Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Does Reynaldo Lopez’ Strong Finish Indicate A 2019 Flourish Is Coming?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Reynaldo Lopez has long had significant hype behind him, having been viewed as a strong prospect coming up through Washington’s system.  An impressive finish in September is only going to help get fantasy owners excited once again:

33.0 IP, 1.09 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 9.55 K/9, 2.45 BB/9

The big development was a spike in his strikeout rate, something he had started to show signs of in August (8.02 K/9).  There was a definite spike in his SwStr%, as he posted an overall 9.2% but had it up to 10.7% in September.  He changed his approach, at least a little bit, using his fourseam fastball (62.21%) and changeup (18.02%) more, with his slider (12.79%) taking more of a backseat.

It’s clear that the change led to better control (3.58 BB/9 overall) and there has never been a question about his stuff, so it can be seen as a positive development.  That’s a good thing, and moving forward it should help him find at least some effectiveness.

That said, there’s one big red flag that continues to hang over him and that’s a complete lack of groundballs.  Last season he posted a 33.0% groundball rate, leading to a 1.19 HR/9.  Of course the year before he was at a 1.32 HR/9 and it’s hard to buy into his 0.55 HR/9 in September.

Even furthering the concern is that his fastball, which he was throwing more late in the season, yielded 20 HR during the year.  Can we really expect him to suppress the power?  That’s going to lead to a regression in his production, even with the improvements, and his .213 BABIP and 95.4% strand rate in September also help to mask the issues.

We aren’t about to say that he hasn’t figured something out, because it certainly appears like he has, but there are two big red flags that we simply can’t ignore:

  1. Risk of home runs
  2. Significant luck in September

If you ignore those two things you may think that he’s finally figured it out, but that would be a mistake.  He’s going to be at least slightly better, but we are talking about a 4.25-4.50 ERA and not someone who is going to post a usable mark.  Keep that in mind before targeting him in 2019 drafts.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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Make sure to check out all of our 2019 projections:

Player
Date Posted
Dylan Bundy10/22/18
Foltynewicz, Mike10/09/18
Gibson, Kyle10/29/18
Hoskins, Rhys10/16/18
Hosmer, Eric11/05/18
Wheeler, Zack10/02/18

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