Each year it feels like Joe Musgrove is included on many breakout lists, but every year he ultimately falls short of expectations. While he did take a step in the right direction in 2020, it’s hard to call these marks an actual breakout:
55 Strikeouts (12.48 K/9)
16 Walks (3.63 BB/9)
48.4% Groundball Rate
Musgrove saw his strikeout rate spike, as he posted a career best 14.4% SwStr%. There was a change in his approach, as he more than doubled the usage of his curveball (9.16% in ’19 to 19.91% in ’20). While it wasn’t his best swing and miss pitch, it was solid (18.66% Whiff%) and it certainly gave opposing hitters a different look to adjust to.
Considering the production against the pitch, compared to others, it makes sense for him to continue utilizing it at an elevated level (BAA // SLG):
- Fourseam – .324 // .676
- Slider – .178 // .289
- Curveball – .050 // .050
- Sinker – .250 // .417
- Changeup – .214 // .429
- Cut-Fastball – .500 // .667
Musgrove used his slider and curveball a combined 44.13% of the time overall, though would it be surprising to see that jump even higher in ’21? Overall he generated a 24.7% Hard%, indicating that there’s potential for a significantly better BABIP. He also could see his home run rate improve (1.13 HR/9), even just slightly, which also leads to a sense of hope.
We’d love to see his control return to elite levels (2.21 BB/9), and it’s not impossible that he gets there (BB/9):
- July (11.1 IP) – 4.76
- August (3.1 IP) – 13.50
- September (25.0 IP) – 1.80
So he showed it in September, and along with the improved strikeout rate and weak contact there’s an awfully pretty picture forming. Whether or not Musgrove and his change of approach can thrive in a full season remains to be seen, but he’ll clearly find himself on breakout lists once again and for good reason. Continue targeting him as a late round flier.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball