It’s easy to get excited about a strong start for any player, and over two months into the season it’s easy to deduce that the “breakout” is for real. That said it’s easy to also envision players taking a significant turn for the worse, with getting too attached to a player and his early season success leading to more harm than good. With that in mind, here are three pitchers who are off to impressive starts that you need to run from as quickly as possible:
Julio Teheran – Atlanta Braves
We’ve long had doubts/concerns over Teheran, but thus far he’s posted a 3.03 ERA over 77.1 IP. Considering the hype that’s previously been bestowed upon him, why wouldn’t we be buying?
Teheran has been hit relatively hard this season (40.0% Hard%), yet a .238 BABIP and 80.7% strand rate screams that a significant regression is coming. What about the other talents:
- Strikeouts – 8.61 K/9 (he’s increased the usage of his slider, throwing it 25.97%, but that’s not enough considering his 18.37% Whiff% on the pitch and overall 10.9% SwStr% and 27.7% O-Swing%)
- Control – 4.31 BB/9 (once known as a control pitcher it’s been a consistent regression, including a 3.44 in ’17 and 4.30 in ’18)
- Groundballs – 40.8% (Teheran has never been a groundball machine, with a 38.1% career mark, and his 0.93 HR/9 is destined to rise)
Jake Odorizzi – Minnesota Twins
Odorizzi entered Sunday with the lowest groundball rate in the league, at 28.2%. Yet, with home runs up across the game, he’s posted a 0.51 HR/9 (4.9% HR/FB). That alone screams of a regression, even if the strikeout rate is maintainable (9.98 K/9 courtesy of a 12.8% SwStr%).
Now you throw in a 39.8% Hard%, which tells you that his .251 BABIP and 83.9% strand rate isn’t maintainable, and Odorizzi screams of a significant regression. The fact that his control may also waver (2.82 BB/9, despite 3.83 in each of the past two seasons) just makes the outlook look even worse.
Strikeouts can only take you so far, and things could quickly get ugly.
Trevor Richards – Miami Marlins
There’s been some hype and a 3.31 ERA over 73.1 IP is only going to add to it. While he’s shown some strikeout stuff (8.35 K/9 courtesy of a 12.7% SwStr%), every other “skill” screams of a regression:
- BABIP – .233 (considering his 40.7% Hard%, there’s not way he’s going to be able to maintain it)
- Strand Rate – 83.3%
- Groundball Rate – 36.1% (which has led to a 1.23 HR/9)
He’s also struggled with his control (4.05 BB/9) and now holds a 3.99 BB/9 over 199.2 IP in the Majors. Throw in the lack of groundballs (35.9% over his MLB career) and he’s a one “skill” pitcher facing significant luck regression on a bad team.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball