Rookie Review: Is Dakota Hudson Ready To Take Another Step Forward, Or Does Disappointment Await?

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The St. Louis Cardinals always seem to be in the hunt for the playoffs/World Series, and they constantly are churning out usable options from their minor league system to help support the push. While they aren’t all difference makers, necessarily, they have proven that they can make an impact at the highest level. That’s the class you can put Dakota Hudson into, who turned in a strong rookie season giving a sense of optimism heading into 2020:

174.2 IP
16 Wins
3.35 ERA
1.41 WHIP
136 Strikeouts (7.01 K/9)
86 Walks (4.43 BB/9)
56.9% Groundball Rate
.274 BABIP

Wins are impossible to depend on, regardless of the team you pitch for. He’s also proven to be a groundball machine, whether it’s at Triple-A (57.6% over 150.1 IP from 2017-2018, the third best mark of any pitcher with at least 150 IP at the level during those years) or in the Majors (57.4%). With that skill in his back pocket, it’s the lack of other two numbers that cost him.

Strikeouts

He had a meager 6.35 K/9 at Triple-A, courtesy of a 9.6% SwStr%. That supports that lack of strikeouts in ’19, and his pitch usage doesn’t give much hope for an improvement:

  • Sinker – 47.87%
  • Cut-Fastball – 25.59%
  • Fourseam Fastball – 13.85%
  • Slider – 10.09%
  • Changeup – 2.60%

So roughly 87% of his pitches are a fastball variation, and while his slider does provide some velocity variation (82.24 mph) it clearly isn’t fooling anyone. Overall he posted a 9.8% SwStr% and 27.5% O-Swing%, and there’s no reason to think anything is about to change.

Control

He had a 3.17 BB/9 at Triple-A, though his 4.63 BB/9 over his Major League career and the lack of getting opposing hitters to chase outside the strike zone doesn’t help his cause. He only had two months with a BB/9 below 4.00 in ’19 and was never below 3.50. Would even a 3.50-3.75 mark be enough to over come the lack of strikeouts?

Conclusion

With the slew of groundballs and his lack of strikeouts Hudson is going to depend on his infield defense the thrive. He benefited from a .274 BABIP and 78.1% strand rate in ’19, despite a 40.5% Hard%, and that only further sends the outlook spiraling down. That’s not to say that he can’t at least be a useful option, but he’s clearly not one to trust towards the top of your fantasy rotation. He’s a sell high candidate, and one you likely want to steer clear of on draft day.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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