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Starting Pitcher Barometer, Week 3: Not Eflin Around

It’s week three of the SP Barometer and there is no shortage of movement. We tend to over-analyze everything early on one hand and try not to overreact on the other. It’s an issue. The reaction of Mike Clevinger owners was to discolor their briefs when it was announced that Clevinger would be shut down for at least six weeks with a back issue. He had weaseled his way all the way up to 11 on the list early on already, so it’s sad to see him go.

There was yet more bad news as Luis Severino strained his lat, pushing his timetable back six weeks. That means we’re probably looking at June as the earliest you’ll see him on the list. Other notable losses are Hyun-Jin Ryu and Jon Lester. If you bought into Ryu, you had to bake in an IL stint or two. Conversely, if you bought grizzled old man Lester, he’s been an iron man. He’s started 31+ games in each season since 2008, and in the offseason, he lives in the Adirondack Mountains wrestling bears and whittling life-sized Kris Bryant statues out of maple trees. Father Time comes for us all.

Week 3 Starting Pitcher Barometer – Zach Eflin Rising

The Risers

  • Tyler Glasnow, TB (+14) – Glasnow absolutely dazzled in his last start against the Pale Hose, allowing just two hits over six shutout innings with an 11:1 K:BB ratio. He has now allowed just one run over his first three starts, although his best outputs have come against weak Giants and White Sox lineups. What you can’t help but be impressed by, however, is the three total walks over those 17 innings. He has always had extreme control issues, including last year after he was dealt to Tampa. He has a career 4.75 BB/9 but has a true swing-and-miss curveball that has earned 22.8% whiffs thus far. His 68.8% first-pitch strike rate is up a massive 10.5% from 2018 (small sample size caveats apply) and he’s been in the zone 5.4% more frequently. He takes a huge step forward in value if this improved control sticks, but he’ll still be limited by a lack of a third pitch.
  • Matt Boyd, DET (+8) – I wrote about Boyd already this week here. If he is somehow still available in your league, stop reading and whatever else you might be doing (those pizza rolls you’re eating are too hot anyway, you’ll burn your tongue if you don’t let them cool off) and go grab Boyd at once.
  • Merrill Kelly, ARZ (+33) – The scouting reports on Kelly were lukewarm at best coming back from the KBO, so I had little interest. While he hasn’t missed many bats (7.1% swinging strike rate is well below league average), he’s displayed pinpoint control and he’s limiting hard contact to a 23.7% rate. He’s also pitched 14 innings over two starts, so he could chew through innings and be a decent points league asset a la last years former-American re-import Miles Mikolas.  I’m not expecting the kind of ERA returns Mikolas provided last year, but Kelly has shown enough to deserve a bump up into the Streaming Zone.
  • Zach Eflin, PHI (+32) – “No Eflin way!” I said to myself as Zach stymied the Twins offense over seven innings. My cats seemed nonplussed with the cheap pun. Eflin is now 2-0 with a 14:1 K:BB ratio over his first 12 innings, having allowed just one earned run. The key, it seems, has been a massive increase in his slider usage. He’s deployed the slider 38.9% of the time, up from 25.2% in 2018. It has helped him ascend to a career-high 11.1% swinging strike rate, which has paired with quality control for great success (this message brought to you by Borat, apparently). I’m not ready to push him into the top 50 just yet, but he certainly looks better than a borderline top-1oo arm, which is what I had expected at the outset of the season.
  • Michael Pineda, MIN (+25) – A forgotten man, Pineda was pretty close to free in drafts this year. He missed all of 2018 recovering from Tommy John and a bonus late-season Achilles injury. The Twins are working him back slowly and have kept him on a tight pitch count so far. It’s possible he just doesn’t pitch deep into games this season in an effort to manage his workload, but the innings he does provide could be very good. His fastball velocity has sat at 91.9 MPH, down a fair bit from the 93.9 MPH he averaged with the Yankees in 2017. He has commanded the ball well though, and his slider and changeup have been very effective. If he can keep the home run rate down – an issue that has always plagued him – he will continue to climb the list. He’s got very nice matchups with the Tigers and Blue Jays offenses coming up (providing there are no further weather delays; quit being a jerk, Old Man Winter).

