Every week I sit down to write this (one day late this week, please forgive me) and I think it’s been the craziest week yet. My notes for the week were longer than ever as I made sure not to forget anything when adjusting the rankings. Thankfully, it’s mostly good news this time! We did have some sad injury news, such as Stephen Strasburg going down for the season. James Paxton also predictably hit the IL. Steven Matz has been relegated to the bullpen. There are Fallers this week as well, no doubt.
But nay, we shan’t get stuck in the mucky-muck of bad news! There is much rejoicing to do. There were call-ups aplenty this season, which will span the bulk of this week’s post. Things are fluid in the Cleveland rotation as I still don’t know what to do with Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac. We’ll get to that rotation more in a hot second. First, we look at a couple of Risers and Fallers.
The Starting Pitcher Barometer
- Dakota Hudson, STL (+22) – Nobody, myself included, was really in on Hudson for 2020. He looked like the ultimate fool’s gold. A 3.35 ERA over 174.2 innings is great, right?! Well, that also came with a 4.93 FIP and a 6.6% K-BB%. No, thank you. So what has changed? It’s taken a while to get clued in to the 2020 version of Hudson because the Cardinals had to postpone so many games. With 13 innings and three starts now under his belt, we see a revamped curveball for Hudson. The seldom-used curve from 2019 is up to 23.2% usage from 10% in 2019. It has been more effective as well, with an incredible .073 wOBA (.098 xwOBA) compared to a .343 wOBA (.362 xwOBA) in 2019. His SwStr% is still just 10% though, and his 17.3% K-BB%, while improved, isn’t awe-inspiring. Still, he deserved a little more love for his improvements.
- Jack Flaherty, STL (-19) – As I mentioned with Hudson as a Riser, the St. Louis postponements have had their ripple effects. Flaherty had to go the better part of a month without making a start. When he came back, he lasted just 1.2 innings, yielding a run with two walks and three K’s. The fact that Flaherty wasn’t built up is a large part of the rankings drop. What we need from the front-end aces is innings, and it’s going to take Flaherty a while to get back to that level. The good news is that the stuff is still there. Even with the lack of bulk innings, I can’t push him down much farther than SP2 territory. He’s still a must-start every time out. He also made mincemeat out of the Royals in this last start, which helps. Mmm…mincemeat.
- UPDATE 8/24/20 5 IP 1 H 0 ER 0BB 3 K (64 P)
- Casey Mize, DET (SP42) – One of the most hotly anticipated debuts of the 2020 season was set to be young Mr. Mize. He debuted last week against the White Sox, lasting 4.1 innings. He gave up seven hits and three runs against the hard-hitting South Siders, striking out seven without issuing a walk. His swing-and-miss stuff was on full display. He earned a 45% CSW on 20 sliders. His splitter wasn’t far behind, earning a 32% CSW. Even his curve – thrown just nine times (12%) on the night – earned a 33% CSW. His second start against the Cubs wasn’t as pretty (28% overall CSW), but his strikeout upside still puts him at the front end of the streaming crop. He’s had plenty of injury issues, so durability is a huge concern here. That said, we have barely more than a month left of the regular season, and he should be up the rest of the way. Roster him everywhere and let him roll.
- UPDATE 8/24/20 3.1 IP 5 H 3 ER 2 BB 2 K (76 P)
- Sixto Sanchez, MIA (SP43) – As with Mize, Sanchez jumps to the front of the streaming crop partially due to a set role with the big league club. If you think a guy named Sixto should have six pitches, you’re not alone, but he has only four. Such a disappointment. The 22-year old has had a mess of injury woes himself, but he should be owned and started while healthy. He features easy fastball velocity, pushing triple digits with frequency. He also has a slider, changeup, and curve. His slider – which averages a whopping 89 MPH – is his swing-and-miss pitch. It generated a 38% CSW in his debut against the Nationals. He gave up three earned over five innings with no walks and four K’s in that one. He might not put up a ton of innings but should net you plenty of strikeouts with strong command. Hopefully, he keeps his sliders out of the heart of the zone next time out.
- Triston McKenzie, CLE (SP50) – Apparently our theme this evening is young starters who haven’t put up a ton of innings in the minors. All have high-end talent but tend to miss a lot of time. Triston “Sticks” McKenzie didn’t even pitch in 2019 due to injury and put up just 90.2 IP in 2018. Because of that, he had fallen a bit off my radar. With all the ruckus involving Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac, however, Sticks gets got the call for a spot start. He’s called Sticks because he is 6’5″, 165 lbs. He is…thin. Just the way I like my Oreos. Stature aside, he has frontline stuff. His fastball sits mid-90’s, and he also has a slider, curve, and changeup with the strong command to help his swing-and-miss stuff play up even more. His line was very impressive – 6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K – against the Tigers.
- Tarik Skubal, DET (SP66) – Skubal is up for the duration of the season, like Mize. Unlike Mize, his stuff and approach could still stand to see some refinement. He’s made two starts, totaling just 4.1 IP, with a tasty 12.46 K/9. However, he also has a 4.15 BB/9 and 10.38 ERA (4.73 SIERA). He has a great 95 MPH fastball which he complements with a slider, changeup, and curveball. His stuff is better than the results to this point, but he’s more of a back-end streamer at this point, with high strikeout upside.
The Top 100 Starting Pitchers
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Fell Off The List
James Paxton (injury), Nate Pearson (injury), Jake Odorizzi (injury), Matt Shoemaker (injury), Austin Voth (performance), Jordan Lyles (performance), Steven Matz (role), Jon Lester (performance), Wade Miley (performance).