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Buy or Sell – Eduardo Rodriguez’s Misfortune & Lance Lynn’s Consistency

One of my favorite pieces about fantasy baseball involves the ability to analyze so much data. Sometimes, there is so much data, we’re drowning in it. In past weeks, I looked at a hitter and pitcher, but this week, we’re diving into two pitchers. One that is pitching well and another that is struggling a bit in 2021. You can find the other buy or sell pieces up on FantraxHQ.

With Eduardo Rodriguez, he missed the 2020 season for health reasons, which made his 2021 ADP and projection a bit up in the air. Meanwhile, we have the consistent Lance Lynn that moved over to the White Sox, which immediately improves Lynn’s win probabilities after pitching for the Rangers.

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Buy or Sell – Eduardo Rodriguez’s Misfortune & Lance Lynn’s Consistency

Eduardo Rodriguez (SP – BOS)

After missing the entire 2020 season due to myocarditis and testing positive for COVID-19, Eduardo Rodriguez came into 2021 with question marks. So far this season, Rodriguez has a 6.07 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 26.8% strikeout rate, and 6% walk rate. Both his ERA and WHIP rank as career-worsts through 72.2 innings. However, Rodriguez’s 20.8% K-BB% rates as the best of his career. 

After Eduardo Rodriguez’s first four starts, he had a 3.52 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, a 29.2% strikeout rate, and a 2.2% walk rate. In the nine following starts, Rodriguez has a 7.25 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 25.9% strikeout rate, and 7.5% walk rate. No other way to say it – that’s terrible. When seeing those struggles, let’s dig a little deeper. 

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Eduardo Rodriguez Rolling BABIP & ERA

On the surface, he is running to a bit of misfortune. Rodriguez allows a .380 BABIP and 61.6% LOB% compared to a career .307 BABIP and 73.8% LOB%. If his BABIP and strand rate regresses, it should help lower the ratios for him. We notice those same trends during his struggles after analyzing the game logs. 

As we dig a bit deeper, we notice Rodriguez is allowing slightly more contact with an increase in zone rate and first-pitch strike rate. However, his 83.8% Z-Contact% and 76.9% Contact% rates close to his 2018 numbers. Meanwhile, Rodriguez raised his zone rate to 42.8% and increased his F-Strike% to 65.6%, meaning he’s pitching more in the zone and attacking hitters. We’ll touch on this later, but that hasn’t been helpful for his changeup in 2021. 

Game Logs

Earlier, we noted the game logs for Eduardo Rodriguez, but let’s see if we find any plate discipline changes. 

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Eduardo Rodriguez Game Logs

Outside of Rodriguez’s decrease in swinging-strike rate and ratios, a few other plate discipline metrics stand out. Particularly, Rodriguez’s chase rate dropped to 30%, which falls in line with the drop in swinging-strike rate. Two interesting plate discipline metrics that stand out include the lower swing rate and higher O-Contact% from the first four starts to the past nine starts. It indicates that hitters are swinging less yet making more contact outside of the zone.

Eduardo Rodriguez’s Pitch Mix

Next, let’s look at pitch usage. Nothing stands out since Eduardo Rodriguez typically mixes up four pitches in the four-seam, changeup, cutter, and sinker. Interestingly, Rodriguez’s changeup appears less effective so far in 2021, which typically looked like his best pitch. In 2018 and 2019, Rodriguez’s changeup elicited a swinging-strike rate around 18-19%. However, in 2021, the changeup results in a 14.4% swinging-strike rate.

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Eduardo Rodriguez 4-Seam & Changeup 2019 & 2021

In the table above, the chase rate, zone rate, and contact rate stand out. Essentially, Rodriguez is throwing his changeup significantly more in the zone with hitters making more contact and chasing less. When that happens to a pitcher’s best pitch, that’s typically not a great sign. That led us to the movement profile on the changeup, which looks almost identical to the changeup movement from 2019. 

Rodriguez’s Pitch Results

Unsurprisingly, Eduardo Rodriguez’s four-seamer and cutter aren’t as effective from a slugging percentage and wOBA allowed perspective. 

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Eduardo Rodriguez 4-Seam & Cutter – SLG & wOBA

When Rodriguez’s best pitch in the changeup isn’t as effective plus hitters keep crushing the four-seamer and cutter – that’s not a recipe for success. 

Should We Buy or Sell Rodriguez?

