Another great week of action in the Pitcher List staff league. Let’s get straight to the matchups!
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Max Eddy (12 Years a Save) vs Nic Gardiner (Ze German):
Jose Ramirez had a special week for my squad going 11/21, 5R, 2HR, 8 RBI all while adding 2B eligibility. Unfortunately most of his damage came against my ace Justin Verlander, but I’ll take all the power I can get out of Ramirez. It’s too early to buy into any kind of power specific breakout for JRam, but there are some positive early indicators. Swing rates tend to stabilize after 50 Plate Appearances. Ramirez has dramatically curtailed his O-Swing% down %8.9 from ’16 to an awesome %18.8. He’s enjoyed a corresponding jump in his %BB up %4.7 from last year to %11.8. It’s too early to get excited about that %BB but there’s a correlation between selectivity at the plate and power. The change in approach is worth watching, and if an owner in your league is worried that he hasn’t attempted a steal yet it could be well worth making an offer.
Before I move on to Gardiner’s squad I just want to give a shout out to Ervin Santana. Thanks for your 9IP, 1H, 0ER, 1BB, 8K sparkler against the White Sox. The matchup was why you were on my roster, and I’ve since returned you to where you belong (at least for now)…The Waiver Wire.
Gardiner’s team performed to expectation in the pitching department. Aces Chris Sale and Yu Darvish combined for 21.2, 2W, 13H, 3ER, 6BB, 32K. of white hot filth to bolster his overall pitching line. Stats which were further buoyed via 5.1, 5SV, 4H, 0ER, 1BB, 8K of combined work from relief aces Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman. The offense, however, struggled while Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Abreu continued to struggle. Encarnacion has a %34 %K through his first 54 Plate Appearances, and %K stabilizes around 60 PAs. But we’ve seen slow starts from Edwin before. Last year he had a %24 %K in April. Edwin hasn’t posted a +%20 %K in the majors since 2005. It’s possible this will be the first year he does that given he’s at an age where skills of this nature show signs of erosion. But it’s far too early to sell low. That being said, pay attention to his %Contact going forward. He’s down from %77.9 in ’16 to %65 this season. If we haven’t seen improvement in another 50 PAs it might be wise to test the waters. Abreu I’m a little more confident in a buy low move right now. His %K is up, but there’s nothing deeper in his line that would suggest concern. He’s chasing less, and making more contact. No reason to adjust your expectations for .280/25HRs.
Max Posner (NY Familia Court Judge) vs Christopher Edmunds (Stunning Bunts):
Posner breathed a sigh of relief on Sunday when Brian Dozier returned to the lineup after missing the previous day with a sore knee and rounded the bases at full speed after swatting an inside-the-park-TATER. Love it when the taters leave the park, but we take all the taters we can get. Running has been an early theme for Dozier as he’s notched 5 SBs in 5 chances. Extra SBs for Dozier will help mitigate the dip in his value from the expected regression in his %HR/FB from last season. Remember that 28HR second half? Incredible, but repeatable? Hopefully Dozier’s knee isn’t an issue going forward.
Posner also benefitted from a really nice 7IP, W, 2H, 0ER, 3BB, 6K bounce back from Jharel Cotton. Nick and Ben talked about Cotton’s start on the pod. Bottomline: Good pitcher dominates bad team, buy now. Cotton’s the fabric of our lives, and the fabric of our fantasy staffs. Mmm…I did it.
Edmunds staff had an utterly forgettable week led by the un-trustable knuckle baller Stephen Wright’s 1.1IP, 8H, 8ER, 0BB, 1K implosion against the Os. But he can find solace after a second straight loss in the production of Elvis Andrus. Andrus put on a show last week going 9/26, 6R, 2HR, 2RBI, 2SB. Andrus is perhaps one of the most interesting “Swing Change” guys to follow given his track record for offensive futility. I won’t even attempt to discuss Andrus’s adjustments as it won’t hold a candle in comparison to Jeff Sullivan’s analysis here.
Nick Pollack (Appel of Manaea) vs Alex Fast (Betances With Wolves):
Oooo baby. You know this one had to sting. Not only did Pollack lose to Fast, Fast absolutely crushed our fearless leader in the pitching categories. Ahhh, I’m just baiting these guys here to spice up the group chat. Fast’s staff tho…
What a week from my favorite human being that’s not my wife, James Paxton. 15IP, 2W, 6H, 0ER, 3BB, 17K of pure hot perfection. At some point Paxton will surrender an earned run, but that hasn’t happened yet. Until then enjoy the show ya’ll. With other big names on the staff like Jon Lester and, that Clayton Kershaw guy it’d be easy to over look the contributions from Gio Gonzalez. There’s some interesting stuff going on with Gio as he built on a strong first week with 14IP, W, 11H, 3ER, 3BB, 8K in two-starts. He’s added two more inches of vertical movement on his Fastball. It would make sense that with his heater playing up in the zone more based on movement alone there’d be a jump in his fly ball rate. Sure enough he’s at %37.8 on the year up from %29.5 from last season. On the surface that looks like a problem as we typically associate balls in the air with homers, but Gio’s also upped his weak contact to %24.6 from %18.1 in 2016. Weakly hit fly balls are actually one of the best outcomes in terms of BABIP and expected offense. There’s been no significant movement in Gio’s %O-Swing or %Swing-K numbers, and he’s actually got a little bit more vertical drop on his Curveball which is great for whiffs. So I’m not too worried about his current 6.6 K/9.
