Lost password?

Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!


Receive free daily analysis


Already have an account? Log In


Forgot Password


Articles & Tools
Import Your Leagues
Daily Stats & Leaders
All Pitcher Matchups
Compare Any Players
Pickups & Streamers
Rookies & Call-Ups
24x7 News and Alerts

Are You For Real? Surprising MLB Pitcher Starts from Week 25

Welcome back to "Are You For Real?", a weekly column where we take starting pitchers who had surprisingly good starts over the past week and put them under the microscope to determine whether they're legit or just smoke and mirrors.

It's our final breakdown of the 2022 season, and boy it's a good one. We get to take a peak at a decent start from 2022 bust Eduardo Rodriguez in Detroit, and we look at a dominant performance from the relative unknown Johan Oviedo of Pittsburgh.

Roster percentages are taken from Yahoo and are accurate as of 09/26/2022.

Featured Promo: Want a free RotoBaller Premium Pass? Check out these sports betting promo offers from the top sportsbooks! All new sign-ups get a free bonus offer on their first deposit, and a free year of RotoBaller's Premium Pass for all sports ($450 value)! Sign Up Now!


Eduardo Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers – 39% Rostered

2022 Stats (prior to this start): 72.1 IP, 4.35 ERA, 4.31 FIP, 10% K-BB%

09/23 @ CHW: 6 IP, 8 H, 3 H, 1 BB, 3 K

It’s been a disappointing debut season in Detroit for Rodriguez, who inked a 5-year, $77 million dollar deal with the club this past offseason ostensibly to bring some veteran stability to an otherwise young and developing rotation. That hasn’t quite been the case for Rodriguez, who as of writing this put up his highest FIP (4.34) since 2016 along with the lowest strikeout rate (18.4%) of his big league career.

Despite his struggles, we know there’s talent in this left arm, and we saw a bit of that talent get flashed on Friday as Rodriguez delivered his second straight quality start and fourth victory on the season. His mixed performance leaves us with plenty of questions, such as whether Rodriguez can be useful during the final week of the season, and whether he can return to previous heights as a fringe top-40 starting pitcher next season. Let’s put Rodriguez under the microscope to see what’s gone wrong this year and whether it’s fixable.

A veteran of the big leagues, it’s hard to believe that Rodriguez is still just 29 years old. He’s been in the big leagues since 2015, and his name has been on the fantasy radar dating back to 2010 when he signed as an international free agent with the Baltimore Orioles. He was a highly rated prospect coming up (he was used by Baltimore to acquire Andrew Miller in a deadline deal many years ago) and has been relevant ever since. Rodriguez boasts a deep arsenal consisting of five pitches, which include a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, slider, cutter, and changeup. He sure throws a lot of pitches, but one pitch has long been a standout for Rodriguez, and that is his changeup.

Characterized by its low spin and exceptional break, Rodriguez’s changeup has been his go-to strikeout pitch over the course of his major league career. For his career batters are hitting just .243 against the pitch with a .653 OPS and 88 wRC+, the best marks of any pitch for Rodriguez. It’s been a strikeout machine for him as well, with opponents flailing away at the offspeed offering for a 17.8% swinging strike rate and 41.2% chase rate all time.

Unfortunately, things haven’t been quite the same for Rodriguez this season, as batters are hitting .310 against the pitch with a .586 SLG and .398 wOBA. What’s changed, exactly? It’s quite simple, which is that Rodriguez has lost a few inches of break with the pitch, making it no longer a standout in that department. Here’s a look at Rodriguez’s changeup break year over year.

That’s a sharp drop downwards, something that may’ve even been beginning in 2019, but we didn’t see the full effects until the last two years. Rodriguez still earned a lot of strikeouts in 2021, but that primarily came due to a fluky strikeout rate on his fastball which was never sustainable, especially considering the deep decline Rodriguez’s fastball velocity has been in over the years as well. Here’s a look at how Rodriguez fastball velocity has dipped with time.

He used to be able to sit between 93-94 MPH, but now throws his fastball a pedestrian 91.8 MPH. This physical decline is surprising given Rodriguez’s age, but the southpaw has had a slew of injuries over the course of his career and even sat out the 2020 season due to a heart condition he developed from COVID.

He has spent time on the injured list in every big league season since his rookie year except for 2019 when he uncharacteristically threw 203.1 innings. One has to wonder whether Rodriguez is experiencing an early physical decline due to his injury history and may not be capable of replicating past performances. This take may seem reactionary, however, there have been cracks in Rodriguez’s game dating back to last season. His changeup woefully underperformed last year too, and his velocity has yet to recover from the year off in 2020.

