by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
If you thought we had small sample sizes for the hitters around the league, for the majority of pitchers we have just a handful of innings (one start) to try and make determinations off of. It’s nearly impossible, though looking at pitch usage and velocity (among other things) can give us a little bit of insight. Let’s take a look at two starters who thrived in their first starts and try to determine if they can maintain the performance moving forward:
Tyler Mahle – Cincinnati Reds
6.0 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 2 BB, 7 K (vs. Cubs)
Is one start enough to change our opinion of Mahle? Here’s what we had written about him in our 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide:
Mahle struggled with his control in his 4 starts in the Majors (11 BB), though coming up through the minors that has been his biggest strength (1.9 BB/9). Is that enough of a skill to bring success? Between Double and Triple-A last season he posted a 10.5% SwStr% (9.5% at Triple-A, leading to a 7.74 K/9) and a 40.1% groundball rate (which will mean potential home run issues in the Majors). Given the questions in the rotation he’ll get another shot, but the upside is minimal.
While Mahle did have a 10.5% SwStr% in his first start, it’s not enough to convince us of his ability to maintain a strikeout per inning. That’s especially true when coupled with his inability to get opponents to chase (23.9% O-Swing%) and his 12.00% Whiff% on his fourseam fastball (he’s not overpowering, as Rich Wilson of Prospect 361 described it as a “modest fastball” prior to the season).
Mahle also continued to struggle generating groundballs, with a 36.4% groundball rate, and that will eventually catch up with him. Could he have some value, especially in the WHIP department? Absolutely, but don’t look towards him as a potential fantasy ace and there could be more bad days than good if he’s not generating many strikeouts.
Waiver Wire Guidelines:
- 10 Team Leagues – Don’t Add
- 12 Team Leagues – Streaming Option, At Best
- 14+ Team Leagues – Worth Gamble
- NL-Only Leagues – Worth Gamble
- Keeper Leagues – Worth Gamble
Andrew Triggs – Oakland A’s
5.0 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 2 BB, 7 K (vs. Rangers)
Injuries cost Triggs the bulk of ’17 (65.1 IP), and that likely caused him to be a bit overlooked. However now over 126.2 IP in the Majors he’s shown signs of all three skills we look for from a pitcher:
- Strikeouts – 7.96 K/9
- Control – 2.42 BB/9
- Groundballs – 49.9%
He owns a career 10.5% SwStr% and while some define his pitches differently, he’s shown a willingness to use his curveball (as per Brooks Baseball) more and more:
- 2016 – 18.51%
- 2017 – 23.10%
- 2018 – 37.50%
That was his big strikeout pitch in his first start (24.24% Whiff%) and over the course of his career opponents have hit .180 against it with a .274 SLG. It was one start, but it makes sense to continue focusing on the pitch. He’s not a hard thrower, but it’s possible he continues with a K/9 in the 8.00-8.25 range. When coupled with the other numbers that makes him an extremely intriguing option as long as he’s healthy.
Waiver Wire Guidelines:
- 10 Team Leagues – Monitor
- 12 Team Leagues – Worth Adding
- 14+ Team Leagues – Must Add
- AL-Only Leagues – Must Add
- Keeper Leagues – Worth Adding
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, Prospect 361
Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings? Make sure to check it out by clicking here.