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

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

Are You For Real? Surprising SP Starts from Week 12


Welcome back to "Are You For Real?" Each week, we look at lower-owned starting pitchers who have performed unexpectedly well in their last outing(s).

It's a youth movement this week, as we look at three pitchers 25 or younger who've put up solid numbers over the last week. We're looking at two young Miami righties in Jordan Yamamoto and Pablo Lopez, and then hopping over to Houston to look at lefty Framber Valdez.

Ownership is based on Yahoo leagues and is accurate as of 06/17/2019. The goal of this article is to look at pitchers widely available that could be useful in fantasy, whether they have been recently added by a ton of teams or are still sitting on waivers.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off. Exclusive access to our Draft Kit, premium rankings, projections, player outlooks, top prospects, dynasty rankings, 15 in-season lineup tools, and over 200 days of expert DFS research. Sign Up Now!

 

Jordan Yamamoto, Miami Marlins

22% Owned

2019 Stats (Triple-A): 65.1 IP, 3.58 ERA, 4.14 FIP, 14.4% K-BB%

06/12 vs. STL: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K

Yamamoto, that’s fun to say. But is he fun to own? The 23-year-old dazzled in his MLB debut, shutting down the Cardinals while putting his deep arsenal of pitches on display for the crowd of 7,000 in Miami. An unheralded righty out of Hawaii, Yamamoto was originally acquired by the Marlins in the Christian Yelich trade. Due to his size (6’0” 185 LB), and underwhelming velocity (91 MPH fastball), Yamamoto was ranked as the 17th-best prospect in a weak Miami farm system. Many scouts profiled him as a fifth starter at best, and a career minor leaguer at worst. With one good start under his belt, it’s worth diving into Yamamoto’s start to see if there’s anything to be excited about.

Yamamoto used five different pitches in this start, with a 91.8 MPH four-seamer as his main fastball and an 87 MPH cutter as his main secondary pitch. He also used a slider, changeup, curveball, and two-seamer at times during this start. Only two of those pitches (the slider and the cutter), induced at least one swinging strike, and Yamamoto only had six swinging strikes total.  While he only threw eight sliders, the pitch looked like his best strikeout offering. His slider is a little unusual, as Yamamoto throws it much slower than the league average but the horizontal movement on his slider is significantly above league average. Here are a few examples from this start.

The pitch isn’t quite a slurve, but it’s slower and loopier than the typical hard and fast slider we see from big-time strikeout pitchers like Chris Sale, for example.

Speaking of big-time strikeout pitchers, it’s unlikely that Yamamoto has the capability to become one. Short right-handers with low velocity don’t typically profile as strikeout pitchers, to begin with, and Yamamoto doesn’t seem to have a killer pitch that will allow him to rack up strikeouts. Cutter pitchers aren’t known for strikeouts, either, and Yamamoto doesn’t have the velocity that will let his secondary pitches play up. He’s had decent strikeout rates in the lower minors, but I’m skeptical whether this stuff can fool major league hitters consistently. It’s best not to expect more than a league average strikeout rate from Yamamoto. Given the ballpark, and his minor league track record of home run and walk suppression, Yamamoto could make up for a strikeout deficiency with good ratios. Don’t blow your FAAB on him, but he’s not a bad stash if you’ve got the room.

Verdict:

Yamamoto doesn’t look like much, but he offers a deep arsenal and pitches in a favorable environment. He won’t get many wins, and the strikeout numbers might underwhelm, but Yamamoto might be a solid source of ratios and quality starts while he’s in the rotation. Jose Urena is on the 60-day IL, so Yamamoto only needs to outperform Elieser Hernandez to keep his rotation spot, which shouldn’t be too hard to achieve.

 

Framber Valdez, Houston Astros

45% Owned

2019 Stats (bullpen): 26 IP, 3.12 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 7.2% K-BB%

06/08 vs. BAL: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K
06/15 vs. TOR: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K

Whether it be veterans like Brad Peacock and Collin McHugh, or prospects like Josh James and Forrest Whitley, Houston pitchers are often the subject of fantasy hype trains. Yet, Valdez has flown under-the-radar until recently. The 25-year-old lefty posted a 2.19 ERA in 37 innings last season, but 15.6% walk rate and 4.65 FIP likely scared owners and the Astros away, which is why Valdez had been pitching out of the bullpen until a few weeks ago. Valdez’s pitching style is centered around his sinker, which he throws at 92.4 MPH and uses about 40% of the time. He also throws a four-seamer, which has been averaging over 95 MPH in his last two starts, but he’s only thrown 15 four-seamers combined between those two starts. A curveball is his primary breaking ball, as Valdez throws it 34% of the time. He throws a show-me changeup as well, but may start using the pitch more as he transitions from the bullpen to the rotation.

