How Lance Lynn has survived throwing his fastball on nine out of every 10 deliveries.
On a night when we all expected to witness the latest in a series of transcendent performances by Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta, a pitcher who seems impervious to superstition, centuries-old curses involving a goat, and (perhaps more importantly) opposing hitters, it simply never materialized. The former Oriole, who had given up just two earned runs in his previous 10 starts (including a streak of 31 scoreless innings), was charged with four runs and lasted just 5 2/3 innings. Instead, it was the Cubs offense that responded with six home runs to push St. Louis to the brink of elimination in the NLDS. Needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Redbirds originally intended to hand the ball to 28-year-old right-hander Lance Lynn for Game Four, but will instead turn it over to veteran John Lackey, their Game One starter, in the Windy City tonight.
Lynn, who will likely be the first arm out of the 'pen this evening, finished the 2015 regular season with a 12-11 record (relevant for fantasy purposes only) in 31 starts with a 3.03 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 167 strikeouts (8.57 K/9), and 73 walks (3.49 BB/9) over 175 1/3 innings of work. According to the end-of-season valuations compiled by my Baseball Prospectus colleague Mike Gianella (who won both Tout Wars NL and LABR Mixed with Bret Sayre this year), Lynn earned $13 in NL-only formats, ranking as the 37th-most-valuable pitcher in the senior circuit this year.
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Has the Cardinals righty truly become a fronline starter, or should owners look to dump him on someone who believes in his breakout?
With less than a month remaining in the 2014 season, we begin to shift our gaze toward the 2015 fantasy campaign. That’s not only because many leagues have moved beyond their trade deadlines, but also because it’s too difficult to project performance over a two- or three-week period of time. Too much fluctuation exists. Thus, the buy, hold, or sell discussion at the end of the piece will be geared toward the 2015 campaign while still providing some analysis in regards to the remaining three weeks.
September and October is when fantasy owners begin to reflect on the entire year and dish out accolades. While we’ll be talking about Fantasy MVPs and Fantasy Busts soon enough, the Most Underappreciated Player is regularly one of the more interesting distinctions discussed each autumn. In that vein, it seems right-hander Lance Lynn is deservedly getting some love as of late. He’s been overshadowed by Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha this year—and even Shelby Miller more recently, to some extent—but he owns a sterling 2.80 ERA and has easily been a top-30 fantasy starter.
The fantasy crew runs down the starters it expects to beat their PECOTA projections in punchouts.
One of the fun ways we all try to outsmart our opponents in fantasy is by searching for hidden value in players who, for one reason or another, we suspect have the ability to outpace their projections (and, relatedly, their draft cost). Our Darkhorses series features staff picks for players who could very well outpace their PECOTA projections for the year and provide the top overall production in one of the standard five-by-five categories. We’ve all picked one player currently projected by PECOTA to fall outside of the top 10 and one longer-shot player currently projected outside of the top 25. We’re taking a look at pitching this week, following our run on offense a week ago. To read the earlier editions in this series, click below:
A look at the pitchers our fantasy crew believes can outperform their PECOTA projections in wins.
One of the fun ways we all try to outsmart our opponents in fantasy is by searching for hidden value in players who, for one reason or another, we suspect have the ability to outpace their projections (and, relatedly, their draft cost). Our Darkhorses series features staff picks for players who could very well outpace their PECOTA projections for the year and provide the top overall production in one of the standard 5x5 categories. We’ve all picked one player currently projected by PECOTA to fall outside of the top 10 and one longer-shot player currently projected outside of the top 25. We’re taking a look at pitching this week, following our run on offense a week ago. To read the earlier editions in this series, click below:
These five starters saw a lot of the balls hit against them land for hits, but was it bad luck or a sign of things to come?
A lot of the time, batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is used as a shorthand for luck, and while that can be the case, it’s not necessarily the case. Today I’m going to look at the top five BABIP pitchers in the National League with a minimum of 150 innings pitched to see what, if anything, connects them, and if that means there is hidden value in these players.
A look at five scuffling pitchers whose luck might turn next year, and who could be fantasy bargains with better results.
When it comes to starting pitching, my philosophy has long been “it’s always available.” Even when it comes to deep/dynasty leagues where the talent is scarce, finding pitching depth isn’t as difficult as it might seem. With that in mind, we turn our spotlight to five pitchers who have struggled—to varying extents—in 2013, but who have the ability, history, and peripheral statistics to pique our interest. Note that, unsurprisingly, two of these pitchers appeared in the Starting Pitchers section of BP’s Mid-Season Outliers, which should be a good source if you’re looking for anyone beyond the five mentioned in this article.
Jeremy Hellickson, Rays
It’s been a rough season for pitchers who have made a habit of outperforming their FIP, and Hellickson has been chief among those types. He’s also been chief among those having a rough season, including last night’s putrid performance (2 2/3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K). The interesting part though, is that unlike some of the others listed, Hellickson is actually producing better peripherals than he ever has, so instead of just relying on past performance, we can say that he’s actively getting better.
The Yankees' big trade deadline acquisition pays off with a pair of big days.
The Wednesday Takeaway
The Yankees acquired Alfonso Soriano from the Cubs on July 26, hoping that he could prod a dormant lineup into action. That did not happen right away. In the first 15 games of his second stay in the Bronx, Soriano batted just .193/.220/.368; he smacked three homers in 59 plate appearances, but also struck out 19 times and walked just twice.
How pitchers can throw more pitches inside the strike zone and walk more batters (and vice versa).
I remember once that there was an article (not written by me, but it might as well have been; I’ve certainly written a version of this article before) that looked at a batter’s increased walk rate and concluded that it was due to... not swinging at as many pitches outside the strike zone. Colin Wyers tweeted something in response that went something like, but not exactly like, this: “uh no doy.” I try to keep that tweet (or at least something like that tweet) in mind, because it’s easy to find explanations that are already embedded in that which you seek to explain. Baseball generally obeys its own physics. Player is struggling because his heat map looks awful. Fielder’s numbers are down because fielder isn’t making plays in front/in back/whatever of him. Pitcher is walking more batters because pitcher is throwing fewer pitches in the zone.
But what about when that last one isn’t true? There are 179 pitchers who threw at least 1,000 pitches last year, and have thrown at least 500 pitches this year. The correlation between year-to-year changes in zone rate and changes in unintentional-BB rate is fairly modest: about .4. That means there must be a lot to not walking batters other than throwing pitches in the strike zone.
The NLCS kicks off with a matchup of two starters who have been vulnerable to opposite-handed hitters.
The Giants clung to a 6-0 lead to win their Division Series with the Reds. The Cardinals overcame a 6-0 deficit to knock off the Nationals. Now, those two teams prepare to tangle in the NLCS, which begins tonight at AT&T Park. Here are the PECOTA odds and projected starting lineups for Game One: