Ray's Ramblings - Pitcher Report 6/13/18
Ray takes a look at the state of pitching at the current time. Here are the arms he will review, discussing trends, both good and bad, while giving his thoughts on each starting pitcher under discussion: Steven Wright, Jose Quintana, Wade LeBlanc, Andrew Heaney, Junior Guerra, Jack Flaherty, Patrick Corbin, Dylan Bundy and Madison Bumgarner.
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“I could tell that he wanted to toss me,” Madison Bumgarner said after the first ejection of his big-league career. “And I said, ‘Go Ahead’. I might have given him a little extra encouragement after that.” He lasted 5.1 innings in the effort and that’s six runs in 11.1 innings with six strikeouts over two outings. He’s been a bit off, though he’s only walked one batter and really hasn’t shown anything outlandishly poor in the two outings. He will get better.
Dylan Bundy has been aces the last two outings with no runs allowed, and only six hits permitted over 15 innings. Those two games have dropped his ERA to 3.66 and his WHIP to 1.20. The WHIP is a direct match for the number he posted last season while the ERA is a good deal below the 4.24 rate he posted. The walks are just two hundredths off last season at 2.69 per nine, and the strikeouts are two batters up per nine at 10.22. I don’t know if he can keep that up, the 14.1 swinging strike rate says he can, but I’m dubious of both numbers. I can totally accept a batter per inning though. I’m still surprised at how many questions I’ve got about him the last week asking if folks should add him off waivers. Folks, he never should have been on waivers.
Patrick Corbin walked three batters for just the third time this season in his last outing leading to five runs, four earned, in 5.1 innings (four of the runs scored in the fateful fifth inning). That’s the second time in three outings that he’s allowed at least five runs and his ERA is up to 3.10. He’s toast. Wait a second… he’s not. Folks, you have to understand who guys are, what their skills are, and what is reasonable. The positives. (1) He’s thrown at least five innings every outing. (2) Just three times in 14 starts has he allowed four runs. (3) He has a 2.59 BB/9 rate, just off his 2.68 per nine career mark. (4) His 1.03 HR/9 rate is just off his 1.10 rate. (5) His 1.48 GB/FB ratio is just off his 1.64 career rate. (6) His SIERA is 2.91 and his xFIP is 2.73, marks right in line with his actual ERA. He’s been really good. There is still some slide liking coming, but the doom-and-gloom talk with him is just over the top.
Jack Flaherty has made eight starts for the Cardinals. In five of those outings he allowed just one run, including his last effort against the Padres. Only once has he allowed more than three earned runs, four in his first start of June. All told he has a 2.96 ERA, a 2.17 BB/9 and 48 strikeouts in 45.2 innings. He’s been mostly good for the Cards without being stupendous, as should have been expected. He’s struggled a bit against lefties though with a mere 7.29 K/9 rate, a 1.38 WHIP and a .263/.330/400 slash line, something he will need to tighten up to take the next step.
Lucas Giolito has made 13 starts with a 4-7 record, a 7.09 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP. He’s also struck out 34 men while walking 43. It’s been a dreadful season, flat out, for the former elite level prospect. He’s offered a flicker of hope allowing six runs his last two starts, but even those efforts have included four strikeouts, six walks and a 4.91 ERA. Flicker is likely too strong a word. Do you know that over his last 11 outings he’s struck out more than three batters one time? That’s just horrible.
Junior Guerra has been relatively on fire his last six outings. Though he’s 1-1 in the record department, he has a 2.32 ERA and has allowed just 28 hits in 34.1 frames. He’s been aided by the .255 BABIP, an 85.4 left on base percentage, and the 6.82 K/9 rate simply isn’t remotely close to the league average. He and Mike Leake are kings of the ‘I’m doing enough to get it done but I really don’t have any dominating skills’ club. I’d be very cautious with depending on Guerra moving forward.
Andrew Heaney has made 11 outings for the Angels with a 3.68 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. He’s been wildly successful given that he made six starts the previous two seasons. In 4-of-6 outings he’s held the opponent to one or fewer runs. However, in the other two outings he’s allowed five runs leading to 10 runs in just eight innings of work. He allowed three homers last time out, but that’s just seven on the year so its likely just a bad outing against he Mariners. You have to understand with Heaney that anything you get at this point is just… gravy. I would seriously consider trying to sell if you still own him. The overall body of work is impressive indeed, but the lack of innings on his resume and the slow down of late suggests caution moving forward.
Wade LeBlanc hasn’t allowed more than three runs in an outing since April 19th. Moreover, he’s allowed two or fewer earned runs in 9-of-10 outings as he’s sporting a 3.00 ERA. However, the concerns follow. (1) His xFIP of 4.60 paints the picture of a man pitching on a bit of borrowed time. (2) He’s allowed four homers his last three outings as his HR/9 has risen to 1.33. That’s hardly a surprising level given the 1.32 rate he posted last season and the 1.31 rate he owns for his career. He allows a lot of fly balls, 45.5 percent this season, and that’s going to lead to the homer. In fact, his fly ball rate is a five-year high meaning that the only reason his homer rate isn’t higher is that he has a three year low with a 10.7 HR/FB rate. Yes, it could be worse in the homer department. (3) Note that he’s also had a difficult time with lefties as he’s allowed a .286/.327/.469 slash line. Operating on borrowed time, but there haven’t been any overt signs of failure, or obvious blowups, for LeBlanc.
Jose Quintana is one out away from having 3-straight quality starts as he’s allowed four runs his last 17.2 innings. He’s been pitching much better for a while now as he’s posted a 9.59 K/9 rate with a 2.66 ERA his last nine outings. Walks are still an issue, he’s issued 3.91 per nine in those nine outings, but he’s walked just two batters in 4-straight outings as he’s slowly improving. He’s been particularly solid on the road with a .297 wOBA, and when facing lefties (.269 wOBA). The overall ERA of 4.09 and 1.34 WHIP has caused some folks, you know who you are, to question his efficacy as a potential top-30 starting pitcher the rest of the way. I say, buy Quintana while keeping a close eye on that walk rate.
Steven Wright is part of the Red Sox rotation, and with Drew Pomeranz hurt and sucking wind when on the hill (6.81 ERA, 1.84 WHIP) it seems like he might stick there. The knuckleballer made just five starts last year due to injury and off the field issues, but he’s made eight outings this season and looked sharp with a 1.21 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. Wright has allowed nothing in six outings, including those last two starts, to run his streak to no runs allowed in 22.2 innings. He’s walked 11 batters in those 22.2 innings but with 19 strikeouts. Batters have produced just 10 hits as his BABIP has sits at .182, so there is some obvious regression coming, and knuckleballers have a habit of finding a groove, gaining your confidence, and then laying a turkey without notice. Note though that he has produced a 3.59 ERA and 1.29 WHIP over his last 210.1 innings with 165 punchouts, a pretty long run of rather solid work. As you can tell from my tone in this writeup, I’m always leery of guys that flutter the ball up there. A rotation rounder outer in mixed leagues.
You can hear Ray, Monday through Friday, on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). Ray is on The Fantasy Drive 7-10 PM EST M/TU/TH/F and 8-10 Weds, and he’s also on the Guru Elite Show Thursday from 2-4 PM EST. You can follow Ray on Twitter at @baseballguys.