Jarred Cosart, Kyle Gibson & Ground Balls Galore

They rank back-to-back in SIERA in the American League over the last 30 days, ranking 13th and 14th, back-to-back in full-season ground ball rate at third and fourth, could afford to throw more strikes and also make batters swing and miss more frequently. Jarred Cosart and Kyle Gibson have quite a bit in common, at least in terms of their results. But of course, they take a different path to actually getting to those results.

Cosart burst onto the scene last year, posting a minuscule 1.95 ERA over 10 starts and 60 innings. Though he allowed under two runs per nine innings, he somehow managed to win just one game, which is quite humorous. Of course, how he managed to allowed just about two runs per game is baffling in itself, as he actually walked two more batters than he struck out.

This year, he has thrown significantly more strikes. Of course, it would have been difficult not to. He still probably needs to sharpen his control even further, but at least his overall strike percentage isn’t too far off the league average now. Cosart is essentially a two-pitch pitcher — throwing some combination of a low-to-mid 90s four-seam fastball and cutter, depending on which source you consult, and a curve ball. His fastball has peaked at a touch below 98 mph this year, so his velocity is good.

But despite possessing good velocity and perhaps altering his curve ball for the better, he simply cannot figure out how to make batters swing and miss. Instead, he’s inducing a ton of looking strikes, which is probably that curve ball at work.

There’s something clearly missing here — a strikeout pitch for sure. The curve ball induces called strikes and gobs of grounders, but he has no out pitch. He does have a changeup, but barely throws it. Either improving that pitch or learning a slider or something that would miss bats would portend a major breakout. While the current version could still be a decent Major League pitcher given his extreme ground ball tendency, his lack of strikeout ability limits his fantasy upside. It also increases his risk as allowing batters to so easily put the ball in play is a dubious approach, even if most of those balls are on the ground.

Gibson, on the other hand, doesn’t have quite the velocity that Cosart is blessed with, but he does throw three pitches, complementing the fastball with a slider and changeup. Both his secondary pitches have been quite effective, inducing swinging strikes at a slightly better than league average clip, while also generating lots of grounders.

His four-seam fastball, though it does gets grounders at a better than average rate, simply doesn’t miss enough bats. Oddly, his two-seamer has been significantly better at inducing swinging strikes, which isn’t usually the case for the typical pitcher. The two-seamer also generates more grounders. Hmmmm, perhaps dropping the four-seamer altogether would be a prudent move?

All of Gibson’s pitch type rates are below the league average, but his repertoire is more expansive right now than Cosart’s and at least he has two pitches that induces a respectable rate of whiffs. He continues to have trouble throwing strikes though, even though his walk rate doesn’t suggest that control has been an issue. While his xK% is almost identical to his actual strikeout percentage, his minor league track record suggests there is some strikeout rate upside in his future. That could come if he does decide to ditch the four-seamer.

Ultimately, these two have limited fantasy upside given their inability to punch out batters, though they could both continue to be acceptable enough pitchers for their Major League clubs. The seeds are there though for a future breakout as there are some obvious weaknesses that may be fixable and should be addressed.



Print This Post

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
buddyglass
Guest
buddyglass

I’m starting Cosart today against Atlanta, which is 27th in OPS against RHP and 29th in R-per-AB against RHP (ahead of the Padres). We’ll see how it goes.

Dang
Guest
Dang

Same. I’m hoping the Atlanta offense pulls out a clunker. I haven’t gone through and quantified anything but it seems like they’ll score 0-2 runs or they’ll score 6+. Definitely a boom or bust team – 11th in HR, 29th in runs scored.

buddyglass
Guest
buddyglass

This is the first year that I’ve tried using the opposing offense’s L/R splits when choosing which SP to stream. So far it’s worked out pretty well. Starting the replacement level RHP against Atlanta is probably a better bet than starting the slightly-above-replacement-level RHP against an offense that’s league average against RHP.

wpDiscuz