nasty:
Slider in the dirt, 1-1 95 MPH fastball is away, similar change-up to that GIF above is tipped foul, then Manaea goes high fastball at 93 to get a swing-and-miss, and a huge one at that:
2 straight Ks in a desperate situation. 94 paints the outside corner to Odor, high fastball looked to get a swing but ruled he held up, inside slider is pulled for a weak grounder foul, then slider again this time in the dirt gets a swing-and-miss, and Manaea is the man! Struck out the side. Wow.
Fourth Inning: Still down 0-3, Manaea opens the 4th with a low fastball to Rua, fastball in the zone gets a whiff, then change-up dropping well out of the zone gets another whiff, fastball in the zone fouled back, then huge, bending back-foot slider gets a wave and a miss for another K. 5 straight Ks now! Fastball in the zone to Chirinos, change-up gets a whiff 0-2, then another huge back-foot slider gets another K, 6 straight! I wrote this while watching live, this is awesome! Up is the big baddy Gallo who takes slider low, fastball wayyyy inside on the hands is pulled well foul, fastball again on the hands fouled off, the slider gets another K, and unbelievable. 7 straight Ks!
Fifth Inning: The A’s load the bases but still don’t pick up any runs on Martin Perez, so Manaea still down 0-3 and starts DeShizz off with a sinking fastball, 1-0. Then fastball is grounded right to third, one down. There goes the K streak, boooo! Gomez swings at a slider and has his patented helmet-fly-off, slider again in the dirt almost gets a swing but he held up 1-1, 93 MPH fastball gets an ugly half-ish swing through, high fastball taken, slider is well outside and low, 3-2 slider fouled off, then payoff again is a fastball at 92 just off the plate, but Gomez chased for another K. 93 absolutely blows Andrus away 0-1, then slider at 90 has Andrus wayyyy out in front with a little dribbler groundout for an easy-breezy 1-2-3 inning.
Sixth Inning: Another inning starts where the A’s threaten but can’t score, and Manaea is high and outside to Mazara, 1-0. Slider gets a whiff, fastball away, fastball fouled back, then 2-2 fastball hits Mazara in the helmet. Sheesh. Thankfully it hit the helmet and he can stay in the game, but damn that’s scary. Hopefully Manaea can rebound, and a nice painting fastball on the outside edge is fouled back by Napoli, 0-1. Change-up out there gets a whiff – Napoli isn’t seeing the ball at all from Manaea – and I helped call it while writing that sentence, as a slider gets yet another K. Gnarly! Fastball right down the middle to Odor fouled off, fastball again is in there, then 0-2 slider has Odor in front, but Ryon Healy who moved to first has it go right off him for an error. Gotta make that play. So runners at 1st and 3rd, and hanging change-up stays well outside to Rua, slider on the outside edge fouled off, fastball that was clearly in the zone on FoxTrax doesn’t get the call 2-1, slider stays outside, then change-up stays outside, bases now loaded with the walk. And at 86 pitches, they’re gonna yank him, and as I write this while watching live – I just know they’re all going to score… …I swear this wasn’t fabricated – they all scored.
Final Line: L 5.1 IP 86 Pitches (53 Strikes) 5 ER 3 Hits 2 Walks 10 K Gamescore: 48 Gamescore+: 59
Final Analysis: I mean, I guess it’s not the worst thing in the world if you were only bad in one category! With a sub-1.00 WHIP and 10 Ks, it’s a pretty ridiculous start! Just all those earned runs… Well the homer shouldn’t have happened as it was set up with a 2-out bloop, then Bob Melvin in his infinite wisdom pulled a guy who had 10 Ks in 5.1 innings out of the game with the bases loaded – when he desperately needed… strikeouts. Smh. As we typically see with the Gamescore+, the added weight on Ks scores a much more favorable value than the Gamescore, as this was a pretty unfortunate start, all things considered.
Looking at his stuff, and the fastball was nice and lively, with a deceptive cross-body delivery at 92-94 and peaking several times at 95. Control and command were mostly there, although both HBP (including the very scary Mazara plunk to the helmet) were on fastballs, so those got away from him. Oddly wild! The big pitch for him is the slider, ranging from 80-84, with pretty good movement every utilization. That is, of course, the one he hung to Gallo for the 3-run bomb. I was surprised at how dominant his change-up looked though. He only threw 13 of them, but all had nice bite and sink, and it looked like his best off-speed offering. Interesting he was 10.9% slider/30.4% change-up his first start against the Angels, then 29.1% slider/15.1% change-up this start. A lefty with a mid-90s fastball and two pretty dominant-looking off-speed pitches?! I’m in.
