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
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.
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.
Patrick Sandoval, Nasty Changeups. 👌👌
11th and 12th Ks. Y'all should watch the 9th. 🤫 pic.twitter.com/04PJSXG36l
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 25, 2021
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tanner Houck, HBP Swinging Strike. 😮 pic.twitter.com/tZynQA3i5W
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 23, 2021
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
|32||Hyun Jin Ryu||35|
|55||Kwang Hyun Kim||74|
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 FantasyPros.com for the 2020 MLB season.
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