Pitcher Grab Bag: Heaney, Stroman, Wheeler

I asked twitter what I should write about, and the requests were too many to get to. So I thought I’d get to as many as I could, and the only grouping I could find was starting pitching. So let’s take a look at these guys without spending three thousand words on them! I’ll try to be succinct.

(Okay, I lied, I picked the pitchers because I love pitchers.)

Andrew Heaney (9% owned Yahoo)
It’s a little early to be making too many decisions about Heaney based on his pitch peripherals, but it’s also interesting that Heaney looks better based on our recent update on the pitch type peripherals. Well, maybe not. His change still gets a well below average 8.1% whiff rate, even if the benchmarks for changes softened in the last update. But he has gotten grounders on over 80% of his change-ups, and obviously his breaking pitch (27.6% whiffs) is outstanding. Three of his five homers have been allowed on the road, so maybe a little home cooking will work in his favor when he returns from his procedural demotion in the second half. He’s worth a stash in deeper leagues if someone has moved on.

Marcus Stroman (23% owned)
Stroman’s control came with him to the bigs, so that’s the good news. He’s also got an above-average grounder rate, based mostly on his breaking pitches have 50+% grounder rates or better. You might think that our systems are misclassifying those breaking pitches — it’s rare to have a cutter, slider and curve — but other systems say the same thing. The curve, with its 15% whiff rate and 58% ground-ball rate by BrooksBaseball, that’s the star. But of course we want to know how the thing that breaks the other way does. Because it was that question — does he have a change — that, along with his diminutive stature, seemed to doom Stroman to the pen. The change is getting 10.6% whiffs and 46% grounders, which means that he’s almost there (11.9% whiffs and 44% grounders is the ‘okay’ change-up benchmark). In any case, a man getting that many grounders and an average amount of whiffs has a higher floor than we might have though. He’s right on the cusp of mixed leaguer status, and any improvement in his sequencing could get more out of the fact that he has three above-average pitches by whiff rates. (And an okay change.)

Zack Wheeler (56% owned)
Despite not really improving his command much — his walk rate is still worse than league average, and though he’s bettered his first-pitch strike rate, it’s not at par yet — Wheeler has taken more advantage of his prodigious velocity and intriguing off-speed stuff. I say intriguing because they don’t yet really measure up when it comes to benchmarks. His slider (13.1%), curve (10.5%) and change (11.9%) are all hovering at or below average by whiff rates. And no grounder rate is above 50%. But an 8.4% swinging strike rate on the fastball (averaging near 95 mph) means that he’ll always get the Ks. But if he’s going to be elite, he’ll have to improve the command more, and get more out of his offspeed pitches. To me, he’s fungible in mixed leagues. He’s looked better by results recently, but with seven games of four-plus runs and seven games of three-plus walks, he’s volatile. If he hits a bad stretch, you can move on in a mixed league. Even if he doesn’t really have an innings cap, having thrown 168.1 innings last year.

I’d rank these three as I have them here (worst to best), but of the three, I’m most interested in Stroman’s upside in deeper mixed leagues relative to his price. He’s attainable, and it might be a good idea to go get him. Even if the Blue Jays acquire a pitcher, he’s got to be ahead of J.A. Happ, and there’s a non-zero chance he’s the one that would end up traded into a nice situation at the end of the day. Four legit non-fastball pitches and a 94 mph fastball, with command? Sign me up.

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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.

18 Responses to “Pitcher Grab Bag: Heaney, Stroman, Wheeler”

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  1. JAL says:

    Eno, thanks for this. Thoughts on deGrom compared to this group? Would like the walks to come down a bit from him but he’s looking good. “Fungible” re 12-team mixed relevancy?

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    • FeslenR says:

      yes, I’d pick up deGrom in a 12 team league if you need pitching.

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    • Peter 2 says:

      deGrom looked pretty good to me watching him yesterday…good fastball with sink he was pounding the bottom of the strike zone with. But a lot of guys that do that don’t seem to generate the Ks he does, so I like that he can. I’d sign him up if you still can…I’ve got Stroman in my league but I think I’d rather have deGrom

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  2. PWR says:

    yea i dont get why people arent excited about stroman.

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  3. KilleBrews says:

    I’d also be interested in where you see Taijuan Walker in relation to this group. Very small sample size I know and while his redraft appeal is probably not great, do you like him next yr and beyond? Thanks.

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  4. Double J says:

    My worries about Stroman were his height and ability to stick in the rotation, seems to have proved me wrong. I’m looking to add him in a deep mixed keeper league.

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  5. Matt says:

    Wheeler is so intriguing in that division.

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  6. Mr baseball says:

    At roman is excellent, one of the few young pitching prospects that has good command. All the others have bb rate issues in the minors no less.

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  7. Mr baseball says:


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  8. sgm says:

    Stroman is legit. With a 94 mph fastball with tailing action and a plus curveball, why are you talking about his change-up? As long as he’s healthy he’ll strike out a batter an inning and win more than he loses. He’s a twelve-teamer right now and only getting better.

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  9. Jay says:

    Stroman’s problem right now is lack of stamina (which Drew Hutchison also suffers from, ironically). Pitching every 5th day he breaks down a bit. When he picks up extra rest he is much stronger. The fact he is a smaller frame may not be helping him with this.

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  10. Mike Wimmer says:

    Do you like Jesse Hahn or Jake Odirizzi over these guys? Both those guys have been on a nice hot streak and have nice home parks and solid K rates.

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    • rob says:

      Hahn is just another San Diego pitcher with no diverse arsenal.Ordozzi is a work in progress but Stroman has 3 plus pitches and can reach back 94-95 consistantly.A former 1st rounder who has had enough time in a ball and can help a contending team.Wheeler though has the most potential of all pitchers named,he may have some control issues…There is a possibility however that he could be part of an elite rotataion as early as 2 years with Harvey/Wheeler and Syndergaard operating in a giant pitchers park

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  11. Ben says:

    Not sure if I’ve missed it, but has there been any discussion/breakdown of Jake Arrieta yet? If not, I’d love to see one, given the absurd results with peripherals to back it up and a drastic shift in his pitch type profile.

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  12. Steve says:

    MLB.com has the highlights of Stroman’s start yesterday vs. the Rangers. Go look it up. If you don’t want to watch the entire thing, skip to the :40 mark and watch the next 4(i think) strikeout pitches. by far some of the filthiest pitches I’ve seen in a long time, if not ever. This kid is legit.

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    • eliasll says:

      He added a sinker, fangraphs classifies it as a fastball but in the postgame afterview Stroman mentioned his new pitch, which he used frequently….filthy

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