While it may seem like the season just started, we are in the final two weeks of the regular season, thus the end of the fantasy season. For those of you who are in positions to win your leagues congratulations. You have successfully navigated a slog of a season and no one can take that away from you. However, you cannot sit still, while there is not a ton of season left, ratios can still fluctuate much more than usual due to the shortened season. While I usually leave the intro for some overall discussion of pitching or some guys I’ve mentioned I’ll discuss some more strategy here this week.

  • No player (with exceptions) is an automatic start right now.
  • Winning a category by 20 does not give you any more points than winning by 1.
  • Every single lineup decision we are making right now should be made with the standing in mind. Make sure you understand this context and you adjust accordingly.
  • Know not only what you need to move up or down in categories but also know where your top competition is.
  • If you have FAAB money left, use it, get your guy, block your competition, but make sure you use it, you can’t take it with you

These are just some quick bullet point ideas but obviously feel free to reach out with any other questions you may have and best of luck the rest of the way.

Gerrit Cole

Last Friday on the Morning Relay, podcast host extraordinaire Michael Govier and I were discussing Gerrit Cole and his “struggles”. By no means has Cole been the problem with the Yankees so far in 2020, but the team and fans expected more from him when he was signed this offseason. I decided that Cole would be the next subject of this article as I was curious about what exactly is going wrong with the Yankee ace. As always I began on Cole’s Baseball Savant page hoping to see something on there that triggers me to dive deeper. Overall, no much looks different from Cole the main things that I typically look at all seem to fall into normal levels of fluctuation. His pitch mix is similar, his movement profile has not changed much, and the spin rates on his pitches all seem to be the same. However, it appears that his fastball is being hit much harder than in recent memory.

This then led me to look into the pitch and how it is being used. Among all pitchers with over 300 fastballs thrown on the season, the location-based xwoba on Cole’s fastball is middle of the pack. He comes in around 45th on the list. This number actually compares extremely similar to his 2019 results. So based on this, the difference does not seem to be in Cole’s location with the fastball. So this means that it is tied to how hitters are reacting to the pitch. For me, this usually leads to me to look into the movement on the pitch. As I stated earlier in this article, there does not seem to be any meaningful difference in the movement profile of the pitch. So what are some of the other factors that would cause hitters to react to a pitch differently than before? In my opinion, outside of the pitch characteristics changing, the main factor that could impact how hitters interact with a pitch is usage/predictability.

As a Yankee fan, I have wanted a good amount of Cole’s starts, and anecdotally, I saw something that I never remembered from Cole. When he was dominating for the Astros it seemed like he never fell behind in the count. As a hitter you seemingly had no chance if he got ahead as his offspeed pitches are almost unhittable. However, this season it appears that he was falling behind more often. While this is not exactly groundbreaking, Cole does seem to be pitching from behind in the count more often. In both 2018 and 2019, only 23% of all of Cole’s pitches thrown were with the hitter ahead in the count. This season he is up over 25% which is more in line with his pre-2018 numbers. While this is not exactly a massive adjustment for a pitcher like Cole, he has some expected predictability that comes with falling behind in the count. Baseball Savant has a cool Plinko like graphic that shows his usage in various different counts.

The above chart is from 2019, but what you can see is that when Cole falls behind in the count, he becomes even more fastball heavy. He becomes ever so slightly more predictable. So I decided to take a look at his fastball locations in all counts.

As we can see looking over the above charts, the issues with Cole may in fact be when he falls behind. Typically, Cole locates his fastball up in the zone, in 2020 among pitchers with 300 fastballs, he has the 14th highest average location. Looking over the chart, however, he seems to locate more towards the middle with his fastball once he falls behind. This has led to the 10th highest xwoba on fastballs when behind in the count in all of baseball. So the answer for Gerrit Cole so fan in 2020: get ahead. When he gets ahead he allows himself to utilize all of his pitches and avoid being forced to come down in the zone with his fastball. This is not a groundbreaking finding but is one that is playing itself out when looking into the numbers for Gerrit Cole.

Stuff ERA Leaders

Stuff-ERA Leaders
Min 700 Pitches
Pitcher Stuff-ERA
Jacob deGrom 2.2379
Shane Bieber 2.3806
Zac Gallen 2.5292
Corbin Burnes 2.5547
Lucas Giolito 2.7125
Kenta Maeda 2.7135
Aaron Nola 2.7919
Yu Darvish 2.8403
Dylan Bundy 2.9012
Dinelson Lamet 3.0937
Clayton Kershaw 3.2029
Lance Lynn 3.2631
Trevor Bauer 3.2679
Adam Wainwright 3.2755
Andrew Heaney 3.2959
Zach Davies 3.2974
Max Fried 3.3004
Jose Berrios 3.3163
Dallas Keuchel 3.3862
Brad Keller 3.3895
Dakota Hudson 3.3939
Zack Wheeler 3.4274
Tyler Mahle 3.5186
Marco Gonzales 3.5907
Brandon Woodruff 3.5958
Masahiro Tanaka 3.6009
Tyler Glasnow 3.6234
Jesus Luzardo 3.6288
Carlos Carrasco 3.7033
Kevin Gausman 3.7162
Brady Singer 3.7405
Spencer Turnbull 3.7541
Dustin May 3.7541
Gerrit Cole 3.7612
Framber Valdez 3.7861
Max Scherzer 3.7892
David Peterson 3.8121
Yusei Kikuchi 3.8226
Blake Snell 3.8251
German Marquez 3.8355
Zack Greinke 3.8431
Julio Urias 3.8528
Sonny Gray 3.8570
Cristian Javier 3.8667
Pablo Lopez 3.8851
Antonio Senzatela 3.9038
Lance McCullers Jr. 3.9141
Frankie Montas 3.9238
Justus Sheffield 3.9410
Kyle Hendricks 3.9580
Kolby Allard 3.9612
Justin Dunn 3.9698
Taijuan Walker 3.9704
Luis Castillo 3.9753
Mike Minor 4.0274
Alex Cobb 4.0780
Martin Perez 4.0974
J.A. Happ 4.1028
Ryan Castellani 4.1057
Josh Lindblom 4.1125
Alec Mills 4.1177
Hyun Jin Ryu 4.1552
Dylan Cease 4.1643
Garrett Richards 4.2043
Aaron Civale 4.2140
Griffin Canning 4.2361
Chad Kuhl 4.2474
Logan Webb 4.2960
Randy Dobnak 4.3446
Johnny Cueto 4.3449
Chris Bassitt 4.3657
Mike Clevinger 4.3735
Tyler Anderson 4.3781
Alex Young 4.3806
Jordan Montgomery 4.4196
Kris Bubic 4.4374
John Means 4.4840
Danny Duffy 4.4860
Patrick Corbin 4.5197
Kyle Freeland 4.5317
Erick Fedde 4.5649
Jon Gray 4.5665
Zach Eflin 4.5797
Chris Paddack 4.6011
JT Brubaker 4.6117
Mike Fiers 4.6519
Robbie Ray 4.7248
Nick Margevicius 4.8246
Luke Weaver 4.9055
Kyle Gibson 4.9080
Adrian Houser 5.0152
Tanner Roark 5.0772
Matthew Boyd 5.0813
Jon Lester 5.1296
Rick Porcello 5.1973
Asher Wojciechowski 5.2367
Derek Holland 5.2600
Jordan Lyles 5.2727
Trevor Williams 5.5256
Ross Stripling 5.5943