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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

The Risers

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.

Kenta Maeda Splitter Heatmap LeftMaeda Splitter Heatmap Right


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 Slider xwOBA

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.

The Fallers

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.

John Means Velo

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.

The Newcomers

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.

Top 100 Starting Pitcher Rankings

RnkNamePrev. Rnk
1Max Scherzer1
2Zack Wheeler2
3Gerrit Cole3
4Brandon Woodruff4
5Walker Buehler5
6Lance Lynn6
7Robbie Ray10
8Kevin Gausman9
9Chris Sale11
10Joe Musgrove12
11Corbin Burnes13
12Lucas Giolito8
13Charlie Morton15
14Luis Castillo16
15Lance McCullers18
16Shohei Ohtani23
17Frankie Montas22
18Jack Flaherty27
19Chris Bassitt24
20Sandy Alcantara26
21Jose Berrios20
22Aaron Nola21
23Freddy Peralta25
24Kenta Maeda35
25Zac Gallen33
26Trevor Rogers28
27Sean Manaea17
28Kyle Hendricks30
29Framber Valdez29
30German Marquez36
31Shane McClanahan34
32Luis Garcia37
33Patrick Sandoval41
34Dylan Cease39
35Hyun Jin Ryu32
36Sonny Gray31
37Yusei Kikuchi40
38Max Fried47
39Logan Webb49
40Zack Greinke42
41Alex Wood48
42Marcus Stroman50
43Alek Manoah53
44Zach Plesac43
45Huascar YnoaNA
46Adam Wainwright52
47Jon Gray45
48Eduardo Rodriguez51
49Nathan Eovaldi55
50Anthony DeSclafani46
51Tyler Mahle57
52John Means38
53Blake Snell61
54Jameson Taillon66
55Jordan Montgomery58
56James Kaprielian54
57Logan Gilbert60
58Tanner Houck73
59Tylor Megill56
60Zach Thompson59
61Wade Miley64
62Carlos Carrasco44
63Austin Gomber65
64Cole Irvin67
65Elieser HernandezNA
66Kyle Gibson70
67Tarik Skubal71
68Nick Pivetta72
69Nestor CortesNA
70Josiah Gray74
71Rich Hill75
72Luis Gil81
73Jake Odorizzi80
74Eric Lauer82
75Taijuan Walker77
76Triston McKenzie93
77Chris Flexen78
78Vladimir Gutierrez95
79Alec Mills85
80Steven Matz88
81Marco GonzalesNA
82David Price84
83Cal Quantrill87
84Touki Toussaint86
85Dane Dunning89
86Mike Minor92
87Casey Mize97
88Luis Patino90
89Daniel Lynch96
90Madison Bumgarner99
91Kyle Freeland98
92Carlos HernandezNA
93Griffin JaxNA
94Reid Detmers91
95Jesus LuzardoNA
96Braxton Garrett100
97Eli MorganNA
98Tyler AndersonNA
99Ranger SuarezNA
100Tyler GilbertNA

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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