Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Could The Returning Kendall Graveman Be A Fantasy Factor In 2020?

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Kendall Graveman missed all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery (he threw 6.0 innings in the minors), but when healthy he’s generally been a serviceable starter in the Majors posting a 4.38 ERA and 1.38 WHIP over 446.0 IP.  As he continues to work his way back, he’s now signed with the Seattle Mariners who should provide him an opportunity to join their rotation.  Should fantasy owners care, however?

In order to answer that we need to first look at the underlying “skills” he’s previously shown:

  • Strikeouts – 5.77 K/9
  • Control – 2.62 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 51.7%

Obviously the groundball rate would play well in any situation, but after that it’s fair to have questions.  While he’s generally been a strong control pitcher, that’s usually the last skill to return after such a long absence.  That’s not to say that he can’t immediately return to throwing strikes or that he’s suddenly going to post a walk rate of 4.00 or higher.  However would a 3.25 BB/9, or even slightly higher, be a huge surprise?

Then we get to the strikeout rate, which was virtually non-existent prior to the injury.  For his career he owns a 7.4% SwStr% and 27.9% O-Swing%, and he lacks a true outpitch to expect a significant improvement.  Just look at his Whiff% from 2016, arguably his best season when he threw 186.0 IP:

  • Curveball – 14.50%
  • Cut-Fastball – 12.88%
  • Changeup – 7.92%
  • Fourseam Fastball – 6.20%
  • Sinker – 5.71%

He’s primarily a sinker/cut-fastball pitcher, which helps to explain the lack of strikeouts.  Of course it also is going to continue limiting him, and a lack of strikeouts to go along with control that could regress?  That’s never going to be a combination fantasy owners covet, especially for a pitcher in the American League.

Could he be a potential streaming option?  Perhaps, but that’s about all the value he has at this point.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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