by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There was a good amount of hype bestowed upon Dinelson Lamet upon his arrival in the Majors, as fantasy owners hoped that they had found an unknown resource. To an extent he delivered value, though the numbers weren’t spectacular:
139 Strikeouts (10.94 K/9)
54 Walks (4.25 BB/9)
37.1% Groundball Rate
The strikeouts stand out as a strong skill, but outside of that the questions are there. The hope would’ve been that pitching in Petco Park would help to offset some home run concerns, but a 1.42 HR/9 shows that wasn’t the case (1.40 at home, 1.44 on the road). Considering his 39.5% groundball rate over 150.0 innings in the minors in ’16, it’s hard to imagine a dramatic change.
Maybe he cuts down the home runs slightly, especially pitching at home, but that’s an almost non-starter when talking about his viability.
When you match that issue with a lack of control, considering a 3.8 BB/9 over his minor league career and 4.3 over 49.2 innings at Triple-A, and the risk rises that much more. He didn’t show an ability to fool opposing hitters, with a 27.8% O-Swing%, so expecting a significant improvement here also is unwise.
Now you throw in a BABIP that will almost certainly rise and the formula is one that is pretty straight forward:
Home Runs + Walks + Regressed Luck = Pitcher To Avoid
Obviously the strikeouts are going to grab our attention, and he is useful in that regard. Both his slider (19.01% Whiff%) and changeup (15.29% Whiff%) represent swing and miss pitches, and he pairs them with a fourseam fastball that averaged 95.31 mph. That’s attention grabbing, and is going to make people want to believe that he’s going to figure it out.
Maybe he will, but as opponents saw him the control really regressed (4.79 BB/9 after the All-Star Break) and the home run issues simply aren’t going to disappear. Even his line drive rate ballooned (23.7% in the second half), further cementing the expected regression in luck. It’s not to say that he can’t evolve, but it’s not a gamble we’d be looking to take.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Brooks Baseball
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Projections: