Baseball News

  • Top 100 Starting Pitchers, Week 8: Handle Ruff Wood with Care

    Posted sometime

    Not your Grandfathers Top 100 Starting Pitchers…

    Grandpa-Donk handled a lot of wood back in his day, if you know what I’m saying. Not that kind of wood! Alright, maybe that kind of wood, it was the 60’s and from what I understand the donkey world was pretty open-minded back then. But the way G-Donk tells it, his hobby of woodworking accounted for the majority of his wood handling back in the day. The old donk enjoyed taking very rough pieces of phallic shaped lumber and smoothing them out into much less rough pieces of phallic shaped lumber. Because it was such intensive and sweaty work, he typically handled the wood shirtless with help from his completely platonic friend Jimmy.

    I always think of these stories of my gramps and his very heterosexual buddy handling that rough wood together when I hear the name of my lede for this week’s top 100: Brandon Woodruff. Brandon had a rough start to his 2019 campaign himself, but has begun to mold his season into a masterpiece that would make even Grandpa-Donk and sweaty Jimmy proud. After a seemingly unlucky April, Woodruff has been silky smooth since the calendar turned to May, sporting a 1.55 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP with 29 strikeouts across 25 innings. Impressively, 11 of those innings came in his home hitter haven Miller Park against the Mets and Nationals, while the other 14 innings were tossed in scary road starts against potent Philadelphia and Atlanta squads! I don’t think he’s a sub 2.00 ERA pitcher, but this dude is smoothing out penis-shaped timber with the best of them at the moment. Woodruff has thrust himself a full 30 spots higher in my rankings this week, all the way up to #42.

    Here are a few other guys who have been smoothing and thrusting lately…

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  • Michael Chavis Has Provided Unexpected Punch

    Posted sometime

    When the Red Sox called up Michael Chavis on April 19, they were 6-13 and had no shortage of troubles. Every member of their rotation save for David Price was regularly being lit up like a pinball machine, and their no-name bullpen was shaky as well. Reigning AL MVP Mookie Betts was hardly himself offensively, and both Jackie Bradley Jr. and Steve Pearce were impossibly cold. Amidst all of that, the team’s hole at second base was just one more problem, albeit similar to last year, when even replacement-level play in the absence of the injured Dustin Pedroia did little to prevent them from winning a franchise-record 108 games as well as the World Series.

    Just over one month since Chavis’ arrival, the Red Sox are now over .500 (25-22). Their pitching has come around, as has Betts, and their leading hitter in terms of both slugging percentage (.592) and wRC+ (156) is Chavis, a 23-year-old righty-swinging rookie with “a bit of a beer-keg physique” (h/t Baseball Prospectus), one who had never played second base before this season. His nine homers (in 113 PA) is tied with J.D. Martinez for second on the team behind Mitch Moreland’s 12. He homered in Boston’s wins both Sunday against the Astros and Monday against the Blue Jays. Here’s the former, in which he drove a Wade Miley cut fastball 420 feet, a towering shot over the Green Monster:

    Long blasts are hardly a rarity for Chavis. Despite his late arrival, he’s tied for fourth in the majors with six homers of at least 420 feet, and he had another estimated at 419 feet. His average home run distance of 426 feet ranks seventh among players with at least 50 batted ball events (he has 68). Monday’s 389-footer off of the Blue Jays’ Edwin Jackson was just his second homer shorter than 400 feet.

    Two months ago, Chavis barely registered as a player likely to make an impact on the 2019 Red Sox, in part because he had just eight games of Triple-A experience to that point along with 100 games at Double-A. Our preseason forecasts estimated he’d get just 14 big league plate appearances. Now he’s one of the players who has helped to salvage their season. So what gives?

