Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire
With two months of baseball left, it’s getting close to the time when managers begin looking ahead to their rapidly approaching fantasy playoffs. With so many young pitchers on the SP scene, it’s important to know who will still be around to provide value when you need it most.
Through the help of Pitcher List’s statistics wizard Patrick Barnhart, we’ve compiled a list of young starters and projected when they would be shut down this season. How it works is simple: We took the total innings across the minors + majors + playoffs from last season, added a 20% boost to project a 2018 limit, then calculated how many innings they have left to throw this season. By calculating their expected Innings Per Start (based on their historical data), we can determine a rough date for when they would hit their innings limit. In the chart below you’ll see that list, followed by an overview of each pitcher involved, providing any insight and info from the organization about a possible innings limit.
There are a few things to note before we get started:
– Fantasy playoffs will have a different start day based on your league, but most begin either August 27th or September 3th and could end before the season finishes. Keep this in mind and adapt to your league settings.
– These stats and insights are through 8/2/18. If you’re checking out this article after that date, keep that in mind.
– Players highlighted in yellow have a projected innings limit that could be hit before season’s end.
– Pitchers’ limits will be designated as No Limit, Unlikely, Questionable, Probably, and Definitely.
– The “shutdown date” is projected based on a five-man rotation and not skipping a single start. Teams will have different ways of limiting innings ranging from simply not pitching anymore to moving to the bullpen, a skipped start or two in July/August, or switching to a six-man rotation. Keep this in mind through the year.
Let’s get to it:
Andrew Heaney | 2017 IP – 49.1 | 2018 IP – 122.2 | Limit? – Unlikely
Heaney has shown flashes of dominance in his first full season removed from Tommy John Surgery and has been one of the Angels only healthy starters. Despite his history, Heaney reached 184 innings in 2015, making 180 a very reasonable and realistic target for the southpaw. It’s possible the Angels rest him early given their minuscule chances at a playoff berth, but it’s doubtful.
Domingo German | 2017 IP – 123.2 | 2018 IP – 83.1 | Limit? – Unlikely
Because German started the season in a relief role, he didn’t rack up many innings in the early portion of the season. Combine that with getting moved to the pen after the acquisitions of J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn, and German should theoretically not come anywhere near an innings limit this year.
Fernando Romero | 2017 IP – 125 | 2018 IP – 117.1 | Limit? – Unlikely
Few rookies excited us like Romero in the early parts of this season. However, at 23 years old, and with the Twins well out of the playoff race, there’s no reason for the Twins to push Romero. He’ll be back up in September and throw another 40 innings or so, but don’t expect him up before September.
Frankie Montas | 2017 IP – 61.1 | 2018 IP – 103.2 | Limit? – Unlikely
Montas has dealt with injuries over the last few years, but his career high is 127 back in 2015. He’s not someone that most fantasy owners are relying on, sitting in Triple-A right now. But even if he’s called back up in September, which he likely will, he’s on a decently long innings leash.
Freddy Peralta | 2016 IP – 120 | 2017 IP – 106.1 | Limit? – Probably
Freddy Peralta lit the world on fire in his first start, racking up 13 Ks in 5.2 IP, and the Brewers have done a lot to manage his innings since then, shuttling him back and forth to Triple-A Colorado Springs. However, he’s still 22 years old coming off a 120 inning season, which limits him to 150 innings, maybe a max of 160. A major factor is the Brewers playoff push- the team is currently 1 game out in the NL Central and in 1st place in the Wild Card. With the reports on Jimmy Nelson making it seem like he’s questionable to return this year, the Brewers can’t afford to be without Peralta in the playoffs. He’s necessary to anchor a rotation with Chase Anderson, Jhoulys Chacin, Junior Guerra, Wade Miley, and the potentially returning Zach Davies. Of those names, only Anderson carries higher upside than Peralta, and even if Nelson returns, they’re unlikely to ride him too hard down the stretch. Therefore, it’s likely they rest Peralta periodically over the next two months to ensure his availability in the playoffs.
