Moving to the National League from the American League is always a boost, as is moving from a park like US Celullar to Turner Field. To boot, having the Atlanta Braves defense behind him, most notably Andrelton Simmons and Jason Heyward, should give Floyd’s numbers a bit of a boost as well.
So with that said, without changing anything, Floyd has three positive factors that should attribute to his numbers improving at least somewhat. Another big factor is Roger McDowell. While he has not gotten the type of notoriety that Dave Duncan got a few years back for turning around a number of veterans in St. Louis, McDowell has shown a history of success in this area and has made subtle tweaks to guys such as Aaron Harang and Ervin Santana this season alone that has allowed them to elevate their performances. McDowell’s primary production in this facet has been with relief pitchers but in 2009 the Braves brought Javy Vasquez over from the White Sox and he had the best season of his career. While an unknowing amount of that can be attributed to McDowell, he has overseen some career reboots and is the guy in charge of a number of them this year.
We are now two starts into Floyd’s Brave tenure and we have seen some interesting results as he returns from Tommy John surgery. To start, his command has been on point out of the gate. The Braves, over the past few seasons, have been a team that is more focused on not walking batters than striking them out, and if Floyd is able to adopt that type of philosophy it could end up leading to a lower walk rate and a still quality strikeout rate. Last night he struck out eight Giants, albeit without Brandon Belt and Buster Posey, without walking any in 6.1 IP. The previous start he struck out five and walked two in seven innings.
It is great to see that his velocity is in line with what we have seen from him in the past. With three variations of the fastball, through two starts he has utilized his two-seamer the least and has increased the usage of his fastball and cutter. Gerald Laird, who has caught both games, has also lowered his reliance on his curveball and changeup. While he has lowered his two-seamer usage, he still has a 50% ground ball rate which is a big positive. With the Braves seemingly moving away from Dan Uggla for better defensive options such as Ramiro Pena and Tyler Pastornicky, this could be an added bonus for Floyd’s ERA and WHIP.
These all could be statistical outliers, but it will be worthwhile to follow Floyd’s pitch usage as an owner or prospective owner of him in fantasy. It could be McDowell working his magic to help make Floyd the best pitcher he can be, or it could be nothing.
The worry with Floyd is that the Braves rotation is crowded. Alex Wood, who may be the most talented of the bunch, is currently in the bullpen but will start this Saturday’s contest. The team does not have a ton of flexibility with the current members of the rotation, but these things tend to eventually work themselves out. In time, someone will get injured or begin to struggle on the mound. The low risk addition of Floyd to your rotation will give you the ability to add or drop him whenever the rotation is officially set.
My recommendation is to add Floyd based on the first paragraph I wrote. His movement into the National League, into a better ballpark, and with a better defense should allow him to be a useful fantasy option in and of itself. The upside of working with McDowell to improve his game is just an added kicker.
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