Metric-Based SP Rankings Update – I survived my road trip edition

(Photo by Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire)

Welcome back, everyone. First, I’d like to give a huge shout-out to Stephen Honovich for filling in last week!  Thanks again Stephen, awesome job.

Last week I was road-tripping down the California coast and I really must say….global warming is definitely real, y’all.  It never used to get that hot on the coast…

Anyways, I know what you’re here for.  Without further ado, here are the newly updated rankings:

RankNamePrevChangeScoreIPERAPD ScorexK%K%xK%-K%BB%xSLGSLG-xSLG
1Chris Sale2+1104.6%122.02.36105.9%33.0%36.8%-3.8%6.3%0.311-0.013
2Jacob deGrom3+1103.1%115.11.79104.0%31.3%31.2%0.1%6.4%0.319-0.022
3Max Scherzer1-2102.6%127.22.33107.6%33.8%35.4%-1.6%6.4%0.349-0.016
4Trevor Bauer5+196.7%129.12.3092.6%28.2%31.8%-3.7%7.8%0.328-0.028
5Justin Verlander7+296.7%131.22.0590.6%26.6%31.6%-5.1%4.7%0.315-0.001
6Patrick Corbin4-296.0%116.13.09100.7%30.9%31.3%-0.4%7.3%0.391-0.058
7Charlie Morton6-195.8%108.02.8391.5%28.3%31.5%-3.3%9.6%0.332-0.005
8Aaron Nola8095.1%123.02.2787.8%24.9%26.4%-1.5%7.1%0.317-0.034
9Lance McCullers Jr.14+593.5%108.13.4193.6%28.9%27.1%1.8%8.7%0.377-0.033
10Blake Snell9-193.4%116.02.0992.3%29.2%28.8%0.4%9.6%0.370-0.048
11Gerrit Cole13+292.5%122.22.5792.7%28.7%35.3%-6.6%8.6%0.385-0.066
12James Paxton12092.1%118.23.4993.6%27.7%32.4%-4.8%6.9%0.396-0.036
13Jon Gray11-292.0%92.05.7791.1%28.8%28.9%-0.1%7.0%0.3800.075
14Luis Severino10-491.1%123.12.1290.0%26.1%29.8%-3.8%6.5%0.386-0.091
15Carlos Carrasco15090.1%96.24.2894.7%27.5%25.9%1.6%5.5%0.430-0.026
16Tyler Anderson22+689.3%107.23.7683.9%24.7%23.0%1.7%8.3%0.3690.046
17Eduardo Rodriguez25+888.4%99.13.6283.8%23.6%24.7%-1.2%7.5%0.380-0.010
18Kyle Gibson28+1088.2%107.23.5986.4%25.3%23.2%2.1%10.2%0.400-0.035
19Jose Berrios16-388.1%121.13.4185.8%23.9%25.3%-1.5%5.4%0.397-0.024
20Tyler Skaggs20088.0%92.02.6485.6%24.5%26.4%-1.9%7.1%0.397-0.029
21Mike Clevinger23+287.3%116.03.3484.8%24.4%23.3%1.1%8.3%0.401-0.037
22Sean Newcomb17-587.1%99.13.4476.9%22.3%23.0%-0.7%11.8%0.351-0.006
23Alex Wood24186.8%99.23.8887.1%23.2%21.5%1.7%4.4%0.423-0.030
24Mike Foltynewicz18-686.4%95.02.3778.1%23.1%29.4%-6.4%10.3%0.369-0.053
25CC Sabathia19-686.3%94.13.3480.8%22.1%18.4%3.7%6.6%0.3880.028
26Luis Castillo26086.3%98.15.5894.9%29.0%22.0%7.0%8.2%0.482-0.013
27Corey Kluber27086.0%126.12.4982.2%22.4%25.6%-3.3%3.1%0.401-0.055
28Andrew Heaney[UR][N/A]85.9%96.03.8486.5%25.3%24.1%1.2%7.3%0.431-0.040
29Zack Wheeler31+285.6%99.24.4282.5%23.0%23.1%-0.2%8.9%0.408-0.048
30Jameson Taillon33+385.5%100.04.0578.7%21.2%22.2%-1.0%6.7%0.3850.006
31Matt Boyd[UR][N/A]84.9%98.14.7676.0%21.5%21.1%0.4%8.7%0.3750.000
32Dylan Bundy29-384.6%99.14.0893.2%27.0%26.3%0.7%7.2%0.493-0.042
33Dallas Keuchel39+683.3%116.13.9573.6%18.7%17.8%0.9%6.4%0.3800.023
34Zack Greinke35+183.3%114.03.3986.6%23.9%25.0%-1.2%4.9%0.467-0.052
35Miles Mikolas36+183.1%115.12.6575.1%17.5%17.6%-0.1%3.9%0.393-0.070
36J.A. Happ34-282.9%105.14.4476.7%21.3%26.3%-5.0%7.8%0.406-0.018
37Cole Hamels37082.7%103.04.2888.8%25.8%23.5%2.3%8.7%0.489-0.019