    Part of it, clearly, was desperation. With Pedroia again slowed by inflammation and soreness in his left knee, in which he underwent an experimental cartilage restoration procedure in October 2017, the Red Sox opened the season with Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt platooning at second, but Holt was placed on the injured list due to a scratched cornea in his right eye on April 6. Pedroia, who was limited to just three major league games last year, returned on April 9, but he lasted just six games before lingering discomfort in the knee sent him back to the IL on April 19. Nunez landed there that same day due to a mid-back strain. Misery loves company, and this company was miserable; to that point, Sox second-sackers had hit .136/.186/.152 for a -13 wRC+. By comparison, major league pitchers have hit .117/.151/.160 for a -18 wRC+. Woof.

    A 2014 first-round pick out of a Marietta, Georgia high school — as a shortstop — and the recipient of a $1.87 million signing bonus, Chavis struggled at times in the low minors, enamored with his own raw power and slowed by multiple injuries, including a torn UCL in his left thumb and fracture in his right middle finger, the latter of which he played through in 2016. Once healthy, he put himself on the prospect map with a 31-homer 2017 season split between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland; the following spring, he grazed the lower reaches of the Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, and FanGraphs Top 100 lists; he was No. 95 on ours. Though he generally played third base in the minors, our prospect team saw him as a future first baseman given his mediocre fielding (grades of 40/45), albeit with an above-average arm (55/55).

    Before Chavis could build upon that, he drew an 80-game suspension for a PED violation; he tested positive for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (Oral Turinabol); according to this story by the Boston Globe’s Owen Pence, he spent “countless hours… [learning] a hell of a lot more about that metabolite than I ever intended to” while trying to figure out how he tested positive, which, whatever. Once he returned in July, he hit .298/.381/.538 with nine homers in 46 games, including 33 at Portland and eight more at Triple-A Pawtucket.

    Though he slipped out of the Top 100 lists, Chavis still placed third on our Red Sox list this spring and second on that of Baseball America. Both resources acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding his eventual defensive home; our Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel noted that “pro scouts see Chavis as a first base-only type,” but BA noted that he looked better at third base in 2018 than before while also adding that he “could see time in left field, and some in the organization want him to try second base.”

    Historically speaking, the keystone doesn’t spring to mind as a place to hide a 5-foot-10, 216-pound, bat-first prospect, but between the rising strikeout totals that have reduced the number of balls in play — in 2018, second basemen handled 0.7 fewer chances per nine innings than in 2008, a drop of 13.8% — the rules that limit runners’ ability to break up double plays, and analytically driven assistance in fielder positioning (including on shifts), a handful of teams have expanded their notions of who can play second base in order to shoehorn another potent bat into the lineup. The Brewers shifted Travis Shaw (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) from third base to second last year upon acquiring Mike Moustakas (6-foot, 225 pounds) from the Royals; this year, after re-signing Moustakas via free agency, they’ve reversed the pair’s positioning. The Dodgers have dabbled with Max Muncy (6-foot, 218 pounds) there in each of the past two seasons.

    The Red Sox began experimenting with Chavis at second during spring training, and he made his regular season debut there at Pawtucket on April 7. Still, he had just five games at the position before being recalled, at which point Red Sox manager (and longtime middle infielder) Alex Cora conceded he was “a work in progress.” Not long after, Cora said of the trend towards unorthodox second basemen, “You still have to make the plays. Defensively they put you in spots where the ball is going to be hit. It’s not like a tough play, you know? They put you in spots most likely it’ll come right at you as a routine play. You see teams around the league doing it with Muncy, [Shaw], Moustakas, nobody expected those guys to play second base.”

    Thus far, Chavis has played 21 games at second, where the small-sample defensive metrics say he’s been about average; he’s also started twice at first base and once at third. Meanwhile he’s given the Sox more offense than they could have expected via his .296/.389/.592 performance. We’re still in small-sample territory on the offensive side as well, but so far he’s hit the ball especially hard; his 92.0 mph average exit velocity is in the 90th percentile, his .408 xwOBA in the 95th percentile. His 16.8% swinging strike rate is on the high side, in the 95th percentile as well, but his 30.6% chase rate is middle of the pack, and he’s countered his 26.5% strikeout rate with a hefty 12.3% walk rate, well above his 8.3% rate in the high minors. He’s not feasting on fastballs; he’s got three homers and a .667 slugging percentage on the 27 sliders and curves he’s made contact with, though he’s also whiffing on 22.3% of the ones he’s faced, which account for about 22% of his total pitches.

