Drew Hutchison Begs Your Attention

There’s a commonly accepted rule in fantasy baseball circles – “don’t read too much into spring training stats.” I sure do love to break that rule. Every year, something special happens in spring training and with the right approach you can identify and build it into your fantasy draft plan. This year, Drew Hutchison looks like one of those special gems.

The Blue Jays rotation is not the place where people go fishing for fantasy pitching. RA Dickey eats plenty of innings, but the rest of the candidates appear to have some kind of skin condition. Some might call it warts. At the outset of spring training, the back of the rotation was particularly gruesome. A number of never-been pitchers were competing with a bunch of recently injured pitchers. Marcus Stroman was somewhere in that mix as the token prospect. I’m sure we’ll see him in May or June. Now the dust has settled, and it looks like Hutchison is a lock for the fourth or fifth spot in the rotation.

Hutchison was one of those recently injured guys. He was a good prospect until an elbow injury in 2012 required Tommy John surgery. The Blue Jays have a knack for developing soon to be injured players, so I think we all dismissed him at that point. Well he’s new and improved with a healthy UCL and a 95 mph fastball. In 9.2 recorded innings, he’s struck out 16 batters, walked one, and allowed seven hits. That’s tasty.

Usually, this is when I turn to PITCHf/x data, but that doesn’t really exist. I can show you that he threw a bit under 92 mph in 2012. Back in that ancient and hoary past, Hutchison used his fastball frequently against right-handed batters before turning to the slider for the finish. Lefties were shown a sinker and change-up with frequency. We’ll see what kind of usage patterns emerge this season or if another pitch is in the mix.

I do have some third hand footage to point out via Carson Cistulli. He deserves the h/t for bringing Hutchison to our attention. Per Cistulli’s numbers, Hutchison has been the second best pitcher at something this spring, behind James Shields. You’ll have to ask Cistulli what the particular something is – I can say that it’s presented in a tidy minus stat, such that Hutchison has performed 39 percent below league league average. Presumably, said stat is like a golf score – a low number is good.

Command and control have always been a strength for Hutchison, so it’s great to see the increased velocity and major league opportunity. While it’s premature to slot Hutchison alongside Sonny Gray on your draft board, he’s a virtual unknown to almost everybody everywhere. I’ve managed snatch him in every league I participate in, so now it’s safe for you to do the same. If you’re looking for a comp in terms of what to expect, I think Ivan Nova serves as a good, conservative pick. There’s upside for more in that 95 mph heater.

 




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Brad is a former collegiate player who writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times, RotoWorld, MLB Trade Rumors, and The Fake Baseball. Follow him on Twitter @BaseballATeam or email him here.

32 Responses to “Drew Hutchison Begs Your Attention”

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  1. Mattingly's Sideburns says:

    It’s true, the fastball looks great this spring. He has good velocity and has shown good location (albeit in 10 innings). The question is whether or not his off-speed offerings can keep hitters off balance. He’s not as sharp as other fastball-only pitchers like Cingrani/Wacha and will be facing much tougher opposition. Good luck on the second/third time through the order.

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  2. So, do you like him better than say Gallardo or Kennedy, Brad?

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    • Emcee Peepants says:

      That’s a great question, I was pondering dropping Kennedy for him. Haven’t yet.

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      Personally, I would drop Gallardo or Kennedy for him. Whether you should do such a thing is a different answer. This could definitely be a situation where the actual skill set is less than the hype, especially since I can’t pull on any PITCHf/x for analysis. I’m leaning on a radar gun, a couple scout-y comments, and a very small sample of data against questionable competition.

      That said, I’d rather gamble on high upside and find somebody else later if it goes bad than nearly certain mediocrity. It works for me year after year.

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      • RotoworldModsAreNazis says:

        Well I very much trust your analysis of SP, especially young SP, dating back to your bogfella days, Brad. You are sorely missed over there.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        Bogfella is still around somewhere, I just did a Fox Experts draft with him yesterday. However, I am NOT Bogfella. Just as I’m not the Brad Johnson who won a Superbowl, nor the one who was one grade ahead of me my entire childhood (he also played baseball and was better than me until the very end of HS).

        So…yea.

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      • Well that clears that up. My mistake.

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    • Ruki Motomiya says:

      I’d drop Gallardo but not Kennedy.

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  3. Bichettes and Hoes that's where my money goes says:

    It’s worth mentioning that he was throwing 95 back in 2011 before his velocity declined in the 2012 season, but scouts said it came in kinda straight. It is encouraging that he still has that velo as typically it’s the first thing to decline

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  4. Ben Pernick says:

    Dr. Hutchison has a hook! I’m calling Drew “The Dentist” after my favorite Rockos Modern Life character of the same last name.

