by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Over his first two starts (he took on the Angels and Rangers) the A’s Sean Manaea has looked strong, compiling a 1.15 ERA and 0.51 WHIP over 15.2 IP. Of course it’s a small sample size, but the underlying metrics would appear to be promising (for the most part):
- Strikeouts – 6.32 K/9
- Control – 0.57 BB/9
- Groundballs – 47.5%
There are some obvious questions, as well as some issues in the luck metrics (.154 BABIP, 92.1% strand rate), so is he for real or is he going to fall off a cliff?
Manaea only registered 4 K over 8.0 IP in his second start, and that drags down his overall mark. His overall 12.7% SwStr% and 40.2% O-Swing% show promise that the first start (7 K over 7.2 IP) is closer to the truth… Or is it? Look at a breakdown of his swinging strikes, by start:
- Angels – 17 swinging strikes
- Rangers – 8 swinging strikes
He did post an 11.3% SwStr% in ’17, which led to a 7.94 K/9 (in 2016 he had an 11.8% SwStr% which brought in a 7.71 K/9). It’s fair to point to the second start as the aberration, not the rule, and expecting an 8.0ish K/9 is a good bet.
Obviously his current walk rat isn’t sustainable, but he owns a 2.62 BB/9 over 319.0 innings in the Majors and is getting opponents to chase outside the strike zone at an extremely high rate. There’s no doubt that his control is going to be a strength, and if he continues to get opponents chasing at this type of rate the mark will be elite. Even if it regresses, though, we’re talking about a walk rate in the 2.50-3.00 range.
Remember Manaea owned a 48.8% groundball rate in the first half of ’17 so it’s possible that he maintains this type of rate. While it’s not elite, when coupled with the other skills (and his home ballpark) it will get the job done.
Obviously he’s not going to maintain these types of marks, as it’s a miniscule sample size. Still the skills play, so even with a regression the overall performance should be strong.
Is Manaea this good? Of course not, but he’s good and the early SwStr% and O-Swing% are promising. We wouldn’t go crazy to acquire him (at this point there’s no “buy low” opportunity) nor would we tab him as a must sell. He should be a solid Top 50 starter for the season, just as we expected entering the year, with the potential to be better than that. Just stay the course and reap the rewards.
Sources – Fangraphs
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