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

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:


Already have an account? Log in here.


Forgot Password


Statcast Pitcher Risers/Fallers - Fastball Quality (Week 12)

Welcome back to RotoBaller's series using Statcast to extrapolate, dig into, and commiserate over data to examine pitching performances. The weekly series will be dynamic as we fine-tune our findings and enlighten ourselves on the information and tools at our disposal.

Chicks dig the fastball. At least that's how this pitching-friendly column remembers the classic commercial. But seriously, fastballs are critical to a pitcher. Most rely on it for over 50% of their pitches. At worst it's a table-setter and at best it's a knockout punch. Since its efficacy is so important, fastballs likely impact the remaining pitch selection for a given plate appearance.

This week, we'll look at fastball effectiveness on two metrics, expected wOBA (xwOBA) and contact quality. The median fastball xwOBA for a pitcher is .367. For contact quality, the best pitchers like Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Jacob deGrom surrender well-hit fastballs at a 20-22% clip. The worst pitchers have a well-hit fastball rate north of 30%. Looking at these two criteria will determine our risers and fallers for Week 12.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!


Bound to Pop

All stats as of June 18 for 112 pitchers that have thrown over 1000 pitches. Well-hit balls include all batted-ball results not classified as poor/weak by

Vince Velasquez, Philadelphia Phillies (5-7, 4.74 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 10.82 K/9)

Vince Velasquez made an early appearance in the Statcast series and he finds himself back in the discussion nine weeks later. He's given up well-hit fastballs at a solid 21.8% and his xwOBA of .306 is 17th-best. Prior to a 10-run implosion on June 8, Velasquez had pitched well in 6-of-7 outings. Dependability has been an issue, with seven quality starts mixed in with five clunkers through 14 starts.

Velasquez has leveraged his mid-90s fastball to generate a strong whiff percentage around 15%. More importantly, he's refined his slider to an excellent normalized pitch value of 1.43 and finally developed a coveted tertiary pitch, mixing in a useful changeup for the first time in his career. Velasquez has also upped his sinker usage from 4% in April to 17% in June. With a loaded arsenal in 2018, Velasquez has been able to peel back on the four-seamer, enhancing its overall effectiveness. Unfortunately, Velasquez has been reluctant to abandon his awful curveball (.900 opponent slugging in June), which he still serves up 19% of pitches.

Despite consistency being his Achilles heel, Velasquez is a worthwhile weekly streamer for the strikeouts and ongoing evolution of his repertoire. For what it's worth, he's significantly better away (2.79 ERA) than at home (6.88).


Tyler Mahle, Cincinnati Reds (5-6, 3.96 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 8.16 K/9)

Rookie Tyler Mahle has gradually improved as the season's progressed, riding a 1.10 ERA and 1.22 WHIP through three June starts. Mahle ranks just behind Velasquez with a .312 xwOBA, giving up well-hit contact on 22.0% of heaters.

Mahle is a straightforward three-pitch pony, utilizing his fastball on 68% of pitches. It's also been his strongest pitch, with a sub-.300 BAA and a whiff percentage of 11%. Mahle's chief improvement in June has been his slider. In April, batters were whiffing, but they also clocked a healthy .308 ISO off the pitch. Mahle's flipped the script in June, pitching to contact with much better results (.000 ISO).

Mahle's endured his share of speedbumps in 2018. A 41.6% Hard%, 2.43 K/BB and 4.73 FIP confirm his downside. But he appears to be making the right adjustments throughout the season with encouraging results. Minimally owned, Mahle's worth a test drive over his next handful of starts. If he keeps capitalizing on the fastball and maintains his slider touch, his fantasy value could be upgraded for longer term.

Other possible risers: Ross Stripling (LAD, .260 fastball xwOBA), Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS, .285), Miles Mikolas (STL, .304)


Due to Drop

Zack Godley, Arizona Diamondbacks (7-5, 4.77 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 9.08 K/9)

The first fantasy relevant player with a poor fastball xwOBA is Zack Godley in ninth-worst position (.432), ceding well-hit fastballs at 29.2%. However, unlike most pitchers, Godley isn't heavily reliant on a fastball, using his cutter just 23% of pitches. While not having a traditional four-seamer isn't a problem outright, it is when your substitute is alarmingly losing velocity.

Godley entered the league with a cutter hovering around 91-92 MPH. This season, it's plummeted to 88.8 MPH. The deceleration may not seem material on the surface, but line drives on his cutter have increased from 28% to 34% year-over-year. Opponent slugging has lingered above .429 all season, with an unsightly .643 in June.

Godley hasn't been good in 2018, but his ownership remains stubbornly high. He does have strikeout appeal, and his BABIP (.318) and LOB% (71.3%) suggest some fortunes may turn his way. But his batted-ball metrics are not encouraging, and for someone that can barely touch 90 MPH on the radar gun, selling at a discount appears wiser than holding and hoping.


Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles (5-7, 3.81 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 10.04 K/9)

Dylan Bundy, on the other hand, loves his heater. He's increased its usage from the low-40% in April to 56% in June. His returns in June have been marvelous through three starts (1.71 ERA, 0.86 ERA), but that doesn't diminish the fact that his fastball suffers from the 10th-worst xwOBA (.430) and a 34.5% well-hit rate.

