MLB: Corbin Young on Four Notable Starting Pitchers

MLB: Corbin Young on Four Notable Starting Pitchers

Don't we love small samples? If it includes baseball, we sure do. It's overreaction season in fantasy baseball. Although we're clamoring for the data, we shouldn't overreact to early hot or cold spells, particularly with hitters. Once we receive more data and move farther into the season, look for deeper dives on players. This week, we'll touch on notable pitchers with eyebrow-raising notes.

Framber Valdez (SP - HOU)

On Opening Day, Valdez dominated with 6.2 scoreless innings. Valdez allowed two hits and one walk with six strikeouts. His velocity was up from 2021 on all three primary pitches. 

Valdez's curveball looked silly with a 40% Whiff% and 34% CSW%. Although Valdez only threw nine changeups, the 56% CSW% isn't something to ignore. In 2021, Valdez used the changeup 14.5% of the time against righties versus 1.3% of the time against lefties. Look for Valdez to build upon the ridiculous 70.3% GB% (2021), plus two pitches in the curve and changeup to elicit whiffs. 

Against the Diamondbacks, it looked like a cake matchup for Valdez. Unfortunately, Valdez labored through three innings with 75 pitches as he allowed two hits, one earned run and five walks with three strikeouts. Valdez's overall 19% Whiff% and 23% CSW% align with the struggles, although the curve performed the best with a 23% Whiff% and 35% CSW%. Overall, Valdez struggled to command the sinker and curve against the Diamondbacks and should bounce back next week. 

Drew Rasmussen (P - TB)

We figured the early workload for

Don't we love small samples? If it includes baseball, we sure do. It's overreaction season in fantasy baseball. Although we're clamoring for the data, we shouldn't overreact to early hot or cold spells, particularly with hitters. Once we receive more data and move farther into the season, look for deeper dives on players. This week, we'll touch on notable pitchers with eyebrow-raising notes.

Framber Valdez (SP - HOU)

On Opening Day, Valdez dominated with 6.2 scoreless innings. Valdez allowed two hits and one walk with six strikeouts. His velocity was up from 2021 on all three primary pitches. 

Valdez's curveball looked silly with a 40% Whiff% and 34% CSW%. Although Valdez only threw nine changeups, the 56% CSW% isn't something to ignore. In 2021, Valdez used the changeup 14.5% of the time against righties versus 1.3% of the time against lefties. Look for Valdez to build upon the ridiculous 70.3% GB% (2021), plus two pitches in the curve and changeup to elicit whiffs. 

Against the Diamondbacks, it looked like a cake matchup for Valdez. Unfortunately, Valdez labored through three innings with 75 pitches as he allowed two hits, one earned run and five walks with three strikeouts. Valdez's overall 19% Whiff% and 23% CSW% align with the struggles, although the curve performed the best with a 23% Whiff% and 35% CSW%. Overall, Valdez struggled to command the sinker and curve against the Diamondbacks and should bounce back next week. 

Drew Rasmussen (P - TB)

We figured the early workload for Rasmussen would be limited, and that was indeed the case in Rasmussen's first start against the Orioles. Rasmussen went four innings on 64 pitches and allowed three hits, two earned runs and one walk with three punchouts. 

Primarily a four-seam (65%) and slider (30%) pitcher in the past, Rasmussen introduced a cutter 23% of the time Saturday. When watching the game, it looked like Rasmussen threw two different sliders and the numbers show that. I'm assuming Baseball Savant initially labeled one slider as the cutter based on the velocity and movement. Rasmussen's cutter elicited a 43% Whiff% and a 40% CSW% on 15 thrown. 

We saw that difference in an at-bat against Trey Mancini, with the slider velocity almost five mph slower. However, the slider has more vertical and horizontal movement than the cutter. Regardless of how they're classified, Rasmussen having two breaking pitches at different velocities and movement profiles adds to the intrigue. Although the Rays may limit Rasmussen's innings and pitches thrown, he should still hold value for ratios and strikeouts on a per-inning basis. The movement profiles on Rasmussen's arsenal should return more swings and misses. 