The K numbers from Pollack’s crew were the lowest in the league by a long shot and it’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts going forward. Man cannot live on Jameson Taillon’s 13IP, W, 11H, 2ER, 4BB, 10K line alone. In all fairness Pollack’s got 4 DL eligible players right now, and with J.D. Martinez scheduled activation this week he’ll have some more flexibility to stash one of his two injured pitchers, Garrett Richards or Aaron Sanchez. But tough decisions will need to be made on how valuable it is to stash DL guys on the bench given weekly production is the name of the game in H2H.
Ben Palmer (Team Name Pending) vs Andrew Todd-Smith (Wacko Contenders):
Ties are the worst, especially when a Cesar Hernandez homer has something to do with it. Palmer rolled the dice on Antonio Senzatela @SF on Sunday and he delivered a crucial 7IP, W, 7H, 3ER, 0BB, 3K. Unfortunately the move in the W column couldn’t keep the overall W intact for Palmer this week given that the Sunday Swat from Hernandez moved ATS’s squad back up in HRs. Palmer had to be thrilled to see Mookie Betts back from the flu, Christian Yelich tate at the expense of my Mets, and D.J. LeMahieu go 10/25, 3R, 1HR, 2RBI, 1SB. With those guys around it’ll be rare to see Palmer’s team finish with .266 Batting Averages each week. He also got to the wire quick and added new Phillies closer Joaquin Benoit who provided a Save, but also a 2.2IP, SV, 2H, 3ER, 2BB, 2K overall line.
One of the most interesting performances in the league this past week came from ATS’s Michael Pineda. He was down right Paxtonian with a 14.2IP, 2W, 8H, 3ER, 1BB, 17K line in two-starts at home against the Rays and Cardinals. Ya, ya. We’ve seen Pineda do this, and we’ve also seen him give up crazy hard contact and get chased in the 3rd inning. Well, thus far Pineda has allowed an 83.5 MPH Exit Velocity on Fly Balls this year down 10MPH from the previous season. This could be huge and if it holds up for the rest of the month I’d buy in to him finally realizing his upside. We’ve known the strike zone skills are there. Improvements in the quality of contact he allows will be key.
Rick Graham (Mr. Holland’s Opus) vs Ben Pernick (McCullers of the Rainbow)
Big offense all around for these guys. For Graham Ryan Braun and George Springer starred in a 10/45, 7R, 4HR, 7RBI, 3SB combined effort. Despite the low average those counting numbers were great, especially Braun’s 3SBs. The hit to the Average wasn’t an issue for Graham as he got a strong 27/63, 13R, 2HR, 12RBI, 1SB baseline from Eugenio Suarez, Anthony Rizzo, and Andrew Benintendi. Suarez is very interesting as his plate discipline and swing metrics are all trending positively in the early going. He’s worth adding speculatively to see how this plays out, and as the weather heats up Great American Small park will perform it’s yearly transformation into a launching pad.
Eric Thames may have been the offensive player of the week going HAM with a 8/20, 8R, 5HR, 8RBI line for Pernick’s squad. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to prevent his crew from a second straight tie. He continued to dominate in Saves with 3 each from Jim Johnson, Neftali Feliz, and Craig Kimbrel. He also beat the league to the wire on Brad Brach who looks like he’ll take over the 9th inning with Zach Britton headed to the DL. On the pitching side, a 13.2, 13H, 7ER, 4BB, 15K line from Jeff Samardzjia continued to remind us of his +9 K/9 days with the Cubbies but I ain’t buyin it. Again, it’s still too early, but his %56 %F-Strike (First Pitch K) belies his current 11.37 K/9. His 2-seamer is back to +10 inches of horizontal movement, possibly driving a dip in In-Zone contact, but none of his secondaries are dropping more and he’s getting hit hard at %34.
Ian Post (Ian’s Pornogriffey) vs William Wright (Cespedes Centipedes)
Ian’s team posted a beautifully balanced line across the board last week. Nelson Cruz got going with a 9/23, 3R, 1HR, 5RBI, Wil Meyers hit for the cycle in a 10/22, 4R, 1HR, 4RBI line, and Jose Peraza stole 4 bases in a 7/28, 3R, 0HR, 2RBI, 4SB performance. Marcell Ozuna stood out as well with a 8/21, 2R, 2HR, 6RBI line but I’m not ready to buy into him as 35+ HR guy. He’s smoking the ball with a %51.4 %Hard-Contact and walking a bit more, but his %GB is up to %44.9 and his Contact down to %72.7. He could settle in as a guy who posts high rate stats despite a lower contact rate because when he gets a hold of the ball he hits it super hard and that’s positive for base hits. But he’s not going to post a +%50 %Hard-Contact with +%40 HR/FB because no one does. If he starts to hit it in the air more though…
William’s squad was lead by a pair of Mets in name sake Yoenis Cespedes and Matt Harvey. Ces went nuts (dare I say Thamesian?…nope) to the tune of a 8/25, 5R, 5HR, 9RBI fireworks display. Meanwhile Harvey continued to display vintage command over a 11.2, W, 12H, 3ER, 3BB, 11K line. It’s step by step for Harvey, who’s at least back up to 94MPH and topping out at 97. We’ve yet to see the elite movements on his 4-seam and secondaries which propelled his K/9’s of old. There’s been more 2-seam usage and his GB rate is up, but it could be he settles in around 8K/9 if the cheddar doesn’t come back. Still very useful, but not the ace we hoped for.