The Ditch List: Are There Legitimate Concerns For Jose Berrios In 2017?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Just when we thought Jose Berrios was finally living up to his billing as a potentially elite starting pitcher, things have taken a dramatic turn since the All-Star Break:

Half
IP
ERA
WHIP
K/9
BB/9
First71.13.531.088.712.40
Second27.26.181.526.183.58

Obviously it’s been an across the board regression, so is it fatigue or is it something else?  At least part of his second half struggle has come due to poor luck (52.6% strand rate), but he’s also traded groundballs (43.3% to 31.1%) for line drives (16.5% to 27.8%).  That alone is going to signal problems, but his skills with his pitches have also regressed significantly:

  • SwStr% – 10.1% to 7.4%
  • O-Swing% – 32.3% to 25.4%

Does he have the stuff to buck the trend and rediscover the stuff that put him on the map in the first half?  Absolutely, but it also isn’t a guarantee.  Could this be a “dead arm” period or fatigue, that he will recover from?  Perhaps.  Could it be the league simply adjusting to his stuff?  Perhaps, and that could mean bigger issues.

Since July 1 opponents are hitting .319 against his fourseam fastball and .314 on his sinker.  Through June 30 the marks were .188 and .203, respectively.  That’s obviously a significant issue and the trend has been going for far too long to simply ignore it or chalk it up to fatigue.

There shouldn’t be any type of innings limit restriction, as he’s thrown 138.2 IP this season after accumulating 169.2 IP in ’16.  That said, as with any young pitcher we’d expect inconsistencies down the stretch and with the fastball concerns growing considering him as a sell candidate if you are looking towards the stretch run makes sense.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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5 comments

  1. Gary says:

    Not to be overly simplistic, but is there something to be said about his schedule? He’s faced the Astros, Yankees, Dodgers, Padres, Rangers, and Tigers. I see 5 premium offenses in there that could wreck even the best pitchers.

    • bbboston says:

      As an add-on to that astute comment, let’s not forget that besides a dead arm period a small injury could go a long way to explaining the performance drop. This guy has such good “stuff” with command, I simply have a hard time buying that he can’t bounce back.

      Look back a year at Severino…better “stuff”, but worse command of his secondary pitches. Now he’s a total stud. While I don’t expect Berrios ceiling to be the same, there is comparability.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Both are fair points, but the numbers against his fastball are a concern regardless. I am a big believer in Berrios and think he is going to be a Top 30 starter in ’18 and beyond. For the remainder of this season I’d have my concerns

      • Bennies Express says:

        So in a keeper league where I can keep 5 (he was a FA pickup sp I would be able to keep him in rd 30 and then the next FA keeper 29 etc…) you would say he is a definite to keep? My eligible players that I have to be keepers are Berrios, Devers, Gallo, Faria, Happ, Pham and Fisher, with that would you say keep Berrios and just curious who else would you keep out of those? They were all FA pickups I have others that I drafted but the FA pickups are better than the other eligible keepers I have.

        • Rotoprofessor says:

          I’d try to trade Gallo for a better keeper. Aside from Berrios/Devers, you can probably get better value by dealing then keeping man of those (who are somewhat sell high candidates)

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