    Given the gap between his current production and his scouting grades (most notably his hit tool, which FanGraphs graded 40/40 but both BA and MLB have graded 50), it’s probably folly to suggest that Chavis will sustain this production, but his current depth charts projection forecasts a .254/.317/.471 (109 wRC+) line for the remainder of the season, which is certainly serviceable. Both Holt, whose stay on the IL was extended by a bout of right shoulder impingement, and Pedroia are currently in the midst of rehab assignments, but it’s anybody’s guess what the latter has left in the tank given his prolonged absences. The combination of Chavis’ production and versatility — which could expand to include the outfield — has already put him ahead of Nunez, who has returned but still hasn’t hit a lick (.173/.192/.240, 6 wRC+). One way or another, he’s given Cora the pleasant problem of finding ways to keep fitting his red-hot bat in the lineup.

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  • The Mets: Here we go again

    Posted 3 hours ago

    This kind of article has been written about the Mets so many times since the Wilpons took over, but here’s one more.

    If one wanted to write about all the laughable, foolish, downright stupid things that the Mets have done during their existence, it would take a lot more than an article. It could be a book, and that would be just to cover the Wilpons’ reign of terror.

    The Mets are currently 20-25, and their recent six-game road trip has been a nightmare. They won their first game in Washington, but then followed that up with five straight losses. Losing two out of three against the Nationals is not a big deal, especially since there is a fair argument to be made that the Nats are the more talented team despite their current record. The most recent three-game series in Miami, however, was a disaster.

    Reigning Cy Young award-winner deGrom got knocked around by the Marlins on Friday night to the tune of seven runs in five innings. At least the Mets’ offense put up a valiant effort that night by scoring six runs. This past weekend, however, is one the team would love to forget.

    The Mets got completely shut out this weekend. By the Marlins. They managed just three freakin’ hits all weekend, and just seven total baserunners. Against the Marlins. THE MARLINS. I am not sure that I have ever heard of Pablo López, the Marlins’ starting pitcher on Saturday night, nor am I too familiar with Sandy Alcántara, the guy who pitched a complete game shutout on Sunday. This Marlins team is one that would not surprise me if they won fewer than 50 games this season, and the Mets completely humiliated themselves in front of them.

    The Mets’ offense so far this season has actually been okay, falling in the middle of the pack when adjusting for league and park effects. Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, and Jeff McNeil have been raking, and even Dominic Smith has been hitting very well in the little action he has seen. J.D. Davis has a 125 wRC+, but there is a big drop off after that. In fact, the next best hitter is Zack Wheeler! A lot of that is that one big game he had a few weeks ago, but that is still kind of jarring.

    It’s funny — or maybe it’s just funny because it’s the Mets and I need to keep myself sane — but the pitchers’ hitting has been more impactful than their actual pitching. The rotation’s 4.98 RA9 ranks in the bottom third of the league, while their hitting is the best in baseball! Because pitchers can’t hit at all, when they do hit some it can be pretty significant. Their pitchers’ offense has been worth nearly a full win, per FanGraphs.

    But wait! There’s more!

    In one of the more Mets things that have happened this year, it was just announced that Yoenis Céspedes broke his right ankle in an accident on his ranch. He was already going to miss the first half of the season due to recovery from a surgery to remove calcification from his heels. I don’t know what the prognosis is, but I think it is safe to say that he will not be back this season. I would not be surprised to see him miss time next season, too.

    When Céspedes does return, though, who knows what we are going to get. Since signing his four-year, $110 million deal before he 2017 season, he has played in only 119 games, the most recent of which was July of last year, and even then that was his first game in over two months. It is entirely possible that when he returns next year, it will have been at least two years since he has had regular playing time.

