Starting Pitcher Barometer, Week 20: Opening The Griffin-Door For Jax
We have a great deal of turnover this week on the list. Not turnovers the delicious puff pastry, unfortunately. Rather, a host of injuries and horrid performances (I’m looking at you, Brubaker) have led to a whole batch of fresh flyers sneaking onto my starting pitcher rankings. It is that time of the year where some of these guys hitting the IL aren’t going to return. Let’s hope that’s not the case for most of these guys.
- At this point, that may be the case with Jacob deGrom. We got word that he’ll be shut down for another two weeks. You still have to hang on to the best pitcher in the world, but you’re only gonna get a handful of starts from him at best.
- Sticking with the Mets, Noah Syndergaard is going to return as a reliever when he’s back to full health. Without a starting role or a closing role upcoming, he’s not worth stashing in standard mixers anymore.
- Joe Ross has been a very nice surprise this year. Unfortunately, Ross is likely facing a second Tommy John surgery after being diagnosed with a partially torn UCL. Hopefully, he can bounce back in time.
- Matt Moore threw six no-hit innings against the Reds. Good work! In his previous four appearances, he had a 10.67 ERA over 14.1 innings with a 10:5 K:BB ratio. He will continue to hang out off the list.
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The Starting Pitcher Barometer
Kenta Maeda, MIN (+11) – One of the biggest disappointments of the first half was Kenta Maeda. As he exited June, he had a 5.56 ERA (5.02 FIP), 1.55 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, and 3.2 BB/9. Perhaps because the Twins season has become an afterthought in general, Maeda’s resurgence has gone largely underreported. Since the start of July, Maeda has looked more like his 2020 ace-caliber self. Over those 45.1 IP, Maeda has a stellar 2.98 ERA (3.10 FIP), 0.99 WHIP, 10.7 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9. One key to his turnaround has been his splitter location.
He’s been able to better locate the splitter below the zone, where it won’t get crushed. In addition to that, his slider has seen much better results.
Maeda certainly seems to be back. Start him with confidence the rest of the way.
Triston McKenzie, CLE (+17) – McKenzie needed a bump following his dominant 8 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 11 K performance against Detroit. It’s been an incredibly turbulent year for Sticks, who at times has severely lacked control and even been demoted. All three of his fastball/slider/curve earned a 33% CSW or better in this one, however, and the zero walks are encouraging. It’s a reminder of the high upside that made him a premier pitching prospect. He has just seven walks over his last seven starts, a promising sign that he’s putting his struggles behind him. He’s still too prone to blow-ups to approach the top-50 of my starting pitcher rankings, but he should be streamed in all formats.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 15, 2021
Sean Manaea, OAK (-10) – As opposed to Kenta Maeda, Manaea has been awful since July hit. Coming into his last start, he had a 4.75 ERA over 36 innings since July 1st. He… did not turn things around. Rather, he was pounded by a lackluster Rangers lineup for seven runs in five innings. He’s struggled at times with his command over this stretch. He was, frankly, pitching over his head in the first half, so some correction was to be expected. He’s still a starter every time out for me as he works through these struggles. I’d still expect a Top-30 or so starter the rest of the way.
John Means, BAL (-14) – Things have not exactly been groovy since Means returned to the Orioles on July 20th. His velocity has dipped. Following the sticky substance crackdown, his spin rates have also fluctuated.
Over those five starts (27 IP) Means has a 5.67 ERA (6.00 FIP), 1.33 WHIP, 6.0 K/9, and 1.3 BB/9. He doesn’t have huge swing-and-miss stuff, relying more on his command for success. His floor is suddenly rather low due to the lack of strikeouts if he isn’t very fine with his command. He’s not a must-own in standard mixed leagues at this point, falling into the streaming zone.
Marco Gonzales, SEA (SP81) – Marco
Polo Gonzales is hardly a newcomer in the realm of baseball. He is new to the 2021 Top 100, though! Marco gets the nod thanks to a complete game effort his last time out against the Mariners. He allowed just two hits and one run with a single walk and nine K’s. That dropped his season ERA to a super boring 4.35 mark, and his FIP is still 5.19.
His ERA over his last six starts is a much nicer 2.13, however, with a palatable 4.13 FIP, 0.97 WHIP, 6.6 K/9, and 2.1 BB/9. He gets a Rangers lineup next time out which can be taken advantage of. If you’re looking for a streaming option to fill in for an injured starter, Gonzales is someone you can plug in and hope for a quality start from.
Griffin Jax, MIN (SP93) – It’s been an uneven rookie season, to say the least for Jax. However, with all the turmoil on the list this week, and Jax’s latest 10-K effort against the White Sox, it was time to give him some love. In fact, Jax has been great over his last four starts. He has a 2.66 ERA over those 20.1 innings with a 0.79 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9. However, he has a concerning 4.71 FIP over that span thanks largely to a .137 BABIP. He also has a 40% Hard% over that span. That leads me to believe more in his FIP than his WHIP.
Jax’s best pitch is his slider, which has a 38.6% whiff rate and .284 wOBA (.233 xwOBA) thanks to a sexy-time 2,766 RPM spin rate. However, he lacks premium velocity (92.2 MPH fastball) and his changeup and curve aren’t good enough to make up for that. He could see more success with increased slider usage, but for the rest of 2021, he’s probably just a white-water streamer.
Tyler Gilbert, ARZ (SP100) – You know I had to write up the “other” Gilbert after he no-hit the Padres in his first career start. He had made a few relief appearances for the Diamondbacks before this start, but it’s safe to say he’ll get another shot after this one. The lefty averages just 89.5 MPH on his fastball and has no real semblance of a breaking pitch. Instead, he is almost exclusively fastball/cutter. That doesn’t lead to much of a strikeout floor. In fact, he had a well below-average 23% CSW in his no-no, relying on 20 balls in play to find gloves. I wouldn’t expect so much as a dependable streamer moving forward, but we can enjoy his success this week. We need feel-good stories these days.
Tyler Gilbert's dad had an amazing reaction to his son's no-hitter. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/11MGrvvLIF
— MLB (@MLB) August 15, 2021
Top 100 Starting Pitcher Rankings
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Fell Off The List:
Yu Darvish (Injury), Carlos Rodon (Injury), Julio Urias (Injury), Kyle Muller (Minors), Merrill Kelly (COVID IL), Kwang-Hyun Kim (Injury), Joe Ross (Injury), Johnny Cueto (Injury), Michael Pineda (Injury), Andrew Heaney (Too Many Corn Homers), JT Brubaker (Performance).
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