Grey clowned my Manaea rank, mainly questioning the IP and K upside. Obviously we’re at a small sample, but dude had 7 straight Ks this outing and got 20 – yes TWENTY – swinging strikes this game. Double-digits is usually pretty good for a starter, and he only threw 86 pitches! He posted 10+ K-rates literally every step of the way in the Minors, that fell to 7.71 last year in his ML-debut season. I could see that easily climb to the high-8s, and his control isn’t that bad (for the most part) either. He just needs to avoid the handful of wild/HBP pitches, and this could be a really dominant pitcher. And this was @TEX too, which could’ve gone even worse. Next start is against the K-happy Astros at home – must play there. I’d own him in all of my leagues/RCLs – despite needing flexibility with your streaming pitchers. Even more upside than I expected here.
Updated Top 100 SP
(rankings for ROS based on 12-team Roto, green for risers, red for fallers)
Dropped Out: Junior Guerra, MIL (Yeah, that was an absolutely awesome Opening Day for me… Calf strain is going to cost him half the season, ugh.), Collin McHugh, HOU (elbow impingement), Francisco Liriano, TOR (goddammit, why did I let the fantasy industry sucker me into updating him into my top-100, last time I listen to other fantasy “experts” out there, F, F, F!!!!!!!!), Steven Matz, NYM (Ugh, I mean, who the hell knows when/if he can make it back…)
- Just to reiterate to everyone, MLB has changed how they read velocity to how Statcast measures velo – as the ball leaves the hand – vs. 50ish feet to the plate their old way. That slight difference of air drag gives pitches roughly a 1 MPH bump in their measurement. Here’s a piece Fangraphs wrote on the change, although I was talking about this last Sunday and Monday, before Dave Cameron got off his ass and wrote a piece on it! [read that last sentence in Grey’s “I’m in an Quality Starts League” pompous voice] So before you go too nuts for velo spikes, be sure and consider everyone is up a little right now, AND it’s April. So they might go up even more.
- Yup, this is why C-Mart stayed outside my top-20, just wayyyy too inconsistent. You get his adrenaline up – and yeah, he looks unstoppable! Would love him as a World Series starter!
- Can’t wait to grill Grey on Zack Greinke. Huzzah for getting him so late! Gonna be my “Pujols-in-the-9th-round” guy!
- James Paxton is the man. The industry finally followed me into battle this time, and it indeed looks like I was too early with my Pax-love the previous 2 seasons. Better late than never!
- Awesome debut for Ivan Nova! I watched his whole start in a wintery-mix Pittsburgh afternoon, and at first he was throwing 91-92 and not looking too crisp, but then settled into a groove and was hitting 94-95 and mowed down the Braves. Sure, sure, bad weather start usually helps the pitcher, but it was good to see. Still surprised how on an island I was/am with my Nova rank…
- Yeah, I had a pretty good first week of pitching :). Minus streaming Liriano in one of my RCLs, oops! But most of my mid-round sleeper calls looked awesome, including my several shares of Dylan Bundy. Looked dominant. Sure, IP remain a concern, but he looks sooooooo good.
- Pretty nervous with my Blake Snell love though, which I mentioned several times since his initial rank in the comments. Did NOT look any better in Spring, where he coulda had a 10+ ERA as long as his walks were down. They weren’t. He wasn’t atrocious his first start, but walked the bases loaded then gave up a grand salami. I almost had him down all the way to 59, but decided to split the difference with his move down and give him one more week.
- Amir Garrett looked F’in awesome. His arsenal and effectiveness looked exactly like 2013 Patrick Corbin. Not overpowering fastball, but great slider. Still tempering expectations a little bit, but I think he’s going to go on a very strong run for a while.
- Aight, aight, mea culpa on Alex Cobb, he looked pretty good in his 2017 debut. We’ll see how he holds up, but his start this afternoon (by the time this is out, he’ll have most of his start wrapped up) is one I have dog-eared to watch pretty intently.
- It would still be a little while before he’d crack my ranks, but the opposing pitcher in that Manaea start – Martin Perez – hit 96 multiple times when he needed some gas! I know I mention the velo thing, but pre-TJ he was a 90 MPH pitcher! Velo ramped up last year, and it’s up again now. Something interesting for AL-only owners.
Thoughts on Manaea thus far on the young season? And give me your thoughts on the ranks (anyone I left out?) and the new GIFs! You like the slow-mo replay? Got some new programs and our friends at Gfycat to thank for making these look better! Hopefully you all had a strong first week on the pitching side, Razzball Nation!