As one would expect based on the profile, Valdez induces groundballs at an above average rate. He has a 59% groundball rate this season and had a 70% groundball rate in 2018. Both his sinker and curveball have groundball rates above 60%, and his sinker has an average launch angle against of -3 degrees. It would be reasonable to expect Valdez stay near the league lead in groundball rate, as the only qualified pitcher with a better groundball rate than him right now is Dakota Hudson. A Dakota Hudson-like output is a decent baseline for Valdez, but unlike Hudson there looks to be room for strikeout upside with Valdez.

Valdez’s curveball has taken big leaps this season, as he’s gained both vertical and horizontal movement with the pitch. That’s results in an 8% leap in swinging strike rate, up to 20.4%, and a 6% increase in chase rate at 34%. Hitters have struggled to hit the pitch as well, mustering a meager .083 AVG and .188 SLG against Valdez’s curveball. With just 191 pitches thrown this season we’re dealing with a relatively small sample size, but Valdez’s curveball has the marks of a legitimate shut down pitch. It induces strikeouts, groundballs, and weak contact; there isn’t much more one can hope for with this pitch.

The biggest concerns for Valdez are a limited repertoire (two fastballs and a curveball) and some rather fortunate luck on batted balls. Valdez has a .269 BABIP against and 10% HR/FB ratio. His low BABIP and home run rates can be explained by his above-average ground-ball rate, but owners should be hesitant to rely on a pitcher to overperform on BABIP over a long period of time. Valdez has had periods of extremely high BABIPs against in the minors, and low-dominance, high groundball pitchers like him tend to live and die by BABIP. There’s still plenty to like about Valdez, but prospective owners should be aware that he’s overperformed thus far. He won’t necessarily regress all the way to a 4.10 SIERA, but he won’t maintain a 2.73 ERA either.

Verdict:

With an elite groundball rate and improvements to his curveball, Valdez has a winning combination of pitches that can help him become a successful starter. His limited arsenal and good fortune should keep expectations realistic, but Valdez is worth taking a shot on in most formats.

 

Pablo Lopez, Miami Marlins

34% Owned

2019 Stats (prior to this start): 69.2 IP, 4.26 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 18.1% K-BB%

06/15 vs. PIT: 7 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K

Lopez is rolling right now, with four straight quality starts for Miami. His production seems to have flown under the radar, as he’s still available in nearly two-thirds of Yahoo leagues. Lopez has a four-pitch arsenal, a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a changeup, and a curveball. During his quality start streak, Lopez has phased out the sinker, throwing just 13 sinkers total between his last four starts. He’s instead begun relying on his four-seamer more often and has increased usage on both of his secondary pitches.

Lopez’s strikeout rate has gone up over his last few starts, and that’s because he’s increased his breaking ball usage. The changeup has been Lopez’s best strikeout pitch, with a 19% SwStr rate and insane 50% chase rate. Both the drop and break on Lopez’s changeup are significantly above league average, and he’s induced groundballs at a 60% clip with the pitch. His changeup was effective in 2018, but Lopez wasn’t featuring it much last season compared to now. Overall, Lopez has increased his changeup usage by 4% from 19% to 23%, but he’s used the pitch 30% of the time over his last four starts. This is the type of move Lopez needed to make if he wanted to achieve sustainable success, and it looks like Lopez is moving in the right direction to become a reliable major league pitcher.

Even with his newfound success, it would be hard to see Lopez elevate beyond a third or fourth starter. With this arsenal, a high strikeout rate seems unattainable. Lopez’s curveball has a modest 10.7% SwStr rate and 25.8% chase rate. It also has below average drop for a curveball and has been pulverized by left-handed hitters for a .308 AVG and .462 SLG this season. Lopez has big platoon splits, with lefties hitting nearly 100 points higher and a wOBA more than 70 points higher when compared to righties. One would expect his excellent changeup to help him neutralize left-handed hitters, but with only two usable pitches against lefties, Lopez has struggled with opposite-handed batters throughout the season, and they’ve still crushed his curveball during this hot streak. There is potential for a solid starter here, but don’t hold your breath for him to take the ace leap, it'll probably never come.

