(Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire)
Finally, we are back again with another edition of Patience or Panic. After some time away and soaking up the sun on vacation ( I missed you baseball) it feels great to be writing about some of our favorite struggling stars. As always with Patience or Panic, we are going to examine three players who have been stumbling and try to determine if they are worth holding on to, or you should be cutting your losses and chasing that hot new prospect call-up.
In this weeks edition, we are going to look at three players, all of who’s ADP were in the top-120 of NFBC. The each have struggled for various reasons, but let’s try and diagnose some of those reasons and figure out what simply went wrong. So let’s get into it:
Daniel Murphy – .191 AVG, 1 HR, 4 Rs, 8 RBIs, 0 SB
I commend you for patience with Daniel Murphy, you drafted him and dealt with the constant setbacks all spring. Now that he is finally back from injury you expected vintage Nationals Daniel Murphy but so far he has been incredibly underwhelming. So far in his first 66 plate appearances, Murphy is slashing a dreadful .200/.235/.277 with a 35 wRC+. Right now the former All-star’s Hard-hit rate (Events 95+ MPH) according to Baseball Savant is a lowly 19.6%, the 16th worst among all players with at least 50 batted ball events. His overall exit velocity has lost 3.5 MPH since last season and is down to a mediocre 86.1 MPH. Murphy has a BABIP of .211 which is well below his previous two seasons in which he produced .340+ BABIP’s. Overall I expect that to regress toward his career norms, but not at the rate you would expect. With a reduced exit velocity and a tendency to get under the ball (Under-Rate over 13% above MLB Average), Murphy may struggle to produce another season with an astronomical BABIP.
Murphy is mired in a funk this season, but xStats considered some of the funk just due to sheer bad luck. The second basemen is currently producing an xBA of .303, and an xSLG of .440. Both numbers are closer to his previous all-star seasons than what we have seen since his return from injury. His xwOBA of .339 is well above the major league average. He will continue to hit in the middle of the Nationals lineup that features a plethora of good hitters, which should benefit his counting stats. Murphy is still getting in a rhythm after missing all of spring training, and I expect as he gets more and more at-bats under his belt we will see more and more of vintage Murphy. Hold steady, better days are still to come.
Zack Godley – 9W-6L, 92.1 IP, 5.07 ERA, 92 Ks, 1.6 WHIP
I was all in on Godley this pre-season. I was shouting his name from the rooftops, and telling anyone who would listen to draft him. Fast forward to July and I really whiffed on this one. Godley has gone in the wrong direction in almost every category, his already elevated walk-rate has jumped up to 11% while his K-rate has dropped down to an average 21%. His groundball rate has dropped down to 50%. Blend all those regressions together and you are looking at a pitcher with a 4.62 FIP and a 1.6 WHIP.
Godley’s arsenal mainly relies on his curveball, which he is throwing an astronomical 40% of the time in 2018. He also relies on heavily on a hard sinker, which has lost a tick and a half of velocity in 2018. To pair with his Sinker he throws a cutter with only a 1 MPH difference from his sinker. The lack of a reliable changeup (only thrown 84 times this season) has reared it’s ugly head when Godley attempts to get through a lineup a third time. So far in 2018, the Diamondbacks starter has an ERA of 9.36 the third time through. This is a new problem with Godley who contained hitters to a .195/.275/.320 slash the third time through the order in 2017.
I bought into Godley because in 2017 he showed a rare ability to both strike batters out, and keep the ball on the ground. So far in 2018, he has regressed in both skills and with it so has my faith. I’m not sure we are going to get the top-of-the-line starter we hoped for heading into 2018, but he should be good enough in deeper leagues to hold onto.
Luke Weaver – 5W-7L, 97 IP, 4.92 ERA, 89 Ks, 1.35 WHIP
I look back on Weaver’s 105 ADP on NFBC during the build-up to draft season and I just can’t see how that happened. The helium for young pitchers is always crazy, but Weaver was a well known two-pitch starter who’s whiff rate always lagged behind his K-rate . Strikeout regression finally reared its ugly head this season, and Weaver’s current 20.9 K% is 51/86 among qualified starters. On top of the negative strikeout regression, the young starter has seen his walk-rate climb to 8.7%.
The main problem with Weaver is simply his curveball. It is just is not good enough to fool major league hitters. He started 2018 trying to throw the pitch more and threw it 17% in April. Since the start of June however, he has slowed it down to just his typical 10% usage which is about level with his career usage. Weaver’s curveball has is just not good enough to throw more than 10% right now, hitters are currently tatooing the pitch to the tune of a .317 average with a .537 SLG in 2018 To make matters worse, the young right-hander’s curve has gotten slightly lucky as well. xStats say it should maintaining xBA of .329 with an xSLG of .610. Hitters are not being fooled by the pitch with an Exit velocity of 91.4 MPH and a miserable 5.6 Whiff rate.
Like Godley, and most pitchers who rely on two predominate pitches Weaver is struggling the third time through the order. Actually, struggling is putting it lightly. In 16 IP Weaver has allowed 23 ER when driving to navigate a lineup a third time. Hitters are slashing .360 AVG/ .442 OBP/ .640 SLG with a .454 wOBA.
Weaver has lost some of his luster this season, Nick currently has him ranked 99th on The List. He struggles to go deep into games, and no longer holds that sexy K-rate that lured you in during the winter. Jack Flaherty may be slowly turning into what we were expected when drafting Weaver heading into 2018. He still offers a nice ceiling and in deeper leagues, you can hold hoping it comes to fruition but in shallower 10/12 team leagues I think it’s a safe time to really panic (if you haven’t already).