    To the credit of Céspedes, he was very good when he did play on his current contract, hitting .282/.343/.525 in 478 PA over the 2017 and 2018 seasons. But what do we expect when he comes back? As I mentioned, it will be nearly two years or more since he played, and he will be coming off a major ankle injury. Who knows how it will affect him in the field. If the NL does get a DH next year, that would definitely be best for him, but keep in mind that his right ankle is his push-off foot.

    Amidst all that is going wrong for the Mets right now, there have been calls for manager Mickey Callaway’s head, and honestly, I don’t get it. I usually stay away from evaluating managers because there is just so much we do not know about what they do behind the scenes and how that impacts the team. It is even more confounding when it comes to the Mets, because of how much the meddling Wilpons like to micromanage everything. It is completely fair to criticize Callaway for wanting to limit Edwin Díaz to save situations, but can we be sure that was completely his call? His former team was the Cleveland Indians, and they did not operate that way. That kind of decision making rises to the level of stupidity that we have come to expect form the Wilpons.

    As Joe Sheehan mentioned in a recent newsletter, Callaway has done a pretty good job developing the team’s young players, and certainly a much better job than Terry Collins did. That is one thing I feel I can safely credit Callaway with that the Wilpons did not interfere in, and it’s a big one.

    You’re going to want to sit down for this hot take that I am about to drop: the problem is the front office. This disgracefully cheap organization has always shied away from paying top-tier free agents in favor of paying less money to mid-tier free agent. I am all for players getting paid, but history has shown that paying those mid-tier free agents tends to result in little to no production. Robinson Canó is having the worst season of his career. Jed Lowrie has yet to play. Todd Frazier has barely played this year and has not hit. Jason Vargas is just flat-out terrible.

    Wilson Ramos has been incredibly disappointing. To be fair, I thought that was a good signing at two years and $19 million, but why not go after Yasmani Grandal, who was a better choice? He only cost the Brewers $18.2 million, and he is hitting .265/.358/.463 and has been worth 1.3 WAR, per FanGraphs, which now includes catcher framing. Ramos, on the other hand, has been worth half a win below replacement level. If Grandal just did not want to play for the Mets, they should have made him an offer of $30 million. Not enough? Dare him to say no to $40 million. Who cares? There is nothing wrong with overpaying for real production.

    Speaking of money, this team could really use Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel. They also could have used Manny Machado. I guarantee you that the Mets could have paid all three of those players whatever they wanted, and it would not have affected the Wilpons’ quality of life one iota. With respect to Keuchel and Kimbrel, I understand they would need time to prepare for the season and would not be available for a few weeks after signing, but the NL East is too competitive to not grab on to every advantage you can get.

    Playing Vargas and Wilmer Font when Keuchel is out there is just disgraceful. Vargas is no longer a major league quality pitcher, and Font never was. He has pitched in just 71 13 innings since 2012, and he has a career 6.81 RA9. He does not even have a strong track record in the minors, yet the Mets traded for him. They gave up a prospect to acquire Wilmer Font. Neraldo Catalina is not exactly a Guy, but I would rather have hung on to him to see what the Mets’ excellent player development could do instead of using him to acquire a worse pitcher than Vargas.

    In fact, if you take a look at the Mets’ trades since Brodie Van Wagenen took over, there is a trend. He has been eager to trade away prospects whom he did not draft and barely knows in order to acquire major league players whom he believes will improve the team. Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn, the players included in the Canó/Díaz trade, are the best examples of this, because they were two of the team’s better prospects. So far, Canó, Díaz, Davis, Font, and Keon Broxton have combined for -0.7 WAR at Baseball Reference.

    Again, it is hard to say how much of this is Van Wagenen and how much of it is the Wilpons, but when it comes to not spending money, it is hard not to point the fingers at ownership given their track record. The Mets are great at player development, and they deserve a lot of credit for that, but a contending team needs to spend money and spend it wisely in order to supplement it. The Wilpons don’t appear to ever want to spend money, and at the rate they are trading away prospects, they are minimizing the team’s strengths in player development. Nothing is ever going to change as long as they continue to be in charge.

    . . .

    Luis Torres is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score. He is a medicinal chemist by day, baseball analyst by night. You can follow him on Twitter at @Chemtorres21.

