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]

Statcast Pitcher Risers/Fallers - Middle-Inning xBA (Week 18)


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.

Throughout the season, a common theme in our discussions has been pitcher efficiency. Whether it's laborious full counts, two-strike ineptitude, or periodic splits, the objective is to target guys that achieve outs in an orderly manner and avoid the ones that don't. On the casual side, it certainly makes the pitcher viewing experience more enjoyable. From a fantasy perspective, tidy innings dilute the omniscient forces of pitch counts and innings limits, ultimately extending a starter's ability to factor into games.

For Week 18, we'll look at xBA for pitchers in the middle innings (three through six). To keep things relevant, we'll focus on middle-inning xBA since June 1. By comparing that metric to a starter's season-long body of work, we can determine the buys and sells. For reference, the median xBA between the third and sixth innings since June 1 is .260. For the entire season across all innings, it's .255.

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 July 30 for 103 starting pitchers with over 750 pitches since June 1.

Anibal Sanchez, Atlanta Braves (5-3, 3.00 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 8.54 K/9)

Leading off our topic is veteran Anibal Sanchez. At some point in every season across his 13-year career, Sanchez rears his head as a potential fantasy asset. With his zombielike, impossible-to-kill characteristics, he's the baseball-equivalent of Frank Gore (shout-out to our Rotoballer NFL counterparts). Since June 1, Sanchez is seventh-best in baseball with a .201 middle-innings xBA.

Through 14 appearances this season (13 starts), Sanchez has yet to allow more than four earned runs in any outing. He's registered quality starts in four of his last five. This season, Sanchez has heavily leaned on a cutter (20% usage) and changeup (24%). His normalized wCT/C of 3.91 is best in the majors, perfectly setting up a change that's generating a whiff rate above 20%. Sanchez has successfully undergone the veteran's transformation, abandoning his former strengths (fastball, slider) and incorporating a repertoire that better suits his aging skill set.

While it's tough to trust a guy that once shared the mound with Dontrelle Willis and Brian Moehler, baseball-Gore deserves a chance. A 3.97 FIP and .249 BABIP indicate some bumps to the finish, but a 3.08 K/BB with almost a strikeout per nine is very playable. Due to the commodity-like attributes, his trade value is likely cheap. But if Sanchez isn't your guy this year, you can always grab him when he's available in 2025.

Carlos Rodon, Chicago White Sox (3-3, 3.24 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 7.56 K/9)

Even for the most patient fantasy owners, Carlos Rodon was long a fantasy afterthought until he made his debut on June 9. After three starts, he held a 4.41 ERA. Yawn. Since then, he's been anything but uninteresting, landing 13th on our middle-inning xBA rankings at .210.

Across his last six starts, Rodon carries a 2.79 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. Very pertinent to our emphasis on endurance, he's gone into the eighth inning three starts in a row. When on the mound, walks have been a self-inflicted wound; he's limited the damage this year by allowing more than three walks only once. Unlike Sanchez, Rodon remains in the power stage of his development, utilizing a fastball-slider combination to excellent results. While it's easy to disregard a guy that's made only 21 starts the past two seasons, Rodon was a former third overall pick and thoroughly-hyped prospect.

The advanced metrics don't love Rodon (4.55 FIP), but the gamble seems worth the tradeoff considering his low ownership. A .212 BABIP will give, but should be offset by a bump in his K-rate which has hovered above 9.0 throughout his pro career. Health is a risk, but it's reasonable to assume he's missed his allotment for 2018. Rodon is a golden opportunity for willing owners. He could be a key piece for the stretch run.

Other possible risers: Mike Clevinger (CLE, .188 middle-inning xBA), Jack Flaherty (STL, .199), Sonny Gray (NYY, .205)

 

Due to Drop

Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks (7-4, 3.26 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 11.04 K/9)

Full disclosure, we touted Corbin earlier this season and doubled down in our midseason recap. So it's a modest bummer to see Corbin with a middle-inning xBA of .297, grading fourth-worst in baseball ahead of names like James Shields and Alex Cobb. Yikes. That's 63 points worse than his season-long xBA of .234.

Corbin's consistent start to the year has turned highly volatile. Across his last nine starts, he's relinquished four or more earned runs four times and has mostly shutdown his opponents in the other five. While his K/9 over the period is still a sturdy 10.22, it is down. For a guy that predominantly relies on one pitch (slider) for whiffs, his strikeout numbers could continue eroding. While Corbin misses sweet spots (3.9% Brls/PA), increased batted-balls could convince an elevated 42.6% Hard% to influence a more normalized HR/9 (currently 0.73).

As we argued in defense of Corbin, the fervor over his decreased velocity earlier this season was overstated. His velocity has normalized and he's still broadly handling hitters with his key pitches. Our argument is relative, rooted in the fact that marginally lower strikeouts and recent inconsistency could exploit the high xBA. Having Corbin's services would be beneficial to most fantasy teams, but it might be prudent to target him below market value.

Jake Arrieta, Philadelphia Phillies (8-6, 3.45 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 6.41 K/9)

A perusal of Jake Arrieta's peripheral numbers suggests he may actually defy Statcast logic. The league's third-worst 7.1% SwStr% confirms the pitiful strikeout numbers, compounding a 65.6% LOB% that makes no sense (implying bad luck, if anything) and his batted-ball metrics scream no red flags. But Arrieta's .287 middle-inning xBA is ranked 17th-highest, so we must discuss him.

