Each week Nathan Dokken looks anew at the starting rotations across MLB and updates his starting pitcher rankings for the remainder of the season.
At this point in the season, most of the vital news to the pitching landscape comes in the form of injuries. There was no shortage of bad news this week, unfortunately. We’ll begin with Chris Sale, who will miss the remainder of the season with elbow soreness. He won’t need Tommy John, mercifully, but he departs with an unsightly 4.40 ERA over 25 starts. His K:BB ratio is as elite as ever though, giving me some confidence that he can return next year and return top 10 SP numbers.
Corey Kluber had a setback in his latest rehab start, succumbing to an oblique strain. He won’t be able to throw for at least two weeks, making it highly unlikely he provides any fantasy contribution again in 2019. Jon Gray is also gone for the year with a stress fracture in his foot. We finally get to see AJ Puk in an A’s uniform, but as expected, it will be out of the bullpen. He could provide some deep league Josh Hader-like value if they A’s let him go an inning-plus here and there, but he won’t be good for much more than ratios and K’s.
For more pitching help check out Paul Mammino’s Two-Start Pitchers for the coming week.
The Starting Pitcher Barometer
- Ryan Yarbrough, TB (+38) – Yarbrough is annoying in leagues where you need quality starts because, well, he doesn’t always start. The Rays are one of the teams who most often utilize the Opener. So, despite his 105 innings on the year, he has just seven starts and five quality starts over 21 appearances. Three of those quality starts have come since July 20th though, and overall, Yarbrough has been incredible. Since June 13th, he has allowed more than one run only twice in his 11 appearances, all of which have been at least three innings. Over those 56.2 innings, he has an insane 1.43 ERA / 0.71 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, and 0.6 BB/9. He’s been progressively using his cutter more often while getting away from his four-seam as the season has worn on. The cutter has allowed just a .183 BAA compared to the .302 mark on the four-seam, so it’s no surprise this has been really working. He leaped right over the Streaming Zone and is a strong all-formats option the rest of the way.
- Dinelson Lamet, SD (+20) – It’s not often I fall head over heels for a two-pitch starter, but this is me at my most cautiously optimistic. Lamet has never had any issues missing bats with his insane slurvey-creature. The walks, on the other hand, have been a concern. He has the walk rate down to 3.73 BB/9 over 41 innings this season, which is more than acceptable given his 12.07 K/9. Do I expect either of the strikeout or walk rates to remain this good? Probably not. If he can continue to keep the long balls relatively in check (1.32 HR/9) he will be very useful in mixed leagues because of all those K’s. All of his ERA indicators have him between a 3.77-3.86 deserved ERA to this point, giving us even a little more confidence that we can utilize him as a high upside strikeout streamer.
- Matt Boyd, DET (-13) – Through the end of May, Boyd had an elite 2.85 ERA / 1.02 WHIP, 10.9 K/9, and 1.9 BB/9 over 72.2 innings. He had limited home runs in a big way, yielding a 0.9 HR/9. His xFIP regressed his results, obviously, making him out to be more of a 3.68 ERA pitcher. What if I then told you than in the ensuing 80.1 innings since the start of June, Boyd has posted a 12.7 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 3.62 xFIP…and a 2.6 HR/9, 5.49 ERA / 1.29 WHIP? He hasn’t altered his pitch mix, but boy is that some wild variance in surface results. His K/BB ratio is still elite, but his fastball has become far too homer-prone. It’s still hard to get away from starting him, but in shallow formats that may not be the worst idea. Until he can prove that he can keep his fastball from getting crushed, he’s going to be a frustrating own.
- Spencer Turnbull, DET (-15) – It’s not like Tigers fans need another punch to the junk at this point, so I apologize. However, Turnbull has taken a *removes sunglasses* turn for the worse. The stuff was never truly overpowering the way Boyd’s has been. He was making it work anyway thanks to limiting the free passes to 3.41 BB/9 over the first half. Over the second half, his walk rate has ballooned to 4.50 BB/9 while his HR/9 has also shot up from 0.80 to 1.38. It’s not surprising when you combine those factors that you see his first-half ERA was 3.31 and his second-half ERA now sits at 6.58. Until he can reclaim his command, it’s hard to be very *removes second pair of sunglasses that was hiding behind the first pair* bullish on Spencer.
- Logan Webb, SF (SP73) – Webb should have no problems sticking around in the Giants rotation in the short-term. Tyler Beede has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball over the last month. That should leave a definite vacancy in San Francisco. Webb had a stellar debut against the Diamondbacks, allowing just one earned run over five innings with one walk and seven strikeouts. He’s got a solid three-pitch mix with a 93 MPH fastball, slider, and changeup. Both offspeed offerings are capable of missing some bats. He could be a nifty little pitcher down the stretch and has one of the most pitcher-friendly home parks in baseball.
- Mike Montgomery, KC (SP90) – Montgomery sneaks onto the list mostly because of his recent 12-strikeout performance against the lowly Tigers. However, there is at least a little reason for additional interest. Since transitioning to the rotation, he has bumped his cutter usage way up while going to his sinker roughly 10% less. Even with those data points, it’s hard to see a magical new ceiling for Montgomery. He’s is worthy of deep league streaming consideration only.
The Top 100 Starting Pitcher Rankings
Fell Off The List
Nathan Dokken is a member of the FSWA and has had his work featured in numerous books and magazines. He has also appeared on many podcasts and radio shows and hosts the Nasty Cast and Fantrax Dynasty Baseball podcasts. His written work can be found exclusively at Fantrax HQ, and his personal thoughts and opinions can be found on Twitter @NathanDokken.
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