by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We all know the players who have disappointed, but the bigger question is if they can turn things around or if it’s best to cut our losses and move on. In terms of pitchers we have the added “bonus” of at least being able to pick our spots, if the upside remains, though that may be a small consolation prize. Let’s take a look at two players who we had high expectations for and try to determine how we should proceed:
Zack Godley – Arizona Diamondbacks – Pitcher
2018 Statistics – 5.12 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 8.58 K/9, 4.57 BB/9
What a frustrating year it’s been for a pitcher who had high expectations entering the season (it feels like we are talking about giving up on him every week or two after all). It’s easy to point towards at least a little bit of poor luck, with a .316 BABIP and 69.2% strand rate, but the bigger issue has been a jump in home runs (1.38 HR/9) and a sudden inability to get opponents to chase outside the strike zone (28.4% O-Swing%).
There hasn’t been a dramatic change in his approach, but his Whiff% has dropped significantly on his curveball (22.16% to 16.43%) and that was his biggest strikeout pitch a year ago (111 K). That’s an obvious red flag, though it’s also interesting that all of his struggles have come on the road:
- Home – 2.93 ERA
- Road – 7.08 ERA
That’s where he’s had the control (6.55 BB/9) and home run (1.57 HR/9) issues. That wasn’t the case last season (3.29 ERA) and while the strikeouts are down at home as well, there’s reason to believe that a turnaround is coming.
It’s obviously frustrating, but at the very least he’s worth using when starting at home for now with the potential to become a must start overall before long.
Verdict – Hold
Cody Bellinger – Los Angeles Dodgers – First Baseman/Outfielder
2018 Statistics – .225, 8 HR, 25 RBI, 32 R, 2 SB
While Bellinger’s strikeout rate has actually regressed (26.6% to 24.8%), he’s swinging and missing more against fastballs this season (12.34% Whiff% to 16.84%). While that’s a concern, and there are indications that the strikeout rate will jump higher (26.5% in May) is it enough of a red flag to justify just how bad he’s been?
The biggest issues have been two significant drops:
- Hard% – 43.0% to 36.5%
- HR/FB – 25.2% to 11.9%
There’s no question about his power, but he had a significant split last season (19.4% HR/FB in the second half, 30.1% in the first). The second half number always appeared to be closer to the truth, and that yielded 14 HR over 223 AB (a HR every 15.9 AB). All he needs to do is get back to that pace, which is a realistic expectation, and he’s already shown signs of improving his Hard% (38.0%). While there may be a great buying opportunity, now isn’t the time to give up on him if you currently own him.
Verdict – Hold
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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