(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
We are finally back with this years edition of Patience or Panic. I will be attempting to identify players that you want to ‘panic’ about and try to sell while they still hold at least marginal value, or show patience towards because greener pastures are ahead. Identifying players who are looking like busts based on of where you drafted them can be an incredibly valuable tool. For example, if you were able to recognize Jonathan Villar’s crippling plate discipline early in 2016, you may have been able to sell him and recoup some value rather than being stuck with a player who lost his job half-way through the season. A word of caution- these are particularly tough this early in the season because of just how small the sample sizes are. Yet here we are, and I will try to do my best for all of our wonderful readers.
Luis Castillo – 0 – 2 , 10 IP, 9 ERA, 9 K, 1.6 WHIP
This is not the start of the season that the young-right-hander was looking for. The exciting flamethrower was a community and Pitcher List favorite heading into the season, but through two starts, he has struggled to find a rhythm. So far this season Castillo has lost a little zip on both his four-seam fastball and sinker. Both are down from their averages- his sinker is -0.7 MPH while his FB is -1.4 MPH in 2017. The velocity loss could be a contributing factor to both pitches faring poorly early this season. Hitters have whopping ISO of 0.778 versus Castillo’s sinker (48 thrown) and a 0.444 ISO versus Castillo’s four-seam fastball (107 thrown). Everything is not all doom and gloom for the young Reds starter as he still possesses a changeup that has a ridiculous 42.1 swing-strike rate and a 60.9 O-swing rate. He’s been bitten by a touch of the bad-luck bug earlier in the season, he is running a BABIP of 0.323 which is 0.69 higher than his xBABIP of 0.254. Castillo is not off to the fast start that I was hoping for this season, but I am still not in panic mode. Pitchers can take a bit more time than hitters to adjust to the new season. I will be watching the next few starts with a bit more carefully, with a seed of worry in the back of my head.
Kenley Jansen – 9.00 ERA, 1 SV/1 BS, 1.75 WHIP, 4 K
The usually dominant Dodgers closer has looked anything but that to open this season. Jansen has allowed 4 earned runs through his first 4 innings after allowing just 10 runs during the entire 2017 regular season. Last Monday vs the Diamondbacks, he blew his first save since July of last season, matching his total for 2017. The main concern with Jansen right now is the decrease in his velocity. In his blown save, his famous cutter was averaging only 91.3 MPH, down from his average of 93-94 in past seasons. The velocity returned on Sunday, averaging 93.2 MPH, and so did the results as Jansen struck out the side in his inning of work. The movement of the big right hander’s cutter is a bit shaky as well. Last season his cutter had a zMov of 10.9 or a vertical movement of 10.9 inches. So far in his 4 innings of work in 2o18, his zMov is well below that at 7.8 inches. All-in-all we are looking at 4 innings sample size, but Jansen came with a hefty price tag this season so keep a close eye on his velocity and movement on his next few outings to see if the usually dominant Jansen returns back to his old self.
Bradley Zimmer – 0.179 AVG, 3 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 SB
Unlike the other two players we discussed, Bradley Zimmer didn’t cost you a top-100 pick to obtain. Zimmer is off to a slow start this season with just 5 hits in 30 plate appearances and an astronomical K-rate of 46.7. The strikeouts have always been a large problem in Zimmer’s profile and despite the small sample size of the season, the centerfielder is trending in the wrong direction. His O-Swing rate is +6.1 to a well below-average rate of 34, and his Z-swing rate is -10.2 to an ugly 59.5. While it is important to register that these are small sample sizes, plate discipline changes are some of the first stats to stabilize. The lefty is being protected versus left-handed pitchers so far early in his career and seems to fallen into that platoon again this season. Zimmer does provide the power-speed combination that is so enticing, but his 2 stolen bases and his 2-run homer last night are his only real meaningful contributions so far this season. Zimmer feels a lot like the 2018 version of Keon Broxton, but Zimmer has limited Run/RBI opportunities while being stuck in the 8th and 9th position. Overall his stolen bases and meager pop leave him more of a rope to hold onto in Roto/H2H leagues but he should be a cut in most points leagues.