It’s difficult to consider buying rather than selling Eduardo Rodriguez after finding several concerns in his profile. The BABIP and LOB% should regress and help lower the ratios, but the misfortune in both departments recently is quite scary. If Rodriguez’s changeup increases in effectiveness similar to previous seasons, that should help his rest of season outlook. 

According to the Razzball Player Rater, Rodriguez is providing a negative $7.2 in auction value. That’s near another struggling starter in Kenta Maeda. In trading leagues, Rodriguez’s stock is arguably the lowest in his career, meaning that gives us a prime buying opportunity. Even the ERA estimators look favorable for a bounce back with the BABIP and LOB% regression.

  • 3.66 FIP, 3.51 xFIP, 3.57 SIERA, 3.29 xERA

It’s time to buy low while you can with Rodriguez, and below we’ll note his start from Tuesday against the Rays. However, it will take several dominant starts in the coming weeks and months for it to show up on his season-long line.

Update: On Tuesday, Eduardo Rodriguez was cruising through four innings, then this hitter named Wander (freaking) Franco hit a three-run home run as the only three earned runs for Rodriguez. He earned his third quality start of the season after allowing seven hits, five runs (three earned), and one walk with seven strikeouts in six innings of work. Rodriguez’s four-seam and changeup performed relatively well, particularly in terms of whiff rate.

Eduardo Rodriguez Player Breakdown – June 22, 2021

Lance Lynn (SP – CHW)

Earlier in the offseason, I wrote up a deep dive on Lance Lynn. To say that I’m a sucker for “boring” starting pitchers that eat up innings and provide solid ratios would be an understatement. In redraft leagues, I actively targeted Lance Lynn and Kyle Hendricks as evidenced by my TGFBI team. As we’re passing mid-June, I thought it was time to revisit the crafty veteran in Lynn.

On the surface, Lance Lynn rocks a 2.02 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 28.1% strikeout rate, and 6.9% walk rate in 75.2 innings. So far, that’s his best ERA and WHIP of his career with near bests in K-BB%. Lynn’s .247 BABIP allowed and 83.6% LOB% are likely contributing to the lower ratios at this point, so we may experience some minor regression. 

Outside of one recent rocky start against the Astros, Lynn has seven quality starts with three or fewer earned runs in every start except that one against the Astros. As noted in the offseason deep dive, Lynn does all of this with a fastball-heavy approach divided up between his four-seamer, cutter, and sinker accounting for 92% of his pitches. 

Lynn’s Pitch Results

We’ll briefly touch on Lance Lynn’s pitch mix then note that Lynn’s four-seamer and cutter have performed better in 2021. Lynn also lowered the four-seamer usage slightly and increased the cutter usage.

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Lance Lynn Pitch Results

Although we sometimes don’t want pitchers to use their sinkers, Lynn uses it to elicit ground balls with a 51% ground ball rate in 2021 which is down from his career 62.1% ground ball rate. Similar to what we found in the offseason deep dive, Lynn pounds the zone with his fastballs. Although Lynn’s swinging strike rates increased from the 2020 season, they fell in line with his 2019 season. In 2019, Lynn’s four-seamer resulted in a 14% swinging-strike rate and the cutter ended with an 11.3% swinging-strike rate. 

Should We Buy or Sell Lynn?

Heading into the season, I was already buying into pitchers like Lance Lynn and Kyle Hendricks rather than selling. Boring, safe, veterans, use whatever describing words you want – I love these types of pitchers. Sometimes, I’ll put pitchers into buckets – ones that are pitchers and ones that are throwers. I prefer to have a few starting pitchers I can lock into weekly lineups rather than attempt to take risks and stream every week, especially in deeper leagues. 

Not only does Lynn eat innings with an average of 186+ innings from 2012 to 2019, but he also boasts a career ERA of 3.49. Sure, fantasy managers may not view Lynn as an ace, but rather a reliable veteran to use like a Crock-Pot (I think I’m using this phrase from Derek VanRiper). According to the Razzball Player Rater, Lynn ranks as the 15th ranked starting pitcher overall near Clayton Kershaw and Joe Musgrove. That’s right in line with his NFBC ADP as the 19th pitcher off the board in the final two weeks of the season. Let’s leave you with the Lance Lynn we love. 

For more great Fantasy Baseball Check out Mick Ciallela’s Rest of Season Rankings! Mick was the No. 1 Ranker on for the 2020 MLB season.

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