by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
When you look at Ivan Nova’s numbers from 2016 it’s almost like you are looking at two completely different pitchers, the one that called Yankee Stadium home and the one who thrived after his trade to the Pirates:
The biggest improvement came in the home run department, as he was getting pummeled in New York (1.76 HR/9) before barely watching the ball leave the yard in Pittsburgh (0.56 HR/9). That improvement should not come as a surprise, considering his 53.6% groundball rate and the amount he utilizes his sinker (51.48% in ’16).
Of the 23 HR he allowed last season, 9 came over 52.2 IP at Yankee Stadium. There’s every reason to believe in the improvement in that regard.
In regards to the strikeouts, the move to the National League alone would’ve justified an improvement. With an overall 9.4% SwStr% and 35.2% O-Swing% we would’ve expected a better mark than what he was doing in New York anyway.
Remember, before the injuries started mounting he had posted an 8.08 K/9 in ’12 and 7.49 in ’13, so he does have a history of better performance. While the jump in Pittsburgh was nice, there’s the potential for another step forward (think the 7.50 K/9 type range).
While the control isn’t going to be as good as it was in Pittsburgh, it obviously was above average prior to the trade as well. The owner of a career 2.73 BB/9 and given his impressive O-Swing% (the league average is 30.3%), there’s every reason to believe that he’s going to continue avoiding an excessive amount of walks.
So, what do we have here? A quick summary:
- An above average groundball rate
- A strikeout rate with the potential to rise even more
- An above average walk rate
That skill set alone would garner attention. Put it in Pittsburgh, with their track record of revitalizing pitchers and helping them realize their full potential, and the upside rises even more. While he’s never going to be an elite strikeout pitcher, which keeps him more as a backend option, there’s every reason to believe that he’s going to produce impressive numbers across the board. As a SP4/SP5 type, he’s a must own option for any fantasy team.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, CBS Sports
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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:
|Starting Pitcher||#1-20 |02/27/17|