Have Faith. The MadProf on McCullers, Severino, Manaea, Maeda and Tampa Bay
As I scan the various newswires, several names continue to appear because folks are wondering about them. Will Lance McCullers finish the season or get hurt? Is Luis Severino for real? What’s up with Kenta Maeda and Sean Manaea?
I’ve liked Manaea in previous columns and continue to do so. He is just settling in. In terms of the other pitchers, I remain bullish on them as well, regardless of the naysayers and skeptics.
McCullers (owned in 95% of Yahoo! leagues. Who is not paying attention?) has been dominant this season. He’s had his bouts with injuries in his career. But, several data points suggest that he is on pace for an outstanding season… or could burn out. So, he seems worth watching. We are 45 games (a bit more than a quarter of the way) into the season. He currently has thrown 69.2 IP. He will not be able to sustain that pace (280 IP). He pitched 125 IP in 2015 and only 81 in an injury-shortened 2016. So, he could be a candidate for some rest after the All-star break.
Some additional comparative data put his impressive performance in equally impressive perspective:
He is keeping the ball on the ground and does not give up many fly balls. But, when he does, the ball tends to depart for New Zealand. Despite that outstanding GB%, he is suffering a bit with regard to BABIP. If he continues inducing grounders, the BABIP should regress toward the MLB mean. He throws slightly more PIP than the major league average and faces slightly more batters per IP. Nonetheless, he has 8 QS in 12 starts. Given the quality of the Houston bullpen with the likes of Devenski, Peacock, and Giles, there is no reason to assume that the Astros won’t monitor his IP. So, while he may not generate as many QS as fantasy players might like, he can generate W, with that bullpen backing. Remain bullish.
Luis Severino (owned in 87% of Yahoo! leagues) continues to impress in what appears to be his breakout season. His lines are similar to those of McCullers. He also is inducing GB, suffers from a higher than average BABIP and tends to see FB leave the park when he does give them up.
He has 6 QS in 61 IP and 10 starts. He has yet to throw more than 100 innings. When Chapman returns, he will be backed by a bullpen that compares to Houston’s. Remain bullish on Severino. Grab him before that 13% who do not have him wakes up.
Finally, Kenta Maeda (86% owned) threw 175 IP last year. So, an IP limit is not an issue. He has struggled so far this year. But, his metrics suggest that he remains a solid play that you might be able to get cheap if not free off the waiver wire.
His HR/FB rate is a bit above average. But, multiply that by his tendency to serve up FB (42%) and one sees where he needs work. He pitching efficiently (15.88 PIP) while facing about 5% more batters per inning than the league average. He has lasted only 4 IP in his last two starts (throwing 92 pitches in 4 innings on 4 June). He’s given up 13 ER in his last 33 IP and his K:BB ratio for the season is [46:14]. The 4 June outing does not help his cause. But, he does seem to be settling in as the season progresses. No reason not to be bullish. But, also no reason not to wait one more start to nab him (unless you have space on your bench).
One last speculative note. The Tampa Bay Rays are loaded with young SP. They promoted Jose de Leon just long enough to give up 3 ER in 2.2 innings of relief. He will be back. His colleague Jacob Faria is equally if not more impressive and definitely worth a stash in dynasty formats. In 11 starts and 52 IP at Durham, he sports a [84:22] K:BB ratio with a 3.07 ERA and a WHIP of 1.125. There is a deep source of pitching talent here.
Till next time…
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