38German Marquez40+282.7%97.04.9274.5%21.3%23.0%-1.7%8.2%0.3940.060
39Michael Fulmer48+982.7%107.14.1182.0%22.2%20.4%1.8%8.1%0.444-0.049
40Zack Godley51+1182.6%98.14.8583.0%25.0%22.3%2.7%11.5%0.452-0.035
41Julio Teheran54+1382.5%99.14.2682.2%24.6%22.2%2.4%11.6%0.448-0.031
42Gio Gonzalez38-482.2%95.23.7675.7%21.8%21.5%0.3%11.2%0.408-0.010
43Kevin Gausman43081.9%107.14.1184.5%24.1%20.8%3.3%5.7%0.471-0.006
44Kyle Freeland46+281.5%110.13.1873.1%19.1%19.4%-0.4%8.2%0.401-0.021
45Tyler Mahle45081.3%98.13.6679.1%22.5%22.9%-0.5%9.7%0.444-0.002
46Rick Porcello42-481.1%118.03.5873.2%18.3%22.7%-4.4%5.4%0.406-0.033
47Marco Gonzales50+381.1%106.13.6478.4%19.8%21.6%-1.9%5.1%0.442-0.038
48Jake Odorizzi52+480.9%96.24.2881.6%23.4%24.2%-0.9%10.5%0.465-0.008
49Junior Guerra[UR][N/A]80.3%93.22.7974.2%20.8%23.5%-2.7%9.4%0.424-0.062
50Clayton Richard41-979.9%118.04.5074.9%20.3%17.7%2.6%8.4%0.434-0.035
51Tyson Ross49-279.7%102.04.4175.3%20.5%21.2%-0.7%9.2%0.439-0.026
52Jose Urena53+179.7%104.24.1372.9%18.3%19.9%-1.7%5.6%0.423-0.031
53Jake Arrieta55+279.6%96.03.4767.9%15.9%17.3%-1.5%7.5%0.392-0.015
54Jhoulys Chacin56+278.9%109.23.7871.5%20.1%18.4%1.7%10.1%0.424-0.065
55Luke Weaver59+478.1%97.04.9273.3%20.6%21.2%-0.7%8.1%0.447-0.036
56Kyle Hendricks68+1277.9%105.13.9375.1%20.0%18.4%1.6%7.1%0.462-0.052
57Steven Matz58+177.9%89.23.3163.8%18.4%21.4%-3.0%9.3%0.3870.014
58Sean Manaea60+277.3%117.23.4477.7%20.1%17.2%2.9%4.8%0.488-0.115
59David Price61+277.2%101.14.4471.8%18.6%23.8%-5.3%8.0%0.449-0.009
60Jose Quintana62+276.8%97.23.9668.5%18.1%20.8%-2.7%10.7%0.433-0.015
61James Shields71+1076.5%118.24.4774.8%20.8%16.9%3.9%9.0%0.479-0.088
62Derek Holland77+1576.1%95.04.1774.4%21.2%22.6%-1.5%9.2%0.481-0.043
63Chase Anderson66+376.1%99.13.8171.2%19.0%19.2%-0.2%9.5%0.460-0.067
64Tanner Roark57-775.9%109.14.6171.3%18.8%19.8%-1.1%8.7%0.463-0.043
65Chad Bettis65075.7%95.15.1071.0%19.4%16.9%2.5%9.3%0.464-0.010
66Jakob Junis69+375.6%101.25.1375.5%19.8%20.9%-1.2%6.4%0.495-0.008
67Reynaldo Lopez67074.6%105.03.7767.3%18.4%16.6%1.8%10.4%0.454-0.065
68Danny Duffy76+874.5%106.24.8975.9%21.6%20.0%1.6%10.6%0.513-0.066
69Felix Hernandez70+174.4%105.15.1370.8%18.0%18.8%-0.8%7.8%0.480-0.039
70Mike Fiers64-674.2%98.23.6571.8%18.5%17.8%0.7%5.1%0.490-0.035
71Trevor Williams73+273.5%94.04.6067.0%16.8%17.3%-0.5%8.1%0.466-0.052
72Jon Lester75+373.3%106.12.4568.8%18.7%18.6%0.1%8.7%0.481-0.121
73Ivan Nova74+172.3%98.04.5074.0%19.4%18.2%1.2%4.1%0.529-0.029
74Mike Minor78+472.2%96.24.5675.0%20.3%19.4%0.8%5.5%0.537-0.060
75Sal Romano79+470.3%102.15.2864.9%16.2%16.4%-0.2%8.9%0.495-0.020
76Chris Stratton82+670.3%96.24.9367.8%17.9%17.6%0.3%8.7%0.515-0.062
77Ian Kennedy81+469.9%94.25.1369.1%17.4%20.9%-3.5%8.2%0.529-0.044
78Mike Leake83+569.7%115.24.3670.5%16.5%14.5%2.0%5.5%0.540-0.083
79Andrew Cashner86+769.5%100.24.5662.8%15.7%18.3%-2.6%9.7%0.492-0.003
80Lucas Giolito84+468.6%97.06.5962.9%17.5%12.9%4.6%12.9%0.505-0.040
81Jason Hammel80-167.9%102.16.1672.6%18.0%14.0%4.0%6.6%0.579-0.085
82Bartolo Colon88+663.8%95.24.8061.1%11.8%13.3%-1.5%3.8%0.557-0.048

