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April 5, 2017 6:00 am

Circle Change: Buster Posey, Remix Artist


Zach Crizer

Giants pitchers throw whatever Buster Posey tells them to, sometimes even dusting off pitches they haven't used in years.

Let’s start with three interconnected facts.

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Down the rabbit hole of just how good the fifth-best pitching prospect in baseball is, historically speaking.

There’s no more fun certainty on #BaseballTwitter than the certainty that exists about which prospects are going to be awesome. We’re all guilty of it at some point, myself included. It gets even worse when a fanbase brands a group of players together, like Generation K or the Killer B’s, so when one departs or fails, there’s an overwhelming sense of “hey you’re breaking up the band.” It starts earlier and earlier, with Boston’s “Big Four” the latest example. And with Anderson Espinoza heading across the country to meet up with the rest of his former Red Sox farmhands, there is now just a “Big Three.”

But rather than view Espinoza as the member of this future foursome who would transform the organization, let’s view him as part of a similarly arbitrary group to try to get a sense of the historical significance of what the Padres are getting and the Fightin’ Dombrowskis are losing. The right-handed fireballer was the fifth-best pitching prospect in baseball as of last week, when we released the mid-season top 50. And while some slight eligibility discrepancies exist between the mid-season list and The 101, they are mostly muted because the pitchers who have pitched fewer than 50 innings, but were in the majors at the time of publish, are both likely to lose their eligibility prior to the season’s end. So who have the fifth-best starting pitching prospects been in the 10 years we, at Baseball Prospectus, have been setting Top 101s ablaze into the ether? And how have they performed before hitting free agency? No, put your phone away.

2016: Tyler Glasnow (0.1 WARP; 4.05 DRA; all but one start left)
There’s almost nothing we can draw from Glasnow’s last six months that will leave us more or less confident about what he’ll be through the duration of his service time. So let’s just move on.

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Could PITCHf/x have held the key to preventing season-ending surgeries for two of this season's Tommy John victims?

We’ve gotten much better at designing buildings that refuse to fall down, but science still hasn’t made much headway in the field of earthquake prediction. Although we can estimate how many quakes of a certain magnitude we’ll experience over a span of time, we can’t pinpoint exactly when, where, or why they’ll occur. A big quake is often preceded by a smaller foreshock, but not always. And the only way to know whether any given disturbance is the main event or merely a precursor is to wait and see if something worse happens, which doesn’t lend itself to life-saving.

Athletic trainers can commiserate with seismologists. As the recent rash of season-ending injuries indicates, we’re a long way from figuring out when a pitcher is about to break. Not every injury is preceded by a warning sign, and not every red flag reveals a real problem. Many pitcher injuries are the result of cumulative wear and tear, but the process often culminates in one pitch, followed by a pop or a sharp pain and an arm clutched tightly on the trip back to the dugout. From there, it’s just a matter of time until the Twitpic from the operating table.

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March 28, 2014 11:22 am

Raising Aces: Out on a Limb: 2014 Pitcher Predictions


Doug Thorburn

What does Doug see ahead for selected pitchers in 2014?

Along with the rest of the BP staff, I’ve submitted my pre-season predictions for division standings and end-of-season award winners. I tend to stay in the neighborhood of likely outcomes for these picks, resulting in easy answers such as “Mike Trout for AL MVP” or “Tigers win the AL Central,” but I’m more intrigued by the long-shot stories that emerge once the season starts.

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February 28, 2014 8:50 am

Fantasy Players to Avoid: Starting Pitchers


BP Fantasy Staff

You might want to let someone else draft or buy these pitchers in your leagues this spring.

There are so many pitchers to choose from. It's not that hard to not choose one of the following.

Clay Buchholz, Red Sox
I’ve never been shy about my feelings for Buchholz and of course he burned me to a crisp last year with a 1.74 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. I’ve never been a fan and I think the reasons are sound:

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There is plenty of attractive pitching on Joe Maddon's roster, but the closer role is up in the air.

Baseball is awash in money, with each team receiving a substantial bump in revenue thanks to new national television contracts that kick in for the upcoming season. With that in mind the Rays finally ventured into the free agent market, and even took on money in trades. So what did they get for all their free-spending ways? James Loney, Ryan Hanigan, and Heath Bell. I know, it might not seem like much, but given the revolving door* at first base they’ve had these last several years, this commitment to Loney is a big one (the biggest free agent contract in club history, no less). Let’s not forget last season’s late pickup of David DeJesus, who was signed to a three year deal as well. Add in Bell and Hanigan (acquired in Andrew Friedman’s long awaited first three team trade) and the Rays made shrewd moves to bolster key roster spots, all on the relative cheap. The new Rays are the same as the old Rays, eh?

