Remember that ultra-successful Hollywood box office hit Lucky Number Sleven? Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Lucy Liu, Josh Hartnett — what is this, The Seventh Sense? That’d be a cool sequel, bee-tee-dubs. A little kid who steals money from banks because ghosts tell him all the secrets and then he uses psychic powers to steal from the rich and give to the poor. Who doesn’t love a Robin Hood archetype? ENYWHEY. Think about some kind of dumb title for this article like Week Slvin Top Hurlers! Hypehouse Arms: 2 Months minus 1 Week Edition! Can we get Jason Blum to produce this? Could use a good jump scare after this first item I share with you. Quickly, onto the Main Act!
News and Notes
L30$/G=Actual fantasy value over last 30 days per game appearance; wK/9=weighted K/9 over season; wPABIB=weighted ability of pitcher to generate outs; wL30FIP=weighted FIP over last 30 days.
Max Scherzer: Ol’ blue eye is gonna miss 6-8 weeks because he doesn’t do 10 minutes of hot yoga every morning before staring at the “Be the Change” meme he posted to his vision board. Oblique strains can be pretty wonky for recovery. So wonky, that I’ll I have to do is post the following tweet about Jack Flaherty’s oblique strain from 2021 and most of you are going to be crying in your avocado toast for the rest of the season:
Really tough news from the Cardinals front. Jack Flaherty is headed to the injured list with a “significant” oblique injury. Mike Shildt says there is no timetable, but he undoubtedly will be out a while.
— Katie Woo (@katiejwoo) June 2, 2021
So, Max Scherzer isn’t Jack Flaherty and every injury is different yatta yatta. That said, Scherzer’s injury will provide an opportunity for fantasy managers to assess the damage and then try and find the next big thing, as I noted in my pre-season article about injured pitchers.
Martin Perez: OK, what’s happening here. Complete game shutout. I’m not “taking the L” there, first because I don’t live in Chicago, and second because This shouldn’t be happening.
How is Martin Pérez doing this?
This. Talk about being locked in. pic.twitter.com/Q7zsglSeIr
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) May 21, 2022
Perez is SP16 on the year so far, which is fantasy sexcellence. However, we can’t sit here and say, “I told you so.” Perez had 1,100 career innings before 2022, with a 4.71 ERA, 4.54 FIP, and a 6 K/9 to 3.5 BB/9. The reason you haven’t heard of him being great for fantasy is because he was terrible for fantasy. Now let’s look at 2022: 6.9 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, and SIERA/xFIP over double his ERA and FIP/xERA about 0.8 points higher. In his complete-game shutout, he faced 32 batters and struck out only 5 hitters. So 27 batters made contact with the ball and 8 baserunners total, none of whom crossed the plate. Just like with Reid Detmers’ no-hitter that featured only 2 strikeouts, we have to think about the role of defense here. In baseball, you’re out or safe — those are the only two outcomes for an at-bat. If a pitcher strikes out a batter, there’s no chance for them to be safe. If a pitcher allows a ball in play, a whole mess of contingencies begin. It’s worthwhile to point out that Perez had a 2-month stretch in 2021 where he had a 2.22 ERA and 8 K/9, before spending the next two months with a 7.13 ERA/6.87 FIP and getting relegated to the bullpen. Should you use Perez for fantasy? You do you. The “negative” regression is coming. Perez is whiffing a few more batters than usual, but we have an immense amount of data on this guy (10 years! 1000+ IP!) and he’s been all over the league. His fastball velocity is actually a bit down compared to career norms. His pitch mix is the same as it always was. This is not a recipe for SP16. What we’re likely seeing is the culmination of what so many batters in 2022 complain about — the ball sucks. For the rest of us, keep Perez in your thoughts for DFS (although he’s definitely not a bargain anymore) and best balls, but don’t be surprised when he turns into a pumpkin come June.
