Justin Verlander is running around doing an impression of the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and insisting his arm hasn’t fallen off when everything indicates the contrary.
The injury bug on the mound is going to be an even greater factor this season.
Just check out the Cardinals COVID pitching squad right now.
This week, let’s take a look at some under the radar arms that can help supplement the injury-ravaged season that lies ahead.
Tyler Chatwood, SP, Chicago Cubs: His control is still a concern, but he has every reason to be believed this season. When Chatwood arrived in Chicago in 2018 he led the league in walks 95 walks in 103 2/3 innings. In 2019 Chatwood was demoted to just a bullpen arm, but his walk rate nearly fell by half, from 8/25 walks per nine (2018) to 4.34 walks per nine in (2019). His stuff has always been explosive, but keeping it in the zone has been his major flaw. In his first start of the season, he looked like a different pitcher with eight strikeouts to two walks throwing 87 percent of his pitches in the zone. His cutter has turned into an out pitch. He has five strikeouts throwing just his cutter with a 50 percent whiff rate. He’s always had the spin rate to be special. However, Chatwood can be elite if he has found a controllable clutch pitch with his cutter.
Dylan Bundy, SP, Los Angeles Angels: This is the change of scenery that unlocks a guy. Bundy has one of the greatest pitches in baseball. He throws a disappearing changeup. However, he doesn’t throw it nearly enough. So far this year, he’s thrown his change up 13 percent of the time and 18 percent for his career according to Baseball Savant. What’s holding him back is he doesn’t have the velocity to blow anyone away. His fastball sits at a very hittable 91 mph. With coaches like Jose Molina and Joe Maddon embracing new trends like pitching batters backward (throwing more offspeed stuff), Bundy will have to use his strength more. He will never be elite, but he can be a player that wins you a championship by being a value pickup others consider to be damaged goods.
Spencer Turnbull, SP, Detroit Tigers: He’s special. It seems silly to say about a player who finished last year with a 3-17 record and with a 4.61 ERA, but he is an elite pitcher. His fielder independent pitching shows he was a little unlucky last year. This year in his first start he finished with a 1.80 ERA and eight strikeouts to four walks. The walks are a concern, but his slider had a whiff rate of 81 percent. He’s in the 97 percentile for whiff rate according to Baseball Savant. If he can miss bats like this, he will continue to put up numbers that earn him a spot among some of the best pitchers in the league.
How did my sleeper picks do from last week’s article?
Brady Singer, SP, Kansas City Royals: He showed he belongs with an impressive debut pitching five innings allowing three hits with two earned runs and seven strikeouts and two walks. The strikeouts were not what I anticipated from looking at his scouting report. He wasn’t supposed to be a strikeout pitcher. However, he finished his first outing with 14 swinging strikes. Put him on a watch list for now, but if he has another start similar to his debut add him immediately.
Jay Bruce, OF, Philadelphia Phillies: He’s still a value pickup available in 92 percent of leagues on CBS. It looks like they are going to platoon him against lefties for now. However, Bruce has proven to be the same player he’s been for his entire career AVG .250 OBP .333 Slug .625. He will still be a nice pick up if the Phillies every play baseball again, ugh.
Mike Foltynewicz, SP, DFAed: Womp, Womp! The bad news is that he finished his first start with an ERA of 16.20 three strikeouts and four walks. I didn’t know his velocity has become a problem until I herd him blame everyone but himself for this setback. You should avoid him until he finds the perfect landings spot. He’s going to get a second chance. I would guess he bounces back, but I would wait until next year before I roster him again.
Giants’ bullpen: We are looking at a mess here. The best answer is still Tony Watson, but for right now Trevor Gott is earing saves for however long that lasts.
- Trevor Gott: Two games, ERA: 4.50, Saves: 2, one run allowed and one strikeout.
- Tony Watson: One game, ERA: 0.00, Saves: 0, no runs allowed and no strikeouts.
- Tyler Rogers: Three games, ERA: 18.00, Saves: 0 four runs allowed and zero strikeouts.