For Reference (content continues below):

  1.  “PD Score” is short for plate discipline score, a combined metric of strikeout ability weighted as:  3 points O-Swing%, 3 points Contact%, 3 points SwStr%, 1 point F-Strike%.
  2.  “Score” is a combined metric weighted equally between PD Score and xSLG.
  3.  For both luck indication columns (xK%-K% and SLG-xSLG) positive numbers indicate bad luck so far (likely to regress positively) while negative numbers indicate good luck so far (likely to regress negatively).  A higher SLG value is bad for pitchers, and I wanted it to be easy to remember: Positive Numbers = Good Outlook.
  4.  IP, ERA, K%, BB%, and SLG are not included in the calculations, these are only included in the table for reference.
  5.  For any newcomers, to understand the concepts behind these numbers I would recommend reading my introduction piece.
  6.  Data is current through July 10, 2018

 

Two weeks ago, I wrote that the trio of Scherzer, Sale and DeGrom had clearly separated themselves from the pack, and formed their own ultra-elite tier at the top of this year’s rankings.  Their places have switched around a bit within that group, with Sale currently leading.  But overall that tier is still holding up, and there is still a sizable dropoff to the 4th ranked pitcher.

Otherwise in the top ten, there haven’t been many huge changes, with the exception of…

 

Lance McCullers Jr. (SP, Houston Astros)

McCullers was a big mover in the rankings the past two weeks, jumping a total of seven spots since my last update.  His last four starts have been simply phenomenal, posting a Contact% of just 61%, and a Swinging Strike rate over 18 in those four starts.  It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.  On the flip side, two of those starts were against the Royals, who as of Wednesday rate as the worst offense in MLB, so a few grains of salt are required.  But dominating bad teams is exactly what good pitchers are supposed to do.

Everyone knows by now, McCullers has an amazing curveball.  For his career, it’s by far his best pitch.  But this year?  Actually his changeup is the better-performing pitch, pretty much any way you look at it – whiff rate, wRC+ allowed, or pitch value.

Another thing you may not know about McCullers is that for his career, he has demonstrated a significant reverse platoon split, i.e. he had been better vs. lefties than righties.  This year though, he has closed the gap in his platoon splits noticeably.  It’s a small sample to be trusting platoon splits, but I think the success can at least partially be explained by better location on his changeup.  In 2017, here were all of his changeup locations:

As you can see, all his changeup were basically thrown to the same location.  For lefties, that would be low & away, which is perfect.  But this chart includes the righties as well – and he is throwing to the exact same place for them.  Low & inside is simply a more hittable location, and batters had little reason to look anyplace else.  This could help explain why McCullers allowed an wRC+ of 195 on the changeup last year – it’s just too predictable being thrown in the same location every time.

Now here are his changeups this year:

As you can see, this season his changeups are dispersed across a much wider area at the bottom of the zone, not just one corner.  That indicates he’s becoming more comfortable throwing the changeup to righties, and keeping them guessing on the location much better than last year.  The movement readings on his changeup are very similar to last year, so the location seems likely to be a big factor in the huge disparity between results from year to year.

Another thing you might notice is his increasing usage of that changeup.  At this point in the season he’s thrown 10 fewer IP than last season, but has already thrown 66 more changeups.  The emergence of his changeup as a real weapon this year, thanks to better location and increased usage, seems like the big story so far.  His changeup now rates as top 5 in MLB in terms of pitch value (both overall and per 100 thrown) and is allowing an wRC+ of just nine.  As always with McCullers, the talent isn’t really the question so much as his health, which always needs to be considered as part of his overall value.  But it’s hard not to love how he’s pitching right now.

