by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
After the 2014 season it looked like Collin McHugh was ticketed to be a perennial top pitching option. That’s what happens when you post a 2.73 ERA, courtesy of a 9.14 K/9 and 2.39 BB/9. Things have slid since then (ERA of 3.89 and 4.34), and you can argue that it has led to him being undervalued heading into 2017. There’s actually reason to believe that a renaissance is coming, assuming he’s healthy, so let’s take a look:
177 Strikeouts (8.63 K/9)
54 Walks (2.63 BB/9)
41.3% Groundball Rate
It was a nice rebound, after posting a 7.56 K/9 in ’15, and things looked even better in the second half (9.04 K/9). McHugh changed his approach, reducing the use of his cutter and replacing it with more curveballs:
His curveball has always been his put away pitch, including an 18.00% Whiff% last season, and over the course of his career opponents have hit just .174 with a .285 SLG against the pitch (.214 with a .350 SLG in ’16). Considering opponents hit .290 against his cutter, and with the increased strikeout potential, the change makes a lot of sense. Assuming he maintains this type of repertoire, a strikeout per inning is realistic.
This has never been an issue, as displayed by his numbers the past three seasons:
- 2014 – 2.39
- 2015 – 2.34
- 2016 – 2.63
There’s no reason to think that anything is going to change.
The BABIP last season was obviously inflated, considering a 20.6% line drive rate (30.2% Hard%). When you couple an improvement there with the other marks we discussed, there becomes a lot to like.
Home runs were an issue last season (1.22 HR/9), and it’s not impossible that continues (42.5% career groundball rate). However with the control, strikeout potential and improved luck there is every reason to believe that he’s going to put up a strong season. He’s not going to be an ace, or even a starter that we’d want as one of the top three on our fantasy rotation, but as a back end option the potential is there.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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Make sure to check out our 2017 Rankings:
|Starting Pitcher||#1-20 |02/27/17|