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Starting Pitcher Barometer, Week 17: Jesus Wore Sandoval’s

It feels as though I’ve been punished for missing a week writing the Barometer. My consequences don’t include public flagellation or even a trip out back to the woodshed. No, my punishment is (again) removing the overall SP1, Jacob deGrom, from my starting pitcher rankings. There is not yet a timetable for his return from some nebulous forearm tightness. He has begun throwing off a mound at least, so hopefully, he’s back soon. Please stop chasing me down the street with a cat o’ nine tails.

  • The Rays acquired Nelson Cruz from the Twins, promptly decided their roster had too many guys over 40 and traded Rich Hill to the Mets. It’s a peculiar trade, dealing a legitimate rotation piece amidst a playoff push, but I’m in no position to question an undeniably sharp Rays front office. Hill’s value doesn’t really change with the move. The switch to the NL is nice, but he has also been pretty bad since the substance crackdown. He struck out just one Blue Jay in his Mets debut while failing to record a single whiff on 62 pitches. So that’s…yikes.
  • Chris Sale has been wowing everyone in his rehab outings. He struck out nine batters over 3.2 IP in his latest tune-up for Double-A Portland. He’s moving up to Triple-A for his next rehab start, and – fingers crossed – I’ll get to include him in my starting pitcher rankings next week as he rejoins the Boston rotation. Get hyped.
  • Speaking of triumphant returns: Huascar Ynoa, last seen punching inanimate objects, is setting out on a rehab assignment himself next week. He had a 3.02 ERA over 44.2 IP before his injury. Stash if you can.
  • Two weeks after I told you to sell high on Freddy Peralta (and previously Trevor Rogers, now on the IL), Craig Counsell pulled Freddy after just 51 pitches. He has since said that the Brewers will continue to use “tandem pairings” to limit innings for Peralta and (presumably) Corbin Burnes as well. It’s not clear exactly how often Counsell will be pulling his starters early, making it a real headache for us fantasy fanatics over the second half.

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The Starting Pitcher Barometer

The Risers

Patrick Sandoval, LAA (+16) – Boy do I love Patrick Sandoval. Not so long ago I mentioned how his changeup usage has steadily increased. It continues to dominate. In his latest effort – 8.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 13 K vs the Twins – Sandoval earned an incredible 13 whiffs on 29 changeups. The pitch earned a 48% CSW. It’s not just his changeup that is effective, either, as he finished with a 37% CSW overall. He has a strong five-pitch mix if you separate the sinker and the four-seam along with his change, slider, and curve.

Patrick Sandoval Sliders

Sandoval has an elite 95th percentile overall whiff rate. This is mostly thanks to his insane 54.2% whiff rate on the changeup. However, he also has a great 40.2% whiff rate on the slider. All told, there’s serious SP2 upside here. I’m trying not to get too ahead of myself, so he’ll continue to rise as he remains consistent. The strikeouts give him a high floor even if/when his .254 BABIP rises.

Kwang Hyun Kim, STL (+19) – Quite contrary to Sandoval, Kim has shown an incredibly low strikeout floor. He finished 2020 with a minuscule 5.54 K/9. 2021 has been better, but he’s still sitting at a below-average 7.15 K/9. He gets a good bump up the starting pitcher rankings anyway simply because he has been so effective – over his last five games (30 IP) – Kim has a 0.90 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 6.6 K/9, and 2.7 BB/9. That does include a .198 BABIP, but his FIP is still a very good 2.69. He has been limiting his BABIP by avoiding line drives (8.8 LD%) and inducing a bunch of pop-ups (14.3% IFFB%). This is probably close to his ceiling ranking just because of the low strikeout rate, however.

The Fallers

Tyler Mahle, CIN (-19) – Mahle has been inconsistent over the past month or so. Over his last six starts (31.1 IP), Mahle has a rough 5.17 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 11.8 K/9, and 5.5 BB/9. As you can see, his control has left something to be desired. His lack of control and command has also led to a bunch of long balls, with a whopping 2.3 HR/9 over that span. His strikeout rate remains very sexy-time, but he’s pitching more like a mid-rotation fantasy piece than the potential SP2 he looked like earlier in the year.

Kyle Gibson, TEX (-23) – Another starter I mentioned two weeks ago as a sell-high, Gibson’s expected regression has hit hard. Over his last three starts (17.1 IP), Gibson has imploded with a 7.79 ERA, 1.96 WHIP, 6.8 K/9, and 6.2 BB/9. Your K/BB ratio is gonna look pretty rough when one of those starts includes eight walks. He can still be used as an occasional streamer, although it’s hard to feel too confident when two of those last three starts came against a rough Tigers lineup. You’re benching him everywhere until he gets out of this skid.

