Fantasy Baseball: Starting pitcher stockwatch shows Luis Severino, Spencer Strider gaining, Eric Lauer losing

The baseball season is long. Player values ​​can also change from month to month. While larger samples are of course more meaningful, smaller samples can reveal a trend reversal that may have a greater impact on future results.

The prospects have improved for most of the following pitchers. They seem to be getting better and generally making sound investments. But I also picked a few who seem to be worse off. You can tell the difference by the names “riser” or “faller”.

It stood to reason that Severino could be a changed pitcher after almost three injury-hit seasons, but the changes observed earlier in the year were of particular significance. He barely threw his slider, which until now has been considered the key to his entire arsenal. It’s a court notorious for straining the elbow, so you can understand why Severino might want to steer clear of it.

The decision fell on an even bleaker outlook, especially since those first few starts were just so-so. However, it turned out to be just a slip. In his last four starts, he’s been emphasizing his slider more than he was in his prime, about 25 percent of the time. During this stretch he has a 1.71 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 11.3 K/9.

The improvement here might not be as obvious to everyone given that Gilbert had a .64 ERA in five starts, but his missing-at-bat metrics were so mundane during that time that I worried it might all be smoke and mirrors. Well, not so much. In his last five starts, his swinging strike rate is 13 percent, which is more appropriate for a pitcher of his talent.

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Much of those wins come from the slider, and his improvement roughly coincides with the decision to throw his curveball more and perhaps play the two off like a fastball and a switch. If nothing else, I’m more confident now that he’ll maintain something close to his current pace, but I’m hoping that strikeout rate will improve even as we go along.

I remained persistent with a fair number of players throughout the early season, but one of my first withdrawals was Gallen, whom I had marked busted out of fear that his declining swinging strike rate over the last year meant he would it wasn’t entirely beyond his elbow discomfort. But the guy we saw in his first six starts was clearly not the guy we saw last year (or ever really) not only because of the 1.04 ERA but also because of the 1.3 BB/9. Even in his prime, walking had always been a problem.

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But since then everything has gone wrong. In five starts he has a 5.70 ERA, 1.65 WHIP and 4.2 BB/9. His swinging strike rate is down to an unsavory 9.4 percent, about the same as last year, and my initial reservations seem as valid as ever.

It hasn’t appeared in the ERA yet, but Charlie Morton’s arsenal seems to be back on form. He was always the same in terms of speed and spin – his fastball was still at 95 mph and his curveball at a mesmerizing 3,000 rpm – but he clearly didn’t have the same bite, as evidenced by his 9.1 percent swing-strike rate through 10 launches. That rate has essentially doubled in his last two starts, resulting in 20 strikeouts.

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So why the eight earned runs between them? He suffered from a rocky first inning both times, so maybe something about his pregame work needs to change. But if he continues to miss bats like he did the last two moves, you’ll ultimately be happy with the results. Now is about the point where he also gets his 2021 season on track.

Wait, isn’t that the guy who gave up 13 hits the last time he started? Yes, but 11 of them were singles, and one of the two who weren’t was an 82.5 mph triple. In other words, BABIP bad luck, and good luck both ways, isn’t generally what affects me.

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Ashby clearly has the makings of a frontline pitcher to me, with four breath-making pitches and a groundball rate (64.2 percent) that’s second only to Framber Valdez. And more recently, he’s been better at limiting free passes, averaging 2.0 per nine innings in his last six appearances. If he overcomes that hurdle, there’s no telling what he can do. He had 21 strikeouts against two walks in the two starts that led to the 13-hit fiasco.

Eric Lauer’s totals haven’t plummeted all that much yet, but everything that excited us about him earlier in the season is back to normal. His average fastball speed, which was 94.1 mph in his first six launches, has slipped to 93.1 in the last five. His swinging strike rate has increased from an extraordinary 14.2 percent to an embarrassing 6.0 percent during that time.

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Again, his ERA stayed pretty steady until his last start when he allowed eight earned runs in five innings, but his overall FIP and xERA is now worse than last year when he was operational, but no more. At least he can still be.

Personally, I didn’t have to do much convincing on Spencer Strider, but when he posted 4.32 ERA and 1.56 WHIP on his first two starts while failing to make it through five innings each time, I’d hazard a word say many thought he was destined to return to the bullpen. But he earned a pass for a couple of devastating non-faults made behind him in the first start and for pitching at Coors Field in the second.

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It all came together on the third start when he saw him strike out an eight while going just one over 5 1/3 shutout innings. His 13.9 K/9 is the highest for any pitcher with at least 30 innings, and his 15.7 percent swinging strike rate is the fourth highest. You could see this all going very, very well for the hard throwing beginner.

The rookie, best known for his lightning-fast fastball that tops out at 100 mph, didn’t actually have much success with this pitch in the early stages and it forced him to rely more and more on the pitch, which is actually his best, the slider . Since Hunter Greene started throwing it about half the time on May 10th, he has a 3.20 ERA, .99 WHIP and 11.4 K/9 in seven starts.

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It gets better. Gone are the walks that plagued him early on. He spent 2.0 per nine innings in his last five starts, compared to 5.4 per nine in his first seven. His fastball has also started to play itself out, actually generating puffs at a higher rate than the slider on his last two starts where he’s allowed three total hits. With his ERA still over 5.00, you might still have a chance to buy into a pitcher about to put it all together.

Like Greene, Josiah Gray seems to have figured out that less is more in fastball, instead emphasizing his slider in recent starts. Notably, he’s thrown it 36.1 percent of the time in his last five starts, compared to 22.5 percent in his first seven. Since this is his best swing-and-miss pitch, it’s probably no surprise that he has a 14.6 percent swing strike rate at this stretch, compared to 11.2 percent previously.

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Four of the five starts were great, good for a 2.05 ERA. The other was a seven-run disaster in which he allowed the Dodgers three homers to keep his overall ERA high. Still, the lack of more at-bats will go a long way in alleviating Gray’s home run woes, which will always be there to some degree. Hopefully this tweak to his arsenal is key to improved consistency.

As with Strider, an ill-timed Coors Field start hides some of the progress Trevor Rogers has made. But if you look at the start before and the start after – in other words, two of his last three – the effectiveness of his move is striking. It was gone in his first eight starts this year, but last year it was key to his arsenal when he finished second in the rookie-of with a 2.64 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 10.6 K/9 -the-year election occupied.

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Rogers’ breath rate during those two starts was closer to last year’s, coming in at 50 percent on his last outing. When that pitch gets back on track, the other numbers should follow, which isn’t the best time to get off it.

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