Starting Pitcher Barometer, Week 14: General Alec Mills Is Mathematically Delicious
I hope everyone had a fun and safe Fourth of July! I’m coming to you a few days late because of the holiday. I can’t just sit in my lair, hovering over box scores every day, you know. Sometimes I’ve gotta get out and punish my liver like a solid chunk of America. Anyway, sit back, let those hot dogs digest, and enjoy some news and notes along with my current starting pitcher rankings.
- In some sad but not altogether unexpected news, Sixto Sanchez needs season-ending shoulder surgery. He winds up missing the entire 2021 season. That’s very unfortunate considering how promising he has looked between the minors and his 39 innings in 2020 when he pitched to a 3.46 ERA. He missed a lot of time in the minors as well, leaving us to wonder if this will be a recurring issue throughout his career.
Tyler Taylor AaronTrevor Rogers is, also rather expectedly, facing an innings limit. The big southpaw has pitched like an ace this year, posting a 2.22 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP, 10.91 K/9, and 2.96 BB/9. His pitch count has already been limited every game. He will also be the Marlins’ fifth starter out of the All-Star break. With the Fish seeming non-competitive this year, he may be shut down at some point in September, as well. With that in mind, as well as the potential of him running out of steam a bit over the second half, he’s not a bad sell-high in redraft.
- It has started to seem like a lost season for Carlos Carrasco. However, he is working his way back from his hamstring injury and could return after the All-Star break. He’s a great stash as he could give you ace-quality numbers over the second half.
- Speaking of ace-quality numbers over the second half, Chris Sale has been impressive in his live BP sessions. He should set out on a rehab assignment after the All-Star break and could return in August.
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The Starting Pitcher Barometer
German Marquez, COL (+23) – You knew I had to write up The Coors Kielbasa after his last two starts, right? Marquez followed up his one-hit shutout of the Pirates with six dominant, 11-K innings against the Cardinals. Since his horrific 8-ER blow-up in Great American Small Park, Marquez has gone 29 IP (4 GS) with a 0.93 ERA, 0.48 WHIP, 7.8 K/9, and 1.6 BB/9. He has successfully kept most batted balls on the ground in that span as well, with a 60.9% GB%.
Marquez has relied on his slider more than ever in 2021 (23%). It’s been his moneymaker, earning a 44.7% whiff rate and .263 wOBA (.230 xwOBA). It will always be hard to trust a Rockies pitcher for too much, of course. You can’t just sit him at home, either, as his home ERA is 3.06 compared to his 4.67 away ERA. A lot of that is small sample shenanigans, obviously, as his career split is much different (4.70 home / 3.61 away). Still, it muddies the waters. There is also likely going to be some BABIP regression from his .272 mark, especially (again) pitching in Colorado, which inflates BABIP. Still, he deserved a bump up from the murky nether regions of the list to the Stream Zone.
Jake Odorizzi, HOU (+14) – Odo gets a ritzy bump, having strung together a successful (and healthy) stretch. Over his last four games (20 IP) Odorizzi has a 0.45 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, and 1.8 BB/9.
The blueprint for success for Odorizzi is to paint the top of the zone with his heater and get whiffs at and below the bottom of the strike zone with the splitter. His splitter has earned a 30.8% whiff rate so far. It also has a -8 degree launch angle as batters beat it into the ground. His stuff is more geared towards ground balls and pop-ups than strikeouts. That limits his fantasy ceiling. However, pitching for the Astros should net him plenty of Win opportunities now that he’s stretched out and tossing 5+ innings regularly.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, TOR (-10) –
Ken Ryu still has one of the best walk rates in the league (2.02 BB/9). However, his K/9 has tumbled from 9.67 in 2020 to just 7.11. His 3.65 ERA is permissible, but his 4.19 FIP is pretty worried about the lack of K’s.
Ryu has ditched his sinker for purely four-seamers in 2021. He’s also using fewer fastballs than ever before, at 33.4%. This hasn’t helped his swinging strike rate, which is still down 2.1%. The biggest issue has been with Ryu’s changeup. The whiff rate on the change has dissipated from 30.6% last year to 19.4%, while its wOBA has risen from .222 to .332.
Let’s not simply set aside the fact that Buffalo has been a horrible place for pitchers. With the Jays eyeing a return to Rogers Centre later this summer, Ryu could enjoy a better second half. That won’t fix his changeup, but it could help his 15.2% HR/FB rate return to his career average 11.8%.
Rich Hill, TB (-18) – It wasn’t long ago that Hill was featured in the biggest risers here. Well, Hill has been one of the biggest spin rate decliners following the sticky substance ban. When you take away his biggest weapon (nearly 40% usage of the curve) it turns out things don’t go super duper great. Since the start of June, Hill has tossed 29.1 IP (6 GS) with a 4.30 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, and 3.7 BB/9. His FIP in that span is a vomit-inducing 5.65. He’s looking like a very pedestrian option the rest of the way.
Tylor Megill, NYM (SP65) – Thanks to an extensive run of injuries to the Mets pitching staff, Tylor Megill has earned a chance to start. Setting aside the fact that “Tylor” sounds an awful lot like a robot desperately trying to seem human, Megill has been strong so far. He piled up a 59:13 K:BB ratio across 40.1 innings between Double- and Triple-A before the call-up, and hasn’t stopped racking up the K’s at the MLB level either. Through 14.1 IP (3 GS) Megill has a 19:6 K:BB ratio along with a solid 3.77 ERA (4.69 FIP) and 1.12 WHIP.
Small sample caveats apply, but to this point, Megill’s changeup has earned a very sexy-time 50% whiff rate on his changeup. His slider isn’t as lethal but has still earned a 41.7% whiff rate itself. These pitches have paired well with his 94.9 MPH fastball, which he keeps more up in the zone. Control was an issue for him in the minors. It may still get him into trouble with the Mets from time to time. Still, the strikeouts should continue to be above a K per inning. That’s enough to make him an interesting streaming option the rest of the way. And imagine if deGrom gives him some tips on that slider!
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 6, 2021
Alec Mills, CHC (SP86) – “General” Mills, as I’m calling him from here on out, forced me to raise an eyebrow after his latest performance. He struck out nine Reds over 5.2 innings, issuing just one walk and allowing two runs on just two hits. His season-long line doesn’t look great (4.85 ERA, 1.45 WHIP). However, since hopping back into the Cubs rotation mid-June, he has amassed a 3.32 ERA (2.00 FIP), 1.37 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, and 2.4 BB/9 in 19 IP (4 GS).
Mills is in the 93rd percentile in barrel% allowed. That is owed largely to his sinker, which has a .295 wOBA and -2 degree launch angle. In fact, his ground ball rate is a career-high 57.6%. There isn’t a lot of swing-and-miss here, which keeps him from being the best General Mills cereal, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. He’s more like Lucky Charms; he’ll dazzle you once in a while with a tasty rainbow marshmallow, but often leave you underwhelmed with flavorless oat shapes.
Top 100 Starting Pitcher Rankings
|37||Hyun Jin Ryu||27|
|74||Kwang Hyun Kim||78|
Fell Off The List:
Trevor Bauer (Suspended), Zac Gallen (Injury), Jose Urquidy (Injury), Sammy Long (Injury), Kyle Muller (Role), Dylan Bundy (Bullpen), Matt Manning (Performance), Tony Santillan (Minors), Spencer Howard (Minors).
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