I have tended to have a bit of a pitcher lean in these columns as there has been no shortage of interesting pitchers this year. In a preseason where many analysts were saying to invest heavily in pitching, there have been tons of serviceable and even breakout arms. Hopefully you followed my advice to invest in big bats and wait on breakout arms as it likely has you in the fray for a title. Let’s examine some more arms below.
Mahle has been a serviceable arm so far. I had some interest in him early in the year but am ready to sell him for a fraction of what he’s been worth so far. He throws reasonably hard as well and might have passed someone in your league’s eye test as well. There are plenty of reasons to be concerned though.
Mahle’s peripherals suggest that he’s due for some regression. His SIERA is 4.25 and his FIP is 4.58. This is a good bit worse than his 3.66 ERA that he’s had so far. It makes sense that his skills based expectations would be a bit higher given his lousy walk rate of 9.7%. The K rate of 23% isn’t bad and again he throws 93 MPH, which is solid. The problem is his secondary stuff isn’t as good as his heater. Most of his pitches have a negative pitch value apart from his fastball and his slider is just league average. Mahle also has an 81.% strand or LOB rate as well, which figures to get worse. Batters are also hitting the ball very hard off him at a 41% clip. They’re also hitting 25% line drives off of him. There’s no direct correlation between hard hit rate and pitcher success, but I choose to believe it’s not a good thing when betters are scalding frozen ropes all over the yard.
I’m not sure you can get a huge haul for Mahle, but you might be able to get something you can use. That might be more than you can say for Mahle in a few weeks. I especially feel this way when you remember he plays in a band box for a bad team. Maybe you can even buy low on his teammate Luis Castillo or maybe Carlos Rodon.
Anderson has always been a guy I’ve liked. I wish it had been him who ended up with the Cubs instead of stink pile Tyler Chatwood. He reminds me of an old favorite, Andy Pettite. Unfortunately, he plays in Coors field. There are some interesting things worth looking into that might help you sell him as well.
Anderson’s K rate and swinging strike rate are both way up the last four starts. His K rate over is up to over 28% while his walk rate is 6.6%. The main reason for this change is that he has started throwing his cutter a lot more. Those strikeouts are awesome and I’m happy to keep streaming him in two start weeks and start on the road.
This is an interesting change, but it feels more like a gimmick than anything to me. He doesn’t throw particularly hard and he pitches in the worst pitching park of all time. I tend to think the league will adjust back to his enhanced usage of the cutter and Coors is obviously extremely unforgiving. Some of you might remember when Matt Shoemaker became relevant by throwing his splitter over and over again. That didn’t last and this isn’t likely to either. If Anderson ever gets a chance to pitch in a decent park then I would be interested. If you play in a league with stat heads, you might be able to sell this new K trend. I’ve seen analysts on other sites start throwing helium at this guy. Similar to Mahle, I’m not sure how much return you can expect from Anderson but it’s worth exploring. My main goal in dealing Anderson would just be to get top 70-80ish SP return just like Mahle.
Skaggs is currently on the DL but it’s minor and he should be back soon. The biggest reason I am for this trade exploration is the huge cult following surrounding Tyler Skaggs. He’s having a nice season so far but I think you can get more back than he’s worth.
Skaggs’ K rate is at 26.4%, which is obviously pretty nice and his walk rate is a manageable 7.1%. His FIP is 3.08 and SIERA is 3.48. Both of those numbers are good but still worse than his 2.64 ERA. His strand rate is 82% so he’s due for some regression there. His homer to fly ball rate is also a good bit lower than his career average. His .78 rate is almost half of what it was last year and about 30% lower than his career rate. If you’ve ever watched him, his stuff i not as electric as top 30 type SPs. His average velocity is only around 92 MPH and none of his other pitches are much better than average. It’s showing in the fact that batters are pulling the ball 45.4% of the time and they’re hitting the ball at a 37.3% clip. This tells me that batters are seeing the ball pretty well off of Skaggs. I don’t see any big changes to account for the gigantic improvement in results. He is throwing his change 4% more often, but I don’t think that’s enough to explain his prolific 2018 to this point.
I do not think Tyler Skaggs is bad. I just don’t see enough different to explain the leap to a top 25 type SP. There’s no new pitch or huge pitch mix that explains it. There’s no velocity gain. There has always been a contingent of fantasy analysts and players that have long loved Skaggs. There’s a strong possibility that you can get a top 25 return on Skaggs at this point from someone in your league. Given the lack of track record and that there’s no explanation for the change, I would leap at that kind of offer and would honestly take a top 40 return. It’s also worth remembering that Skaggs is extremely injury prone. Send out some offers and see what you can reel in.