Verdict:

A good four-seamer, a great changeup, and a passable curveball. That’s enough to get by as an above average starter. This isn’t a superstar in the making, but he’s someone who’s trustworthy in most matchups. With the current state of pitching, Lopez is available in far too many leagues. He’s owned in fewer leagues than Yusei Kikuchi and Mike Fiers, for crying out loud. Lopez is a recommended add in all but the shallowest of formats.

More 2019 Fantasy Baseball Advice




More Recent Articles

 

Bases Loaded Podcast: Early Round Values

Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) is joined by Jorge Montanez (@Roto_Nino) and Zach Braff (@BraffZ) and they discuss early round values. They go through and highlight a few players that are going inside the top 150 in ADP that offer a great chance to return profit. Subscribe to the Bases Loaded podcast, part of RotoBaller Radio's Podcast... Read More


Second Year Pitcher Preview: Fantasy Baseball 2020 ADP Analysis

Host Anthony Aniano of RotoBaller Radio discuss the 2020 fantasy baseball season and keeps you updated with all the latest news and analysis Be sure to tune into RotoBaller Radio on SiriusXM (channel Sirius 210, XM 87) - every weekday morning between 6-7 AM ET, every weekday afternoon from 1-2 PM ET, Saturday nights from 9-11 PM ET... Read More


Relief Pitchers to Target for Holds

Hold on... there are fantasy leagues that reward middle relievers, not just starters and closers? Yes, there are, and leagues that reward holds are one of the fastest-growing segments of fantasy baseball as real baseball continues to diminish the role of the starter in favor of building deep bullpens with multiple relievers that throw 95+... Read More


2020 Second Base Rankings - H2H Points Leagues

Points leagues may seem like a slight variation from traditional 5x5 category scoring leagues but you must approach draft day with a different strategy if you wish to truly compete. Rankings themselves are a different beast altogether, as category specialists like Mallex Smith and Dee Gordon (stolen bases), Kyle Schwarber and Franmil Reyes (home runs),... Read More


ADP Showdown – Matt Olson vs Paul Goldschmidt

Pitchers and catchers have officially reported and position player workouts are getting underway, which means baseball season is officially upon us! Maybe you haven’t started prepping for your drafts, but fortunately for you, there have already been plenty of drafts, which means that fantasy players out there have already started dealing with tough draft position... Read More


2020 Second Base Rankings - Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Leagues

As the season draws near, we realize more and more that it's draft season. There is a large portion of fantasy baseball busy with mock drafts, rankings, sleepers, and more mock drafts. The Dynasty community, on the other hand, is looking to continue their dominance, rebuild, or in a worst-case scenario, stick their hands up... Read More


Six Undervalued Draft Targets for Mixed Leagues

Heading into 2020, there are a number of players who had poor 2019 campaigns that should bounce back strong. Some of these players are presently undervalued by fantasy owners for one reason or another. In this article, I'll identify a few such players who should outperform their current ADP in 2020. While each of these... Read More


Josh Hayes' 2020 Best Ball Draft Targets (Premium Content)

All other Premium Tools can be accessed on the premium dashboard. The fantasy baseball season is here! For those fantasy players looking to get an edge on their 2020 leagues, Best Ball formats are a great way to get a head start on the players that look to be ADP risers this season. One key... Read More


Josh Hayes' 2020 Best Ball Draft Avoids (Premium Content)

All other Premium Tools can be accessed on the premium dashboard. The fantasy baseball season is here! For those fantasy players looking to get an edge on their 2020 leagues, Best Ball formats are a great way to get a head start on the players that look to be ADP risers this season. An underrated... Read More


Nine AL Rookies Ready to Leap Into Starting Lineups

Every year, there are those rookies who we expect to make a splash right away. Think Kris Bryant, Ronald Acuna, Cody Bellinger, Aaron Judge--those guys. Once we make it through all the service time manipulation shenanigans, there are always youngsters ready to snatch roster spots immediately, and 2020 is no exception. Below are nine of... Read More


Using Sabermetrics for Fantasy Baseball: Spin Rate

Spin rate has become one of the most recognizable Statcast metrics, with supporters of a given pitcher highlighting his spin rates to make their case. Unfortunately, the baseball world has done a lousy job conveying what spin rate really means. The result has been a ton of owners who know that spin rate exists, but... Read More


2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers - Khris Davis

The Oakland Athletics finished 2019 with a record of 97-65, which was good for a second-place finish in the AL West and a second-consecutive wildcard birth. They did this despite a statistically down season from their superstar, Khris Davis. Davis struggled mightily in 2019 by slashing .220/.293/.387 with 23 HR, 73 RBI, 61 R, and... Read More