Bundy is currently on a career-best strikeout pace, but it's not from the fastball. His four-seamer is generating a whiff percentage below 10% and the punch outs are mostly coming from his slider and changeup. Then why the focus on the heater? Possibly because despite the strikeouts, the only pitch that grades positively for Bundy is his slider. While he generates swings-and-misses for the changeup, it's mashed upon contact.

It makes sense for Bundy to use the fastball to setup his knockout slider, but overemphasizing it seems counterintuitive. We lowlighted his unflattering off-speed pitch, but results from the heater aren't much better (30% LD%, .450 SLG). With his strikeouts down in June (7.29 K/9), the fastball proportion is arguably to blame. Whether the pitch selection is intentional, mechanical or psychological, Bundy's spectacular June doesn't appear supported by strong fundamentals.

Other possible fallers: Jake Junis (KC, .451 fastball xwOBA), Aaron Sanchez (TOR, .427), Luis Castillo (CIN, .426)


More Sabermetrics & Fantasy Baseball Strategy

More Recent Articles


Thursday Night Football Matchups Analysis - Week 14

It's that time of year again! While many will be caught up in the thrills of the holiday season, those lucky few who have risen to the top of their fantasy leagues will be sweating over lineup decisions in pursuit of a championship (in most league formats). To our fantasy owners who have managed to... Read More

Wide Receiver Snap Counts and Target Trends - Week 13 Analysis

Wide receivers are essential components toward your ultimate goal of securing league championships. As many of you prepare for your Week 14 matchups, an expanding collection of tools are available that can provide you with an extensive level of knowledge. Those results provide the foundation for this weekly statistical breakdown of the wide receiver position, which... Read More

Week 14 Stream Team - Free Agent and Bye-Week Streamers

Now that the playoffs are beginning in most leagues and the final march for a championship has begun, streaming becomes a  necessary strategy. Knowing who to add and when to start them could be the ultimate difference-maker in a weekly matchup. Making the right streaming decisions could easily be the difference in winning a championship.... Read More

Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery: Playoff Panic

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody else on your bench. Disaster Recovery is here to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting and to help you decide if you should... Read More

The Tape Tells All - Derrius Guice Fantasy Outlook

Welcome to another edition of "The Tape Tells All," where I break down some film of an NFL's player performance and try to draw some fantasy football conclusions from that film. This week, I'm looking at Washington running back Derrius Guice, who's finally healthy and finally getting a chance to show why people were so... Read More

Week 14 Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

Below you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football weekly rankings, tiers, player news and stats for the 2019 NFL season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Weekly PPR Rankings Weekly Half-PPR Rankings Weekly Standard Rankings Dynasty League Rankings     Fantasy... Read More

Quarterback Leaderboards Before the Fantasy Playoffs - NFL Next Gen Stats

You won't believe it, but you weren't dreaming. That turkey you stuffed your face with a few days ago? Real. Those three games on a Thursday? Real, indeed. Your weekly meeting with football on the telly this past Sunday? Also real. All of that together only meant one thing: the fantasy football regular season is... Read More

Fantasy Playoffs Warning Signs: Wide Receivers

We all know a good wide receiver is important. Most leagues are PPR and more receivers are played than other positions. But the key is finding those wide receivers with favorable matchups. Just like with other positions, it is difficult to know at draft time which defenses will be good or bad by the time... Read More

Offensive Line Rankings Analysis: Week 14

Week 13 had the season's first snow game, a potential SuperBowl preview, and an incredible play from the Miami Dolphins special teams! If you haven't seen it have a look and come back. Now let's move onto Week 14. If you aren't in playoff contention, then this article could help you with some DFS selections.... Read More

Week 14-16 Playoff Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

The playoffs are here, and that means we're going to do things a little differently. I want to take a look at the playoffs as a whole (and in this case we are considering Weeks 14-16) and determine which DSTs you can ride all the way through and which ones you should stream this week.... Read More

NFL Survivor Pool Picks (Week 14) - Targets and Avoids

If there were a dozen people left in a survivor pool this past week, odds are those pools are down to just several. The upsets began Thursday when the Bills beat the Cowboys, and continued Sunday when the Dolphins and Redskins won as 10-point underdogs. If you're somehow still alive in your pool with just... Read More

Week 14 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

If you are reading this, then you most likely are in your league's playoffs, so congrats. Now, the real work begins. There is no more "rest of season" value, as it's do or die this week. Matchups are more crucial than ever, so weigh your options carefully before pulling the trigger to spend whatever FAAB... Read More

FAAB Bidding - Week 14 Waiver Wire Targets

Assisting our famous waiver wire pickups list, and our weekly waiver wire columns by position, this column focuses on suggested waiver wire bidding percentages for fantasy football owners in leagues using a Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB). As a caveat, these prices do not by any means indicate how much these free agent players will... Read More

Quarterback Start/Sit Advice - Week 14

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the quarterback position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 14 of the 2019 NFL season. They decide who to start or sit in order to give you the best advantage to win your weekly matchup. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube... Read More

Tight End Start/Sit Advice - Week 14

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the tight end position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 14 of the 2019 NFL season. They decide who to start or sit in order to give you the best advantage to win your weekly matchup. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on... Read More