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  5. los locos says:

    drop dan straily for drew ?

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      Erp…that’s a hard one.

      Based on the current information, Hutch has bigger upside AND downside. Basically, he could better than Ivan Nova or completely unplayable and it’s hard to handicap just how likely each outcome is. Straily has some numbers in there that make a breakout possible, so he also has a wide range of outcomes, but with a much higher floor. If healthy, the worst case scenario is merely bad, rather than season ruining.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        Which is not a recommendation, but it really depends on your preferences and playing style. Personally, Hutch will sit on my bench for a couple starts while I watch him play and decide whether I can use him. I have no doubts about my ability to find very good pitching talent on the waiver wire because I always do. If Hutch isn’t the guy, somebody else will be. The key is not ruining your stats while you find out.

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  6. Ryan says:

    Interesting call. Hasn’t put together enough of a sample size really at any level for us to say much about what he might do… That said, more unknowns could always lead to big upside or big downside. What do you think – Hutchison vs. Kennedy? vs. Pineda?

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      Pineda > Hutchison > Kennedy

      That’s how I’m drafting. Actually that’s a lie, I don’t even notice Kennedy on the draft board, he’s toxic in anything resembling a standard mixed league. Could he get back to a 4.00 ERA with a solid K rate and decent chance to win games? Sure. But I don’t roster 4.00 ERA pitchers – not for more than a day at a time.

      To make Kennedy rosterable, you need Craig Kimbrel’s ERA twice.

      200 IP x 4.00 ERA = 89 runs
      130 IP x 2.00 ERA = 29 runs
      330 IP x _.__ ERA = 118 runs

      ERA = 3.22

      A 3.22 ERA is around 10 points in a standard, deep roster 12 teamer.

      You could roster Kennedy, Kimbrel, and Jansen and feel happy, but only if the rest of your rotation looked something like Teheran, Gray, Sanchez, and Verlander.

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      • Ucaimaman says:

        Agreed – Kennedy remained horrible after getting to SD last year. As tempting as it sounds after knowing how good he was a couple seasons ago – just say “no”, he is not the pitcher you remember.

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  7. los locos says:

    I currently own Kershaw, strausburg, verlander, wheeler, fister, tillman, porcello, straily; that’s why I offered dropping straily.

    another guy I like too is gausman, but he doesn’t have anywhere to play.

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      I’m really really really hoping Gausman goes to the bullpen. I’ve picked him as a speculative SP/RP in several leagues. He should close if in the pen, if not from the outset then soon thereafter. Hunter is a middle reliever, MAYBE a setup man. I love his transformation to quality pen arm, but let’s not get carried away.

      I already wrote about this as part of my post for tomorrow. I can’t imagine sending Gausman to Triple-A while pretending to compete in the AL East. Your best pitcher should be SOMEWHERE on the active roster…

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      I’m guessing this is an H2H league. Or is your IP requirement over 1600?

      If it’s roto, make the move. Hutch might outperform Wheeler and give you a trendy trade option. Straily won’t. You’re already projected to use Straily for just about 0 innings if it’s a < 1500 IP cap.

      If it’s H2H then it’s a much fuzzier calculation.

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  8. los locos says:

    H2H
    5 CAT, QS, K/9, SV ERA WHIP

    Top free agents are, Gausman Skaggs, Santiago, Huthinson, Miley and Gee.

    Like you I just feel this kid Hutch can keep it up at least for the 1st half, the 2nd half IDK. All thru minor league system he showed he’s a strong K pitcher.

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  9. th3byrdm4n says:

    Here’s my SPs: Cliff Lee, Salazar, Tanaka, Porcello, Nova … On a roster like that do you think a swap Hutch for Nova would be worth the gamble?

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  10. Confused Owner says:

    Best back-end addition (pick 1): Hutchison, Hellickson, Carrasco, Richards, Paxton?

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  11. john says:

    What about innings limit. Any idea?

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  12. Michael says:

    Should I drop Marco Estrada or Mike Leake for Hutchison? I was thinking Strailey but I read your respond the other person with that question.

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  13. jonas says:

    Hutchinson better than Erasmo?

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      Just depends on how low Erasmo can get that walk rate. I’m taking Hutchison over Ramirez, but that doesn’t mean I’m right. Both players are pretty well unknown and unknowable.

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  14. Alan says:

    Matt Garza, Marco Estrada, and Drew Hutchison, if i have to drop one, which one do you think? Thanks.

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