[Game Update] – the above was written prior to McCullers start on Wednesday.  As is tradition, as soon as I start praising someone, they go and throw a clunker.  Yesterday’s game was fairly bad but as long as he’s not injured or anything, it doesn’t change much.  Bad starts happen.

 

Kyle Gibson (SP, Minnesota Twins)

Like McCullers, Gibson has shot up the rankings recently thanks in part to some weakness in his schedule.  In particular, his completely dominant game vs. Baltimore on July 7th is responsible for a lot of his movement.  The Orioles are currently the second worst offense in MLB, barely better than the Royals.  In that game the Orioles only made contact with 55% of his pitches, which is really outstanding even against a bad team.

That all being said, Gibson has certainly been a different and much more valuable pitcher this year than previously.  The past two years, his full-season ERAs were over five, so he really wasn’t on a lot of radars coming into 2018, and no one would have expected to see him on any top 20 list.  He actually did pitch quite well towards the end of 2017, but those numbers disappear in his full-season line.  This came as the result of some adjustments to his slider he made late in the season, which Nick covered in his Fangraphs profile for Gibson this year.  This year, the slider has continued its success, with a contact rate under 50, which is really excellent. It’s also allowing an wRC+ of just 22 (compared to 98 last year).  So it seems that adjustment he made to his slider late last year has definitely stuck.

This brings me to an interesting phenomenon when it comes to plate discipline metrics.  In my very first piece, I looked at several pitchers entire careers trying to find guys who could consistently beat the metrics.  One pattern that emerged in that exercise was the fact that the pitchers we think of having “good stuff”, like Clayton Kershaw, were the only guys who showed that ability consistently.  And I think this is related to the ability to kick it up a notch when a strikeout is most needed, which is another way of saying they have a dominant “out pitch” (or several, in Kershaw’s case).  Again, just a reminder for context, even Kershaw only beats the metrics by about 4-5% – that’s why I use that as the “margin of error” when talking about expected strikeout rates.

To tie this idea back to Gibson, let’s look at his career numbers:

SeasonxK%K%xK%-K%
201318.15%12.20%5.95%
201418.90%14.10%4.80%
201521.00%17.70%3.30%
201621.25%15.90%5.35%
201721.50%17.50%4.00%
201825.10%23.20%1.90%

In five previous seasons before he developed the slider into the weapon it is today, he under-performed his K rate every single year, often quite substantially.  This year he has not only increased his actual strikeout rate by six percent, he’s also much closer to his plate-discipline-expected strikeout rate than ever before.  This seems to fit the idea that possessing a bonafide out pitch can at least partially explain why some pitchers are better at beating the metrics than others.

 

Moving on, here are the metrics for the non-qualified SP (10 IP minimum).  Scroll past the table for more analysis.