Against the White Sox last Friday, Rasmussen evenly mixed up the slider (35%), cutter (34%) and four-seamer (31%). The slider performed the best with the 29% Whiff% and 25% CSW%. However, the 22% Whiff% and CSW% overall don't look great. 

With the lack of whiffs, Rasmussen allowed nine hard-hit batted balls. However, Rasmussen appeared to run into some tough luck since he seemingly located the pitches well. One example includes Rasmussen's slider down and away to Tim Anderson, which resulted in a 100.4 mph single. 

Unfortunately, the second hardest-hit batted ball of the game by Gavin Sheets at 109.7 mph came off a four-seamer low and inside, which lefties sometimes crush. If Rasmussen locates the four-seamer up with the breaking pitches low, it could lead to better results and more whiffs. Overall, the movement profiles on Rasmussen's slider look enticing. However, the 13.5% strikeout rate and 2.7% walk rate don't excite us. 

Noah Syndergaard (SP - LAA)

It's been a long road for Syndergaard with the recovery from Tommy John surgery in 2020 and 2021. Against the Astros in his first start, Syndergaard fared well with 5.1 scoreless innings. Syndergaard allowed two hits and two walks, yet only managed one strikeout.

In Syndergaard's first start, the changeup usage jumped to 28%. However, in 2018 and 2019, Syndergaard typically relied on the four-seamer and sinker over 48% of the time. Although it's a small sample, Syndergaard's changeup elicited a 46% Whiff% and 29% CSW%. Stay calm about the velocity since it was Syndergaard's first time going five innings since September 2019. 

Syndergaard's changeup and slider elicited the whiffs in 2018 and 2019. Throughout Syndergaard's career, the slider boasted a 23.4% SwStr% with a 19.4% SwStr% on the changeup. 

In Syndergaard's second appearance against Texas, the changeup highlighted the arsenal with a 32% CSW%. Although the four-seamer and sinker oddly resulted in zero whiffs combined on 40 pitches thrown, it's positive to see Syndergaard develop the offspeed pitch. 

It's early, but Syndergaard's changeup has slightly more horizontal movement than in his peak 2018 and 2019 seasons. Since Syndergaard is using the changeup more, it's resulting in a .364 BA, .455 SLG, and .363 wOBA in 2022 versus a career .220 BA, .326 SLG, and .253 wOBA.

Monitor a possible pitch mix change for Syndergaard in 2022, which could mean stock up and a massive value for fantasy managers assuming the results follow. Although the fastball velocity remains down about 2-3 mph from 2018 and 2019, Syndergaard could be learning how to pitch instead of relying on the raw stuff. 

Jesus Luzardo (SP - MIA)

In the offseason, I discussed Luzardo as a breakout pitcher candidate. Last Tuesday, Luzardo dominated the Angels with a career-best 12 strikeouts paired with two hits, one earned run and one walk across five innings. 

Luzardo relied on the curve 50% of the time, with the four-seam at 32% and sinker at 16%. The curve and fastball combination looked silly with a 92% Whiff% and 55% CSW% on the breaking ball. Luzardo's velocity ticked up across the board, as we observed in spring training

Luzardo also located the fastballs with a 75% Whiff% and 50% CSW% on the sinker, plus a 64% Whiff% and 45% CSW% overall. Luzardo located the fastballs up in the zone with the curveballs for strikes and whiffs. 

Around the time of the trade to Miami, Luzardo adjusted his pitch mix. However, it didn't automatically translate to positive results. Don't sleep on Luzardo's changeup development, given Miami's track record with developing the offspeed pitch. 

Although it's only one game, it's positive to see Luzardo crush out the gate in 2022 with that dominant curveball. Hopefully, fantasy managers latched onto the velocity increase, Luzardo's stuff, and the offseason hype train because he's just getting started. I'm sure we'll revisit Luzardo in a future installment of these deep dives. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Corbin Young
Corbin Young loves fantasy baseball and football. Recently, he received an FSWA nomination for a Fantasy Football Ongoing Series. Corbin loves diving into and learning about advanced metrics. He is a Mariners and Seahawks fan living in the Pacific Northwest. Corbin's other hobbies include lifting weights, cooking, and listening to fantasy sports podcasts.
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