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Buy or Sell – Zach Plesac, Keegan Thompson, and Reid Detmers’ Slider

Even when one emphasizes or de-emphasizes pitching in fantasy baseball leagues, we’ll run into difficult decisions, skills, and results in considering whether to buy or sell. With the MLB All-Star Break coming next week, you’ll have to decide whether to stash players or maximize playing time. If you want to check out the rest of the buy or sell articles, you’ll find them here. Typically, we cover two pitchers each week. However, we’ll examine three starting pitchers in this week’s buy or sell installment since the trio provides intriguing metrics.

Fantasy Baseball Buy or Sell

Zach Plesac (SP, CLE)

Zach Plesac seems to be turning it around in 2022. After a 4.67 ERA in 2021, Zach Plesac has a 3.89 ERA in 2022 through 90.1 innings. While we can’t expect the 2020 outlier season, Plesac has outperformed the expected ERA. Can Plesac keep it up and provide streamer value?

In 2022, Plesac’s .280 BABIP and 71% LOB% seem reasonable, nearly identical to the career norms. Unfortunately, Plesac doesn’t have the strikeout skills with a 17% K% and 6% BB% (2022) similar to 2021, though nowhere near the outlier 2020 season (28% K%). Unsurprisingly, Plesac has a below-average 10% SwStr% trending downwards from 14.3% (2020) and 11.2% (2021).

Thankfully, Plesac has kept the home runs in check, evidenced by the 1.1 HR/9 and 10.2% HR/FB%, slightly below the career averages. Plesac generates a nearly identical GB% (40.6%) and FB% (37.8%), so let’s see if Plesac keeps the lower home run rates.

Plesac’s Arsenal & Results

After multiple pitches with a double-digit SwStr%, Plesac’s only standout pitch involves the slider’s 21.4% SwStr%. The slider’s batted ball results aligned with the SwStr%, with a .216 BA, .324 SLG, and .246 wOBA in 2022.

buy or sell

Plesac’s changeup has a career SwStr% at 11.8%, dropping to 6.8% in 2022. The changeup’s vertical movement dropped 1-2 inches between 2020 and 2021. Also, Plesac has seemingly struggled with commanding the pitch, evidenced by the heat maps. Although the changeup results haven’t been awful (.200 BA, .288 SLG, and .233 wOBA), Plesac has turned into a one-pitch pitcher.

Buy or Sell Plesac?

Plesac has posted seven quality starts over the past eight games, with a 14.1% K-BB%, reasonable .261 BABIP, and 79.7% LOB%. Maybe Plesac keeps it up, but the overall skills remain underwhelming as a command and control-focused pitcher. Plesac’s xERA and below-average strikeout skills hint at treading with caution even with Plesac’s recent success. Avoid buying, but maybe you could sell based on name value.

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Keegan Thompson (SP, CHC)

Sneakily, this Keegan Thompson fellow posted decent numbers throughout the season and recently in a starter and reliever role. Through 77 innings, Thompson has a 3.16 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Thompson finished with a 22.6% K% but a 12.8% BB% in his debut 2021 season. In 2022, Thompson kept a similar K% (23.4%) and lowered the BB% (7.9%), translating into an improved K-BB% slightly higher than the league averages.

Interestingly, Thompson’s F-Strike% remains identical to 2021 with a lowered Zone% at 40.9%, down nearly three percentage points. Thompson had a 37.7% Ball% in 2021 that decreased to 36.3% in 2022, which somewhat explains the drop in BB%. The 9.8% SwStr% stayed similar to 2021 (10.2%), though below the league average (11.1%).

The BABIP and LOB% seem reasonable versus the 2021 rookie numbers, which we like to see. He allows a similar GB% and FB% hovering around 40-41% each, with an improved home run rate. Thompson’s 1.52 HR/9 in 2021 dropped to a 0.82 HR/9 in 2022.