NameTeamScoreIPERAPD ScorexK%K%xK%-K%xSLGSLG-xSLG
Matt StrahmPadres104.8%13.11.35103.1%31.1%35.3%-4.2%0.290-0.061
Freddy PeraltaBrewers100.3%33.22.1495.2%30.4%36.2%-5.9%0.298-0.084
Noah SyndergaardMets98.8%64.23.0699.1%30.6%28.3%2.3%0.3430.021
Ryne StanekRays97.9%16.21.08101.9%33.8%32.8%1.0%0.374-0.216
Shohei OhtaniAngels96.9%49.13.1099.1%34.0%30.5%3.5%0.368-0.048
Jonathan LoaisigaYankees95.4%18.03.0092.0%26.4%28.4%-2.1%0.342-0.009
Domingo GermanYankees95.3%59.15.46100.2%30.9%26.4%4.5%0.3970.066
Felix PenaAngels94.9%19.22.7595.8%28.6%30.1%-1.6%0.373-0.057
Yefry RamirezOrioles93.3%13.15.4096.4%30.2%23.0%7.2%0.3990.035
Kenta MaedaDodgers93.0%79.23.2893.4%28.4%28.6%-0.2%0.383-0.020
Ross StriplingDodgers92.8%74.02.5584.9%23.3%29.1%-5.9%0.3290.070
Max FriedBraves91.9%14.23.0783.7%27.8%29.5%-1.8%0.333-0.006
Jack FlahertyCardinals90.4%70.03.3485.5%26.7%28.4%-1.8%0.3640.000
Masahiro TanakaYankees90.0%77.04.6898.0%28.9%24.7%4.2%0.453-0.005
Robbie RayDiamondbacks89.1%43.05.2394.3%29.5%34.4%-4.9%0.4400.032
Trevor CahillAthletics89.1%48.22.7792.2%28.5%25.0%3.5%0.427-0.074
Carlos MartinezCardinals89.0%85.23.0577.2%21.3%22.0%-0.8%0.328-0.022
Walker BuehlerDodgers88.8%51.12.6372.4%19.1%26.7%-7.6%0.298-0.025
John GantCardinals88.6%33.14.3284.0%24.7%21.4%3.3%0.379-0.054
Vince VelasquezPhillies88.0%88.14.6982.4%25.1%28.5%-3.5%0.3760.049
Joe MusgrovePirates87.9%45.13.7782.6%21.6%22.6%-1.0%0.3780.025
Jordan MontgomeryYankees87.5%27.13.6279.9%21.5%19.8%1.7%0.366-0.010
Johnny CuetoGiants87.2%37.01.9576.8%21.8%19.7%2.1%0.349-0.041
Hyun-Jin RyuDodgers87.1%29.22.1279.3%24.8%31.3%-6.5%0.367-0.059
Clayton KershawDodgers86.1%69.02.6181.5%22.5%25.5%-3.0%0.396-0.037
Zach EflinPhillies85.7%68.23.1579.5%22.1%24.0%-1.9%0.387-0.011
Nick PivettaPhillies85.6%88.24.6784.9%24.9%27.4%-2.6%0.4250.006
Wilmer FontRays84.5%21.01.7170.7%20.5%22.0%-1.6%0.345-0.075
Garrett RichardsAngels84.3%76.13.6681.9%25.1%26.9%-1.8%0.422-0.040
Shane BieberIndians84.3%36.13.4785.3%24.4%23.1%1.3%0.4450.014
Mike MontgomeryCubs84.2%45.22.7679.1%21.4%17.0%4.4%0.405-0.090
Austin Bibens-DirkxRangers84.1%34.03.7182.2%21.2%17.9%3.3%0.427-0.019
Seth LugoMets83.9%23.03.5277.3%21.6%26.5%-4.9%0.3970.007
Chris ArcherRays83.7%79.24.4186.8%26.1%23.3%2.8%0.462-0.042
Stephen StrasburgNationals83.5%80.23.4685.1%24.5%29.1%-4.6%0.454-0.055
Ryan BoruckiBlue Jays83.5%20.02.2575.1%19.0%19.8%-0.9%0.388-0.068
Lance LynnTwins83.4%86.15.2177.4%22.2%21.5%0.6%0.4040.003
Caleb SmithMarlins83.3%77.14.1982.9%24.3%27.0%-2.7%0.442-0.054
Anibal SanchezBraves83.3%56.22.8674.9%19.6%23.8%-4.2%0.389-0.021
Nathan EovaldiRays83.2%48.13.3581.1%20.3%24.3%-4.0%0.432-0.045
Sam GaviglioBlue Jays83.1%47.23.9781.0%21.9%22.3%-0.4%0.4320.005
Madison BumgarnerGiants83.1%43.23.0975.9%19.6%19.6%0.0%0.398-0.018
Nick KinghamPirates82.9%44.14.2686.7%25.6%22.2%3.4%0.473-0.039
Yu DarvishCubs82.7%40.04.9578.2%24.1%27.2%-3.2%0.4180.007
Jordan ZimmermannTigers82.7%56.13.5181.0%21.4%24.8%-3.5%0.437-0.057