The Fallers

  • Nick Pivetta, PHI (-15) – Whereas Eflin has seen his stock rise in Philly, Pivetta owners are already looking for someone to talk them off the ledge. Fortunately, it’s just the ledge of a coffee table, not a tall building or anything. It’s just fantasy baseball folks, we don’t need any broken hips here. Through three starts, Pivetta has been a disappointment. Not only due to the 9.45 ERA, but his very nice 19.7% K-BB% from 2018 is down to a measly 13%. He has also given up three bombs, a problem that has always persisted for him. The whiff rate on his slider is way down from 17% in 2018 to 9%. He’s throwing it less in favor of more curveball so far, which is a good thing. His fastball remains hittable, however, and has allowed a ghastly .382 ISO. Not BAA, ISO. Neither the 23.1% HR/FB nor the .447 BABIP will stick, so better days are ahead. He just may not take the step forward this year that some (myself included) were expecting.
  • Eduardo Rodriguez, BOS (-13) – The generically nicknamed E-Rod has fallen right in line with the other “Bawston” starters in stinking up the joint. He has just eight innings over two starts with more ER (11) than K’s (7) and barely more Ks than BBs (6). His velocity is down nearly a tick and a half to 91.9 MPH and has been crushed to the tune of a .588 ISO. Remember one scant paragraph ago when we thought Pivetta’s .382 fastball ISO was bad? E-Rod just said, “hold my beer”. He is still nibbling around strike zone too much and running up his pitch count early, making it unlikely that this is the year of the breakout. At this point, you’re hoping he at least returns you the value at which you drafted him.
  • Zack Godley, ARZ (-22) – Godley’s ungodly walk issues have turned even the most penitent men into sinners, cursing their decision to draft the dangerous Diamondback. Coming into Thursday’s start against the Padres (ongoing as this is written), he had allowed eight runs over 11 innings with eight strikeouts and five walks. His fastball is down a full tick to 88.9 MPH, and even 44.6% curveballs can’t bail it out. Whatever hope there might have been for Godley returning to his 2017 form seems to be quite lost at this point. He’s what I call a Redshirt in mixed leagues, which is dork speak for cannon fodder, which is analogous to a deep league streamer.

The Top 100 Starting Pitchers

RankNamePrevious Rank
1Max Scherzer1
2Jacob DeGrom2
3Trevor Bauer3
4Gerrit Cole4
5Corey Kluber5
6Justin Verlander6
7Blake Snell7
8Aaron Nola8
9Noah Syndergaard9
10Patrick Corbin10
11Jose Berrios16
12Carlos Carrasco12
13Jameson Taillon13
14Luis Castillo18
15Zack Wheeler14
16Chris Sale15
17Jack Flaherty17
18James Paxton19
19Stephen Strasburg20
20David Price21
21Shane Bieber29
22German Marquez22
23Walker Buehler23
24Zack Greinke24
25Masahiro Tanaka25
26Charlie Morton26
27Chris Archer27
28Madison Bumgarner28
29Clayton KershawNA
30Miles Mikolas31
31Kenta Maeda32
32Robbie Ray35
33Chris Paddack34
34Yusei Kikuchi37
35Tyler Glasnow49
36Rick Porcello36
37J.A. Happ38
38Jon Gray40
39Kyle Hendricks41
40Matt Boyd48
41Collin McHugh55
42Cole Hamels42
43Tyler Skaggs43
44Julio Urias45
45Nick Pivetta30
46Eduardo Rodriguez33
47Rich Hill46
48Caleb Smith47
49Yu Darvish39
50Matt Shoemaker56
51Marco Gonzales51
52Jose Quintana52
53Trevor Richards53
54Joey Lucchesi54
55Merrill Kelly88
56Michael Pineda81
57Kyle Freeland57
58Sean Newcomb58
59Pablo Lopez59
60Carlos Rodon61
61Jake Arrieta62
62Zach Eflin94
63Derek Holland64
64Steven Matz65
65Kyle Gibson66
66Brandon Woodruff68
67Corbin Burnes70
68Yonny ChirinosNA
69Brad Keller71
70Marcus Stroman92
71Nathan Eovaldi72
72Joe Musgrove73
73Kevin Gausman74
74Ross Stripling82
75Dereck Rodriguez76
76Michael Wacha60
77Anibal Sanchez67
78Reynaldo Lopez79
79Trevor Williams90
80Aaron Sanchez69
81Julio Teheran80
82Jordan Zimmermann96
83Kyle Wright75
84Wade Miley86
85Zack Godley63
86Ryan Yarbrough83
87Vince Velasquez84
88Jeff Samardzija85
89Sandy Alcantara87
90Trent ThorntonNA
91Frankie Montas89
92Domingo German91
93Matt Strahm99
94Sonny GrayNA
95Freddy Peralta78
96Jake Odorizzi95
97Jonathan Loaisiga93
98Trevor Cahill97
99Eric Lauer98
100Jhoulys Chacin100

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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  1. Joseph says

    I would like it better if you tell us who fell out of the top 100 as well

    1. Nathan Dokken says

      I can totally do that. This week I was going to mention Peacock and forgot, he’s out of the rotation for a couple weeks just because the Astros don’t need a fifth starter for a while. I don’t believe anyone else fell off.

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