I’m not going to be an alarmist on Chris Sale or Zack Greinke. I certainly would be monitoring them closely if I owned them, however. But, with injuries piling up and FAAB targets missed, let’s talk about some positive things I’ve seen thus far. Trevor Bauer and Luis Castillo are awesome and their opening outings have me pumped!
Luis Castillo SP Cincinnati Reds
Velocity and usage. The old cliché of a thrower “learning how to pitch” seems annoyingly true with a guy like Castillo. He possesses possibly the best changeup in baseball, but was not putting himself in positions to take advantage of its dominance for much of last season. I’ve already chronicled Castillo’s monster second half fueled by this changeup, but there was also a recovery of a few MPH on his fastball. With the right pitch mix and maintained velocity, the vision of Luis Castillo becoming a top 20 starter is coming into focus.
@Roto_Frank (a great follow) tweeted out a really interesting carryover observation. Castillo’s second half was aided by increased slider velocity. It ticked up each month and finished above 86 MPH in September (via Brooks Baseball). What was it against the Pirates you ask? 85.82. With his 4-Seam Fastball velocity sitting at 96.04 MPH, I am very comfortable with this result for a March outing.
And finally, the changeup. Castillo’s pitch mix included 39% changueps and 47% fastballs. Both of these are up from most starts in 2018. This combination has proven to be the most successful so I want to see him use these pitches the way we did against the Pirates. The slider was hard enough to provide the slight wrinkle needed to keep hitters off-balance, but the changeup is the out pitch. Castillo got 11 of his 14 whiffs on changeups.
Now, the adage about becoming a pitcher certainly includes consistency. Castillo is not yet a finished product, but these slight changes in usage are intentional and positive. Take note
Luis Castillo's changeup is as nasty as ever. pic.twitter.com/kQYVVYD0V1
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) March 28, 2019
Trevor Bauer SP Cleveland Indians
Another great Twitter follow (and former alumni) is @MikeTheRotoCop. He put my Trevor Bauer doubt to rest and I’m glad I listened! Bauer was unbelievable on Saturday. And, he has a new and improved changeup! Let’s dive in.
Check out the results of the changeup below. Not bad for the unveiling right?
Bauer only needed a 32.5% usage rate on a fastball that had great life and maintained his stellar velocity from last year. According to Brooks Baseball, Bauer had multiple whiffs on 5 different pitches! Stop it. 20 swinging strikes for the day is ridiculous. And, CSW (called strikes+whiffs/total pitches) showed good results for Bauer as well. This is a newer metric tweeted out by @AlexFast8. Bauer seemingly would not grade very well on this due to his reputation of high pitch counts and stubbornness to give in. But, Saturday’s start at 33% CSW for Bauer is a great result for a guy who has a long leash on a start by start basis and should come close to 200 innings if he stays healthy.
Man that @BauerOutage start was everything…
24 changeups – 22.22% usage up from 7% last year
33.33% csw rate (swinging strikes + called strikes / total pitches):
maxVEL – 96.5#Indians
— Mike the Roto Cop (@MikeTheRotoCop) March 30, 2019
Fantasy baseball is about keeping an open mind. I am trying, this year in particular, to find better metrics to teach me more about pitching. Twitter is the ultimate resource, so please give a follow to Frank, Mike, and Alex. But, pitching is also about finding your guys. Every pitcher has inherent risk, and the regression monster is always lurking. However, if you find someone you like, plant your flag – I’m very comfortable planting my flag with guys like Castillo and Bauer. Their arsenals, pitch mixes, and potential show me top 20 and top 3 upside respectively.
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