by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
This isn’t the first time Yohander Mendez has joined the Rangers, as he’s thrown 15.1 IP split between 2016 and 2017. This is the first time he may get an opportunity to start, though even if he does should that really get anyone excited?
Over five starts at Triple-A this season he’s struggled to the tune of a 6.66 ERA as hasn’t generated strikeouts (5.55 K/9), walked the ballpark (5.18 BB/9) and been consistently burnt by the long ball (2.22 HR/9). The overall numbers are ugly, but when you pull them out individually they almost look worse:
- At least 1 HR allowed in each start (six straight games, if you go back to his final ’17 start, with 9 HR allowed during this stretch)
- He’s walked at least 3 batters in three of his five starts
- He hasn’t struck out more than 5 in a start this season (the last time he struck out more than 6 was July 21, 2017, a span of 10 starts)
He is left-handed, which is going to afford him a few extra opportunities, and he has shown more in general coming up through the minors (8.3 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 over his minor league career). However it simply hasn’t translated to the highest level of the minors, so why would we expect him to suddenly figure it out upon arriving in the Majors once again?
Maybe this helps to explain some of the struggles, which came courtesy of MLB.com prior to the season:
Mendez owns one of the best changeups in the Minors, with fade, sink and deception that add up to a well above-average pitch at its best. He relies on it almost too heavily at the expense of his other pitches, so the Rangers restricted his use of it last year so he could focus on the rest of his repertoire. He has good feel for his 90-95 mph sinker, but not as much for his pair of fringy breaking balls, with his slider more reliable than his curveball.
Obviously improving his repertoire is important, and should allow him to ultimately figure it out and become productive. Does that make him a player you want to trust? Absolutely not, outside of maybe AL-Only formats. That said he does have the stuff and has proven he can produce, it’s just a matter of him developing/maturing at the highest levels. He may not be an ace in the making, but a productive option and at least streamable for fantasy owners if/when it all comes together.
Fantasy Waiver Wire Guidelines:
- 10 Team League – Not worth adding yet
- 12 Team League – Not worth adding yet
- 14+ Team League – Worth monitoring closely
- AL-Only League – Worth the gamble
- Keeper/Dynasty – Worth monitoring closely
Sources – Fangraphs, MILB.com, Baseball Reference, MLB.com
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