Dereck RodriguezGiants82.4%40.13.1273.0%19.3%17.8%1.5%0.3880.018
Paul BlackburnAthletics81.9%27.27.1673.5%18.0%16.0%2.0%0.3980.052
Brent SuterBrewers81.2%86.24.6779.6%21.2%19.9%1.3%0.448-0.009
Fernando RomeroTwins81.0%51.14.3879.0%22.8%19.6%3.2%0.446-0.037
Sonny GrayYankees81.0%84.25.8576.6%22.2%20.0%2.2%0.4310.017
Edwin JacksonAthletics80.9%18.12.4570.7%18.3%21.6%-3.3%0.393-0.055
Caleb FergusonDodgers80.8%10.27.5978.9%26.7%25.0%1.7%0.449-0.049
Brad KellerRoyals80.5%38.12.8269.0%18.2%13.9%4.3%0.387-0.096
Nick TropeanoAngels79.8%54.04.8383.7%25.5%19.6%5.9%0.494-0.019
Michael SorokaBraves79.8%25.23.5178.7%22.0%18.6%3.4%0.461-0.048
Joey LucchesiPadres79.7%63.13.2775.7%22.7%25.0%-2.4%0.442-0.051
Marcus StromanBlue Jays79.1%61.05.9074.7%21.2%17.8%3.4%0.443-0.032
Jordan LylesPadres78.8%47.04.7972.6%17.9%19.9%-2.1%0.4330.051
Chris BassittAthletics78.8%27.03.0064.2%14.8%20.0%-5.2%0.377-0.078
Yonny ChirinosRays78.3%22.24.3775.9%20.1%21.0%-0.9%0.462-0.043
Blaine HardyTigers78.1%43.23.7170.1%17.1%16.6%0.5%0.4260.005
Jason VargasMets77.9%37.28.6082.2%22.9%17.8%5.1%0.5090.104
Aaron SanchezBlue Jays77.9%79.24.5276.6%22.5%18.7%3.8%0.472-0.085
Wei-Yin ChenMarlins77.9%66.06.1468.9%17.2%16.5%0.7%0.4210.071
Matt AndrieseRays77.9%11.13.1875.0%19.7%19.2%0.5%0.462-0.121
Francisco LirianoTigers77.7%76.04.7481.6%24.4%18.7%5.7%0.508-0.093
Tyler ChatwoodCubs77.6%79.05.0167.1%19.5%20.0%-0.5%0.413-0.054
Ryan YarbroughRays77.5%23.25.3268.3%16.8%19.4%-2.7%0.422-0.003
Wade LeBlancMariners77.3%71.13.1577.9%19.0%17.9%1.1%0.489-0.088
Carlos RodonWhite Sox77.2%35.24.2969.3%18.1%18.2%-0.1%0.433-0.018
Trevor RichardsMarlins77.0%56.25.2470.4%18.4%20.8%-2.5%0.442-0.006
Pablo LopezMarlins76.6%17.06.3585.0%20.6%19.4%1.2%0.545-0.083
Hector VelazquezRed Sox76.6%13.22.6386.6%22.2%21.1%1.1%0.556-0.084
Jeremy HellicksonNationals76.4%57.03.4772.9%18.9%18.8%0.1%0.468-0.059
Michael WachaCardinals76.3%84.13.2072.9%21.0%20.0%0.9%0.468-0.124
Jaime BarriaAngels76.2%61.03.3981.7%23.3%18.7%4.6%0.529-0.105
Marco EstradaBlue Jays75.4%89.24.7275.8%20.6%18.6%2.0%0.500-0.004
Eric LauerPadres75.2%75.24.4067.5%18.0%18.7%-0.7%0.4480.027
Anthony DeSclafaniReds74.9%40.24.4368.2%17.4%19.1%-1.7%0.4560.021
Clay BuchholzDiamondbacks74.9%38.22.5674.6%18.9%20.3%-1.4%0.499-0.126
Andrew SuarezGiants74.8%84.03.7566.5%16.2%22.5%-6.3%0.446-0.030
Luis PerdomoPadres74.4%26.27.0964.0%16.9%14.8%2.1%0.4350.047
Matt Harvey– – –74.2%80.14.3766.6%17.3%17.9%-0.6%0.455-0.029
Frankie MontasAthletics74.1%48.13.3564.7%16.5%14.6%1.9%0.443-0.029
Matt MooreRangers74.1%55.08.0275.2%20.1%14.7%5.4%0.5130.056
Andrew TriggsAthletics73.0%41.15.2375.9%21.4%23.6%-2.3%0.533-0.120
Adam WainwrightCardinals72.9%18.04.0055.9%14.0%17.1%-3.1%0.4000.035
David HessOrioles72.7%47.05.9469.3%16.7%12.4%4.3%0.4920.016
Steven WrightRed Sox72.7%24.04.1367.0%19.0%16.8%2.2%0.478-0.122
Brandon McCarthyBraves72.6%78.24.9265.9%15.7%19.2%-3.5%0.4710.027
