As always, we use SOBB (breakdown here) as the initial base when projecting a pitcher’s future performance.
Range of starting pitcher SOBBs (K-BB%) and the values they hold.
Range of relief pitcher SOBBs (K-BB%) and the values they hold.
Cheers or Tears
Jose Berrios, MIN – Berrios’ 2017 debut couldn’t have gone much better… well, actually… about that. Yes, Berrios allowed just one run and one walk in 7.2 innings, but he only struck out four. This was the same issue that plagued him last year at the major league level. The good news is that the other issue – the walks – were a concern this time around. Berrios has posted strikeout percentages in the mid-to-upper 20s all through his minor league career. When he reached the majors last year, it fell to 17.4. With the walks, Berrios was a 6-8 percent guy in the minors, but it ballooned to 12.5 last year. You can see why Berrios struggled mightily in 2016. Well, in Berrios’ first start, his K% was 14.8 and BB% was 3.7, giving him a SOBB of 11.1. Berrios’ SOBB was normally in the low 20s through his minor league career. You can see firsthand the potential Berrios has with those minor league numbers, but for whatever reason, they aren’t translating to the majors… yet. His first start was promising, but we still need to see more strikeouts to be completely confident in Berrios being a different pitcher than we saw last season. He gets the Rockies at home and Orioles on the road for his next two starts. Both teams are in the Top 10 overall and Top 15 versus righties for strikeout percentage. If Berrios doesn’t at least top 20 for his K% over these two starts, you can justifiably worry again.
Update: One start down, one start looking pretty dang good. Berrios now has a SOBB of 24.1 through his first two starts after that gem against the Rockies. The bandwagon is near capacity at this point, and if he looks even close to that good against the Orioles next week, we’ll have people hanging off the sides.
Nathan Karns, TB – Karns has been great in the strikeout department over his last three starts. Karns has 29 Ks in 17.1 innings. That’s a ridiculous 15.2 K/9. Psst, Karns isn’t that good when it comes to strikeouts, but he is someone that needs to be owned in all formats. Karns has a 4.46 ERA on the season, but his xFIP is down at 3.23, as his home run rate has been a bit high. The real appeal is seeing a 20.7 SOBB for the season, thanks to a career best 12.9 SwStr%. What has been the difference for Karns? It’s his changeup. In Karns’ past, he didn’t throw it much, and it was more of a “show me” pitch. This year, he’s using it nearly 16 percent of the time, which doesn’t seem like much, but the effectiveness has improved as well. Karns’ fastball still isn’t great, but the changeup and curve ball play off each other well and are fooling hitters. Karns is in the midst of a breakout season, but that said, if someone thinks he’s a Top 20 starter, sell high.
Zack Godley, AZ – Godley was a popular play last week with two starts, and Fantasy Baseball owners are wondering if they have a potential gem on their hands. Godley’s ERA is 1.93 and xFIP 2.98. It would seem there is some upside here, but his BABIP is extremely low at .186, and Godley gives out too many free passes. His BB/9 is 4.3, and Godley’s SOBB is just 13.9, even with a 26.4 K% thanks to a 12.5 BB%. Godley has regularly hovered around a BB% of 10 in the minors, so don’t expect it to change in the majors. Godley has four pitches (fastball, cutter, curve and changeup), which creates a decent SwStr%, but his control and F-Strike% are lacking. You can pick up Godley (or hold on to him) in deeper leagues, but the walks and pitching in Arizona are going to lead to struggles, especially when the teams aren’t the Mets and Padres (two of the three teams he’s faced so far).
Edwin Diaz, SEA – Diaz is the latest closer to lose his job, and unfortunately, the Mariners backup plans are exactly that… plans… plural. This is a true closer by committee situation, possibly involving four options for the Mariners. While that means you shouldn’t waste your efforts trying to figure out their bullpen, the bigger question is whether Diaz can get the job back. Good news everyone, the answer is, “Yes.” While Diaz’s 4.45 xFIP isn’t much prettier than his 5.28 ERA, it shows that he’s been a bit unlucky, and that lack of luck is in the home run department. Diaz has allowed 2.4 HR/9 compared to 0.87 last year. The good news is that Diaz’s Hard% is in line with last year, and his Soft% has doubled (18.9-37.8). Outside of the home runs, Diaz’s biggest downfall has been the walks, allowing a 14.7 BB%, which compounds the home run problem. Diaz is seeing allowing more contact in the strike zone, while most of his other metrics are in line with last year. This is a clear situation of a pitcher just needing to calm himself and get back to what works. Remember, Diaz was a rookie last year and is just 23 years old. As long as the demotion helps Diaz straighten things out and doesn’t kill his confidence, Diaz should have the job back in short order. He’s the Mariners’ best option.
Jacob Faria, TB – Who? Oh, Faria is just the International League leader in strikeouts with 62 in just 41.1 innings. How quick are you with your math? Okay, I’ll save you the trouble. That’s a 13.5 K/9… for a starter! Brent Honeywell is pitching well too for the Rays Triple-A team, but Faria is edging him out and has more experience, especially at the Triple-A level. That’s why Faria needs to be on your radar in deep leagues, as the Rays rotation could use the help. Blake Snell could return if he figures out his issues, but we know the Rays love to sell at the deadline, and they had discussed Jake Odorizzi in offseason trades. Faria has a terrific 25.0 SOBB with a 34.4 K% and is a powerful presence on the mound at 6’4″. Faria and/or Honeywell will likely get a crack this year, and the odds are on Faria as of today.
Streaming Pitchers to Target Next Week (Teams to Stream Against with Last 30-day Stats)
Rays: 16.9 SOBB, 27.0 K%, 108 wRC+
JC Ramirez, Matt Shoemaker, LAA; Hector Santiago, Ervin Santana, MIN
Brewers: 16.6 SOBB, 24.8 K%, 103 wRC+
Robbie Ray, Zack Godley, Patrick Corbin, ARI
Rockies: 16.4 SOBB, 23.3 K%, 79 wRC+
Jared Eickhoff, Zach Eflin, Jeremy Hellickson, Vincent Velasquez, PHI
Padres: 16.4 SOBB, 24.3 K%, 78 wRC+
Matt Harvey, NYM; Tanner Roark, WSH
Orioles: 15.1 SOBB, 22.3 K%, 100 wRC+ (better to stream lefties)
Ervin Santana, Jose Berrios, MIN; Joe Musgrove, HOU