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  • John Gant has evolved into something very good

    Posted 4 hours ago

    There is a new weapon in the Cardinals bullpen.

    The bullpen for the Cardinals this year has been a somewhat steady combination of pleasant surprises and disappointing performances. Jordan Hicks has taken a step forward this year, while Andrew Miller has failed to wow in his debut season with his new team. John Brebbia and Giovanny Gallegos look to be solid contributors. But Luke Gregerson and Dominic Leone have failed to help. Meanwhile, Carlos Martinez looks promising so far.

    All in all, the Cardinals bullpen is treading water. It’s not noticeably bad, but it isn’t exactly what you want from a contending team. As things stand, the group currently ranks…

    • 15th in ERA
    • 19th in FIP
    • 22nd in fWAR

    Purposely not mentioned yet is John Gant: a former right-handed starter previously tossed around in the Mets and Braves organizations. After an underwhelming debut season where he split time as a starter and a reliever with the Braves, he was shipped to St. Louis in a deal that sent Jaime Garcia to Atlanta. The Cardinals sent him back to Triple-A, where he looked like nothing more than starter depth. After a brief look with the Cardinals in 2017, he pitched most of the 2018 season in the big leagues, playing a versatile role out of the rotation and the bullpen. But once again, he underwhelmed (7.8 percent K-BB-rate, 3.47 ERA, 4.07 FIP).

    To start 2019, in Spring Training, Gant received what looked to be his last opportunity as a starter. A 10:5 K:BB ratio in 18 23 innings was enough to send him to the bullpen though, where he has remained all season long. And at this current moment, he looks like the Cardinals best reliever.

    Gant has been all-around terrific this year. Just with once glance looking at his Baseball Savant page, you’ll notice this.


    Baseball Savant

    The main thing pulling Gant towards this newfound success in the bullpen looks to be a gain in velocity (like most cases). As a starter, Gant usually sat 91-93 miles per hour with his four-seamer. This season, in his first full month as a reliever, he averaged 95.3 miles per hour. This month, he’s been averaging 96.5, and has even touched 98.4. Not surprisingly, this seems to be the main cause of his strikeout surge, as his 29.4 percent strikeout-rate is by far a new career-high for him, surpassing his previous high of 22.1 percent in 2016.


    FanGraphs

    His improvements in those departments aren’t as simple as a move to the bullpen though. Before this season, in his career as a reliever Gant was fairly mediocre. Among 453 relievers with at least 30 innings from 2016-2018, he ranked…

    • 222nd in ERA
    • 346th in FIP
    • 338th in SIERA
    • 273rd in K%

    Noticeably, he only averaged 93.3 miles per hour on his four-seamer, even in the shorter stints. Perhaps contributing to his velocity gain has been his altered release point. In 2018, the release point on his four-seamer ranked in the top 32 percent in vertical location and bottom 18 percent in horizontal location. In 2019, it ranks in just the top 51 percent in vertical location and bottom nine percent in horizontal location. Something has clearly changed, as visually represented below.


    Baseball Savant
    2018

    Baseball Savant
    2019

    These adjustments have made Gant’s four-seamer produce better results than any other pitcher in all of baseball.


    Baseball Savant

    With John Gant’s combination of performance and versatility out of the Cardinals bullpen (his appearances have ranged anywhere from one to eight batters faced, four to 37 pitches thrown), if he keeps this up, he might end up being one of the more valuable relief weapons in all of baseball.


    Patrick Brennan loves to research pitchers and minor leaguers with data. You can find additional work of his at Royals Review and Royals Farm Report. You can also find him on Twitter @paintingcorner.

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  • It’s Time for Michael Pineda to Change His Approach

    Posted 5 hours ago

    Michael Pineda has always had a bit of a weak spot in his pitching profile. From his debut in 2011 until his 2017 ended with Tommy John surgery, he threw 680 innings while allowing 91 total home runs. That translated to a 1.20 HR/9, putting Pineda in the bottom 20th percentile in the league among pitchers with at least 650 innings pitched.