*It’s worth noting that revolving door might have rejuvenating powers

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October 24, 2013 6:23 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Ten Could-Be Fantasy Aces for 2014


Bret Sayre

Frontline fantasy pitchers come and go, so Bret looks at the hurlers who seem poised to make the leap next year.

Conventional fantasy wisdom has always suggested that pitching is more volatile from year-to-year than hitting. In this case, conventional wisdom is absolutely correct—and the 2013 season bore this out even more than usual. When you look at the top ten fantasy starters in both 2013 and 2012, one thing becomes very apparent: there’s a ton of turnover. In fact, there was only one pitcher (Clayton Kershaw) who made both lists. For further effect, here they are side-by-side:

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October 4, 2013 11:26 am

Playoff Prospectus: ALDS Game One Preview: Rays vs. Red Sox


Bret Sayre

The second game of a Division Series quadruple-header features a pair of lefty starters at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox and Rays took rather different paths to get to this American League Division Series. The Rays have won three consecutive elimination games and will be playing their fourth road game in four different cities in six days. Meanwhile, the Red Sox won the AL East by six games and actually organized an inter-squad game on Wednesday at Fenway Park just to stay sharp. Here is a look at the PECOTA odds and projected lineups for Game One.

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May 2, 2013 9:00 am

Painting the Black: Six Who Clicked, Pitchers Edition


R.J. Anderson

Looking at six April stars on the mound.

Trevor Cahill, Diamondbacks
Cahill showed up to camp svelter than usual. The offseason work paid off with a strong April, as Cahill averaged more than seven innings per start while striking out about 2.5 batters per walk issued. He saved his best for last: throwing eight innings of one-run ball on Tuesday against the Giants. The bread-and-butter of Cahill's arsenal remains his sinker. His secondary pitch of choice has changed, however. Cahill threw his cutter 26 percent of the time in April, compared to 11 percent in 2012.  Increased confidence in the pitch gives Cahill a fourth option, or at least a backup plan on nights when he cannot find the feel for his changeup. 

Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks
Yes, another Arizona starter acquired through an earlier trade. Corbin allowed one home run in 33 innings after allowing 14 homers last season in 107 innings. A considerable difference, and one that allows for improvement even after regression. There are two encouraging signs from Corbin so far: 1) his velocity is slightly up, and—more importantly—2) his command has been better. Corbin must stay down in the zone in order to be effective. He's done just that early this season. 

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April 12, 2013 5:00 am

Pebble Hunting: The Best Pitches Thrown This Week


Sam Miller

Featuring Matt Moore, Jose Fernandez, and everyone who faced Brett Wallace.

You could have an intro here, or we could go straight to the sweet and sexy pitches. Nobody pays for the intro (literally, in the case of BP's paywall), so forget the intro. To the pitches!

3. Matt Moore, fastball, against Asdrubal Cabrera, in which Moore eagerly unveils the new slider he's been working on; "guys," he tells everybody before he throws it, "it's such a swell slider, sliding all over the place and real hard like, so I can use it on two strikes and it'll break way out of the zone and batters will swing at it because they don't anticipate how much it's going to slide," upon which Moore proceeds to throw it and everybody tells him that, as far as sliders go, it actually breaks the wrong way, that clearly Moore is doing it wrong, sending Moore into a funk until he figures "ah shucks to it all, I'm going to throw it anyway."

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After a weekend sweep of the Giants by the Dodgers, Ben and Sam size up the NL West and discuss a hot Matt Moore-on-Mike Trout match-up.

Effectively Wild Episode 9: "Homer and Marge"

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Brandon Beachy's impending Tommy John surgery is the latest reminder that a team can never have enough pitching.

The Wednesday Takeaway
In the latest reminder that you can never have too much pitching depth, the Braves have lost Brandon Beachy for the rest of the 2012 season, after a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews revealed that the righty will need Tommy John surgery.

Fredi Gonzalez began the year with a strong group of starters—even with Tim Hudson on the disabled list—and plenty of possible reinforcements. When Jair Jurrjens coughed up five home runs and 10 walks in his first four starts, Atlanta had the luxury of sending him down, because Hudson was finally healthy and Randall Delgado was emerging as a reliable rotation piece.

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