Starting Pitcher Barometer, Week 1: Taylor, Widener Of Eyes
Gather ’round, ye lads and lasses. Today marks the return of the Starting Pitcher Barometer! I’ve settled into my old comfortable leather chair in front of the fireplace here in this creaky old house. As the fire crackles and you wonder why the eyes keep moving in the paintings on the wall in this dimly lit study, I encourage you not to worry about it. Let’s just focus on baseball and how the starting pitcher rankings are taking form.
Every week I’ll be ranking the top 100 starting pitcher rankings for the rest of the season. I’ll leave off the injured starters unless they’re slated to return the coming week. In every ensuing week, I’ll list the previous week’s ranking. The biggest risers and fallers will earn their own dedicated blurb so as to explain the movement. New additions to the list will earn a blurb as well.
For this first full week of the season, I’ll go over some of the notable performances so far. Is there a reason for panic, or would that be an overreaction after just one start? We shall discuss. Yes, that suit of armor in the corner may have just moved a little bit. He does that sometimes, settle down. Where’s my Great Dane?
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The Starting Pitcher Barometer
Luis Castillo, CIN (3.1 IP, 8 H, 10 R (8 ER), 2 BB, 0 K)
Without a doubt, the most terrifying start thus far belongs to Luis Castillo. He was absolutely annihilated. He didn’t even record a strikeout, so this entire start was just a giant torpedo into the side of the submarine that is your fantasy season. His velocity was also way down – nearly 3 MPH from last year.
That’s just about as startling as walking in on your parents playing Twister in the nude. There is some room for optimism, though, so don’t throw your computer away just yet. Namely, the game-time temperature was 37 degrees. There was also a 16 MPH wind, and even some light flurries (although that isn’t as distracting as light furries). That could have certainly impacted his velo.
There was also some horrible defense behind him, although that’s something that may not improve. All in all, this is a start to throw out the window. He does debut on the list at SP16, which is few spots lower than he would have if these rankings came out a week ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if his FB sat more around the 95-96 MPH range than the 97.5 MPH we saw last year. However, in 2018 when he sat 95.8 MPH, he put up his worst season to date (4.30 ERA, 8.75 K/9). If the velo doesn’t bounce back, he may not be a top 20 starter this season.
Tyler Glasnow, TB (6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K)
I’ve been out on Glasnow for, well, most of his career. Injury issues and merely two pitches don’t do it for me at the price you have to pay to acquire him (ADP 42 this year). However, as I mentioned in my Don’ts, he has been working to incorporate a new slider. That would finally give him a third offering. The Rays don’t typically let any starter see an order a third time through, but a third pitch still helps make Glasnow a legitimate starting option.
As you can see, not only did Glasnow throw his slider plenty in his first start, but he threw 26 of them (33.8%) compared to just nine curveballs (11.7%). The slider allowed just two balls in play, earned two strikeouts, and no hits, with a 41.7% whiff rate. So…yeah. That’s pretty insane. He’s not going to pile up innings like the uber-aces, but with all the strikeouts he’s going to rack up, he has a very good chance at finishing inside the top 10 in my starting pitcher rankings.
Yusei Kikuchi, SEA (6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 10 K)
I’ll admit to being a Kikuchi Hoochie. I wasn’t exactly conducting the hype train in the spring, but I did passingly mention investing at his ADP in my Dudes. Well, if you nabbed him around his ADP of 282, you have to be encouraged with 10 K’s in his 2021 debut. While his fastball velo was the same as it was in 2020, his cutter and slider were both down 2-3 MPH.
This may actually be by design. It led to a sexy-time 40.4% CSW, although he still allowed some hard contact. He will be a fascinating player to follow this season. His ceiling is somewhat limited as long as the Mariners stick with a six-man rotation, however.
Taylor Widener, ARZ (6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K)
Widener was true to his name, widening eyes as they gazed upon the glory of his first 2021 box score. Yes, I know that was a lame pun, but everything else I thought of would have been cut by the editors anyway. It’s an impressive line against a stout Padres lineup. Only starting for the Diamondbacks because of Gallen’s injury, Widener earned a sexy-time 38% CSW. The slider itself finished with a 43% CSW on 14 offerings (17% usage).
He has only ever pitched in relief at the highest level, posting a 4.50 ERA over 12 appearances (20 IP) last year. He can sure miss bats, but he also frequently misses the strike zone – he had 12 walks over those 20 innings in 2020. Home runs have also been a problem for him in the minors, as well as last year with Arizona.
He was able to pound the zone with the fastball in this one, also locating his changeups down in and below the zone. If he can continue to do that, he may push Caleb Smith or Luke Weaver out of a starting gig. If not, he’ll be back at Triple-A or in the bullpen whenever Gallen returns.
Top 100 Starting Pitcher Rankings
|24||Hyun Jin Ryu|
|100||Dani+A1:B101el Ponce de Leon|
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