The Newcomers

Josiah Gray, LAD (SP77) – When a pitching prospect of note gets called up by the Dodgers, people’s ears perk up. Whatever that means. Some people can’t even move their ears. In any case, Gray has two starts so far, in which he has allowed six runs in eight innings with a 13:5 K:BB ratio. Gray’s fastball sits around 95 MPH from the right side. He complements it with a slider and curveball. He also has a changeup but deploys it very rarely.

Josiah Gray Game

We were treated to a very overcast matchup in Gray’s last start – against Rockies starter Jon Gray. Every pitch earned a 35% or better CSW for (Josiah) Gray in that one, with his curveball being deployed far more than his slider. The Dodgers tend to limit innings, so Gray might not exactly be a quality start machine. His control was sterling in the minors, though (sub-2.92 BB/9 at every stop). So things should improve in that regard moving forward. He’s worth a spec add in deeper mixed leagues.

Tanner Houck, BOS (SP78) – Houck has been bouncing between the rotation and bullpen for the Red Sox. After his latest eight-strikeout start, however, Houck might be sticking in the rotation moving forward. We’ll see who gets bumped when Chris Sale returns, but for at least a week, we can drool over Houck and this insane slider.


His slider earned a devastating 52% CSW on 33 pitches against the Yankees in that latest start. What limits his upside and potential starting role at this point is his lack of a third pitch. He’s essentially just fastball/slider, deploying his splitter just 4.4% of the time. If he can develop a decent third offering to prevent platoon splits, his upside would rise dramatically. For now, he’s in the same boat as Gray – the USS Deep League Spec Add.

Top 100 Starting Pitcher Rankings

RnkNamePrev. Rank
1Max Scherzer2
2Gerrit Cole6
3Yu Darvish3
4Brandon Woodruff4
5Zack Wheeler5
6Kevin Gausman7
7Carlos Rodon8
8Lance Lynn11
9Walker Buehler12
10Lucas Giolito9
11Corbin Burnes10
12Joe Musgrove13
13Robbie Ray14
14Charlie Morton22
15Luis Castillo23
16John Means17
17Aaron Nola20
18Julio Urias18
19Pablo Lopez19
20Lance McCullers26
21Sean Manaea29
22Framber Valdez24
23Sonny Gray21
24Jose Berrios25
25Chris Bassitt28
26Freddy Peralta15
27Sandy Alcantara30
28Zack Greinke31
29Kyle Hendricks36
30Zac GallenNA
31Shohei Ohtani33
32Hyun Jin Ryu35
33Shane McClanahan44
34Dylan Cease38
35Yusei Kikuchi32
36Nathan Eovaldi48
37Zach Plesac37
38Alex Wood49
39Kenta Maeda42
40Carlos CarrascoNA
41Luis Garcia39
42German Marquez52
43Eduardo Rodriguez53
44Anthony DeSclafani43
45Patrick Sandoval61
46Tyler Mahle27
47Frankie Montas46
48Marcus Stroman56
49Jon Gray58
50Max Fried50
51Chris Paddack54
52Blake Snell55
53Tylor Megill63
54James Kaprielian62
55Kwang Hyun Kim74
56Taijuan Walker41
57Jake Odorizzi47
58Jordan Montgomery59
59Zach Thompson60
60Alek Manoah51
61Logan Gilbert64
62Adam Wainwright65
63Wade Miley67
64Logan Webb77
65Joe RossNA
66Domingo German73
67Kyle MullerNA
68Kyle Gibson45
69Tarik Skubal66
70Chris Flexen68
71Michael Pineda72
72Tony Gonsolin57
73JT Brubaker70
74Rich Hill71
75Cole Irvin76
76Jameson Taillon78
77Josiah GrayNA
78Tanner HouckNA
79Nick Pivetta79
80Triston McKenzie75
81Ryan Yarbrough86
82Andrew Heaney87
83Alec Mills81
84Merrill Kelly91
85Patrick Corbin69
86Eric Lauer85
87Touki ToussaintNA
88Alex Cobb83
89Dane Dunning84
90Adbert Alzolay88
91Ross Stripling80
92Casey Mize82
93Ryan Weathers89
94Johnny Cueto90
95Kyle FreelandNA
96Madison BumgarnerNA
97Steven Matz95
98Dallas Keuchel96
99Mike Minor97
100Adrian Houser98

Fell Off The List:

Jacob deGrom (Injury), Trevor Rogers (Injury), Zach Eflin (Injury), Ian Anderson (Injury), Brady Singer (Injury), Danny Duffy (Injury), Vladimir Gutierrez (Minors), Brett Anderson (Performance), Drew Smyly (Performance).

For more great Fantasy Baseball check out Mick Ciallela’s Rest of Season Rankings! Mick was the No. 1 Ranker on for the 2020 MLB season.

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