Deep League Sleeper: Out Of Cincinnati, Can Anthony Desclafani Finally Emerge?


Formerly of the Cincinnati Reds, Anthony Desclafani has often been viewed as a potential impact starter. Injuries have definitely played a role, but more often than not he’s fallen flat of expectations. Turning 31-years old in April he owns a career 4.29 ERA over 656.1 IP and is coming off a year where he posted a 7.22 ERA over 33.2 IP. So now in San Francisco, is there any reason to get excited?

Interestingly, for his career he’s been far better one the road than at home:

  • Home – 4.94 ERA
  • Road – 3.61 ERA

Home runs have a lot to do with that, with a 1.57 HR/9 pitching in Cincinnati (1.07 on the road). While he’s not an elite groundball artist (42.5% career groundball rate), the number also isn’t abysmal and it shouldn’t yield as bad of a home run rate as the home mark. Moving to a far more pitcher friendly park, that alone is going to put his name on fantasy maps.

While he struggled with his control in 2020 (4.28 BB/9), Desclafani owns a career 2.54 BB/9. In fact, prior to this past season he had never posted a walk rate worse than 2.68 (and that came in 2015).

So we’d think home runs should be kept in check and we’d expect the control to rebound. That leaves the one question being his ability to miss enough bats.

For his career Desclafani owns a 9.6% SwStr% and 30.5% O-Swing%, neither of which would indicate a lofty strikeout rate was possible. His slider is his best swing and miss pitch, but after pushing a 20% Whiff% on the pitch in his first few seasons it has taken a distinct step backwards:

  • 2016 – 17.01%
  • 2018 – 19.26%
  • 2019 – 15.44%
  • 2020 – 16.58%

He has added velocity, averaging 94.9 mph on his fastball in 2020 (up from 92.5 mph early in his career). In 2019 he did post a career best 10.1% SwStr%, which isn’t elite but it does give a little bit of hope (it yielded a 9.02 K/9). He may not be able to maintain a strikeout per inning, but would an 8.25-8.50 K/9 shock anyone?

While he has been hit harder in recent years (like a 40.5% Hard% in 2019, for instance), it again isn’t enough of a red flag to cause concern. Desclafani may never be an elite starter, or even a Top 40-50 option, but getting out of Cincinnati alone is going to give him value.

We are going to want to pick our spots, like sitting him for starts in Coors Field, but Desclafani should see his value improve with the move to a better home ballpark. No longer just a streamer, he’s worth a spot at the back of your roster.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

Make sure to check out all of our preliminary 2021 rankings:

PositionDate Updated
First Baseman11/09/20
Second Baseman11/16/20
Third Baseman11/30/20
Starting Pitcher--
Relief Pitcher--


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