In fact, Rodriguez isn’t even throwing his changeup as much as he had in years past. Rodriguez has only used his changeup 15.5% of the time this season, compared to a 22.6% usage rate in his previous three seasons. He’s been attempting to supplement the lack of changeups with his cutter, but with a .772 OPS against and a paltry 7.8% swinging strike rate, his cutter lacks both the effectiveness and strikeout oomph of his changeup. This is a shift in the wrong direction for Rodriguez, and he’s not giving us many signs of a turnaround.

Is there any hope for Rodriguez? If nothing else, Tigers fans might be worried they bought another lemon on the free agent market. Unfortunately, to turn things around Rodriguez would need to make strides forward with the measurables on his pitches, chiefly the velocity and movement. Not impossible, but awfully unlikely for an injury-prone hurler who’s going to be 30 next year. In redraft leagues, he might be a popular bounce-back candidate for 2023, but this is one that this writer will likely be avoiding next draft season. Too many big changes need to happen for him to be a top-40 starter again. In dynasty leagues, fantasy managers should try and get what they can for him while his name still has value.


Once a strikeout-heavy changeup specialist, Rodriguez’s changeup has lost a little mustard over the years, as has his heater. He’s attempted to correct for his loss in changeup effectiveness with cutters, but that has led to underwhelming—and in some cases downright awful—results. Perhaps the most worrying stat for Rodriguez is a 6.5% swinging strike rate, which is the second lowest among starting pitchers (min. 70 IP) behind Adrian Houser. There’s not a lot to like about this version of Rodriguez, and he’s an avoid until he can showcase a tangible leap forward.

Johan Oviedo, Pittsburgh Pirates – 4% Rostered

2022 Stats (prior to this start): 39 IP, 3.69 ERA, 4.07 FIP, 12.1% K-BB%

09/24 vs. CHC: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K

Oviedo was electric on Saturday, firing seven scoreless innings while striking out seven en route to his fourth victory on the season. Oviedo had been thrust into a starting opportunity with Pittsburgh after coming over in the deadline, and while he’d shown brief flashes of talent here and there, Saturday represents his best start to date. With the Pirates roster in a continual state of flux, Oviedo certainly has an opportunity to prove himself and carve out a starting role for next season if he continues to impress. Is there anything here with the 24-year-old righty, or is this just another September flash in the pan?

Originally signed as an international free agent out of Cuba by the Cardinals, Oviedo was never much of a prospect on the national scene but did garner a decent ranking within the Cardinals organization. He was dealt to the Pirates at this year’s trade deadline in the Jose Quintana swap, and the Pittsburgh brass should be pretty happy with this return considering they picked Quintana up off the scrap heap heading into 2022.

Oviedo works with a four-pitch mix consisting of a four-seam fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. It’s a deep enough arsenal, but it’s mostly been about the fastball and slider for Oviedo, who has thrown the two pitches a combined 84.3% of the time this season. It’s hard to blame Oviedo for leaning on those two pitches so heavily, as both offerings have been quite effective this season.

Let’s start with the slider for Oviedo, which has been the main attraction for him in terms of strikeouts. He has an impressive 19.3% swinging strike rate with the pitch this season, along with a 42.4% chase rate. Batters have managed just a .215 AVG, .342 SLG, and .275 wOBA off the pitch this season. Even more remarkable, Oviedo has even better expected stats with this pitch, including a .175 xBA and .230 xwOBA. A high-spin offering with average movement, the pitch comes alive late and has a pronounced break away from right-handed hitters. Here are a pair of examples from this start.

That’s a textbook slider, one that would be incredibly hard for any big leaguer to handle on a two-strike count. This pitch is especially deadly when paired with Oviedo’s other primary pitch, the four-seam fastball.

Averaging 95.9 MPH with his fastball, one might expect Oviedo’s fastball velocity to take a hit when transitioning from the bullpen in St. Louis to the rotation in Pittsburgh, but that has not been the case thus far. Oviedo is averaging 96.3 MPH on the gun since joining Pittsburgh’s rotation, and averaging 96.8 in this start against the Cubs. Even on his final pitch of the outing, Oviedo threw a 97.8 MPH fastball, showing that he has the ability to pitch effectively deep into games.

It's not just about heat with Oviedo’s fastball either, as he boasts above-average spin and vertical movement with his four-seamer. Here are two examples from this start.

This pitch has all the ingredients of a plus offering for a starter, and with this fastball-slider combo at his disposal, Oviedo could certainly be an above-average strikeout pitcher at the major league level.

So, if Oviedo’s stuff is so good, why isn’t he a bigger deal? He never sniffed a top-100 prospect ranking, and the Cardinals happily traded him for a rental. Oviedo has two major issues: his arsenal lacks depth, and he has poor command of his pitches. First, we should address the arsenal, because Oviedo’s not quite as one-dimensional as his usage makes it seem.

He wields a decent curveball that he throws about 10% of the time, and the usage has been slowly rising (he threw it 15.9% of the time in this start). Batters have hit just .125 off Oviedo’s curve this season, and with above-average spin and vertical movement, this pitch has the potential to be another plus offering.

