Looking to fill out your fantasy pitching staff? This series of articles will focus on some fliers that are well worth taking, despite a few potential risks (i.e. a spot in the rotation, injury concerns, etc.).
The Rockies’ Jon Gray could be the epitome of a post-hype sleeper, as there are two key points that appear to be dragging down his perceived value:
- The stigma of pitching half his games at Coors Field
- His abysmal performance from 2018 (5.12 ERA, 1.35 WHIP over 172.1 IP)
There’s not much we can do about the first point, barring a trade, though prior to 2018 home runs had never been an issue in the Majors. Last season he posted a 1.41 HR/9, though he continued to display the improved groundball rate of 2017 (48.9% and 47.5% over the past two seasons). That’s not to say that he won’t have his issues, but it’s fair to assume that he’s going to be able to improve (it was a second half swoon that dragged the mark down, as he was at a 1.00 HR/9 in the first half).
That improvement, along with his swing and miss stuff and control, should yield solid/strong results regardless of where he calls home. Even during his struggles he posted a 9.56 K/9 and 2.72 BB/9, courtesy of a 12.3% SwStr%. He had two pitches that he could rely on to get swings and misses, in his slider (20.08% Whiff%) and curveballs (18.05%) which makes it all the more believable that he maintains a strikeout per inning.
Gray also owns a Major League career 2.84 BB/9 (over 491.1 IP). With a 3.0 minor league career mark, that too should continue to be a source of value and lead to an improved WHIP.
We’d like to see a little bit weaker contact (36.1% Hard%), though regardless the overall luck should improve (.322 BABIP, 67.9% strand rate). When coupled with the other positives it’s hard to believe that Gray doesn’t see significant improvement. He has the upside of a Top 25 pitcher, and he’s coming at a fraction of that cost. Sounds like an ideal buying opportunity, doesn’t it?
Current NFBC ADP (as of 03/12/19) – 203.64 (73rd pitcher)
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, NFBC