Ray's Ramblings - Pitcher Report - 5/18
Should you be worried about Carlos Carrasco? Is Cobb "back" to his pre-surgery form? Can Cueto turn around a slow start to the season? Danny Duffy... thoughts? Is Derek Holland a sell now candidate? John Lackey has turned around his slow start to the season. Lynn has been everything the Cards could have hoped for. JC Ramirez... where have the strikeouts gone? Same question for you Stephen Strasburg. Andrew Triggs has been marvelous to this point. Is he a hold or a sell?
Give a listen to this clip as the warnings come out in regards to Carlos Carrasco.
The 29 year old righty of the Rays, Alex Cobb has looked pretty sharp of late. Wednesday he allowed three runs with one walk with seven strikeouts and a victory over a seven innings. Over his last five starts it’s been three earned runs or less each time out. He’s allowed just one homer in that time. He’s also produced a quality start in each of his last four outings. Trending up is he.
Johnny Cueto allowed five runs over six innings against the Dodgers as he picked up his third loss of the season. That pushes his ERA to 4.50 and his WHIP to 1.26. I still see better times ahead. The K and BB rates are right on his career levels. The GB/FB ratio is off a bit at 1.18, but there is plenty of time to see the number normalize a bit. He’s going to be better the rest of the way.
Is Danny Duffy going to turn around his slow start? I don’t think so.
Jon Gray hopes to return from his foot issue around the middle of June.
Derek Holland has been dynamite given the expectations coming into the 2017 season. The lefty of the White Sox has a 2.70 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and a 7.33 K/9 rate through eight outings. Here are the issues that should cause you concern in regards to his ability to keep this pace up. (1) He’s failed to record 6.30 strikeouts per nine his last three seasons. The 7.33 per nine mark isn’t great even if he were to maintain it. (2) His 3.47 BB/9 rate would be a seven-year high, a mark to that level certainly doesn’t speak to his ERA. (3) Holland has a mere 0.84 GB/FB ratio. That would be a career worst (1.10). (4) His xFIP (5.00) and SIERA (4.65) speak to who he is. Don’t be fooled.
Clayton Kershaw at AT&T Park in his career has a 12-4 record with a 1.29 ERA in 20 outings. That’s the third lowest mark by any pitcher at any ballpark in league history.
John Lackey started out slowly but he’s been coming around. Over each of his last three starts he’s allowed three of fewer runs, and here are his numbers from those outings: 9.87 K/9, 2.08 BB/9, 3.12 ERA with a 1.38 WHIP. That last number should come down as natural regression takes place (batters have a .340 BABIP in those three trips to the bump). He’s no star, but concerns about his failure in ’17 have been exaggerated by some.
Lance Lynn has been as good as could be expected in his eight starts with the Cardinals. In fact, he’s been better than could have been expected. Lynn has gone 4-2 with a 2.78 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and a 7.94 K/9 rate. Realize though, that in his first year back from Tommy John surgery it’s not logical to expect him to post a 2.78 ERA, his career mark is 3.33, or a 1.13 WHIP (career 1.29). It’s also worth noting that his current K-rate would be a career low. There’s also that pesky fact that he didn’t throw a single inning last season meaning caution for innings this season is warranted. In fact, it’s unlikely he will be allowed to throw much more than the 175.1 he tossed in 2015.
JC Ramirez had nine strikeouts April 30th against the Rangers. In his three starts since then he’s struck out eight batters.
Eduardo Rodriguez has 47 strikeouts in 41.1 innings this season. That’s impressive. It’s also not sustainable as the mark is more than two full batters above his career rate of 8.17. Second, I don’t see him being able to keep up his 13.2 percent swinging strike rate (his career mark is 9.8 percent). It’s more than numbers though, it’s that he just doesn’t own the stuff to keep the rate as high as it is. Further, there are the walks. Even with his success this season ERod has issued 3.70 walks per nine, and that’s a half batter above the league average. Eduardo also will likely see a few more homers, his 9.1 percent HR/FB ratio is a bit low, as is his current .268 BABIP. A strong start, but keep in mind who he is.
Stephen Strasburg is 4-1 and has been healthy. I guess that’s what matters most. However, some concerns. Strasburg is walking 2.73 batters per nine. That would be the worst mark he’s posted in four years. His 3.00 K/BB ratio this season would be a career worst (4.49 career). The reason the mark is down significantly though is the 8.20 K/9 rate that’s more than two full batters below his career pace. Strasburg has a 10.3 percent swinging strike rate and that would also be a career low. His 61.9 percent first pitch strike rate would be a four year low (it’s been over 65 percent each of the last three years). He’s throwing his slider less, likely to protect his elbow, dipping from a 16.9 percent usage rate last season down to 6.9 percent this season. Last season his OPS allowed on the slider was .660. This year the mark is .807. Keep an eye on that.
Jameson Taillon had surgery for testicular cancer. He has been cleared to resume “light” baseball related activities. It’s unclear if he will be able to return to game action this season. We should know more about his prognosis and outlook after his visit next week with doctors. Let’s just hope he’s healthy first as baseball takes a back seat for now.
Andrew Triggs has made eight starts with a 5-2 record, a 2.12 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP this season for the Athletics. That’s terrific work. It’s actually even better than that if we’re being honest. In 6-of-8 outings Triggs has allowed one or zero earned runs. He’s been remarkable really. However, some sober honesty. (1) Triggs has a 6.75 K/9 rate. That’s almost a batter and a half below the league average. That’s a poor number. His swinging strike rate is 11.0 percent which suggests more strikeouts could be coming. (2) He’s only throwing 57.1 percent of his first pitches for strikes. Of the 99 men who qualify for the ERA title that mark comes in at 82nd in baseball. That’s terrible. (3) Triggs has thrown 41.6 percent of his pitches for strikes. Of the 99 men who qualify for the ERA title that tanks 86th. That’s terrible. (4) Though he has a 2.12 ERA his SIERA (4.02) and xFIP (4.05) are double that mark which speaks to the potential downfall of that ERA as we move forward.
And finally, just cause.... Jeremy Blevins appeared in his 24th game Wednesday for the Mets. That puts him on pace to pitch in 100 games this season. Blevins is also on pace for 59.2 innings this season. The record holder for most relief outings in a season is 106 by Mike Marshall in 1974 when he threw 208.1 innings. Folks, he threw more than 200 innings as a relief pitcher (in 1973 he tossed 92 games out of the bullpen with 179 innings pitched). In 2016 only nine starting pitchers threw 208.1 innings.
Ray Flowers can be heard Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday, 7 PM EDT, Wednesday 8 PM EDT on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). You can also hear Ray Sunday nights at 8 PM EDT PM on the channel talking fantasy sports. Follow Ray’s work on Twitter (@baseballguys).