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Strikeout Rate Risers and Fallers - Buy or Sell for Week 22

Welcome back to the strikeout rate risers and fallers series for Week 22! Each week we will take a look at two K% risers and two fallers, analyze what is behind those changes, and then decide if they are actionable. A pitcher can best control their fate by generating swings and misses, so this exercise holds particular importance for fantasy value. Understanding strikeout trends and the stats behind them can help you sort through all the noise and determine which pitchers are legit and which pitchers should be avoided.

The players in this article were chosen using RotoBaller’s K% Risers and Fallers premium Tool. This tool identifies players who are surging and falling in strikeout percentage over the last 30 days. The goal of this tool is to help you find pitchers who are showing improving or declining K%.

We are now close to the fantasy playoffs and some of you may even be in them now, so it is more important than ever to pay attention to how players on your teams are trending. Every start counts, so choosing whether or not to send a pitcher out or keep them on your bench is key. Let's take a look at two starters who have been better in terms of strikeouts and two who have been worse. The focus here will be on these pitcher's next immediate starts.

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Strikeout Rate Risers

All stats current as of Sunday, August 25


Yu Darvish - Chicago Cubs

Season K%: 29.2%, Last 30 Days: 37.6%

Our first K rate riser has had a sub-par season but has given more of what fantasy players expect of him lately. Yu Darvish has posted a 3.99 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and an impressive 37.6% strikeout rate over his last five starts. However, his next start will be against the hot Mets on the road. Can fantasy owners trust him in this matchup?

The bottom line is that Darvish has pitched well lately and his underlying numbers are even stronger than his peripherals. His 2.27 SIERA over those five starts is even more impressive than his respectable ERA. Darvish has stepped it up, as most of these starts were not against easy matchups (at the Cardinals, against the Brewers, at the Reds, at the Phillies, against the Giants). His command has been on point, allowing his good pitch arsenal to be even more effective.   

The Mets have been one of baseball's hottest offenses in August, but the evidence shows that Darvish's recent performances have been legit. Unless fantasy owners have a deep bench of starting pitchers, I would be inclined to trot him out there in points leagues and, depending on current rankings, in roto leagues as well.   


Lucas Giolito - Chicago White Sox

Season K%: 31.8%, Last 30 Days: 38%

Our second K rate riser has come into form as a legitimate starter this season and has done even better lately. Lucas Giolito has really helped fantasy teams this season, going 14-6 with a 3.20 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and a 31.8% strikeout rate. That mark has jumped to an elite 38% over the last 30 days. Should owners have any doubts in Giolito in the last month of the season?     

Things have been clicking for both Giolito as well as the White Sox's offense, which helps him even more. Giolito has posted double-digit strikeouts in each of his last three starts. He has also posted a 3.46 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 2.95 SIERA over the last 30 days. Even more impressive, he has managed this success despite having a .316 BABIP over those starts, which is significantly higher than his season .285 mark.

Giolito will next face a tough matchup in the Twins at home. However, his last start was against the Twins on the road, in which he pitched a complete-game, three-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts. I would be starting Giolito in all of his matchups for the rest of the season.


Strikeout Rate Fallers

All stats current as of Sunday, August 25


Zack Wheeler- New York Mets

Season K%: 23.6%, Last 30 Days: 16.8%

Our first K rate faller had a lot of hype going into the season but hasn't quite lived up to it. Zack Wheeler has posted a 4.46 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and 23.6% K rate this season. His strikeout numbers have fallen to a mediocre 16.8% over the last 30 days. Is Wheeler a liability heading into the fantasy playoffs?

Wheeler has actually pitched better in his last six starts despite the lower strikeout numbers. He has posted a 3.72 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. However, his 4.82 SIERA suggests that he has outperformed himself and his lower strikeout numbers suggest that. I would be inclined to believe the numbers that echo his season-long marks.

Wheeler will face a tough Phillies matchup in his next start and I wouldn't feel great starting him. It would be a tough call sitting him given what everyone knows he can do, but, based on how he's performed this season, I would be hesitant to start him Friday if my matchup was close in points and would not start him in roto leagues.


Caleb Smith - Miami Marlins

Season K%: 29.1%, Last 30 Days: 23.3%

Our second K rate faller has been a strong strikeout pitcher for most of the season and a nice fantasy option as well. However, Caleb Smith has struggled over the last 30 days, posting a 5.53 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. Should fantasy owners question using him down the stretch?

The drop in strikeout rate lately can likely be attributed to inconsistent command. In his last five starts Smith allowed a combined two earned runs in two of those starts and 15 in the other three. The high WHIP and walk rate (10.8%) support this. The 23.3% K rate during that time is still respectable, but everything else has been lackluster overall.

The debate over whether to trust Smith this week or not becomes simpler given that he is scheduled to make two starts. He is scheduled to get the Reds and Nationals, the first of which is a decent matchup and the second a tough one with the Nationals hitting very well in August. Regardless, I would roll the dice with Smith given his overall season performance. Pitchers have their ups and downs and, hopefully, Smith will have his stuff this week.


K-Rate Risers and Fallers - Premium Tool

Identifying top strikeout rate risers and fallers for each week can help you spot the best pickups before your competition. RotoBaller's Premium K-Rate Risers and Fallers tool has you covered every day. As thoughtful fantasy baseball players, we won't lead you astray. This tool will soon be active once we have a large enough sample size in the season to be considered reliable.

This type of data is available as part of our Premium MLB Subscription. Don't settle for basic stats and surface-level advice from other sites. RotoBaller brings you advanced statistics and professional analysis that you need to win your fantasy leagues and DFS games, because we're ballers just like you. We are your secret weapon!

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