Zach DaviesBrewers72.3%43.05.2369.1%18.7%16.3%2.4%0.497-0.003
Brandon WoodruffBrewers72.2%15.26.3265.8%19.2%18.1%1.1%0.476-0.083
Drew PomeranzRed Sox72.1%37.06.8165.2%16.7%20.8%-4.2%0.4730.070
Dylan CoveyWhite Sox72.1%55.15.6963.4%16.2%16.9%-0.7%0.462-0.056
Dan StrailyMarlins71.6%65.14.5574.9%21.3%18.7%2.6%0.544-0.105
Jeff SamardzijaGiants71.0%40.26.4269.2%18.0%15.3%2.7%0.514-0.079
Jaime GarciaBlue Jays71.0%61.16.1668.1%19.0%19.9%-1.0%0.5080.004
Ty BlachGiants70.9%60.24.9060.7%14.7%11.1%3.6%0.460-0.047
Rich HillDodgers70.7%54.14.6468.9%17.4%24.4%-7.1%0.517-0.045
Jake FariaRays70.4%47.25.4868.1%19.0%18.2%0.7%0.516-0.093
Dillon PetersMarlins70.0%24.25.8462.0%16.3%14.4%1.9%0.480-0.011
Jefry RodriguezNationals69.7%14.09.6477.6%20.0%18.8%1.2%0.5880.055
Elieser HernandezMarlins69.6%22.04.5071.6%21.2%18.7%2.5%0.5490.011
Corey OswaltMets69.6%12.27.8264.0%13.5%18.2%-4.8%0.499-0.030
Chad KuhlPirates69.0%85.04.5569.8%20.5%21.7%-1.2%0.546-0.083
Eric SkoglundRoyals68.8%49.26.7070.3%17.3%18.0%-0.7%0.551-0.021
Daniel MengdenAthletics68.8%90.24.4768.5%16.7%14.5%2.2%0.540-0.097
Alex CobbOrioles68.7%86.16.6764.9%15.5%15.2%0.3%0.5160.036
Matt WislerBraves68.7%17.13.6373.6%20.7%18.6%2.1%0.575-0.160
Adam PlutkoIndians68.2%34.24.6771.6%17.3%16.9%0.4%0.568-0.034
Brandon FinneganReds68.0%20.27.4063.0%16.0%13.6%2.4%0.5130.040
Yovani GallardoRangers67.9%28.06.7559.7%13.2%15.0%-1.8%0.493-0.011
Erick FeddeNationals67.4%28.05.7968.7%17.9%15.7%2.2%0.559-0.009
Ben LivelyPhillies67.2%23.26.8562.8%17.9%19.1%-1.3%0.5220.023
Kendall GravemanAthletics67.0%34.17.6067.6%17.1%17.1%0.0%0.557-0.015
John LambAngels66.7%10.07.2072.3%17.8%22.0%-4.3%0.5930.124
Doug FisterRangers66.4%66.04.5055.9%11.8%13.8%-2.0%0.487-0.031
Brian JohnsonRed Sox66.0%14.22.4553.4%11.7%14.1%-2.4%0.476-0.069
Brett AndersonAthletics66.0%20.15.7563.5%16.4%11.8%4.6%0.544-0.038
Shelby MillerDiamondbacks65.3%14.09.0067.5%17.6%26.9%-9.3%0.5790.044
Antonio SenzatelaRockies65.2%13.04.1558.2%13.9%11.8%2.1%0.519-0.215
Daniel GossettAthletics64.9%24.15.1866.2%15.5%11.8%3.7%0.576-0.081
Joe BiaginiBlue Jays64.9%18.27.7165.9%16.7%14.4%2.3%0.574-0.080
Steven BraultPirates63.8%26.05.5469.2%20.0%13.4%6.6%0.611-0.213
Taijuan WalkerDiamondbacks62.7%13.03.4657.6%15.1%16.1%-1.1%0.548-0.156
Homer BaileyReds62.1%62.06.6864.2%15.8%13.0%2.8%0.600-0.036
Hector SantiagoWhite Sox61.1%32.16.1262.0%16.5%15.9%0.6%0.598-0.027
Jarlin GarciaMarlins61.0%33.03.5565.1%18.0%16.7%1.3%0.620-0.222
Bryan MitchellPadres59.3%32.06.4747.1%11.8%10.4%1.4%0.523-0.027
Ryan CarpenterTigers57.4%12.06.7558.5%14.9%10.7%4.2%0.624-0.047
Matt KochDiamondbacks56.9%69.24.5260.7%13.5%12.1%1.4%0.646-0.140
Miguel GonzalezWhite Sox56.8%12.112.4166.3%15.5%7.6%7.9%0.6840.099
Josh TomlinIndians55.9%30.08.1073.8%19.1%12.9%6.2%0.746-0.019
Martin PerezRangers55.1%22.19.6751.8%11.6%10.9%0.6%0.6100.060
Carson FulmerWhite Sox55.0%31.08.1356.5%14.6%16.6%-2.1%0.643-0.139
Chris TillmanOrioles51.6%26.210.4649.4%11.9%9.5%2.4%0.6410.011