Despite the pedestrian numbers, Arrieta has put together a respectable season, with 11 quality starts in 20 apperances. While his velocity is mostly unchanged, a collapse in whiff rates across his arsenal helps explain the vanishing strikeouts. While his pitch-to-contact strategy (84.6% Contact%) could skew the numbers upward, opponent slugging is up against his historically strong sinker and curveball. While Arrieta's evolution through his career is more scattered than straight line, the current profile more closely resembles his early stages as an Oriole with an ERA north of 5.00 than the Cy Young contender days with the Cubs.

Admittedly, we could be grasping for straws arguing against Arrieta. He might be experiencing a late-stage career renaissance like fellow geriatric Sanchez. But it's tough to buy into a guy whose contact rates have increased annually and lost almost three full strikeouts per nine since 2015. Arrieta could continue deploying his anti-Statcast voodoo on some fantasy believers, but I'm buying the xBA. Hard pass.

Other possible fallers: Tyson Ross (.297 middle-inning xBA), Rick Porcello (BOS, .288), Gio Gonzalez (.287).

 

More Sabermetrics & Fantasy Baseball Strategy




More Recent Articles

 

Deeper League Free Agent Pickups for Week 15

The first week of the fantasy playoffs is in the books, and hopefully you're still writing another chapter in it. Week 14 was absolutely brutal from an injury perspective, with several big name players getting carted off the field and burying multitudes of fantasy teams in the process. Mike Evans, Calvin Ridley, Devante Parker, Alshon... Read More


Fantasy Football News and Injuries - Running Updates

Below is a quick-hit list of running notes on relevant injuries and player news, including pre-game reports and live in-game updates. Stay tuned for updates all throughout the week and on Sunday morning game day:   Week 15 Le'Veon Bell (flu) is back at practice and should return for TNF. Bilal Powell (ankle, flu) is likely... Read More


Week 14 Surprises? We Must Overreact Immediately!

In Week 14, the quarterback position was littered with surprises. Drew Brees dropped over 40 fantasy points on a 49ers Defense that's given up the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks on the season and Jameis Winston hung 456 yards and 5 touchdowns on a Colts Defense that's been solid against the pass all year. Mitch... Read More


The Cut List - Players on the Chopping Block (Week 15)

This is your weekly list of players to drop. I will do my best to limit this list to injured players and players you might consider holding. If you roster pure handcuffs or backups, obviously you can let them go at any time. The players on this list will, ideally, be guys that aren't clearly... Read More


Week 15-16 Playoff Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Still doing things a little differently this week--for those of you who are still alive. 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


Week 15 Kicker Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Week 15 is here and for those of you that won the first week of your fantasy playoffs, congratulations. If you had a bye week, good luck to you this week. Kicker lives still matter, and three different kickers had 15 or more points last week. Three different kickers outscored Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick... Read More


FAAB Bidding - Week 15 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


Week 15 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

You have to love fantasy football. You have to, otherwise you would have given up by now. In a week that most likely represented the first matchup of the fantasy playoffs or a must-win in some form for the vast majority of players, we were treated to the following: Alvin Kamara netting three fantasy points,... Read More


Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 15

It is almost inconceivable that we are progressing into the second week of fantasy postseason matchups. Congratulations to those of you whose teams are still competing in the playoffs. Your meticulous planning during the draft process and the regular season has been rewarded with an opportunity to win your leagues' championships. This critical week provides the opportunity to... Read More


Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 15

Week 15 is upon us, which means that even the holdovers who play in leagues with four team playoffs and no byes are now in fantasy playoff mode. This is it: the home stretch. Are there any wide receivers left on the waiver wire who can help you in the playoffs? Let's look at some... Read More


Week 15 Tight End Waiver Wire Picks and Streamers

If your fantasy football season is over, either because you did not make your league’s playoffs or because you have had enough of failing in DFS contests, then this column is not for you. Congratulations if you HAVE qualified for your fantasy league’s playoffs! To reach the postseason you must have received some decent play... Read More


Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers - Week 15

The first week of the fantasy playoffs in almost in the books, and if you're fortunate enough to have advanced then it's already time to start thinking about Week 15 lineups, especially for those who stream quarterbacks. Luckily, there are plenty of viable options available as eliminated owners have stopped making moves, and if you... Read More


Waiver Wire Express - Week 15 Lightning Round

An injury-laden Week 14 decided many matchups, with several big names going down in a Red Wedding-esque affair. Not only was Josh Jacobs was a late inactive, but Jared Cook, Devante Parker, Albert Wilson all left with concussions, Mike Evans pulled up with a hamstring injury, Calvin Ridley and Ryan Griffin hurt their ankles, Derrius... Read More


Monday Night Fantasy Football Starts/Sits - Week 14

Finally, we had a good fantasy matchup last week. And now, as punishment, we get this. The Eagles against the Giants is a good rivalry game. But for fantasy? Not so much. Even key players Saquon Barkley and Carson Wentz have been severely disappointing in 2019. The game is not going to be something to... Read More


Week 14 Chat - Live Fantasy Football Game Day Q&A

It's Sunday Morning Week 14... Do You Know Who to Start? Each Sunday morning of the NFL season, RotoBaller's experts will be moderating the industry's leading live chat room and answering a bunch of your fantasy football questions, from around 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM ET. Come join in on the fun, and get your... Read More