Another week in the books, and it has been a wild one! Luis Patino was the latest highly regarded prospect to get the call, but he will miss the list initially since he’s been given a bullpen role. He has a strong fastball/slider combo with a seldom-used changeup, plus the command to warrant #2 starter potential in the long-term. Through 3.2 innings though, he has a cool 12.27 ERA. Welcome to the bigs, kid.
Spencer Howard also got to make his COVID-postponed debut, at last. He was roughed up by the Braves though, giving up 4 ER over 4.2 IP with a walk and four K’s. He earned a 30% CSW thanks to a 54% whiff rate on his slider. He’s got a deep arsenal beyond the slider though, with a 93-94 MPH fastball, changeup, and curve as well. Despite the lackluster final line, he ranks 54th this week as a solid streamer in all formats.
The Starting Pitcher Barometer
- Aaron Civale, CLE (+43) – I certainly didn’t see this one coming. A tantalizing 23:2 K:BB ratio through Civale’s first 19 IP (3 GS) has Civale skyrocketing up the rankings. I rarely ever jettison a player up this much over the course of a single week, but with this 60 game season, I’m going to be a bit more reactive when a player warrants it. This isn’t all smoke and mirrors. Civale has always displayed elite command. However, he had a limited ceiling due to his lack of strikeout upside. Thus far, he has earned a shocking 10.89 K/9. His swinging-strike rate doesn’t quite back that K/9 up at 11.2%, but it’s still a huge improvement over his 8.8% SwStr% from 2019. He is throwing his fastball even less than last year, which would help his strikeout rate remain around a K per inning if he continues that pitch mix. He should be universally owned and deployed for his next start against the Tigers.
- Zach Plesac, CLE (+49) – I mentioned Plesac last week, so I’ll keep this brief. After another very strong start, I’m coming around in a big way. Plesac’s stuff isn’t overwhelming, so I’m not seeing a 10.29 K/9 continuing all season. Similar to what Civale is doing in the very same rotation, Plesac has dropped his fastball usage by nearly 15%. His ability to command all of his pitches is leading to a great deal of success. He boneheadedly decided to hit the town and risk spreading COVID to his entire organization, so he will face discipline of some sort. Even if he misses his next start, he should be universally owned.
- Touki Toussaint, ATL (+39) – Touki is set to spend some time in the Atlanta rotation after the horrible injury that ended Mike Soroka’s season. Toussaint barely made the list last week as #100 but gets a big bump due to opportunity and strikeout rate. Through 13.1 IP he has a 13.50 K/9, 2.70 BB/9, and…6.08 ERA? Those results don’t seem to add up, and his peripherals all agree. His SIERA sits at a much nicer 2.54, for example. He has started throwing a new slider at 85 MPH 13.4% of the time, dropping his fastball usage to just 32.6%. Are we sensing a trend here? The new slider has been absolutely tattooed with a .758 wOBA (.516 xwOBA), so I don’t know that the new pitch is exactly revelatory. Still, he’s worth a look as at least a streamer in most formats.
- Madison Bumgarner, ARZ (-20) – Brace yourselves, Diamondbacks fans. This section is gonna hurt. Bummy has made four starts with his new org, posting a 9.35 ERA, 6.75 K/9, and 3.63 BB/9 over 17.1 IP. He gave up four home runs over just two innings in his latest start, looking totally washed. His velocity is down three full ticks, and the spin rate on his curve is down 127 RPM. He only dropped 20 spots since I wasn’t terribly high on him, to begin with, but he is someone you can drop in all formats to stream others. To see him returning to even SP3 value, you have to squint so hard you might pull an eyelid.
- Luke Weaver, ARZ (-18) – Through three starts, Weaver has totaled just 10.1 innings. He’s missing bats, with a hefty 12.19 K/9, but he’s also walking the farm (5.23 BB/9) and, ironically, matching his K/9 with a 12.19 ERA. That stat would be funny if it weren’t so sad. He’s allowed five homers in those 10.1 innings, a problem he’s never really had before (career 1.29 HR/9). His velocity is actually up a tick from 2019 and he’s throwing that sweet cutter even more than last year, but the results have been only a ton of hard contact (21.9% barrel% ranks in the bottom 4% of MLB). There’s no time to wait for him to turn it around. Outside of deep leagues, I’m cutting him for other streaming options. This might be a decent buy-low opportunity in dynasty leagues, though.
- Robbie Ray, ARZ (-19) – Not long ago I was waxing poetic about Ray’s delivery adjustments. I dreamed sweet dreams of
drinking mimosas with Alexandra Daddario while riding a dolphin in the oceanRobbie Ray with a halved walk rate thanks to the new delivery. Sadly, things have gone in the opposite direction. His career 4.11 BB/9 looks a lot better than his current 7.42 BB.9 through three starts (13.1 IP). He’s still missing a ton of bats, but it’s hard to stomach starting a guy with a 9.45 ERA (5.41 SIERA) moving forward. He’s officially in the Streaming ZoneTM until he can work the kinks out of those fancy new mechanics.
- Zach Davies, SD (SP67) – Davies handled a date in Colorado against the Rockies decently (5 IP, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) and after five shutout innings against the Diamondbacks, he earns a spot on the list. He’s throwing 19% fewer fastballs in favor of a 14% uptick in cutter usage so far. He’s also throwing his changeup more than ever at 38%, which is his bread-and-butter. A strikeout rate that didn’t suck would be even better than just bread-and-butter, perhaps more like peanut butter and jelly, but that’s just not in the cards. Still, he remains a solid streaming option, albeit one with a low strikeout ceiling.
- Framber Valdez, HOU (SP73) – I’ve never been much of a Framblin’ Man myself, but I have to appreciate a 2.04 ERA (2.64 SIERA) with a 19:3 K:BB ratio over 17.2 IP. His 93.7 MPH average exit velocity is bottom 7% in MLB however, which is discouraging. He is also just a season removed from a 5.60 BB/9, so please excuse me if I’m not buying the 1.53 BB/9 as the new norm just yet. I’d still take a stab in deeper leagues just in case that control has taken a lasting step forward this year.
- Alex Cobb, BAL (SP77) – Cobb has actually eclipsed his IP total from 2019 already, with 14.1 IP. He is also posting the best K/9 of his career thus far, with a 9.42 K/9. His splitter has earned a .129 wOBA, and with that and his fastball both earning negative launch angles, he has a career-high 65% GB%. He’s had some home run issues since moving to Baltimore, so keeping most of his batted balls on the ground would help him keep his ERA around four. He’s still a big gamble that could blow up at any moment, but there’s enough here to get him on the back end of the list.
The Top 100 Starting Pitchers
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Fell Off The List
Mike Soroka (injury), Shohei Ohtani (injury), Carlos Martinez (role), Mitch Keller (injury), Rich Hill (injury), Josh James (role), Corbin Burnes (role), Tanner Roark (performance).