The bigger issue for Oviedo is command, as his has been atrocious at times in the big leagues. It’s quite astonishing that Oviedo didn’t issue a single walk in this start, because the righty had allowed a stomach-churning 9.22 BB/9 in his previous four starts. Walks have been a huge issue for him throughout his career as evidenced by an untenable 11.4% career walk rate. Heck, they’ve been a problem for Oviedo at every level of the minor leagues too, including rookie ball. Saturday was an encouraging sign, but consider Oviedo wild and dangerous until he shows us otherwise. He will likely always have walk issues, but if Oviedo can figure things out to a degree in the future he could be a nice fantasy asset.


Oviedo is a project pitcher, but there’s a lot to like about this stuff. He boasts two plus offerings in his fastball and slider, and his curveball has shown some promise to act as an effective third pitch going forward. Control is and will likely always be an issue for Oviedo, but if he can find a way to rein the walks in he could become a solid starting pitcher with strikeout upside. Absolutely nobody will pay Oviedo any attention next draft season, so this writer will be looking at him near the end of drafts or for $1 in deeper salary cap leagues if he can secure a rotation spot. He’s probably too risky to start at this point in the season, but if you’re desperate and/or need a miracle, he is lined up for two more starts, both against the Cardinals.

Download Our Free News & Alerts Mobile App

Like what you see? Download our updated fantasy baseball app for iPhone and Android with 24x7 player news, injury alerts, sleepers, prospects & more. All free!

More Fantasy Baseball Advice


Articles & Tools
Import Your Leagues
Daily Stats & Leaders
All Pitcher Matchups
Compare Any Players
Pickups & Streamers
Rookies & Call-Ups
24x7 News and Alerts


Dejounte Murray1 hour ago

Expected To Miss Two Weeks
Jake Mangum2 hours ago

Marlins Acquire Jake Mangum From The Mets
Josh Jacobs2 hours ago

Will Play Versus Rams
Mike Williams2 hours ago

Upgraded To Full Practice
Saquon Barkley2 hours ago

Limited On Thursday
Silvino Bracho3 hours ago

Reds Sign Silvino Bracho To Minor-League Deal
Austin Allen3 hours ago

Signs With Marlins
J.P. Feyereisen3 hours ago

Has Shoulder Surgery
Kris Letang3 hours ago

Skating With Regular Jersey Again
Logan Stanley3 hours ago

Back In Action Thursday
Spencer Knight3 hours ago

Out With An Illness
Aleksander Barkov3 hours ago

Ready To Return Thursday
Pavel Buchnevich3 hours ago

Remains Unavailable
Torey Krug4 hours ago

Sits Out Another Game
T.J. Brodie4 hours ago

Returns For Toronto Thursday
Josh Richardson5 hours ago

Probable For Thursday's Matchup
Keita Bates-Diop5 hours ago

Ruled Out For Thursday
Jae'Sean Tate6 hours ago

Still Out Thursday
Max Strus6 hours ago

Listed As Probable For Thursday
Pascal Siakam6 hours ago

Leads Raptors To Win On Wednesday
Brandin Cooks6 hours ago

Expected To Miss Another Game
Terance Mann6 hours ago

Out Thursday
Nikola Vucevic6 hours ago

Gathers Double-Double Against Washington
Zion Williamson6 hours ago

Scores Game-High 29 Points In Win
Kawhi Leonard6 hours ago

Won't Play Thursday
Jrue Holiday6 hours ago

Drops 31 Points Against Sacramento
Kyle Lowry6 hours ago

Rested On Thursday
Domantas Sabonis6 hours ago

Puts Up Strong Stat Line Against Bucks
Ja Morant6 hours ago

Collects Second Triple-Double This Season
Joe Mixon6 hours ago

Has Cleared Concussion Protocols
Bruno Fernando6 hours ago

Questionable On Thursday With Illness
Josh Christopher6 hours ago

Tagged As Questionable Against Spurs
Nikola Jovic7 hours ago

Available To Play Against Clippers
Duncan Robinson7 hours ago

Probable For Thursday's Game
San Francisco Giants7 hours ago

Giants Acquire Blake Sabol From The Reds
Austin Brice8 hours ago

Diamondbacks Sign Austin Brice To Minor-League Deal
Jason Heyward8 hours ago

Dodgers Sign Jason Heyward To Minor-League Deal
Trevor Williams8 hours ago

Mets Could Reunite With Trevor Williams
Baker Mayfield9 hours ago

Expected To Be Active, Could Start
Marcus Mariota9 hours ago

Benched For Desmond Ridder
Andrei Kuzmenko12 hours ago

Heating Up Again
Josh Jacobs12 hours ago

Expected To Play Thursday Night
Mika Zibanejad12 hours ago

Enjoys A Three-Point Night Versus Vegas
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins12 hours ago

