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Strikeout Rate Risers and Fallers - Buy or Sell for Week 24

Welcome back to the strikeout rate risers and fallers series for Week 24! 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%.

If you are reading this then you are likely still in the hunt for a fantasy title, congratulations! As you all know, picking and choosing your pitching matchups carefully is essential at this time. I will discuss two interesting strikeout rate risers and two fallers to hopefully help you make some tough decisions this week!

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!

Strikeout Rate Risers

All stats current as of Sunday, September 8


J.A. Happ - New York Yankees

Season K%: 19.7%, Last 30 Days: 26.2%

Our first K rate riser has been a fantasy disappointment overall. J.A. Happ's first full season in New York has not gone well, as he has posted a 5.10 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 19.7% K rate. However, his K rate has gone up to a solid 26.2% over the last 30 days. Is his recent increase enough to keep him in your lineups this week with a fantasy title on the line?

Happ has pitched better over the last 30 days, but he has still been inconsistent. He has a 4.60 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 4.78 SIERA over his last six starts. His command has been better, which likely has helped his K rate. However, his SIERA matches his season batted-ball profile; Happ has gotten hit hard all season long (exit velocity is in the bottom 28 percent of baseball). Further, he relied on his fastball even more than usual in the month of August (55.8%), which won't really help his strikeouts given his low velocity.

In sum, I wouldn't generally be all that excited to start Happ despite his recent K rate uptick. However, he faces a nice matchup at the Tigers, which, coupled with the fact that Happ hasn't allowed an earned run in his last two starts, would give me enough reason to give him the start this week.    


Max Fried - Atlanta Braves

Season K%: 25.1%, Last 30 Days: 31.1%

Our second K rate riser has been a useful fantasy option this season pitching on a strong team. Max Fried has gone 16-4 with a 3.86 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, and 25.1% strikeout rate in 149 1/3 innings pitched this season. He has pitched even better lately, compiling a 3.15 ERA with an impressive 31.1% K rate in his last 30 days, but he is also a young pitcher without a ton of experience. Should fantasy owners feel comfortable relying on him down the stretch?

Fried's recent ERA looks good, as does his 3.02 SIERA, but he was inconsistent in those six starts. He allowed one combined earned run against the Twins, Mets, and Nationals but then allowed eight earned runs against the Mets, Dodgers, and White Sox. The one thing that has remained consistent has been Fried's use of his curveball and slider, which have both been strong swing-and-miss pitches (15% and 15.7% swinging-strike rates, respectively).  

Despite his inconsistencies, Fried has pitched well lately. His next starts will be tough at the Phillies and at the Nationals, but, given that he has two starts and has found recent success, I would start him this week.


Strikeout Rate Fallers

All stats current as of Sunday, September 8


Zack Wheeler - New York Mets

Season K%: 22.9%, Last 30 Days: 10.9%

I wrote about our first K rate faller for the last two weeks, saying that I was hesitant to start him given his recent performance. Once again, Zack Wheeler proved me wrong, pitching five innings of one-run ball with three strikeouts at the Nationals. However, his K rate over the last 30 days is still at a very low 10.9%, so should fantasy owners have the same concerns they did last week?

Much is the same as last week in terms of Wheeler's overall performance the last 30 days. His ERA has been ok at 3.86, but everything else has not been promising. Wheeler has a poor K rate, a 1.63 WHIP, and a 5.75 SIERA. These numbers echo his season-long marks, which have been disappointing.

Wheeler will face two matchups this week, against the Diamondbacks and against the Dodgers. The first matchup is fine, but the second gives me pause. At this point, given that he has a two-start week, I would start Wheeler, but would not be surprised to see him blow up in his second start.


Cole Hamels - Chicago Cubs

Season K%: 22.2%, Last 30 Days: 16.5%

Our second K rate faller has pitched well overall this season, but he has gotten lit up lately. Cole Hamels has posted an 8.53 ERA with a 16.5% K rate over the last 30 days. Hamels has been a huge fantasy asset over the years, so can fantasy owners turn away from him now? 

The main issue for Hamels lately has been his lack of command. His 2.17 WHIP has prevented him from pitching into the sixth inning in four of his last six starts. Consequently, his strikeout numbers have also suffered. Simply summed up, things have not been clicking for Hamels.

Hamels faces a decent matchup this week at the Padres, but one more three-inning start with five earned runs allowed and two strikeouts won't cut it this week. I would not be starting him this week unless I was desperate for starts.


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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