Surprise AL SP Positive Trenders

A simple way to determine which pitchers are “hot” is to use the Split filter and choose any one of the small time frames and then sort by SIERA. Since I think subtle changes in mechanics and other various factors could actually trigger a performance spike, I believe looking at the SIERA leaders over the last 30 days could be useful despite the small sample size. Here are some of the surprise leaders in the metric over that time span.

Justin Masterson – 3.04 SIERA

After struggling with his control in April and through May, Masterson has really turned it on in recent weeks. As an extreme ground ball pitcher and possessing an above average strikeout rate, it was really just the control holding him back from a similar season to last. Of course, as I type this, I realize that Masterson walked a whopping 7 batters in just 4.1 innings last night, reminding us of the danger of drawing conclusions from small sample sizes. However, we can take from his outing that every pitcher is going to have outings where their control is simply not there and it doesn’t necessarily mean it is the beginning of a trend. Masterson’s true talent walk rate is likely closest to what he had posted prior to last night’s outing (3.6 BB/9) and he should now be valued as you had before the year.

Luis Mendoza – 3.22

Mendoza has shuttled between the starting rotation and middle relief all season, but his recent stint as a starter has been excellent. He has displayed strong control and a sudden penchant for striking hitters out. He is also giving his infielders a workout, posting a near 57% ground ball rate on the season. I am not aware of any changes he has made that may explain the increase in strikeout rate, though since rejoining the rotation, only his recent outing against the Blue Jays resulting in a SwStk% above the league average. So it seems the high K/9 is a bit flukey, while his F-Strike% also doesn’t exactly match with his low walk rate. You could probably do worse in AL-Only leagues, but I still wouldn’t touch him in any other league.

Dylan Axelrod – 3.72

As a 26-year old, Axelrod isn’t exactly a prospect. No matter though, as he has posted an above average ground ball rate along with good control and solid strikeout rate. His SwStk% is well above average and fully supports a near 8.0 strikeout rate despite a fastball that doesn’t even average 90.0 miles per hour. With a weak fastball, he has used his slider a crazy 39% of the time, which is likely a big reason for the elevated SwStk%. While this can’t be good for his long-term ability to remain healthy, fantasy owners shouldn’t complain for this season. A below average F-Strike% does suggest a walk rate spike is coming, though he has always shown good control in the minors and it’s possible the F-Strike% rises to match the BB/9 rather than the other way around. Worth a gamble in AL-Only leagues and I would prefer him to Mendoza.



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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.


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jcam
Member
jcam

Too bad Axlerod just got bumped out of the starting rotation.

Tim
Guest
Tim

which is too bad. I was hoping the White Sox would give him a chance since he as pitched against Bos, Tor, Tex, NYY, Mil and Det this season…yikes

Reverend Jim
Guest
Reverend Jim

Those are some ugly matchups, but if you’re gonna see what you’ve got in a pitcher there’s no better test than those teams.

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