Michael King: I mean, have I gone too far with this “Roleless Rob” thing? No, it’s the kids who have lost their way. Let’s do one of those anonymous comparison tables and see what you notice:
So, Player A is Jacob deGrom’s start to 2021 through May 9 (after which he started his IL roundtrips), and Player B is Michael King in 2022. Among P with 20+ IP in 2022, Michael King is second-best in the league , behind David Bednar and ahead of Shane McClanahan. In the same sample size cohort, Michael King has the second-best FIP, right behind Kevin Gausman. King hasn’t hit the “spot starter” part of the season because the Yankees starters have been, on the whole, healthy and reasonably effective. When you’ve got a bunch of players who are contracted to be starters (Cole, JoMo, Taillon, and Severino) doing well and Nasty Nestor Cortes decimating the league, there’s no reason to move King — who has racked up an astonishing 26 IP in relief (also 2nd in the league behind Keegan Akin) — into a starter role quite yet. Nonetheless, for those of you in RCLs, Michael King is a must-roster for his ratio prowess, and deep league players should absolutely keep King in the lineup every day. Everybody else, keep an eye on the news to see if a Yankees SP gets hurt and King gets a shot as a starter.
Cristian Javier: Even after getting blown up for 7 runnings early in May, his time as a “starter” has been pretty effective: 10.5+ K/9, 3.90 ERA, and 3.75 FIP, and 2 Wins. His pitch mix is changing pretty drastically recently — nearly 15% more fastballs, a quintupling of curveballs, and a big cut to his slider usage. Plus, he’s gaining some velo on his fastball. So, the Astros are tinkering with both his role (starter/Roleless Rob) and pitch mix, and we could see a big change in his results soon. In his last start, he went 6IP with 9 strikeouts and a walk, which fantasy managers will take to the bank every day. That said, his pitch mix was also drastically different than his previous outings, so we may not see a ton of consistency going forward. Fingers crossed that the pitching coaches have figured him out and we’re about to see a breakout season.
George Kirby: Here’s what I wrote in a previous life about George Kirby for fantasy:
We all love some prospects but the truth is, sometimes they need a bit more playing time than their rookie year before they’re useful for fantasy. Last year’s top rookie pitcher — Trevor Rogers— was the #90 overall consensus prospect. The second-best overall rookie pitcher was none other than the unheralded Luis Garcia, who had never played above High-A ball. In terms of WAR, the best “premier prospect” rookie pitcher in 2021 was Logan Gilbert, who finished 6-5 with a 4.68 ERA. Fantasy studio! I’m not saying Kirby won’t be good or won’t be useful for fantasy in 2022. What I am saying, is that prospect pitchers are very risky.
So far, Kirby’s been pretty boring, with a whiff line that looks like Martin Perez. [Tries to think of a joke about “whiff lines”]. Kirby has 4 strikeouts over his last 9 IP, which is about as exciting as watching batting practice. At 24 years old and all of his options remaining, there’s not a ton of reason to force Kirby to stick in the Majors right now. Imagine you’re a general manager and your star prospects arrives and is K’ing at a rate nearly half of what he should be K’ing (11 K/9 in minors vs 6.6 K/9 in majors). Do you leave your star prospect in the majors and effectively start his rookie clock when he’s providing status quo-levels of performance? Or do you let him get some more innings in AAA and wait for September? It’s quite the Sophie’s Choice! You keep doing you on Kirby, and I’m still in the camp that fantasy managers will see better results from Kirby in 2023 and beyond.
Here’s how to use the list:
- Tier: 1=best, 2=everybody else for 12 team consideration, 3=deep league/dynasty/best ball/tournaments/DFS.
- Name: Player name
- Confidence: The overall score my system outputs. The higher the score, the more confident I am in using the player in the near term.
- Own%: This is the rostership % of the player in Razzball Commenter Leagues, run on Fantrax. This % may vary depending on site and format for readers.
- L30/G: This is how valuable the player has been over the past month. Players with high confidence who have low or negative $/G are “buy low” candidates. Spot starters/Roleless Robs will have a lower $/G because they play in more games.