Champ or Chump: Kendall Graveman & Amir Garrett

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It is so easy to overreact to a small sample. Kendall Graveman is 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA this year, and fantasy owners are falling all over themselves to acquire his services. Why?

Amir Garrett is also 2-0, inspiring the fantasy world to collectively ask, "Who is that?". It is time to take a closer look at these arms.

As always, ownership rates provided are from FleaFlicker formats.

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The Fantasy Jury is Out

Kendall Graveman (SP, OAK) 46% Owned

Graveman's surface stats are pretty, but the underlying 4.77 FIP should make you nervous every time you start him. He went 10-11 last year with a 4.11 ERA and 4.39 FIP, numbers that were completely useless in fantasy when his paltry 13.7 percent K% is considered. His K% is up to 17.1 percent so far this year, so he's improving. Right?

Nope! Graveman has abandoned every pitch in his arsenal save one, the sinker that he is throwing 90.3 percent of the time (61.2 percent last year). The pitch has a 8.6 percent SwStr% this year, but that number is almost certainly a small sample size fluke. Its career rate is just five percent. Graveman's sinker has been achieving higher velocity readings this year (92.7 mph last year to 94.2 this year), but this is mostly the result of MLB changing how pitch velocity is measured. Everything is about one mph faster than it used to be, negating nearly all of Graveman's velocity spike.

Despite being more predictable than ever before, Graveman's sinker has limited opposing batters to a .190/.254/.293 line. For context, its career average is .286/.336/.426. Regression seems like a given. The pitch is also losing its ground ball touch, as his FB% is up from 27.4 percent last year to 36.5 percent this. Even relievers generally need two offerings, so how is Graveman, a starter, going to survive with only one?

Graveman is likely to be reduced to a BP pitcher if he continues his current sinker usage. The velocity spike is a mirage, and the pitch's peripherals will not play in fantasy at all. On the off chance I'm wrong, he still won't have the strikeouts fantasy owners look for. Oakland is also a weak club, so wins should not be relied upon moving forward either. Honestly, you might be better off with an injured guy in your lineup than Graveman. The risk in his profile could ruin your entire season.

Verdict: Chump

 

Amir Garrett (SP, CIN) 28% Owned

This guy came out of nowhere to go 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in 12.2 IP so far in 2017. His two starts came against the Cardinals and Pirates, both widely considered at least on the fringe of the playoff picture. His .182 BABIP against, 93 percent LOB%, and 8.3 percent HR/FB all suggest that he has been fortunate in his brief career, but the underlying 3.25 FIP is still solid. This 25-year old probably deserved more attention than we as fantasy owners accorded him.

Garrett began last season in Double-A, his first exposure to the level. He quickly mastered it, compiling a 1.75 ERA, 2.50 FIP, and 25.1 percent K% over 77 IP. This dominance earned him a shot at Triple-A, where he posted a respectable 3.46 ERA that masked a 4.14 FIP, 19.7 percent K%, and an 11.3 percent BB% in 67.2 IP. This is the extent of Garrett's career in the upper minors, and it sends a mixed message. The Double-A numbers are interesting, the Triple-A ones are not.

The sample is microscopic, but let's look at his big league peripherals to get more information. Garrett features a 91 mph fastball, a change, and a curve. The change looks like his best pitch, posting a 20.6 percent SwStr% despite rarely getting chased outside of the zone (31.6 percent chase rate). Its 44.1 percent Zone% is high enough to keep hitters honest, and generating whiffs in the zone is a great sign. The curve has potential with a 25 percent SwStr%, but Garrett will need to improve either its chase rate (36.4 percent) or its Zone% (21.4 percent) to really rely on it.

Both secondary offerings are currently sporting a 50 percent GB%, suggesting that Garrett may have a ground ball tendency that would do a lot to mitigate his offense-friendly home park. Garrett still has some developing to do, but he has potential. More owners should probably be willing to roll the dice with him.

Verdict: Champ

 

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