Starting Pitcher Barometer, Week 2: Brad Peacock’s Plumage
What a week! Having baseball back feels better than helping an old lady cross a busy street. On top of that, you’re probably going to make more money from fantasy baseball than old lady Josie, who lives out by the car lot and is known to voice her opinions at City Council meetings. Nice lady.
There is a lot to cover this week. The first round of starts told us a lot about velocity and pitch mix changes, and some of my rankings have followed accordingly. To reiterate, I won’t be too reactionary among the aces and move them around all willy-nilly. A lot of studs have had bad starts already, but it’s nothing to fret about (for the most part). However, there are a lot of newcomers that caught my eye this week, and it was easy to shuffle off a few of the bottom-feeders to make room for the shiny new (or old, technically) baubles.
Some of the starters who dropped from the list include Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn, and Jose Urena. They all fall into the same camp; while all are capable of putting together a string of solid starts, their upside just isn’t very high. Their downside is borderline mixed league viability. I would say that Gray has the strongest shot at moving up the board throughout the year, but that first start was horrible. He’s going to need to string together a few strong starts to give me any sort of renewed confidence.
Week 2 Starting Pitcher Barometer
- Brad Peacock, HOU (+20) – Affectionately known as The AstroCock on the Nasty Cast, Brad Peacock really impressed with his plumage in his first outing. He allowed just two baserunners in 6.2 innings while he struck out five Rangers bats. It was actually a bit of a slow start whiff-wise, with nine swinging strikes on 86 pitches. The velocity is down a tick from last season, but that’s to be expected since he was pitching in relief last year. This bump up the list is primarily because he officially has a starting gig in Houston, and that’s a good gig to have. He’s a mixed league viable option while he’s in that rotation, although the strikeout upside might not be as high as I’d hoped coming into the year.
- Trevor Richards, MIA (+39) – I wasn’t a big Richards guy last year, so that was a part of my probably-too-low initial ranking. Of course, he did post a 4.42 ERA in 2018, so I won’t apologize too hard. It hurts to do. Richards has been impressive through two starts, focusing more on his breaking pitches than last season. To this point, he has dropped his fastball usage 15% in favor of more breakers, although that hasn’t resulted in more strikeouts. His changeup is wicked and has earned a 21.88% whiff rate, but his breakers have recorded one single whiff on 43 pitches. Woof. He’s firmly in the mixed league streaming category now, but I don’t see him climbing any higher.
- Chris Sale, BOS (-11) – Everyone and their dog (which you can definitely NOT take to the dog park on the corner of Earl and Somerset, by the Ralph’s. Dogs are not allowed in the dog park. People are not allowed in the dog park. You might see hooded figures in the dog park. Do not approach them. Do not approach the dog park.) is talking about Chris Sale. His velocity was down to 89 MPH in his latest start after averaging 94.7 MPH last year, and the sky is most certainly falling. While his line was relatively clean against the A’s, he struck out just one batter and registered only six whiffs in 87 pitches. He was locating well enough to turn over the lineup a couple of times, which gives me some small amount of confidence that he won’t get crushed every time out. This 11-spot drop is about as extreme as I’ll ever get with an ace this early in the season, but it’s hard to argue the arrow isn’t pointing way down. It seems like he just hasn’t recovered from last year’s shoulder injury. Hopefully, he can work through it and be relatively successful, but it’s sure hard to see the elite strikeout rate returning any time soon.
- Ross Stripling, LAD (-33) – We weren’t even sure Stripling would be a starter for most of draft season, so you may still turn a profit on Stripling if you snapped him up. That said, his early velocity is down two full ticks and he is relying on his changeup a lot more to retire batters. He’s tentatively still in the rotation, but his career as a starter is about as tenuous as it gets, considering which team he pitches for. He’s still in the Streaming Zone, which is a term I literally just made up right now, but don’t put yourself in a position to where you’re relying on him.
- Matt Shoemaker, TOR (SP56) – The Cobbler is back, baby! I’ve always loved me some Shoemaker, but unfortunately, he’s been bit hard by the injury bug over recent seasons. He’s no longer with the Angels, which is a blessing in terms of pitcher injuries, and has tossed 14 scoreless injuries as a Blue Jay with a 15:3 K:BB ratio. He’s been throwing an egregious amount of splitters at 34.6%, which is egregiously sexy. He has earned a massive 17.9% whiff rate overall thanks to a 29% mark on the splitter. He definitely needs to be owned while he’s healthy, which could come to an end at any given moment.
- Aaron Sanchez, TOR (SP69) – Two Jays starters in a row! If we keep this up, attendance is sure to skyrocket in the Rogers Centre. Sanchez has pitched sparingly since his excellent 2016 season, dealing with a menagerie of injuries. I have now used the words “menagerie” and “plumage” in this article, which unfortunately puts me on the PETA watch list. Pray for my Twitter mentions. Sanchez has rarely maintained a permissible walk rate and doesn’t garner a ton of whiffs, so I think his 2016 is going to go down as by far his career year. That said, he’s still just 26, and if he can stay healthy he should remain on the back half of this list and take up residence in the Streaming Zone.
The Top 100 Starting Pitchers
|56||Matt Shoemaker||NA||Joins Top 100|
|69||Aaron Sanchez||NA||Joins Top 100|
|74||Kevin Gausman||NA||Joins Top 100|
|93||Jonathan Loaisiga||NA||Joins Top 100|
|94||Zach Eflin||NA||Joins Top 100|
|95||Jake Odorizzi||NA||Joins Top 100|
|96||Jordan Zimmermann||NA||Joins Top 100|
|98||Eric Lauer||NA||Joins Top 100|
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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