As is true for many of the pitchers of this list, his velocity was down — considerably so — and it first came to light late in summer camp. Still, it was startling to see them give such a short leash to a guy they considered their No. 2 heading into the playoffs last year. Granted, Foltynewicz has had his struggles, but he rebounded with a 2.65 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 8.6 K/9 over his final 10 starts last year and outdueled Jack Flaherty in Game 2 of the NLDS. He seemed like he was back in the team's good graces.
Apparently not. Either that or his ousting demonstrates a general unwillingness to wait out potential headaches in what's only a 60-game season. It's why even after just one turn, certain pitchers have created reason for alarm in Fantasy, particularly those with velocity issues.
The level of concern isn't the same for everyone who struggled, of course. Bad starts happen to good pitchers every year. So to help sort out what's concerning and what isn't, I've categorized my level of concern for 16 of the most notable pitchers who struggled in their first turn.
LAA L.A. Angels • #17 • Age: 26
The reports out of summer camp weren't good -- a combined 16 walks in the three starts we heard about -- so it's not surprising Ohtani had trouble finding the strike zone in his first official start back from Tommy John surgery, throwing just 15 of 30 pitches for strikes. Add that his velocity was down about 4 mph since we last saw him in 2018, and you have to wonder, particularly with him starting only on Sundays, if he has time to build back to something trustworthy in a shortened season. It just seems like there's so far to go.
ARI Arizona • #40 • Age: 31
The concern for Bumgarner was already high with him leaving cavernous Oracle Park, where he had a 2.48 ERA the past two years vs. 5.16 everywhere else. So when he comes out throwing 4 mph less with both his fastball and cutter, you have to ask yourself if a path to success even exists. He has overcome a velocity dip in the past, but only with that big ballpark as his home, so he'll need to close that velocity gap in the next start or two to stick on Fantasy rosters.
Mitch Keller SP
PIT Pittsburgh • #23 • Age: 24
The stat line actually doesn't look bad for Keller, who has the flimsiest track record of any of these 16 pitchers, but yes, his velocity was missing the first time out as well, which is especially discouraging since we're counting on his power arsenal to propel him. He averaged 92 mph on his fastball compared to 95 a year ago and had just five swinging strikes on his 87 pitches. If the velocity isn't back next time out, you probably have to move on from someone so unproven.
Sean Manaea SP
OAK Oakland • #55 • Age: 28
Here's one instance where a velocity drop isn't the issue, but Manaea doesn't have much velocity to begin with and got knocked around in both versions of the preseason. It continued in his season debut, when he allowed as many earned runs as in five starts last year. Considering he was already just a borderline Fantasy asset, demonstrating minimal bat-missing ability in particular, isn't it likely those five starts last year were the aberration? You don't need to grip so tightly to him now.
James Paxton SP
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #65 • Age: 31
If it seems like I'm harping on velocity here, it's because we only have one start to go on. The results mean less than the abilities underlying them, and a loss of velocity could indicate a loss of ability. Paxton at least has the excuse of coming off back surgery. "I'm not alarmed. I feel like physically he is sound," manager Aaron Boone said. "I think it's just a matter of really getting his delivery and finding that click where he's really extending through the ball. That's kind of what he's been searching for here these last few weeks." Still, in a nine-week season, he needs to ramp it up quickly.
TB Tampa Bay • #50 • Age: 36
The Rays seemed more reluctant than most teams to build up their pitchers aggressively in summer camp, and I thought it was just an abundance of caution. But when Charlie Morton comes out throwing 91-92 instead of the 94-95 where he lived last year, it makes you wonder if they just weren't as prepared coming into camp. Needing more time to build up is of course preferable to having a real problem, but it makes Morton an iffy start in Fantasy right now.
OAK Oakland • #47 • Age: 27
The final line doesn't raise any red flags, but when you consider Montas threw just five splitters on his 81 pitches, you find yourself reexamining how likely last year's breakthrough is to stick. That pitch was the key to it all, generating whiffs and ground balls, and he'll need to continue featuring it prominently to live up to his draft stock.
Luke Weaver SP
ARI Arizona • #24 • Age: 27
Weaver's breakthrough last year was even less conclusive than Montas' since it wasn't tied to any particular development. He just got better results ... and then got shut down with an elbow issue after two months. He looked healthy Monday, throwing with the same velocity and a similar pitch mix as a year ago, but he hasn't earned enough leeway to struggle through another start or two like that one.
Zac Gallen SP
ARI Arizona • #23 • Age: 25
What is the deal with Gallen walking so many guys in the majors? Command was his calling card in the minors, but he threw just 46 of his 88 pitches for strikes Sunday after issuing 4.1 BB/9 in an otherwise successful rookie season last year. Back then, it was mostly the fault of a couple outlier starts, which will maybe turn out to be the case this time, too. But he'll need to shore it up quickly.
Robbie Ray SP
TOR Toronto • #38 • Age: 28
Another Diamondback, huh? Ray came up short in all the ways he normally does, struggling to throw strikes even while piling up whiffs, which is why he's only a medium concern for me (i.e., my expectations were only so high). But he was among the pitchers generating the most buzz in camp for his shorter arm action and altered training regimen. Maybe this is actually the blip for the new and improved Ray, and if not, the old one isn't someone you'd consider dropping anyway.
Blake Snell SP
TB Tampa Bay • #4 • Age: 27
Snell's stuff rated fine in his first start, but he went only two innings and threw just 46 pitches -- one less than in his final summer camp start, actually. So at what point will he actually begin to build up his workload? At what point can you count on him to throw five-plus consistently? He only gets 12 starts this year.
Zack Greinke SP
HOU Houston • #21 • Age: 36
Greinke was among those who suffered from a marked decline in velocity in his first start, but it's such a Greinke thing to do that I don't even ... care. He always takes his time building up velocity, all the while talking like he doesn't know if it's going to come back, and then he ends up with the same old numbers. Overpowering hitters isn't his game anyway. He did lose a couple miles per hour back in 2017 with literally no effect on his numbers.
Yu Darvish SP
CHC Chi. Cubs • #11 • Age: 34
It was a shaky first showing for Darvish, sure, but he relied heavily on his cutter still, which was a key to him having a 2.76 ERA, 0.81 WHIP and 13.0 K/9 in the second half last year. No walks in this one either, which also prompted last year's turnaround.
Jose Berrios SP
MIN Minnesota • #17 • Age: 26
While many of these pitchers came up short on the radar gun in their first turn, Berrios' velocity was actually up a little. He just got hit hard by a good White Sox lineup. It happens.
CHW Chi. White Sox • #27 • Age: 26
The velocity gains from a year ago held, and the changeup was just as effective at coaxing whiffs. In fact, Giolito's 16.3 percent swinging-strike rate in this one would lead the league if he sustained it over a full season, so I don't see anything to worry about.
Hyun-Jin Ryu SP
TOR Toronto • #99 • Age: 33
Good pitchers have bad starts sometimes. It's rare to see Ryu walk three batters in any start, much less a short one like Friday's, but his velocity was fine. And he'll be fine seeing as he has a 2.21 ERA over the past two seasons.