Starting Pitcher Barometer, Week 4: Kenta Maeda Me Cry
Welcome to Week 4 of the Starting Pitcher Barometer, my weekly take on starting pitcher rankings! Never mind that it’s technically Week 5! Who cares about that opening half-week? Not me, that’s for sure. Just roll with it. In fact, you should be glad I didn’t title this article “Ryan Weathers The Storm”. It took a lot of self-restraint, but I imagine about 30 sites will have a similar title this week. Moving right along! Keep both eyes open and grab your favorite bunny. It’s time for some news and notes on non-Top 100 pitchers.
- Madison Bumgarner tossed a seven-inning no-hitter against the Braves. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out seven. The only baserunner he allowed was Ozzie Albies, who reached on a throwing error. It’s a great outing against a Braves lineup who was shut out over both games of the doubleheader. He dropped his ERA all the way down to…6.31. Bummy’s FIP is a more promising 4.54 and his command was reminiscent of his heyday. He’s got the Rockies on the road next, which is a juicy matchup if you’re in the mood for a dangerous stream. He still isn’t a Top-100 starter for me.
- Luis Patino made his Rays debut on Sunday and looked every bit as good as expected. He averaged 94.4 MPH on the fastball and earned a 45% CSW on 11 sliders. He won’t debut in the top 100, however, since his role is up in the air. Even if he sticks with the Rays for a few weeks, he’ll be limited to a few innings per week as a glorified opener or long reliever. Dynasty owners can continue to drool away.
- Michael Kopech drew the spot start in Lance Lynn’s place and did not disappoint. He gave up just one run on four hits with no walks and 10 K’s on Sunday against an admittedly weak Rangers lineup. He earned a sexy-time 45% CSW with his fastball, which averaged 95.4 MPH and touched 98.6. With Lynn expected back this week, Kopech will likely return to his long relief role. That nixes his value in most leagues, but he’s worth a stash in deeper leagues.
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The Starting Pitcher Barometer
Nathan Eovaldi, BOS (+14) – A preseason sleeper darling for some, Eovaldi has pulled through for his believers thus far. He has earned a 3.77 ERA with an 8.48 K/9 and an excellent 1.57 BB/9 through 28.2 IP (5 GS). With fewer cutters and more sliders this year, Eovaldi now has five pitches thrown over 10% of the time. All three of his breaking pitches (curve, slider, splitter) have a 30%+ whiff rate. He’s actually been unfortunate with a .329 BABIP and 62.9% strand rate, meaning his FIP is an elite 1.94. He should be started everywhere for his next matchup against the Rangers.
Cristian Javier, HOU (+26) – Javier rockets up the list after back-to-back shutout starts against the A’s and Angels. On the season, he now has a 1.32 ERA with a 13.17 K/9 and 1.98 BB/9. The 24-year-old righty’s velo is up a tick from 2020, and his slider has been absolute filth. The slide piece has earned a 51.5% whiff rate with a .084 wOBA (.044 xwOBA). His changeup is bad, however, which could continue to give him poor platoon splits against lefties (.332 wOBA against LHP in 2020). Still, the strikeouts have to push him to the forefront of mixed league streaming territory.
Kenta Maeda, MIN (-7) – Maeda drops to the edge of the top 30 after a brutal start to the season. Through 17.2 IP (4 GS) he has suffered a 6.11 ERA (5.30 FIP) with a diminished 8.66 K/9 and 2.55 BB/9. He has tossed a career-high 43% sliders to this point, but it has been crushed.
After a Cy Young worth 2020 season in which his slider earned a .304 wOBA, it has thus far been clobbered to the tune of a .504 wOBA. This isn’t surprising when you check out the slider’s heat map.
He has been tossing far too many center-cut sliders. They have been appropriately crushed, with a .735 SLG allowed on 129 thrown. Maeda has always had very strong control, so this strikes me as a problem he should be able to resolve as the season rolls along. His next matchup is a favorable divisional one against Cleveland.
Casey Mize, DET (-21) – We thought Mize was a prize as he came up through the minors, but that ship has capsized. Despite an extra tick in velocity this year, as I mentioned last week, he’s pitched to a 5.23 ERA (6.34 FIP). His strikeouts are also down, with a 6.10 K/9 . There isn’t anything to suggest the K/9 is going to bounce back either, with a mere 8% SwStr% and 25.6% CSW. His splitter – thought to be his best weapon in the minors – has a poor 15% whiff rate. He continues to be homer-prone (2.18 HR/9) and impossible to trust. He may not be long for the list at this rate.
Danny Duffy, KC (SP65) – The Duff Man returns, oh yeah! After his latest start – five shutout innings with eight K’s against the Tigers – Duffy debuts at 65 in my starting pitcher rankings. He has a 0.39 ERA now through 23 IP (4 GS) with a 10.57 K/9 and 2.35 BB/9. His velocity is back up to 93.6 MPH on average, which is where it sat in his heyday years ago. His fastball and changeup were both over 43% CSW in his last start. That’s not even to mention his slider, which has earned 37.5% whiffs and a .236 wOBA. Crack open a cold one with the Duff Man and stream your way to Inebriation Land.
Ryan Weathers, SD (SP69) – Dinelson Lamet returned to the Padres rotation for all of two innings before hitting the IL with a forearm injury. The Padres are hopeful he avoids another Tommy John surgery (as we all are), but he can’t seem to pitch without pain. While Lamet is out, in steps Ryan Weathers. Ryan is, of course, the son of Carl Weathers, who lost an arm to the Predator and a hand to an alligator. Some (or literally everyone) dispute that lineage, but I’m holding tight.
Weathers has only started two games, with three relief appearances. He has a sterling 0.59 ERA with a 9.39 K/9 and 2.93 BB/9 over those 15.1 IP. He was the seventh overall pick in 2018 (and is actually the son of former MLB reliever David Weathers), so he has the bloodlines and pedigree you want. What he doesn’t have (so far) is a third pitch.
He has been primarily fastball/slider, with just 10 changeups thrown. In relief, you don’t need a third pitch. However, if he’s going to be a successful starter, you really need that third offering. The results have certainly been great so far, but don’t get carried away. You’re not going to see a .097 BABIP or a literal 100% strand rate hold for too long.
Top 100 Starting Pitcher Rankings
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Fell Off The List
If you like Nathan’s take on starting pitcher rankings, then you’ll also want to check out Eric Cross’s latest fantasy baseball waiver wire.
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