Fantasy Baseball: Sell-high? No, you should buy these five fast-starting pitchers
Chris Towers takes a look at five pitchers you should expect to sustain their quick starts.
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Scott White gave you a list of eight players Thursday whose fast starts he wasn't buying –. They may be helping your team win games right now, but it will ultimately be a Pyrrhic victory when they turn back into duds.
I want to be more positive than Scott, so I'm going to write about the opposite: Players whose hot starts aren't a mirage. So, I picked 10 players – five pitchers, five hitters – who I'm buying high on. They're off to good starts, and they only have good things in their future. If you have them on your roster, you're going to keep rolling right along. And, if you don't, you may want to check in with their owner and see if he's not buying it.
You should. Here are the pitchers to buy:
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This feels like Daniel Murphy circa April 2016, when he erased any doubts about his late-career breakout from the previous season with a monster start. Morton looked like a borderline star last season, and capped it off with a huge World Series for the Astros. And now he's picking up where he left off, striking out 33 batters with just six walks in his first 25 innings of the season. He's continuing to add velocity to his fastball as he ages, and is racking up swinging strikes with his curveball and splitter. I know Morton has a long track record of mediocre production, but this just isn't the same guy who was working in the low-90s and pitching to contact. As long as he stays healthy, he looks like a top-20 pitcher to me.
Corbin isn't throwing any harder than he did last season, but he is a different pitcher nonetheless. He used his fastball (two- and four-seam) about 53 percent of the time last season, and he's dropped that usage to about 48 percent. He has also largely abandoned his changeup, a pitch that got him in trouble in 2017. He has replaced those pitches in his repertoire with more sliders, as well as a slower breaking ball that falls somewhere between a slider and a curveball. He embarrassed Hunter Pence with that pitch in his most recent start, tossing in a 69 mph pitch on the outside corner that made Pence send his bat flying a few dozen feet:
Maybe batters will catch on, and the lack of a changeup will cause righties to start crushing him. On the other hand, "Throw your best pitches a whole lot more" isn't a bad strategy.
There probably isn't a pitcher in baseball who thinks about the science of pitching more than Trevor Bauer, who has never been shy about experimenting. He spent the offseason after his best season yet trying to get even better, working on adding a slider to give opposing hitters another look. That has been his best swing-and-miss pitch so far this season, and he's pushed his overall swinging strike rate up to 10.1 percent, the best mark of his career. With so many different looks to give hitters, Bauer's starting to live up to his vast potential.
Nick Pivetta isn't throwing a new pitch, but he is showing more confidence in his old pitches than ever before. Specifically with his curveball, a pitch he has thrown 27 percent of the time through four starts, up from 15 percent last season. Pivetta's fastball has always had a lot of life, but last year, hitters were able to sit on it, and they mostly crushed it, with a .299 average and .227 ISO against the pitch. However, he's shown a willingness to throw the curve in any count, and it has helped make him less predictable. When you can max out at 98 mph, anything that makes opposing batters have to question themselves up there is a good thing. Pivetta is making them think now.
Something is in the water in Philadelphia. Like Pivetta, Velasquez doesn't have a new pitch, but he's showing a renewed confidence in his secondary pitches, throwing his curveball 50 percent more often than he did a year ago. It's not a huge swing-and-miss pitch for him, but as The Athletic's Eno Sarris pointed out Friday, it is an elite groundball pitch, something the homer-prone Velasquez needs to be successful. He's still a bit too fastball-heavy, but his fastball is a good put-away pitch, and he's never had trouble getting strikeouts. , but I'm buying Velasquez as a mixed-league relevant starter after an injury-plagued 2017 derailed his expected breakout.
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