Piles Up Three Points Wednesday
Connor McDavid12 hours ago

Goes Off For Another Four Points
Linus Ullmark12 hours ago

Shuts Out Colorado
Taylor Hall13 hours ago

Grabs Three Points In Wednesday's Win
Patrik Laine13 hours ago

Nets Two Goals Wednesday
Alex Tuch13 hours ago

Posts Career-High Four Points
Kirill Kaprizov19 hours ago

Extends Point Streak In Loss
Alex Ovechkin20 hours ago

Scores Twice In Victory
Joe Jiménez20 hours ago

Braves Acquire Joe Jimenez From Tigers
Xander Bogaerts20 hours ago

Padres Agree With Xander Bogaerts On 11-Year Deal
Tage Thompson20 hours ago

Scores Five Goals In Dominant Victory
Tyler Herro21 hours ago

Probable For Meeting With The Clippers
Buddy Hield21 hours ago

Scores 26 Points In Loss
Tyrese Haliburton21 hours ago

Plays Well In Return From Injury
Dansby Swanson1 day ago

Four Teams Showing Serious Interest In Dansby Swanson
Xander Bogaerts1 day ago

Six Teams Talking With Xander Bogaerts
Pittsburgh Pirates1 day ago

Pirates Take Jose Hernandez In Rule 5 Draft
Ryan Noda1 day ago

A's Pluck Ryan Noda Away From The Dodgers
Boston Red Sox1 day ago

Red Sox Reel In Masataka Yoshida On Five-Year Deal
Cole Hamels1 day ago

Wants To Pitch In 2023
Josh Jacobs1 day ago

Questionable For Thursday Night Football
New York Mets1 day ago

Mets Remain Involved With Kodai Senga
Carlos Rodón1 day ago

Yankees Remain In On Carlos Rodon
Mike Williams1 day ago

Set To Practice This Week
Carlos Correa1 day ago

Giants Have Talked With Carlos Correa
Thad Ward1 day ago

Nationals Select Thad Ward With First Rule 5 Pick
Zach Hyman1 day ago

Set To Return Wednesday
James Van Riemsdyk1 day ago

James van Riemsdyk Returns To Flyers Lineup
Craig Smith1 day ago

Back For Bruins Wednesday
Jimmy Garoppolo1 day ago

A Long Shot To Return In Playoffs
Joe Mixon1 day ago

A Full Participant In Practice
Los Angeles Rams1 day ago

Aaron Donald Ruled Out For Thursday Night
Trevor Lawrence1 day ago

Expects To Play In Week 14
Brooks Raley1 day ago

Mets Acquire Brooks Raley From Rays
Courtland Sutton1 day ago

Unlikely To Play In Week 14
David Njoku1 day ago

Ready To Play
Buffalo Bills1 day ago

Von Miller Undergoes Surgery, Out For The Year
Mark Ingram II1 day ago

Likely Done For The Season
Trevor Lawrence1 day ago

Up In The Air For Week 14
Tua Tagovailoa1 day ago

Expected To Be Limited In Practice
Davis Mills1 day ago

Texans Going Back To Davis Mills At QB
Magomed Ankalaev1 day ago

Can Realize His UFC Dream
Jan Blachowicz1 day ago

Set For Title Redemption
Jared Gordon1 day ago

Has An Opportunity For A Huge Victory
Paddy Pimblett1 day ago

Set To Showcase In UFC 282
Dricus Du Plessis2 days ago

Hoping To Continue To Rack Up Wins
Darren Till2 days ago

Looking For A Key Victory At UFC 282
Ilia Topuria2 days ago

Meets Fellow Top-15 Undefeated Featherweight
Bryce Mitchell2 days ago

Set To Open UFC 282 Main Card
Kevin Holland3 days ago

Takes The Loss In Saturday's Main Event
Stephen Thompson3 days ago

Earns Victory In Main Event
Bryan Barberena3 days ago

Unable To Secure A Win Saturday
Rafael Dos Anjos3 days ago

Rafael dos Anjos Takes Co-Main Event By Submission
Matt Schnell3 days ago

Matthew Christopher Schnell Takes The Loss Saturday
Matheus Nicolau3 days ago

Continues Run With TKO Victory
Tai Tuivasa3 days ago

Suffers Second Straight Loss
Sergei Pavlovich3 days ago

Earns Fifth Straight Victory With Knockout Win
Jack Hermansson3 days ago

Ends 2022 With Losing Record
Roman Dolidze3 days ago

Makes Most Of Opportunity With TKO Victory
Kyle Daukaus3 days ago

Has His Night Come To An Early End
Eryk Anders3 days ago

Gets It Done With A Second TKO Performance
Kevin Holland5 days ago

Hoping To Rebound With Main-Event Victory