Starting Pitcher Barometer, Week 12: A Jose Suarez Soiree
There were no high-end callups this week. We continue to wait for the likes of Dylan Cease and Zac Gallen, although some recent comments from Chicago indicate Cease might get the call soon. What we have had, however, are a bunch of new back-end starter types hitting the mound. None of them made the list, so I’ll profile them briefly.
- Jordan Yamamoto, MIA – With Caleb Smith needing some time on the IL to rest his tender lovin’ hips, Yamamoto got the call to fill in. He just turned 23 and hadn’t yet reached Triple-A, but held his own against the Cardinals. The seven shutout innings were a surprise considering he has been considered a “pitchability” type of back-end starter prospect. However, his fastball has ticked up this year from the mid-to-upper 80’s up to 91 MPH on average in his spot start. He throws just about every pitch under the sun, but none are plus. He’ll need to have pinpoint command to help his stuff play up as more than a back-end guy.
- Peter Lambert, COL – It’s not fair, but I’m not even considering Lambert as a viable fantasy option. I am dismissing him offhandedly. I’m sure you can guess why: he’s a Rockies pitcher. There is such a slim avenue for Lambert to succeed that I don’t want to even bother in fantasy. I’d be interested if he played any other team because he is a prospect of some note. He has a strong fastball/changeup combo but has yet to really develop his curve into a weapon. Because of that, you won’t see him miss a ton of bats. Without a high strikeout floor, as you get from a guy like Jon Gray, Lambert is too risky for me.
- Jose Suarez, LAA – Suarez showed solid walk rates until he reached Triple-A in 2018. He hasn’t had a walk rate under 4 BB/9 since. That speaks to his lack of overpowering stuff; more advanced hitters have been able to lay off bad pitches, unlike those at Double-A who helped him to a 15.47 K/9. I always like a lefty (being one myself) and Suarez has a very good change, but like Lambert and Yamamoto, doesn’t have a big swing-and-miss offering. Of these three, however, I like Suarez the best moving forward.
We’ve also had quite a bit of new blood injected into the Barometer this week. Rather than put some of the small risers and fallers under the microscope, we’re going to look into these previously unranked and potentially impactful starters. Oh, and don’t freak out about Chris Paddack. He was quickly becoming one of the most overrated players in fantasy, but this demotion will bring that perception crashing back down. He was always going to be on an innings limit, and this is just the Padres managing that workload actively. He’ll be back in a couple of weeks and slot right back inside the top 30.
Starting Pitcher Barometer
A Whole Slate Of Newcomers (And Even A Newcomb)
- Mike Clevinger, CLE (SP13) – Clevinger is back next week, and the world is a better place because of it. He was showing nearly two full ticks of added velocity before he went down. Will that velocity return with Clevinger? If it does, there is a strong chance he gets back to making hitters look silly. He could crack the top 10 with just a strong start or two.
- Sean Newcomb, ATL (SP51) – It’s been a wild ride for Newcomb owners. Not like bumper cars wild, like Six Flags wild. Like my hairpiece blew off the top of my head during the hot air balloon ride and flew through the air like a hawk all the way to Kentucky wild. It took him just three starts to get demoted to Triple-A and he’s been a reliever ever since. He even nabbed a save! He’s getting another shot at starting now with Kevin Gausman on the IL. It’s been about three weeks since he’s allowed a run and his walk rate has vastly improved since his move to the pen, so perhaps he’s turned a corner. I slotted him in above future Braves starter Dallas Keuchel based on strikeout upside, but the floor easily goes to Keuchel.
- Dallas Keuchel, ATL (SP53) – He finally signed! KEUCHEL PARTY IN HOTLANTA, BRING YOUR COOZIES!! Keuchel will give the Braves some much needed rotational stability. Fantasy-wise, he is a mediocre option. His strikeout rate fell to 6.73 K/9 in 2018 with an ERA and supporting peripherals between 3.69-4.15. He’ll need to maintain an extremely low walk rate and continue to be a soft-contact, ground ball inducing maven to ensure success.
- Anibal Sanchez, WSH (SP79) – Anibal the Animal hasn’t been in consideration for the list in some time. He began the season horribly, then hit the IL. He has allowed just two runs over three starts since his return, however, with a 15:3 K:BB ratio. His velocity is steadily rising. Much of his success in 2018 hinged on his cutter, and he could prove to be more of that 2018 Sanchez moving forward as long as his improved walk rate and velocity stick.
- Michael Pineda, MIN (SP86) – Pineda has been maddening to rank and could easily be off the list in a week’s time. He had allowed at least three runs in every start since April 13th until his latest effort against the Mariners. His velocity was back up to 93 MPH in that start, creeping closer to that pre-Tommy John heat. Will it be enough to combat his gopheritis (1.81 HR/9)? Time will tell, but I’d only be throwing him out there in good matchups in deep leagues until I see more.
- CC Sabathia, NYY (SP91) – We move from a former Yankee to a current Yankee in CC Sabathia. He has also spent some time on the IL, which is of little surprise considering he is nearly 39 and eats several Krispy Kremes in between innings. On that note, if you have never enjoyed crumbled bacon on your donut, go treat yourself to that delightful goodness at once. While CC’s 3.96 ERA and 8.08 K/9 are stream-worthy on the surface, there are red flags. His ERA indicators have him between 4.68-5.92 and his velocity has dropped a full tick from 2018. Leave him for deep leagues. He also could be off the list in short order if I see more from newcomers.
- Adrian Sampson, TEX (SP98) – Sampson had been turning heads with two straight dominant starts, combining for 2 ER and an 18:1 K:BB ratio over 16 innings. His latest effort against Boston will throw some cold water on his waiver wire appeal. He has increased his slider usage this year, which is the only thing fueling his strikeout rate into the fantasy-relevant territory. I like to think of the Fantasy Relevant Territory like the wild west, with mustached men with revolvers trying to break in and they all look like Jason Vargas during a post-game interview. Tarnation, Vargas! Stay outta my gator jerky! I’m not buying into any kind of breakout season here.
The Top 100 Starting Pitchers
Fell Off The List
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Nathan Dokken is a member of the FSWA and has had his work featured in numerous books and magazines. He has also appeared on many podcasts and radio shows and hosts the Nasty Cast and Fantrax Dynasty Baseball podcasts. His written work can be found exclusively at Fantrax HQ, and his personal thoughts and opinions can be found on Twitter @NathanDokken.
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