 

 

Matt Strahm (P, San Diego Padres)

Strahm has been high on this list ever since I started splitting out the non-qualified SP to a separate table, but I have been hesitant to write about him so far.  The reason for his high ranking is due to his small sample size and peculiar role.  Basically he is a reliever, but has “opened” a handful of starts, which is a new phenomenon in MLB this year.  For the uninitiated, an “opener” is a reliever who pitches the first couple innings of the game, typically in lieu of a 5th starter.  Technically that still counts as “starting” those games, even if he only pitches 2-3 innings.  Strahm has also changed roles a couple times, bouncing back between opening and a more typical middle relief role.  He’s pitched over 30 innings total, but only 13 as a “starter”.  The table above only includes his innings as a starter, but over his complete body of work, he grades out much, much lower.  For whatever reason he has been much more effective in that “opener” role (FIP as a reliever = 5).  So that is certainly one reason to pump the brakes a bit upon seeing that score of 104.

Even if we were to discard his work as a reliever and focus on those 13 starting innings (which we shouldn’t) I still wonder how the “opener” role affects the mindset of a pitcher compared to a regular starter.  If a guy in this role knows he only has to pitch a couple innings, are they still in the reliever mindset of throwing the ball as hard as possible?  A score of 104 for a reliever wouldn’t be that special, because relievers just have better strikeout stuff thanks to their limited workload (I adjust the score thresholds for relievers by 10 points).  So it’s likely that if the Padres did decide to stretch him out and make him a full starter, those numbers wouldn’t translate directly; we wouldn’t expect him to continue pitching that well.

Secondly, the whole “opener” thing just seems to be bad for fantasy baseball.  Being guaranteed to pitch less than five innings means wins and quality starts are impossible, and these are still very important in fantasy.  This is even worse than a middle reliever – at least those guys have a chance at nabbing a win or save here or there.  Really all he can do for your team is help with ratios and strikeouts.  On the “bright” side the last time he opened was a couple weeks ago now, having moved back to a normal bullpen role.  In either role, he’s probably not someone you want on your fantasy team, despite the high score here.

Note – basically the same logic applies to Ryne Stanek, who has taken the “opener” role from Sergio Romo in Tampa.

 

Freddy Peralta (SP, Milwaukee Brewers)

Here is a bit more straightforward one.  Peralta has worked his way to the top of the non-qualified rankings in more typical fashion; there are no role shenanigans here.  Peralta is a 22-year-old Rookie who has pitched six starts in the data, plus one Wednesday that was not included.   There are is a lot to like in the data for those six starts.  For one, he has consistently missed bats.  Even the worst of those six starts was above average in that regard, and his PD metrics look fantastic overall.  Yes, he is over-performing his K rate a bit, but even if that were to drop the full amount, 30% would still be excellent.  He has also done very well in managing contact – his xSLG near .300 is in the neighborhood of the league leaders.

There is unfortunately one big problem with Freddy Peralta, and that is right now he seems like a two pitch guy.  He basically uses his fastball 80 percent of the time, with the curveball making up the other 20%.  He does technically have a changeup, but only throws it 3% of the time, which doesn’t really count.  Two-pitch guys tend to have bad platoon splits, and hence can be a dicey proposition for starting pitchers.  It’s not uncommon for these guys to end up in the bullpen.  Even with his dominant numbers so far, he does show those concerning platoon splits.  His FIP against lefties is three times higher than against righties (3 vs 1).  He’s also managed to put up a .215 BABIP so far, which has to regress.  Going forward I see him as a great streamer pick vs. right-handed lineups, but likely not much more than that.

[Game Update] The above was written prior to Wednesday’s game.  Yesterday he was knocked around a bit by the Marlins, including giving up a HR to a lefty, while failing to miss bats at all compared to the previous six starts.  It looks like the shine is starting to wear off already.

 

Clayton Kershaw (SP, Los Angeles Dodgers)

This is looking like the year where Kershaw finally gives up his mantle as the best pitcher on the planet.  At least, if he keeps pitching like he has so far, he won’t be anywhere near the league leaders at the end of the season.  Part of it could certainly be the injuries he’s dealt with – his velocity right now is the worst in his career.  He’s been able to hold things together somehow, posting an ERA of just 2.6.  But as a Kershaw owner myself, I am very concerned.  His plate discipline metrics are way, way down.  For the past four years, his swinging strike rate has never dipped below 14%.  This year it is just 10.9%, hardly even above average.  His contact management hasn’t been elite either – the xSLG mark of .400 is only a bit above average as well.  Basically he has not been Clayton Kershaw this year.

Of course it’s very possible that he recovers from his injuries and he starts pitching like Clayton Kershaw again.  But I’m not super hopeful at the moment.  Since he returned from injury, he’s compiled four starts and they just aren’t very encouraging.  They were against fairly weak teams (3 of the 4) but he didn’t dominate those bad teams at all.  Some of the lines he produced were good, but even against the Padres he only managed a swinging strike rate of 9%.

On the flip side, he is Clayton Kershaw.  If anyone is capable of turning things around, it’s him.  I absolutely wouldn’t write him off yet.  But there’s no denying I see a selling opportunity here, if any of your league-mates assume he is 100% based on that ERA.

Chaz Steinberghttp://reddit.com/u/chazzy_cat

Third generation Giants fan, begrudging Kershaw admirer, and lover of Taco Bell

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Comments


Bennie Jets

Oh, sweet Mother Mary. Now I’m supposed to pick Luis Castillo back off the waiver wire??!! Is he good or is he not good??!!!

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