It’s time for our first American League starting pitcher update! Let the small sample size analysis begin. I was bored at work today and decided to compare fastball velocity with last year already. Not surprisingly, there were a ton more pitchers with down velocity than up. I think this simply reminds us that pitchers are still building up arm strength and it should not automatically trigger alarm bells if your ace is not throwing as hard as last year. Of course, it’s something to monitor since it should gradually creep up through the rest of the month.
Relievers turned starters group
I love to talk about these guys, but maybe it’s because I happen to really like a couple of the individual pitchers that make up the group.
Chris Sale– You haven’t forgotten that I love him, right? I am seriously considering trying to set a new FanGraphs record for most number of articles in which I mention a player’s name. The results from his first start look good, though what lies beneath is a little less exciting. His fastball averaged a full three miles per hour less than as a reliever, which seems like the edge of the range relievers typically experience when transitioning to a starter. Hopefully he is another in the group that will see his velocity creep up. He also had a heck of a time throwing first pitch strikes. Only a 32% F-Strike%! One wonders how he managed to only issue two free passes. Love the nearly 59% grounders though!
Neftali Feliz– His velocity drop was more normal as it fell about two miles per hour. No doubt owners are salivating after his strong first start results, as he pitched 7.0 shutout innings. He only struck out 4 though, allowed 45% of balls in play in the air, and generated a below league average SwStk%. I remain pessimistic.
Daniel Bard– The non-believers will no doubt say “I told ya so” after he allowed 5 runs on 8 hits in 5.0 innings. But seriously, that came with a 25.0% K%, only one walk (the biggest concern) and a nearly 65% ground ball rate! His fastball averaged nearly 95.0 miles per hour and his SwStk% was a ridiculous 16.7%. If anything, this start makes me more optimistic about his prospects for the season.
Danny Duffy– Moooooovin’ on up. I watched his entire start against the A’s and his stuff is just filthy. His control was much better in the minors so I feel like that can return at any time. My sub-4.00 ERA and 180 strikeout bold prediction may not end up being so bold after all.
Henderson Alvarez– That strong spring training strikeout rate had me intrigued, but his first start was just the same old Alvarez. Without the strikeouts, his mixed league potential is rather limited unfortunately.
Brian Matusz– Yes, I was seduced by his spring and the reports that accompanied those stats. I excitedly won him through FAAB in LABR mixed. Then he predictably crapped the bed against the Yankees, unable to find the plate. The good news: his velocity jumped back up to 90.6 miles per hour. Last year, it was at just 88.0, and the season prior, 89.9. We have to go back to 2009 when he averaged 91.5 for the last time he was over 90.0. He remains a risk given his division, home park and extreme fly ball ways. But in deeper and AL-Only leagues, have patience my friends.
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