    Despite the eye-catching rate, the home runs were a manageable issue; Pineda’s FIP in those years was a fine 3.60. More than avoiding home runs, Pineda needed the health he enjoyed between 2015-16 to be an average starter. Even setting aside the Tommy John, his time in the majors is riddled with stints on the disabled list for a variety of maladies. Now in 2019, with the health of his arm finally restored, the home run issues looms larger.

    After his first nine starts of the year, Pineda is leading the majors in home run rate among qualified pitchers with a 2.49 HR/9. Following his last start, he became the first Minnesota Twins pitcher to allow at least three home runs in consecutive outings since Bartolo Colon in 2017.

    This is still a small sample, and Pineda’s home run rate will probably go down as he keeps pitching. However, given his previous home run issues, the recent spike merits a closer look.

    First, let’s examine his fastball. Of the 13 home runs he has allowed this year, six have been against fastballs in the middle or upper part of the zone. Pineda has always liked to throw his fastball in the zone, challenging hitters with good gas, and he has been doing exactly that this year.

    Have a peek at the location of his fastballs prior to 2019:

    And here they are so far in 2019:

    A few more pitches arm-side and few more pitches middle/middle, but generally speaking, it looks similar.

    The thing about Pineda’s fastball this year is that it has lost 1.8 mph of average velocity when compared to his 2017 four-seamer (92.1 mph vs. 93.9 mph), and, perhaps more importantly, his spin rate is now really working against him pitching up in the zone.

    Let’s look at the list of the fastballs with the lowest average spin rate in 2019 among starting pitchers:

    Lowest Spin Rate for SP on FB 2019
    Name Avg Spin Rate (rpm)
    Wily Peralta 1892 rpm
    Jon Gray 1992 rpm
    Jose Quintana 1995 rpm
    Michael Pineda 1999 rpm
    Jalen Beeks 2001 rpm
    Michael Wacha 2029 rpm
    Cole Hamels 2045 rpm
    Kyle Dowdy 2048 rpm
    Homer Bailey 2056 rpm
    Pablo Lopez 2076 rpm
    SOURCE: Baseball Savant
    Minimum 50 PA

    The fact that Pineda has lost a tick on his fastball and now ranks near the bottom of the spin rate leaderboard doesn’t match up very well to his tendency to challenge hitters in the middle part of the plate or up in the zone. That pitch, if it sustains its current specs, will probably continue to suffer if it’s thrown to that area.

    A quick look at Statcast since 2015 tells us that four-seam fastballs with a 2000-rpm spin rate or lower that are pitched in the middle/upper part of the strike zone have had an xwOBA of .381. If the fastball has more than 2000 rpm of spin, the xwOBA lowers to .339. If it has more than 2300 rpm of spin, the xwOBA lowers to .324. And if it spins at more than 2500 rpm, the xwOBA lowers to .304.

    Because spin rate and pitch velocity tend to correlate, the same happens with xwOBA as the average velocity creeps higher. But in Pineda’s case, it’s not the same to challenge hitters with a 92.1-mph average fastball as it is to do so with a heater that has an average spin rate of 1999 rpm. One of those is a bit more dangerous for the pitcher.

    What pitchers in Pineda’s situation tend to do (if they want to survive in the majors) is to work lower in the strike zone and develop a secondary pitch that helps their fastball get some strikes in the zone.

    Maybe Pineda’s power changeup can do the work of a sinker. After all, it’s a power changeup (less than 6 mph of separation with his fastball) and has good fade, and he uses it only 5.1% of the time against right-handed batters. But that pitch doesn’t generate ground balls (31.6%), and Pineda would likely welcome a pitch that elevates his current 32.9% ground-ball rate.

    Maybe he could go for a sinker: According to Brooks Baseball, he threw 23 in 2011, two in 2013, five in 2015, two more in 2016, and four in 2017. But it looks like he never decided to make this pitch a part of his traditional repertoire.

