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Statcast Pitcher Studs and Duds - Advanced Metrics Leaders for K-BB% (Week 25)

Jesus Luzardo - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Prospects, Draft Sleepers, MLB Injury News

Welcome back to another edition of RotoBaller’s Statcast Pitcher Studs and Duds article series! Each week, I select one advanced metric, choose two pitchers with strong values and two with poor values, and analyze what those values may mean for future performance. This week I will visit K-BB%.

The calculation for K-BB% is exactly as it sounds; a pitcher's walk rate is subtracted from their strikeout rate. A pitcher is generally in control of these two metrics, so they can help point to how strong overall a pitcher is. In general, a high K-BB% indicates that a pitcher is striking out hitters frequently without walking too many. Strikeouts, walks, and WHIP are important facets of fantasy baseball, so K-BB% can be used to indicate a pitcher's fantasy value.

At this point in the season, descriptive metrics can be helpful when making tough, meaningful start/sit decisions. Every roster decision matters down the stretch. With that in mind, let's take a look at a few K-BB% Studs and Duds!

Be sure to check all of our preseason fantasy baseball rankings for Roto, Points, H2H, dynasty, best ball, prospects and more:

 

K-BB% Studs for Fantasy Baseball

All stats are current as of Sunday morning, September 10, 2023.

Max Scherzer, Texas Rangers

12-6, 3.91 ERA, 28.6% Strikeout Rate, 1.13 WHIP, 21.3% K-BB Rate

Max Scherzer has been a top-notch fantasy option throughout his career, but this season has been a relative decline. His 3.91 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 28.6% strikeout rate are good overall but are not reflective of what he has turned in for the majority of his career. Regardless, his 21.3% K-BB rate is one of the highest among qualified starters. What should fantasy managers expect from him in the final few weeks of the fantasy season?

Firstly, Scherzer has been a better pitcher since joining the Rangers at the trade deadline. He has put together a 3.63 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 32.3% strikeout rate, and 23.4% K-BB rate in his seven starts with them. The main differences that stand out are a decrease in exit velocity (88.7 MPH on the season vs. 88.0 MPH), a decrease in launch angle (20.4 degrees on the season vs. 18.8 degrees), and a big decrease in home runs (15.1% HR/FB rate on the season vs. 11.6%).

In terms of his K-BB rate, Scherzer's walk rate has actually gone up since joining the Rangers from 7.3% on the season to 8.9%. However, his strikeout rate has jumped even more, hence the overall improved K-BB rate. This could be attributed to better location on his slider, which has been his best swing-and-miss pitch with a 19.2% swinging-strike rate. He has also thrown his cutter more, which has been his second-best swing-and-miss pitch with a 17.1% swinging-strike rate.

Scherzer still hasn't been as good as fantasy managers had hoped since joining the Rangers, but he has been better. His walk rate has gone up a bit, but he has pitched better overall. He did get hit hard in his last start, but fantasy managers should trust the larger sample at this point. Fortunately, signs point to Scherzer reverting back to his overall Rangers' averages for the rest of the season.

Jesus Luzardo, Miami Marlins

9-8, 3.59 ERA, 28.2% Strikeout Rate, 1.20 WHIP, 21.2% K-BB Rate

Jesus Luzardo has put together a second consecutive successful season with a 3.59 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 28.2% strikeout rate in 28 starts. Consequently, his 21.1% K-BB rate is one of the highest marks among qualified starters. How has Luzardo maintained his high performance?

One change Luzardo has made is ditching his sinker in favor of his four-seam fastball. His sinker wasn't bad last season, but his four-seamer was a better overall pitch and has yielded a .226 batting average against in 2023. He throws the pitch hard at 96.7 MPH with a lot of horizontal movement and has located the pitch in on righties and in the top of the zone, leading to an 8.5% swinging-strike rate.

His complementary pitches are also deadly. Luzardo's slider and changeup both have stellar swinging-strike rates of 21.5% and 18.0%. Luzardo has also managed to lower his walk rate considerably while still maintaining high strikeout numbers. He has dropped his walk rate from 8.8% down to 7.0%, hence his strong K-BB rate.

Luzardo was once a high-end fantasy prospect and has shown why over the past several seasons with the Marlins. His trio of four-seamer, slider, and changeup have led to solid results across the board. With the Marlins still fighting for a playoff spot, Luzardo should be a useful fantasy option down the stretch.

 

K-BB% Duds for Fantasy Baseball

All stats are current as of Sunday morning, September 10, 2023.

Jon Gray, Texas Rangers

8-7, 3.85 ERA, 21.8% Strikeout Rate, 1.25 WHIP, 13.5% K-BB Rate

Jon Gray's season numbers have been serviceable with a 3.85 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 21.8% strikeout rate. However, he has really struggled in the second half with a 4.89 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. Even considering his season as a whole, his 13.5% K-BB rate leaves something to be desired. Can fantasy managers trust him in the fantasy playoffs?

One positive thing is that Gray's K-BB rate has been higher in the second half compared to his season overall. He has brought his strikeout rate up to a respectable 24.9%, which is more in line with his 23.8% career mark. His walk rate has stayed pretty consistent at 8.9%, so his second-half K-BB rate stands at 16.0%.

The issues stem from his bloated WHIP, which has been due to allowing too many hits. Gray has allowed a poor 90.6-MPH exit velocity and a 42.9% hard-hit rate in the second half. This has led to a .351 BABIP. Gray's career BABIP is .309 and his second-half SIERA has been 4.18, suggesting that he has gotten unlucky to a degree. That being said, time is running out for regression to occur.

Gray has been a frustrating fantasy option in the second half of the season. He has gotten unlucky and has improved in some areas, but expected values are not as helpful over short periods of time. His next start should be a decent matchup at the Guardians, but I would look for a higher-floor play if possible with so much on the line.

Dean Kremer, Baltimore Orioles

12-5, 4.07 ERA, 21.3% Strikeout Rate, 1.29 WHIP, 14.3% K-BB Rate

Dean Kremer has played his part in the Orioles' standout season, going 12-5 with a 4.07 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 21.3% strikeout rate in 28 starts. Despite this, he hasn't necessarily been an exciting fantasy option, and his 14.3% K-BB rate is one example of why. Can Kremer help fantasy managers over the final few weeks?

Kremer's overall Statcast profile indicates that there aren't really any standout facets of his game. He allows a good deal of contact at 78.4% with a less-than-desirable batted-ball profile. The one strong aspect of his profile is his 7.1% walk rate, but his strikeout rate is not high enough to carry a strong K-BB rate.

However, Kremer has still provided plenty of fantasy value. He has the benefit of pitching in now one of baseball's more pitcher-friendly parks and is backed by one of baseball's best offenses and defenses. He has also avoided blowup starts, averaging 5 1/2 innings pitched per game with 14 quality starts.

Kremer's fantasy profile may not be well-suited for roto leagues, but his relatively high proportion of quality starts, wins, and innings pitched have served as a decent floor in points leagues. He is able to pitch deeper into games, which allows him to rack up more points despite not having a high K-BB rate. If he has helped you to this point, then there is no reason to turn away from him now.



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