The worst thing you can do one week into the fantasy baseball decision is overreact. Most teams have only played 6 or 7 games. The stabilization points for even the quickest stabilizing stats are still a week plus away. We can’t draw too many strong conclusions but that doesn’t mean that analysis can’t take place. Below are a few pitches who have struggled so far and some analysis on their first starts.
Joe Kelly (@ TOR: 3 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 4 K)
Oh yea, we’re back talking about Joe Kelly. Joe Kelly got rocked against Toronto which isn’t a big surprise. Toronto was one of the better teams in the majors in 2015 against two-seamers and that’s Kelly’s favorite pitch. Kelly was at his best last year when he mixed in a heavy dose of his off speed pitches (particularly the slider and changeup). While he did throw the slider 31.25% in game one, he didn’t throw a single changeup and still relied heavily on his sinker (43.75%). It shouldn’t be a shocker but he wasn’t very sharp with either. His slider had practically zero vertical movement and has less horizontal movement than last year which is likely why it was tattooed. Hopefully this was just rust from the offseason but there isn’t a lot in this one game that makes me excited for Kelly’s season. He’s worth monitoring but he did practically nothing right in his season debut.
Level of Concern: High
Michael Pineda (HOU: 5 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 5 K)
Pineda is going to be fine. Outside of three bad pitches against a team with some pop, he was quite good. His pitch usage was right in line with his previous Yankee seasons: heavy cutter and slider usage with some changeups mixed in. His velocity was down a bit (cutter down to 92.44 to 93.34) but he’s typically had his lowest velocity months in March and April throughout his career so I’m not overly worried. Even with the velocity slightly down, he generated 42.86% whiffs/swing with his slider and 22.73% whiffs/swing with his cutter which are both above his career norms. Pineda struggled with his changeup though. It was only seven pitches but he failed to generate a single swing and miss. Pineda absolutely needs his changeup to keep hitters honest. Although he gave up two of his HRs on his slider, it was still a filthy pitch. Pineda didn’t walk a single batter and struck out a batter an inning. If that doesn’t give you wood then nothing will.
Level of Concern: Zero isn’t low enough
Clay Buchholz (@ CLE: 4 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K)
The concern with Buchholz is a velocity drop on almost all of his pitches. His four seamer was down to 91.84 mph from 93.2 mph last year. However, Buchholz was getting move movement on all of his pitches. The diminished velocity could explain why he didn’t get a single swing and miss on his four seamer or sinker despite throwing them nearly 50% of the time. His lesser used pitches (mainly the curve at 13.83% and changeup at 14.89%) were quite good when he used them. The curve generated 33.33% whiffs/swing and the cutter was at 41.67%.
The below chart shows that Buchholz’s fastballs were clobbered when the batters made contact. He did much better with his off speed stuff.
I’m less worried about Buchholz than Kelly, but I was to see if Buchholz can regain some velocity. If his fastball continues to get pummeled, there is no hope for Buchholz.
Level of Concern: Moderate
Rubby De La Rosa (CHC: 3.33 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 2 K)
Rubby was hot garbage in his start this year. He didn’t have the best luck with a .429 BABIP and a 30% LOB rate, but he walked three versus only two Ks and gave up far too much medium (40%) and hard (40%) contact. Even though the Cubs are a great offense, this is not the kind of start we wanted to see from RDLR because it’s just more of the same. There are some promising developments though.
RDLR’s velocity was up with a 96.13 mph fastball compared to 95.5 mph in 2015. He also generated a healthy number of swings and misses on all of his pitches.
It’s only one start but it’s promising to see that he’s generating whiffs/swing at a rate similar to last year. His problem in game one was command and giving up solid contact both of which have always been knocks on RDLR. Its 3.33 innings but it was more of the same. The breakout can still happen but not if he continues repeating the same mistakes over and over.
Level of Concern: Moderate +