Starting Pitcher Barometer, Week 8: Faulty Foltynewicz
It’s a rough week to begin with when you lose a guy nicknamed Lasagna. It gets exponentially worse when a guy like Julio Urias, who we’ve been rooting for and waiting on for so long, gets suspended. His alleged conduct makes me want to jump off the train immediately, and for redraft purposes, you can. Dynasty is a trickier beast. If I can find someone who is willing to pay for him as a future top 30-40 starting pitcher, I’d be willing to sell. Of course, the curse heard ’round the world was from every Tyler Glasnow owner staring down the barrel of a potential Tommy John surgery. He’ll miss a month or two with an ominous forearm strain, and we’ll take it from there. The whole thing makes me more uncomfortable than putting my underwear on backward. Moving right along.
Starting Pitcher Barometer
- Brandon Woodruff, MIL (+15) – I wrote up Woodruff here earlier this week in my Fire & Ice. He kept it up in his last start, tossing six shutout, one-hit innings against the Phillies. He’s no ace, but you should pick him up if you still can.
- Frankie Montas, OAK (+14) – All Beef Ballpark Frankie doesn’t have the eye-popping strikeout rates of names higher up the list. That said, his consistency thus far has been impressive. He has yet to allow more than three earned runs in any outing and has eclipsed six innings in five of his eight starts. He has incorporated a splitter this year, which finally gives him a reliable third pitch. It’s generating 21.3% whiffs with 59% ground balls, helping him achieve a 51.9% overall GB%. Splitters tend to be a very homer-prone pitch, but he has the relative safety net of…whatever the hell they’re calling Oakland’s ballpark these days. It looks like he’s here to stay as a reliable mid-tier starting pitcher.
- Lucas Giolito, CHW (+32) – Giolito is largely seeing this movement because I had him low to begin with. I’ve been wary to buy in. A 6.13 ERA over a full 32 starts in 2018 had me a little gunshy, so you’ll have to pardon me. He’s made some real changes this year that have my eye, though. He got rid of his sinker in exchange for more changeups, for starters. The change has earned 19% whiffs with a .143 BAA while the slider has also taken a step forward with 23% whiffs and a .087 BAA. The spin rate on his four-seam is up 150 RPM, and while the walk rate is still bad, his F-Strike% is up to 62.8% and his Zone% is up almost 6%. You do have to consider his recent gravy train matchups with the Indians and Jays, but there are plenty of positive signs here. He somehow is still not even 25 years old, so the sky remains the limit.
- Mike Foltynewicz, ATL (-31) – Folty, your pitching…WOOF! I actually feel like there isn’t a lot of analysis needed here. Folty endured a late start and he simply is not right. His velocity is down two full ticks from 2018, sitting at 94 MPH. He has just 14 strikeouts over his four starts, suffering an 8.02 ERA with a 5.62 SIERA. You simply cannot use him in his next matchup with the Brewers. You can find someone else to stream for now in standard mixed leagues. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he went back to the IL if his next Brewers start indeed goes sideways. I wouldn’t blame deep leaguers for holding him on their bench for a sign of life, but Folty has a long way to go before he can be trusted.
- Merrill Kelly, ARZ (-24) – I wasn’t high on Kelly coming into the season. Eternally open-minded, however, I jettisoned him into streaming starting pitcher territory after he limited the BoSox to one run over eight innings with nine K’s back in early April. It’s been a roller coaster ride since then, and you’re worse off with his 4.70 ERA over 46 innings than you would have been otherwise. With mediocre strikeout (7.04 K/9) and walk (3.33 BB/9) rates, he’s looking more like the 2019 version of Miles Mikolas than the 2018 version we thought might have been on the table.
- Corbin Martin, HOU (SP55) – Most of the early season call-ups have been on the hitting side. Martin finally makes for a nice addition to the player pool on the pitching side. He had a stellar debut against the Rangers, limiting them to two runs over 5.1 innings with one walk and nine punchies. He has a starter’s repertoire with his fastball/curveball/changeup mix, along with a sturdy frame and average control. He doesn’t generally pitch deep into games but has the stuff to put up strong numbers in modest workloads. He’s immediately relevant in all formats as a possible SP3 and could hang onto a rotation spot all season if he performs.
- Felix Pena, LAA (SP84) – Pena has made the most of a .220 BABIP, using it to help him achieve a 3.49 ERA over his first 38.2 innings. He’s still primarily a two-pitch pitcher, tossing fastballs and curves well over 90% of the time. What has changed, however, is his preference to throw his sinker instead of his four-seam over his last four games. Overall he has been able to avoid more contact, dropping his contact rate from 76.5% to 70.4%. As long as he can continue to limit the walks (1.86 BB/9) he won’t get crushed by his propensity to yield homers (career 1.44 HR/9).
- Gio Gonzalez, MIL (SP100) – I didn’t want or intend to rank Gio Gonzalez on the list all year. I don’t like that I have to do this. I’m ranking him at 100 and don’t plan to move him higher, ever, no matter what he does. He isn’t very good. If he has a repeat of his improbable 2017 season (2.96 ERA, 4.41 SIERA) I am just going to snap…into a Slim Jim. That’s right folks, turn that bout of temporary rage-induced insanity into delicious beef jerky.
The Top 100 Starting Pitcher Rankings
Fell Off The List
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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