Thompson’s Arsenal & Results

Keegan Thompson primarily relies on the four-seamer (43.9%), cutter (24.9%), and curveball (17.5%) at a double-digit rate. It’s a similar pitch mix from 2021, though small dips in cutter and curveball usage, in favor of the changeup and sinker in 2022. The changeup and sinker account for around ten percent of his pitches in 2022 versus fewer than four percent in 2021. Thompson made an intentional change to throw the changeup and sinker more to left-handed hitters, likely to have a pitch that goes in a different plane and direction from the four-seamer, cutter, and curve.

buy or sell

The cutter and the curveball remained Thompson’s only two pitches with a double-digit SwStr% in 2021, which stayed that way in 2022 with a slight dip. However, Thompson’s changeup went from a 0% SwStr% in 2021 to 12.1% in 2022, though we’re dealing with small samples. The results on the four-seamer improved with slightly worse results against the curveball and cutter. Thompson’s cutter allowed a .198 BA, .315 SLG, and .284 wOBA, improving from a .272 BA, .457 SLG, and .381 wOBA in 2021.

buy or sell

The curveball added over two inches of vertical movement, translating into above-average vertical movement. Meanwhile, the cutter hasn’t dropped as much, down over three inches, though it still breaks horizontally above the average. With less vertical movement on the cut fastball, it aligns with the lower SwStr%. However, the Statcast data indicates that’s a positive change with less drop on the cutter. Thompson’s stuff isn’t overpowering from a movement or velocity standpoint, making us less excited when considering whether to buy or sell.

Buy or Sell Thompson?

Keegan Thompson initially popped up when looking at leaderboards over the past month with a top-25 K-BB%. Thompson gradually built up from a peak outing of five innings on May 17 early on, with an average of six innings in four of the past five games. The BAT projects Thompson’s ratios to regress to a 4.50 ERA and 1.34 WHIP with an 11.2% K-BB%. With Thompson’s small sample of data in 2021 and 2022, the projection systems might be figuring out what to do with him.

The strikeout skills look mediocre, with the potential for the home run rates to regress, leading to less confidence in buying but rather selling. Thompson’s skills align with a deep-league streamer to roll with during decent matchups. Overall, tread cautiously since it’s not a clear buy, but he might not be easy to sell.

Reid Detmers (SP, LAA)

The Angels sent Reid Detmers to Triple-A on June 22 after he posted a 4.66 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 18.6% K%, and 8.9% BB% through 58 innings. Detmers’ 8.7% SwStr% seemed underwhelming, though he limited the BABIP (.204). However, the 1.71 HR/9 remained an issue for Detmers as a flyball pitcher with a 44.9% FB%.

The best pitch for Detmers in the curveball hadn’t been as effective with a 9% SwStr%, down three percentage points from 2021. Meanwhile, the batted ball results on the curveball remained similar, with a .296 wOBA in 2022 versus a .291 wOBA in 2021. However, the overall results stunk for Detmers. Interestingly, Detmers’ four-seamer performed better with a .202 BA, .449 SLG, and .332 wOBA in 2022, much better than 2021 (.407 BA, .852 SLG, and .545 wOBA).

Detmers’ Reformed Slider

According to Rhett Bollinger of, Detmers worked with the Angels’ minor league pitching coordinator to adjust the slider. First, look at the overall slider metrics to provide context on buying or selling. In 2021, Detmers’ slider elicited a 17.6% SwStr% that dropped to 7.6% in 2022. It’s a small sample, but the slider allowed too much contact, evidenced by a 70.4% Contact% in 2021, up ten percentage points in 2022.

Interestingly, the batted ball results remained similar with a .383 SLG and .288 wOBA in 2022 compared to a .353 SLG and .275 wOBA in 2021. Regarding shape and movement, Detmers’ slider dropped over 39 inches in 2021, which decreased by over ten percentage points in 2022. The slider’s break went from 2.5 inches in 2021 to 6.8 inches in 2022. With the movement changes, the slider velocity decreased in 2022 by over two mph. However, life changed for Detmers in his most recent start against the Orioles.

buy or sell

Detmers’ slider increased 3.2 mph versus the 2022 average near the velocity from 2021. The movement profile looked similar to 2021, with an average of 40 inches of drop and one inch over break. For context, Detmers’ slider in 2021 dropped 39.3 inches and broke 2.5 inches. While it’s not perfectly identical, the movement and velocity numbers moved closer to the old slider in 2021. With the hype in 2021 heading into 2022, it’s positive to see Detmers’ having another breaking pitch trending to last season, meaning more buying than selling moving forward.

Buy or Sell Detmers?

Unfortunately, Detmers expects to face the Dodgers in his next start on Friday, making it difficult to play him in most formats. Take THE BAT projections with a grain of salt because it looks ugly, as evidenced by the 4.88 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 21.2% K%, and 8.5% BB% in 45 innings. If Detmers keeps the two quality breaking balls in the curve and slider, plus the improved four-seamer results, we could have a streaming pitcher with upside. Although Detmers might be a better buy than sell in dynasty formats, look to acquire him in redraft leagues given the potential upside.

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