We finally got a break from the string of injuries decimating our starting pitcher rankings! Just when we thought it was safe to go back in the water, though…the spin rates crash! Following the announcement that MLB is going to really crack down on pitchers using sticky substances, many starters’ spin rates have mysteriously seen a sharp decline. Most notably (of course) Trevor Bauer has seen a steep decline in spin, and most recently, Shane Bieber. Even our aces aren’t safe in these murky waters. Whether you think the substance ban is going to be better for the game or not, our fantasy pitching boat is going to take on some water. Curse you and your lifeless eyes, Rob Manfred! Black eyes, like a doll’s eyes!
- He doesn’t make The Risers because I just wrote him up recently, but Robbie Ray and his too-tight pants continue to roll. He put up a 23:3 K:BB ratio this past week as his slider velocity registered a hefty 89.7 MPH on average in his latest start. I do expect homers to remain an issue for him (2.05 HR/9), though. I’d consider a sell-high if the price is right. If not, I’d be happy riding this train all the way to the station.
- Tony Gonsolin came back as expected…and walked five guys in 1.2 innings before being removed. It’ll get better.
- Everyone’s favorite handlebar mustachioed starter Randy Dobnak pitched with a fake fingernail this week. He has been dealing with the nail issue since June 2nd. He mentioned that he feels like he can’t finish his pitches with the issue. It has shown in the results, with 14 earned runs over 6.2 innings last week. Whatever we thought his reworked slider might do for him back in March, it’s not happening.
- Sammy Long debuted for the Giants in relief this week. He put up a 4 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K line against the Rangers. He earned a 35% CSW on the night, including a 42 CSW on his 93 MPH four-seam. He’s very interesting, and he’ll debut in my starting pitcher rankings whenever he carves out a starting role with San Francisco (as early as this week).
- Through nine starts, Alex Cobb has a 2.53 FIP…but a 4.98 ERA. He drops a bit on the list after yielding five runs in back-to-back starts, but I think better days are ahead. Also, I hereby posit that any Cobb starts of three innings or less be considered a Cob Quicky.
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The Starting Pitcher Barometer
Anthony DeSclafani, SF (+4) – It’s just a marginal bump for Tony Disco on the list, but he deserves to be talked about. DeSclafani has had great success in his new Giants uniform, with a 3.09 ERA, 7.85 K/9, and 2.50 BB/9 through 75.2 IP. He went to the slider 40% of the time in his latest start, a two-hit shutout of the Nationals. The velocity was also up a full tick, to 88.5 MPH. I don’t expect him to climb nearly as high as his teammate Kevin Gausman has, but he’s going to be a useful fantasy starter with the increased slider usage.
Austin Gomber, COL (+10) – It’s very hard for me to dismiss the Coors Field factor with Rockies pitchers. With that in mind, please help me pay for my therapy this week. I am pushing a Rockies starter begrudgingly into the top-60. Do you recall his 1.2 IP, 9 ER debacle against the Giants earlier this season? Well, since then, Gomber has been on a tear. Over those ensuing eight starts, Gomber has a 2.58 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, and 0.8 BB/9. His fastball is an ugly .379 wOBA (.404 xwOBA). However, all of his offspeed offerings (slider, curveball, changeup) have a sub-.265 wOBA as well as a 33.8%+ whiff rate.
As you can see, Gomber is getting away from that bad fastball. He has even begun deploying more sliders than fastballs, which should help him sustain some of this success.
Ryan Yarbrough, TB (+16) – Yarbrough was on the list to open the year, but a brutal April (4.86 ERA in 33.1 IP), as well as a relief role, bumped him out of my starting pitcher rankings entirely. He’s since started five games in a row. In that span, he has amassed a 2.87 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, and 1.1 BB/9. He went to his changeup a season-high 43% of the time in his latest effort, which was six shutout innings against the Orioles.
As with the aforementioned Austin Gomber, Yarbrough’s previous primary pitch – the cutter – has been eclipsed in usage by an offspeed pitch. However, Yarbrough only uses it against righties, opting for curves against lefties. As long as Yarbrough remains a starter, he is, at the very least, an interesting streamer. He ranks inside the top-5% of the league in average exit velocity (84.6 MPH), Hard% (27.7%), and BB% (4.1%).
Nathan Eovaldi, BOS (-19) – There’s not too much shame in giving up five earned runs over 5.2 IP against a red-hot Houston lineup, which is exactly what Eovaldi did last week. However, after not allowing a home run through his first nine starts, he has allowed three in his past four starts. Is it the end of the world? No. However, when you take a look at his previous HR/FB rates since 2016, his current 4.8% mark sticks out just a little bit.
I’d expect those homerun chickens to come home to roost sooner or later, meaning I’ve had Eovaldi a bit higher in my starting pitcher rankings than I should have.
Jameson Taillon, NYY (-10) – I’ve been really rooting hard for Taillon, considering all he’s been through in his career. Unfortunately, it’s just not happening for him right now. He has a 5.74 ERA on the season after his latest start in which he gave up four runs while recording just one out before being pulled. His velocity isn’t where it used to be, down a full tick since 2019. There is a small glimmer of hope, as his ERA is far higher than his 4.48 FIP or 3.90 xERA. At this point, however, he’s just a deeper league hold.
Tucker Davidson, ATL (SP96) – Davidson has been successful through his first three starts. Over his last two, in particular, he has blanked the Nationals and Phillies. However, that comes with a mere 9:6 K:BB ratio over 11.2 IP. He is throwing 40% sliders, however, a pitch that has allowed a .077 BAA and 35.6% whiff rate thus far. He isn’t a high-end pickup but could be an interesting streamer.
Patrick Sandoval, LAA (SP98) – Sandoval earned himself a spot on the list with a strong week. First, he struck out 10 Mariners and then logged a quality start as he went six innings with two earned runs against the Diamondbacks. He has yet to allow more than two runs in a game through five starts since moving out of the bullpen. He has a lethal changeup, which had a 67% whiff rate in his latest effort. It’s primarily a fastball/changeup approach for Sandoval right now, which caps his ceiling a bit. That said, if his slider or curve come along enough to give him a decent third pitch, we could be looking at a prolific career for the 24-year-old southpaw.
Top 100 Starting Pitcher Rankings
|25||Hyun Jin Ryu||21|
|79||Kwang Hyun Kim||NA|
Fell Off The List:
Sonny Gray (Injury), Marco Gonzales (Performance), Martin Perez (Performance), Kris Bubic (Performance), Merrill Kelly (Performance).
For more help on the pitching front, check out Mike Carter’s Two-Start Pitchers for the week.
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