Home runs are up, strikeouts are up, and elite starting pitchers are getting rocked. So which fast starters are going to fall off a cliff? And which slow starters should we keep the faith on?
Max Scherzer, SP, WSN
The best pitcher in the fantasy game is off to a slow start. His ERA of 4.45 sits a full two points higher than his ERA from the last two seasons (2.51). Through five starts, batters are hitting .279 against Scherzer, which is 59 points higher than his career average (.220).
Looking into Scherzer’s underlying numbers, his performance is largely the same as previous years. His K% sits at 32.6%, slightly down from last year 34.6%. K% stabilizes after 70 batters faced. Scherzer has faced 130 batters this season. So his ability to generate strikeouts has perhaps fallen off a bit, but 32.6% is still an elite number.
Scherzer’s BABIP is an incredibly high, .391. That’s the worst BABIP of any pitcher that has made at least three starts. But that number is going to fall. His GB% is up to 45.2% from 35.3% last season. In this era of balls flying out of parks, keeping the ball in the ground is a winning formula. And in small samples that can mean more singles that sneak through the infield, like what is happening now
So really there is nothing worry about it here. Scherzer is the still the best pitcher and now is the time to target him if one of your league mates is panicking.
Jose Berrios, SP, MIN
Berrios is off to an electric start to the season, punching out 33 batters in 33 innings with a 2.97 ERA and 3 wins. The Puerto Rican fireballer is making a case to be a #1 fantasy starter. But peaking behind the curtains tells a different story.
Berrios has a BABIP of .210 with an identical K% (25.4%) as last season. His career BABIP of .284 is a much more realistic expectation for the rest of the season. Statistics on balls in play require more than a season’s worth a data, so Berrios’ luck on balls in play this year is nothing more than a lucky run. His Hard% of 35.6%, slightly worse than last year’s number of 34.2%, further confirms that.
If you can convince another owner that Berrios is worth a top-tier bat, now is the time to flip him before he goes on a cold streak.
Wil Myers, OF/3B, SDP
Myers is on fire early in the season, filling up all five categories (.302 BA, 5 home runs, 2 SB, 10 R, 11 RBI). But he is striking out a high clip, 30.9 K%, up from last year’s rate of 27.5%. He’s also walking less (6.2 BB% vs 8.7% from last season).
Myers’ swinging strike % has also climbed significantly (13.4% from 10.6%) and is having trouble making contact
So far it hasn’t mattered because when Myers manages to put the ball in play, he’s getting lucky. Myers’ BABIP up of .391 is completely unsustainable (his career mark of .319 is above average because of his speed).
Those balls aren’t gonna keep falling in. Now is the time to deal the versatile outfielder and third basemen before his value falls fast.