    Or maybe he could try develop a cutter. He wouldn’t be the first starting pitcher with fastball issues to do it in recent years: CC Sabathia did it in 2015, Anibal Sanchez managed to do it in 2017, and even his own teammate Martin Perez did it in 2019, just to name a few.

    Then again, the home run problem Pineda has suffered from this year isn’t just a fastball thing. Let’s take a look at his slider. As his money pitch, his slider has resulted in almost half of his strikeouts, but things have been very messy when he throws it in the zone.

    Here is the bottom of the xwOBA leaderboard on sliders in the zone this year:

    Highest xwOBA on sliders in the Strike Zone
    SOURCE: Baseball Savant
    Minimum 30 PA

    Pineda’s slider has been absolutely demolished when it’s thrown in the zone, ranking as the very worst one in MLB. He has allowed five home runs and a 93.0-mph average exit velocity with it. When it’s thrown out of the zone, things change dramatically, as they should: a .162 xwOBA.

    But the answer can’t just be a “throw your slider out of the zone” approach, can it? Hitters will adjust, stop chasing it, and very soon the Pineda Home Run Thing will become a Walk Thing, right? Well, the numbers tell a different story. Walks and control have not been an issue for Pineda this year. Right now, he has a 4.5% walk rate and a 46.6% zone rate (12th among qualified pitchers). Those numbers could suffer a bit in order for him to avoid barrels and home runs.

    Another suggestion that a change of strategy could possibly be successful is the fact that hitters are swinging at his slider at a 54% rate. He is not the leader in that category, but he is 25th among 150 pitchers with at least 100 sliders thrown. This aggressiveness could be used by Pineda for generating whiffs out of the zone and avoiding hard contact with his breaking ball.

    There are plenty of examples of pitchers that throw most of their sliders out of the zone, don’t have particularly overpowering velocity on the pitch, and generate a healthy amount of swings. In fact, his teammate Kyle Gibson is the poster boy of this trick, offering only 25% of his sliders in the zone and producing a 50% swing rate. Julio Teheran is another case with a 35.5% zone rate on his slider and a 49% swing rate. Patrick Corbin does something similar with a 30.1% zone rate and a 50.7% swing rate.

    Of course, successfully executing these types of adjustments is not an easy thing to do, and it is even trickier to pull off in the midst of a season. Then again, the home run spree that Pineda is suffering right now will probably remain as a real and constant problem if he doesn’t evolve and change according to his new stuff on the mound.

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  • Fantasy Baseball Podcast, Week 8: Grey Albright’s Shake Weight Pillow

    Posted 8 hours ago

    Cougs, what are you doing to our dear Fantasy Master Lothario? Is this shaking pillow in fact a cure for snoring, or just a modern torture device? Reader, you decide. In the meantime there was fantasy baseball to discuss, like this weekends FAAB madness, Shane Bieber’s dominant start, how worried we are about Noah Syndergaard, and where to get the best borscht in Los Angeles. Wrapping up the show we run through some adds for your leagues, luminaries like C.J. Cron, Tommy LaStella, and that Peanut Vendor that dances at Padres games (I made this person up). It’s another episode of the Razzball Podcast, check your diaper.

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  • RCL Update: The Week That Was, Week 7, 2019

    Posted 9 hours ago

    There are so many rookies out there right now that I can’t find room to try and roster them all!  After basically punting corner infield in most of my Razzball Commenter League drafts this year I’ve been able to find Daniel Vogelbach, Mitch Moreland, Yandy Diaz and now Michael Chavis and Austin Riley to fill holes.  Amed Rosario has been uninspiring so far on most of my teams, so enter Chavis and his new 2B eligibility and Keston Hiura. I don’t even have room to try and snag Brendan Rodgers. Now it’s trying to find room for Yordan Alvarez, it never ends!  These are good problems to have though and a good reason to leave those last couple roster spots on offense able to be churned. There is no issue with leaving the draft in this format knowing you’ll be hitting the waiver wire for your OF5, UTIL and CI/MI spots.  There are players every year that pop from the waiver wire, just keep those eyes peeled. Right now, point your eyes below for the rest of the week that was, week 7 in the RCLs:

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