As we near the mid-season mark numbers can begin to deceive. Did a hurler start off quickly, so quickly in fact that his current numbers are still impressive even with a recent slowdown in his production? Did a hurler start off so slowly that even a hot run of late has done nothing but make the overall numbers appear to be average at best? I'll take a look at seven hurlers and give my thoughts on what you should expect from each moving forward.
Chris Archer has a great right wing, and the future is bright for the Rays' hurler. Still, it hasn't exactly been a brilliant start to his big league career. Archer tossed 29.1 innings last season and this year his five starts have led to 25.2 innings pitched. Through 55 innings he's brought the power ball, he has a K/9mark of 9.49, but he's also shown an inability to throw strikes consistently (see his 4.58 BB/9 mark). You simply cannot consistently have success as a starting pitcher in the big leagues walking more than four and a half batters per nine innings. That's really the main issue here. I will say this. If he keeps up that 1.32 GB/FB ratio, and continues to float along with a HR/9 mark of 0.98, he should have a shot to have a lot of success if he just throws strikes. Of course, he needs to get the walks in check and to maintain his spot in the Rays' rotation when David Price returns. He's a strong option in AL-only leagues, but a middling one in mixed leagues right now.
Patrick Corbin continues to get it done, and he continues to confound analysis. Not only is Corbin undefeated at 9-0, he's also sporting two elite ratios with a 2.19 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. How is this happening? As I continue to say, he's been mighty fortunate. Oh hell, he's been one lucky sucker. Quickly cause I don't want to belabor a point I've previously made. (1) His 82.3 percent left on base percentage is at a league leading level. Can't expect that to continue. (2) His 6.93 K/9 mark is below his 7.23 rate from last season and it's also below the league average. (3) His 2.37 BB/9 mark is a solid total, but it's higher than the mark of 2.10 that he had last season when his ERA was 4.54. (4) His 0.53 HR/9 mark, and his 6.3 percent HR/F ratio, are both half of the totals that he posted last season. (5) His 1.37 GB/FB is a solid mark, but it's actually a tenth lower than last season. (6) His 21.6 line drive rate is higher than the league average yet he is somehow sporting a .243 BABIP rate after last years .317 mark. (7) His xFIP last year was 3.73. This season it's 3.75. He's not pitching any different than he did last year though the results are completely different.
Jorge De La Rosa has eight wins an a 3.19 ERA. The people are rejoicing. What they are missing follows. (1) His 1.29 WHIP is basically league average. (2) His .294 BABIP is league average. (3) His 3.19 BB/9 mark is league average. (4) His 5.90 K/9 rate is awful and it's two batters below his career mark. The result is a 1.85 K/BB ratio that is well below the league average and smack dab on his 1.80 career rate. (5) A career 1.01 HR/9 mark has somehow been cut in half this season at 0.48. More data could be laid out but hopefully you can understand, from this meager information, that you shouldn't expect DLR to have a second half that matches the first half.
Nathan Eovaldi was looked on as a lock to make the Marlins' rotation this season. Alas, injuries made that impossible, and it's only recently that he's returned to game action. In two starts Nathan has posted a 3.00 ERA and 0.83 WHIP, and he's starting to generate some excitement in mixed leagues. Perhaps we should pull the reigns a bit. Eovaldi has worked 166 innings as a big leaguer and there is nothing as of yet that sticks out in a positive way. The K/9 (6.02) and walk rates (3.80 per nine) are poor. His 1.40 GB/FB ratio is solid but that isn't enough to cause one to pass over his 23.2 percent line drive rate. Now he does one thing you cannot teach, he throws very hard with an average heater of 94 mph and a nice slider that sits at 86, so the “stuff” is there for him to have success if he can stay healthy and get into a groove. The problem is that he's never been a big strikeout arm – his career K/9 mark in 364 minor league innings is 7.4, a solid mark but nothing outstanding – and with the name “Marlins” on the front of his jersey he's not exactly likely to rack up the “W's.”
Kyle Gibson will start for the Twins Saturday as he makes his delayed big league debut. Gibson missed most of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, so at least he has that out of the way. The former elite prospect, ranked as the 34th best prospect in baseball before the start of the 2011 season, has a ton of talent, though that doesn't mean he's set to dominate in the big leagues off the hop. Gibson is 21-21 in his minor league career with a 3.54 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. Those are solid numbers, but nothing over the top. He does have eight strikeouts per nine innings in 15 starts at Triple-A this season, and his 3.01 ERA and 1.14 WHIP are nice numbers as well. Bottom line is that he can safely be added in most mixed leagues if you're trying to roll the dice on a waiver-wire pickup. Keep this in mind though. Being that Gibson is coming off Tommy John surgery and a season of just 28.1 innings thrown last season, the Twins will likely cap Gibson's innings pitched total this season at around 130-140 innings. If that happens Gibson might only have 10 starts left in him given that he's already thrown 92.2 innings this season.
Ubaldo Jimenez is 6-4 with a 4.58 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. How hum right? Well, maybe not. Over his last 10 starts he's looked pretty solid allowing three or fewer earned runs in each outing (he's allowed a total of five runs his last three starts). Here are his overall numbers over his last 10 trips to the bump for the Indians: 5-2, 3.46 ERA, 1.41 WHIP with a 9.5 K/9 mark. That's pretty good work for a guy who likely wasn't drafted in mixed leagues this season. The strikeouts are wonderful of course, but those walks are still holding him back. With a 4.4 BB/9 mark over his last 10 outings the free passes continue to be his bugaboo. At least he's been better there of late walking a total of nine batters his last four outings. That's a livable level. Starting Ubaldo is likely playing with fire. Sometimes the heat keeps you warm in a storm. Other times, the first burns your barn down.
Jordan Lyles is 4-2 through 11 starts for the Astros. Yippee. However, much like Ubaldo, there's something going on of late that deserves a note. Lyles allowed five runs in his last outing, but in the previous seven trips to the hill he didn't allow more than two earned runs in any outing. In fact, he's been rather impressive over his last eight outings. Check out the numbers: 2.36 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 6.5 K/9 and 3.27 K/BB ratio. He's not exactly an elite talent, and his performance hasn't been elite either, but he's been a waiver-wire gem nonetheless and deserves to be started until the good times come to an end
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday at 5 PM EDT. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answer everyone's questions.
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