Collette Calls: Revisiting the Quad

Collette Calls: Revisiting the Quad

This article is part of our Collette Calls series.

This is the time of the fantasy baseball writing season when we start to look at both the current and the subsequent season. There are reasons why batters and pitchers are doing what they're doing this year or why some of your teams are more successful than others, and the writing staff here will certainly touch on many of these factors in the coming weeks and months. Today, I'd like to look at four pitchers in particular because I first mentioned this unique quartet of pitchers in the annual Value in the Scrap Heap article in December of 2021. The four pitchers — Triston McKenzie, Logan Gilbert, Aaron Nola, and Yu Darvish — all shared five common characteristics in 2021:

  • At least 100 IP
  • At least a 25 percent strikeout rate
  • Less than .250 batting average against
  • WHIP 1.20 or less
  • ERAs over 4.20

Even with those similarities, the track records of the pitchers varied greatly, as did their draft data in main event leagues this past March, and where they currently rank on earned auction values this season in 15-team mixed league formats:

PITCHER

ADP

MIN

MAX

EAV$

Rank

Nola

34

26

51

$18

15th

Darvish

80

52

104

$13

34th

Gilbert

129

117

143

$10

47th

McKenzie

196

174

219

$7

60th

It is rather amazing how they in fact have performed in the order they were taken by ADP, so kudos to the hive mind for getting the rankings right to date. It was

This is the time of the fantasy baseball writing season when we start to look at both the current and the subsequent season. There are reasons why batters and pitchers are doing what they're doing this year or why some of your teams are more successful than others, and the writing staff here will certainly touch on many of these factors in the coming weeks and months. Today, I'd like to look at four pitchers in particular because I first mentioned this unique quartet of pitchers in the annual Value in the Scrap Heap article in December of 2021. The four pitchers — Triston McKenzie, Logan Gilbert, Aaron Nola, and Yu Darvish — all shared five common characteristics in 2021:

  • At least 100 IP
  • At least a 25 percent strikeout rate
  • Less than .250 batting average against
  • WHIP 1.20 or less
  • ERAs over 4.20

Even with those similarities, the track records of the pitchers varied greatly, as did their draft data in main event leagues this past March, and where they currently rank on earned auction values this season in 15-team mixed league formats:

PITCHER

ADP

MIN

MAX

EAV$

Rank

Nola

34

26

51

$18

15th

Darvish

80

52

104

$13

34th

Gilbert

129

117

143

$10

47th

McKenzie

196

174

219

$7

60th

It is rather amazing how they in fact have performed in the order they were taken by ADP, so kudos to the hive mind for getting the rankings right to date. It was not that long ago that we would have been able to get each of these pitchers at a sizable discount on draft day because the baseball card stats would have chased many away, but the fantasy rooms are filled with more sharks than chum these days, so none of them truly came at any discount. 

Nola has adjusted his repertoire to include more cutters and fewer changeups, and, aided by the mushier baseball, has found an approach to limit his perpetual gopheritis for a strong rebound season from 2021. Darvish has enjoyed the run support which has evaded him the past few seasons while also enjoying the new baseball to limit the homers and get his ratios more in line with expectations. Both pitchers have sacrificed some strikeouts for gains in weaker contact as well. Gilbert went through growing pains as a rookie in 2021 but has lowered his ERA by more than a full run to date, though the foundational skills do not show any particular area of improvement or sustainability for his success to date, and there's enough blue on his StatCast profile to look like a remake of Blues Clues. Finally, McKenzie has taken a more similar approach to the first two pitchers, cutting back on the strikeouts while finding the strike zone with more regularity. Homers have still been an issue for him, but not as much as they were in the previous two seasons.  His curveball is still his bread and butter, but his fastball has not been nearly as hittable as it was in 2021 because he is not pitching from behind with the frequency he did last year with his bouts of wildness.

Given the change in the run environment for 2022, using the same type of thresholds to look for future rebound candidates becomes tough. In fact, even just lowering the innings requirement to 80 innings while not touching anything else yields zero results. Heck, even lowering the ERA requirement to 4.00 provides one result — Luis Garcia. Garcia is currently the 26th most valuable pitcher because he has won 9 of his 21 starts with more than a strikeout per inning, a 4.03 ERA, and a solid 1.13 WHIP. Another result which pops up is Robbie Ray, who has the strikeouts in spades along with 8 wins in 23 starts and a 1.19 ERA with his 3.90 ERA. The intriguing name for me is the only other guy who qualifies for the list if we lower the threshold to pitchers with those skills and an ERA over 3.75: Jon Gray

Gray is currently on the injured list with an oblique strain that will likely shelve him until the final two weeks of the season, so this is more about a look forward than anything for the immediate future. Until the injury, Gray was showing positive signs of growth his first year away from pitching in Coors Field on a full-time basis. If he does not throw another pitch this season, he will end the year with the second-lowest ERA of his career along with a career-best strikeout rate, K-BB%, batting average, and WHIP. There are no truly glaring issues on his resume, and his 3.83 ERA has a 3.54 xERA and a 3.49 FIP along with it. His final outing before the injury saw him leave in the second inning with three earned runs in 1.1 innings, which pushed the ERA up just a bit, but he's allowed more than three earned runs in a start just five times this year. He also earned a quality start in all but one of the outings in which he went six or more innings. 

Gray's pitch mixture is not much different this season when we look at the breakdown by pitch grouping:

Gray does not have a velocity issue with his fastball as much as he has a movement issue, as his fastballs are of the low-spin variety. The pitch, with the influences of Coors Field, has mostly been the one hitters have done the most damage to Gray against, but this season has been better than most for the righty:

Gray's breaking balls have been outstanding for him this season, as the league has hit .172 against the offerings with a 41 percent Whiff rate, thanks mostly to the slider. Gray's offerings show him throwing both a curve and a slider, but curve is his least-used offering and has really been an inconsistent pitch for him throughout the years. The changeup has taken a significant step forward this year as something that has gone from a show-me pitch most seasons to one he has thrown 173 times this season while allowing just two extra base hits and a .150 batting average. He has a below-average whiff rate with the pitch, but he throws a handful to righties while leveraging it often against lefties as a pitch with fading action. 

Finally, his percentile rankings show a pitcher who now has confidence to use his stuff regardless of where he is pitching. His 2022 overall whiff rate is at its highest in four seasons, and batters are now chasing his stuff out of the zone at a rate we've never seen from Gray in his career, which has certainly helped him with that aforementioned career-best strikeout rate:

Many wondered why Texas went out and committed four years and $56M to Gray this past winter, but he's certainly shown signs of why Texas believed in the stuff once it was freed from the taxes of pitching half the season in Coors Field. Josiah Gray has earned more than Jon Gray has this season, but I expect the latter to be of the top sleepers this winter, as he's currently 140th in our earned auction value calculator for pitching. If you're in a keeper league and can pry Gray away from someone who needs help right now, set yourself up for success next season and get him on an injury discount before the good word spreads. 

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only MLB Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire MLB fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Collette
Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Sleeper and the Bust podcast on iTunes. A ten-time FSWA finalist, Jason won the FSWA's Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year award in 2013 and the Baseball Series of the Year award in 2018 for Collette Calls.
Collette Calls: Scoring Tweaks
Collette Calls: Scoring Tweaks
FanDuel MLB: Friday Targets
FanDuel MLB: Friday Targets
Yahoo DFS Baseball: Friday Picks
Yahoo DFS Baseball: Friday Picks
Sorare MLB: Welcome Home, Ketel
Sorare MLB: Welcome Home, Ketel