ADP Cost Analysis: Trey Mancini vs. Christian Walker

One of the most important skills in a fantasy draft is the ability to identify a player with similar value at a lower ADP. When you're able to find similar production at a lower cost, this allows you to use an earlier pick to fill out other areas of your roster, resulting in a stronger... Read More


MLB Closers and Saves: Fantasy Baseball Depth Charts

Saves are an important component for many fantasy baseball leagues. Closers are one of the most volatile positions in fantasy baseball, and one of the highest turnover positions in MLB. Each year, closers drop like flies and many MLB teams make in-season changes due to injuries or poor performance. Stay on top of all closer depth... Read More


2020 Fantasy Baseball Staff Rankings

Below you will find RotoBaller's 2020 fantasy baseball rankings, tiers and auction dollar values for the 2020 MLB season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Mixed, Head-to-Head, Points, AL/NL Only, Two-Catcher Top 2020 prospects, Dynasty leagues, Keeper values Export the rankings easily... Read More


More Recent Articles

 

Biggest ADP Surprises: Early Fantasy Football Mock Draft

RotoBaller fantasy football analysts Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano review the draft board from RotoBaller's 2020 Way Too Early Mock fantasy football draft. They look at early ADP, reaches, values, and surprises throughout the first 10 rounds. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us... Read More


XFL Week 2 - Quarterback Risers and Fallers

We previously looked at target and opportunity risers and fallers, based on the first two weeks of XFL data. Now, it's time to evaluate the quarterbacks, for better or worse. There are few known commodities, even among seasoned NFL fans, at the quarterback position in this league. Relative unknowns like Phillip Walker and Jordan Ta'amu... Read More


XFL Week 2 - Opportunity Risers and Fallers

We previously looked at target risers and fallers based on the first two weeks of XFL data. The XFL has made it past Week 2 and now we have eight games of data to analyze. No small feat, as nobody knew where this league was going just a few weeks ago. But here we are,... Read More


XFL Week 2 - Target Risers and Fallers

The XFL has made it past Week 2 and now we have eight games of data to analyze. No small feat, as nobody knew where this league was going just a few weeks ago. But here we are, just mere days from Week 3 matchups! With two dates already in the rearview mirror and plenty... Read More


NFL Draft Combine Preview: Quarterbacks

With the Super Bowl now behind us, it is officially NFL Draft season! It's time to speculate on draft picks for teams, who should land where, and which players should be valued over others. This also marks the unofficial start to the 2020 fantasy football season. Getting in the early preparation can give owners a... Read More


RB Opportunity Share and Impact (AFC South & West): 2019 Review

We roll on with coverage of each of the eight NFL divisions, discussing the teams that are part of them and the running backs that were part of those teams in 2019. To present those teams and players I use a set of easy-to-read charts: treemaps. The graphics will hold all of the players of... Read More


Dynasty Price Check - Anthony Miller

Many of you have already begun planning and building your 2020 rosters. This includes best-ball owners who have assembled teams in that popular format. A number of owners in redraft leagues are inspecting the early rankings, while those of you who are involved in dynasty leagues have continued your process of relentless roster evaluation. As the... Read More


Is Lamar Jackson Worth a First Round Pick?

RotoBaller fantasy football analysts Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano discuss the idea of taking Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson in the first round of 2020 fantasy football redraft leagues. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure... Read More


Why Lamar Jackson Should Be a First-Round Pick in 2020

Sometimes I like to make noise and some headlines if I can. That is why I host shows six days a week on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio representing RotoBaller. If I can get people buzzing about a topic, calling in or responding on social media with passion and vigor, I am having fun. But whenever I... Read More


Dynasty Price Check - Darren Waller

Many of you have already launched into the planning process for your 2020 rosters. This includes best-ball owners who have embraced the opportunity to draft in that popular format. A number of owners in redraft leagues are also monitoring the early rankings, while those of you who are involved in dynasty leagues have continued a pace of... Read More


Biggest Breakouts of 2019: Tight End

There were a lot of fantasy football busts at the tight end position in 2019, but there were also a lot of breakout stars. The 2018 season saw Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz break the NFL record for most receptions in a season by a tight end, while San Francisco’s George Kittle broke the record for most... Read More


Dynasty Price Check - Courtland Sutton

With the conclusion of Super Bowl LIV, football season is over for many people. But for anyone that plays in a dynasty fantasy football league, the season is never over. For the fantasy addicts out there, now is the time to start preparing. In today's column, we will take a look at wide receiver Courtland... Read More