(Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire)
Here we are, back again for this week’s version of Patience or Panic. A series where we attempt to look deep into the undercurrents of player’s profiles and determine whether it’s time to, be patient or send them to the waiver wire. Last week we focused on four hitters who were going through some struggles, I decided to change things up this week and look at 4 pitchers. This site is called Pitcher List after all. All four guys bring with them 5+ ERA’s and the names are not exactly the player who I was expecting to be writing about in early May. Yet, here we are and let’s get into finally.
Yu Darvish – 0 – 3, 30 IP, 6.00 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 37 Ks
It seems fitting with to start this week with Yu Darvish, who is just having a heck of a time this year. The Cubs have just recently placed the right-hander on the DL with the Flu. A lot of things have gone wrong for Darvish in his new home. His HR/FB rate is 8 points higher than his career 12.3 mark, even with his hard contact rate down from the previous year. A few things really jump out when I’m glancing over Darvish’s profile, firstly his O-contact rate is up nearly 13% from his career rate. He has never had an O-contact rate above 57% in a season, and he currently sits at an astounding 66.7%. That can be contributing to his diminishing swing-strike rate, dropping -2.9 from 2017. Secondly, his slider is just not the vintage, nasty Darvish slider. He is throwing it 2 ticks harder so far in 2018, and with 2.3 inches less xMov than his career averages. It’s resulted in a slugging against of .475, well above his career .264 career mark. There is a touch of unluckiness in his profile, his 66.5 LOB-rate is 1o points below his career rate, his SIERA of 4.09 suggests that he is getting a tad unlucky. I’m worried that we will never get to see the player that we were expecting when we drafted Darvish at a top-20 pitcher. I even went far enough to boldly predict he would contend for the MVP. What do I know anyway. He is regressing in all the wrong ways right now, but I would still be sitting on him and expecting some positive regression to his profile. His ability to strike people out gives him a longer leash than a lot of other pitchers.
Verdict – Patience
Marcus Stroman – 0-5, 37 IP, 7.71 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, 32 Ks
A wise man once said “Height doesn’t measure heart”, lately it feels like both heart and height have been defeated. Stroman’s struggles are fueled by a .330 BABIP and a 50.6 LOB-rate. Both “should” bounce back down to his career norms and stabilize through the year, but right now they are hard to stomach. Like I said above with Darvish, pitchers who strike people out tend to get a longer leash in our fantasy hearts. Stroman, unfortunately, is not one of those pitchers. His current K-rate of 18.2 is the second lowest of his career and places him 69/91 among qualified starting pitchers. His lack of strikeouts does not mix well with his spike in walks. Stroman’s current 10.2 walk rate is over 4 points above his career average. Another worrying sign is the quality of contact that batters are getting against the Blue Jays pitcher. Hitters have an average exit velocity of 92.1 MPH, which is the second highest among all starters. They barrel up his pitches at an alarming rate, and 54 percent of all balls put in play versus Stroman have been hit 95+ MPH this season (worst in the MLB). Put all of these factors in a stew, let it simmer and out comes a terrible 7.71 ERA. A FIP and SIERA in the mid-4’s predict better days ahead, but without the strikeouts, and his control all over the place you are looking at a middling deep league arm.
Luke Weaver – 2-2, 35.1 IP, 5.60 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 32 Ks
Oh Luke Weaver. We have quite the rocky relationship. At your pre-season price I was totally out, but then you added the curveball and were looking great with it in your first three games. I was back in! But now here we are talking about you in patience or panic. I even wrote about Weaver around 3 weeks ago and took a glance at his new curveball. He had been using the pitch to surprise hitters and keep them off-balance early in the count, they were slashing a measly .111/.200/.111 versus his curveball with a 3 wrC+ in his first 58 thrown. Now Weaver has thrown his curveball 110 total times in 2018 and hitters are slashing .381/.435/.476 with a 165 wRC+. That is quite the drastic change in results. Let this be a lesson in small sample sizes for everyone (especially myself). Without a solid 3rd pitch, Weaver is having a terrible time getting through a lineup 3 times. The first time though hitters are managing “just” a .232 AVG versus Weaver, and a .296 wOBA. Meanwhile, the third time through hitters are producing a .260 AVG and .463 wOBA. The difference is night and day for the Cardinals youngster. Weaver has been struck with a bit of early season unluckiness, his FIP is over 2 full runs below his current ERA and his LOB-rate is 60.2, well below league average. Better days are ahead for the Cardinals right-hander, but it might not be right away. His changeup is not dominant enough for him to be a full-time two-pitch pitcher and get away with it in the MLB. I am holding firm on Weaver because of the alluring upside he has shown glimpses of, but his leash on teams is getting dangerously short.
Dylan Bundy – 1-5, 40.2 IP, 5.31 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 48 Ks
By now I’m sure you have heard about Dylan Bundy’s disastrous Tuesday start. It was one of the worst we have seen in over 40 years. It had the second-worst game score since 1940. 1940! Bundy has now given up 19 earned runs in his last 8.2 innings, after giving up just 5 earned runs in his first 31.2 innings. Looking through his game logs one thing jumps out at you, his fastball velocity has gone from 92.1 MPH in his first start of the year all the way down to 90.5 MPH in his most recent start. Bundy has never had an average fastball velocity below 91 MPH in his career until the last two times he took the mound. Despite Bundy’s blow up lately, he is still running a 26.1 K-rate, 4 percent above his career average. His K/BB of 3.69 is the best so far in his career. So there is some positive in the seemingly endless sea of darkness for Bundy. Similar to Weaver, Bundy possesses upside that makes him a wait and see. I can’t stop you from trying to make the move for some of the upside arms available right now like say, Caleb Smith. Keep a close eye on Bundy’s velocity, when he is at his best his fastball sat in the 92+ range. If it ticks back up again, be prepared for the early season Bundy to (hopefully) arrive again.
Update on Last Week’s Featured Players
Gregory Polanco – 7-24, 6 Rs, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 1 SB
A step in the right direction for Polanco. I will gladly take a .291 average while adding 4 walks over the last week while hitting at the top of the Pirates lineup. He will continue to score runs in the 2 hole and I believe the power is still there. He has already attempted 3 stolen bases this year and should add another dozen at the minimum the rest of the year.
Carlos Santana – 9-29, 5 Rs, 3 HRs 11 RBIs, 0 SB
Unfortunately, Santana is still below the Mendoza line, but he is now sprinkling in some power. The three he added this week makes 5 total this season. He has been moved to the 5 hole this past week and you can see the difference with his uptick in RBIs. The average may still be ugly, but Santana’s counting stats are rounding into place.
Jonathan Villar – 4-13, 0 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1 SB
It looks like Villar has lost his starting job and he should lose his spot on your team as well. The speedster started yesterday for the first time since May 2nd. Counsell has favored a combination of Nick Franklin and Eric Sogard over Villar at second base. He may steal bags here and there but he doesn’t contribute enough to warrant a roster spot any longer. Good riddance.
Orlando Arcia – 6-17, 1 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 SB
This was a better week for the young shortstop, he managed two multi-hit games. However, The two total counting stats leave you asking for more. He still has only attempted 2 stolen bases this season (1/2) and swatted 2 HR. The dream of a 15HR/15SB may be more of a dream than an eventual reality.