Jaime Barria | 2017 IP – 141.2 | 2018 IP – 95 | Limit? – Unlikely
After two seasons of increasing innings, the 22-year-old is able to take on well above his 95 innings thus far. There are no concerns about Barria being cut off this year.
Jameson Taillon | 2017 IP – 147.2 | 2017 IP – 125 | Limit? – Unlikely
Taillon is likely capped around 180 innings, as the Bucs want to protect their #1 starter. YOU GOTTA EARN IT, ARCHER. Unless they manage to re-spark this team into a playoff push, Taillon should reach his innings cap right around the end of the season. If they do manage to push for the playoffs, this could turn into an interesting situation.
Joey Lucchesi | 2017 IP – 139 | 2018 IP – 83.2 | Limit? – Unlikely
A mid-season DL stint helped Lucchesi keeps the innings down- he’s unlikely to even reach his 2017 innings mark.
Jonathan Loaisiga | 2017 IP – 32.2 | 2018 IP – 63.0 | Limit? – Unlikely
After losing two years to Tommy John Surgery, the Yankees prospect is currently on the DL with a shoulder injury. He could be an option in September out of the rotation, but the Yankees have little reason to push the 23-year-old past 100-120 innings
Lance McCullers | 2016 IP – 126.2 | 2017 IP – 122 | Limit? – Questionable
McCullers is an interesting case as he’s had a heavy workload in the past (157.2 IP in 2015), but he threw under 90 frames in 2016 and just 122 in 2017. Add in his injury history and the fact that Houston is running away with the AL West and we will probably see McCullers taking a breather in September, more to preserve his health than to cap his innings.
Luke Weaver | 2017 IP – 187.1 | 2018 IP – 86.1 | Limit? – No Limit
After sitting near 200 innings last year, there’s a near zero percent chance of a shutdown. Though maybe the Cards would shut him down if they thought it meant they would get the Weaver of 2017 back.
Marco Gonzales | 2017 IP – 126.1 | 2018 IP – 125.2 | Limit? – Probably
Gonzales is in a similar situation as Peralta- he obviously needs to get shut down at some point, as he’s still just 26 years old and he’s 2/3 of an inning from his career high. But the Mariners desperately need him in the playoffs in a rotation consisting of The Big Maple, Felix Hernandez, Wade LeBlanc, and Mike Leake. Gonzales is arguably the second-best starter in this rotation, but he’s likely #3 or #4 in a playoff rotation. Therefore, expect a skipped start here and there, but not a total shutdown.
Mike Clevinger | 2017 IP – 157.0 | 2018 IP – 133.2 | Limit? – No Limit
It’s time to let the dog off the leash. Clev could theoretically be capped around 200 innings, but he’s unlikely to reach that, so you should have no fears about losing him down the stretch.
Sean Newcomb | 2017 IP – 157.2 | 2018 IP – 119.2 | Limit? – No Limit
Newcomb is in the same boat as Clevinger, as there’s no time like the present to let him loose. There’s no reason to believe he’ll be shut down early. There’s a moderate amount of concern about his 134 pitch outing last time out, but here’s hoping he doesn’t end up like Johan Santana after his no-hitter.
Walker Buehler | 2017 IP – 98 | 2018 IP – 85.0 | Limit? – Questionable
We can argue all day as to whether Buehler’s DL stint was real or a phantom one to keep his innings down, but an innings limit is real. Dave Roberts said before the year that Buehler would likely increase to 150 this year. That should let him throw through the end of the season and get some playoff innings, but don’t be surprised if he has a start skipped here and there depending on the size of the Dodgers’ lead over the Rox and D-Backs.
Zack Wheeler | 2017 IP – 86.1 | 2018 IP – 125.1 | Limit? – Probably
Wheeler is now 4 years removed from 185.1 IP and hit just 86.1 last year so it would be surprising to see Wheeler go well over 160, but I think he likely has a hard cap around 180. There hasn’t been any word from the Mets on an innings limit, but with the Mets not near the playoffs and likely hoping to move Wheeler at some point in the next year, I don’t expect them to push him too hard.