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Statcast Trends: Dynasty Pitching Risers

The 2020 season is rapidly coming to a close, but dynasty baseball never ends. Last week, I evaluated some hitters who have seen their dynasty value rise this season and looked if their statcast data supported their strong seasons. This week I dive in on some pitchers who have gained dynasty value.

Statcast data is a little harder to use for pitchers, but there are still some useful stats. Some things I am looking for in a pitcher are pitch mix changes and velocity gains. Velocity gains could be because it is a shorter season, and starters know they can get away with throwing harder. But, it is worth noting and seeing how it carries over to next season. Pitch mix is also essential. Take a pitcher like Dinelson Lamet, he is using his slider more than any pitch this year, and it is his best pitch.

With all that being said, let’s dive in on some pitcher’s velocity and pitch mixes.

Dynasty Pitching Risers Based on Statcast

Dinelson Lamet, RHP, San Diego Padres

Dinelson Lamet was a popular breakout pick before the 2020 season and has certainly lived up to the hype. Last season, Lamet’s slider was his best pitch with a 51.3 percent whiff rate and a 33.3 percent putaway rate. The problem was, according to Baseball Savant, he only used it 12.2 percent of the time. Lamet learned that you should use your best pitch the most often, as he has used it 52.7 percent of the time this season, according to statcast data. He has struck out 50 batters with the slider, and hitters have a .099 batting average against it. Even more impressive, his slider has a .166 wOBA and a .143 SLG against it.

When it comes to Lamet’s four-seam fastball, he is using it at almost an identical rate as last season, but he has raised his velocity by over one mile-per-hour. While just one mph may seem insignificant, his average velocity is up to 97 miles-per-hour. While it is not quite the dominant pitch as his slider, it is an excellent compliment pitch that he uses 36 percent of the time. The spin on his fastball is one of the best in baseball.

Even though Lamet relies mainly on two pitches, the slider is such a dominant pitch; he can get away with it. In 52.1 innings pitched this season, he has a 2.24 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP, and 68 strikeouts. His FIP of 2.92 suggests that his performance so far has been legitimate.

Corbin Burnes, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers

No pitcher in baseball has raised their dynasty value more than Corbin Burnes this season. He has pitched like an ace this season, with a 36.4 percent strikeout rate, and a 1.99 ERA in 45.1 innings. Burnes owns a 0.90 WHIP and a 2.04 FIP, which are also very solid. After a disastrous 2019 season that led to an 8.82 ERA, Burnes looks like a new pitcher.

After being four-seam heavy last season, Burnes’ sinker has evolved into his most used pitch, according to statcast. He also uses two other forms of a fastball in a cutter and four-seam. Among starting pitchers, only Trevor Bauer gets more fastball spin than Burnes.

Like Dinelson Lamet, Burnes also has a filthy slider. He only uses it 12.9 percent of the time, but it has a 68.2 percent whiff rate and a 40 percent put away rate. Much like his fastball, Burnes’ slider has an incredible spin rate at an average of 2906 rpm.

Corbin Burnes Statcast

This is the Corbin Burnes we have been waiting for. The ace potential has long been there, dating back to his Minor League days. Now, it looks like Burnes is fully lit and ready to take off. The statcast data support Burnes’ strong season, and you should feel confident of him being an excellent dynasty asset moving forward.

Luis Castillo, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

This name may catch several by surprise, given that Castillo’s numbers do not look great at first glance. But watching Castillo pitch, I think you can make the argument that he has pitched better in 2020. He has not made any notable pitch mix changes, but Castillo has seen an increased velocity of about one mile-per-hour on all four of his pitches. Like Dinelson Lamet, Castillo uses his best pitch, his changeup, the most. The moral of the story here is if you have a dominant pitch, use it a lot!

Luis Castillo Statcast

Castillo ranks well in nearly every statcast category. His exit velocity is one of the lowest among starting pitchers at 85.2 miles-per-hour. He is also inducing groundballs at a career-high 59.1 percent rate and has an average launch angle of five degrees. Castillo has lowered his home run rate, and the decreased launch angle is a big reason why.

Castillo has been a little unlucky this season as he owns a .338 BABIP and a 68.3 percent strand rate. His career average BABIP is .275, while his strand rate sits a 74.4 percent. Those two factors are a big reason why Castillo owns a FIP of 2.86, which suggests that he has pitched much better than his stats say.

While Castillo may not be a “dynasty riser” per se, he is still a top ten dynasty starting pitcher and should be treated as such. Over a full season, you would likely continue to see his numbers trend down as they have the last two starts. Castillo is pitching like an ace right now without getting ace results. He is striking hitters out at a career-high rate, cut his walk rate from last season, and only allowed four home runs all season, three of which came in one start.

Sixto Sanchez, RHP, Miami Marlins

The Marlins rookie Sixto Sanchez is having a stellar start to his career. In five starts, Sanchez has a 1.69 ERA, a 0.906 WHIP, and 29 strikeouts in 32 innings. Sanchez has shown the ability an impressive ability to go deep into games and has shown excellent command before a three walk start on Sunday. Sixto’s strong start to his career earned some high praise from the legend Pedro Martinez, as you can see from his Tweet.

Sanchez was already heralded as a top prospect, but has done nothing but raise his dynasty value significantly since debuting. Statcast data also loves what Sanchez has done in his short career. He features a five-pitch mix of a changeup, four-seam, sinker, slider, and curveball. Four of those pitches he features at least 17.5 percent of the time.

Sanchez’s four-seam and changeup are his most used pitches and are arguably his most dominant. His four-seam has an average velocity of 98.6 miles-per-hour and has produced a 28.9 percent whiff rate. Sanchez’s changeup looks like a 70-grade pitch and could rival Luis Castillo’s for one of the best in baseball. He averages 17 inches of horizontal movement on the changeup and is getting a 32.8 percent whiff rate. Hitters have a .118 batting average against and an xwOBA of .102. To sum those numbers up, Sanchez’s changeup is filthy.

Sixto Sanchez has done everything that dynasty owners expected and more. Statcast data backs his strong start, and he has raised his dynasty value significantly. If Sanchez can see gains in his strikeout numbers, he can be an ace for Fantasy Baseball.

If you missed last week, be sure to check out some “hitters who have gained value in dynasty leagues” as I break down their statcast performance.

Media References: Rob Friedman, Pedro Martinez, Baseball Savant and MLB Pipeline.

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