Note: Don't whiff on this special FanDuel offer. Win your first contest or get your money back (up to $10) to keep playing. Try FanDuel now!

It has now been three days since A.J. Griffin shocked the Fantasy world by walking into Rogers Centre for a start against the powerful Blue Jays and walking out with six strong innings and a win for the Rangers. For someone who doesn't miss a lot of bats or get many grounders, that seemed to be an improbable outcome.

Fantasy owners were clearly impressed, as Griffin still ranks as the most added pitcher in CBSSports.com leagues, having been picked up in more than one-third of our leagues since last week and now owned in more than two-thirds. They weren't just responding to Griffin's mastery of the Jays; he has emerged from his first five starts with a 3-0 record, a 2.32 ERA and an even 1.00 WHIP.

As a flyball pitcher with decent control, low WHIPs are nothing new to Griffin, who sports a career 1.11 mark. In 2013 -- his most recent season in the majors -- those same flyball tendencies left Griffin with a mediocre 3.83 ERA with the Athletics, as he coughed up 36 home runs in 200 innngs.

Three seasons and a Tommy John surgery later, Griffin has returned with his typical flyball tendencies, but with better results. He has received help from a 79 percent strand rate and .217 BABIP, both of which should normalize, but taking that into account, Griffin still has a 3.30 FIP. Then again, Griffin has a career .247 BABIP, so FIP's estimation of what his ERA should be could be too conservative.

Or too liberal. Griffin has also kept his ERA low by allowing just two home runs in 31 innings to date. While FIP takes his 0.58 HR/9 ratio for granted, xFIP estimates, how many home runs he would allow by assuming he has a typical home run-to-flyball ratio for the league. Griffin's 5.9 HR/FB ratio is more generous than most, ranking 31st among the 82 starters with at least 30 innings pitched. It's also out of line with his previous seasonal rates of 10.6 and 8.7 percent.

A.J. Griffin
SP
2016 STATS
IP31
FB Rate40.0%
Popup Rate15.7%
HR/9.58

So why hasn't Griffin allowed more gopher balls this season? He has always induced popups at a high rate, and this season, he has hiked that rate from 13. 5 percent in 2013 to 15.7 percent. Per FanGraphs, Griffin has the sixth-highest soft contact rate (27.1 percent) and, per Bill Petti's interactive spray chart, he is allowing flyballs (not including popups) to travel a relatively modest 276 feet on average. As our colleague Jonah Keri recently noted, pitchers who work up in the zone can enjoy greater success with a higher spin rate. Griffin has bumped his fastball spin rate up from 2314 rpm prior to this season up to 2378 rpm so far in 2016. In his start against Toronto, Griffin averaged 2415 rpm.

All of these changes are positive, though none are based on large samples. Skepticism is still warranted for Griffin, but if he can continue to induce soft contact, he has a chance of beating the odds that his high flyball rate present.

Of starting pitchers who have thrown at least 30 innings, there are four others who have allowed fewer than 0.60 HR/9 yet have a flyball rate over 35 percent. On the surface, each appears to be due for regression, but a closer look may tell a different story.

Marco Estrada
OAK • SP • #21
2016 STATS
ERA2.64
FB Rate43.5%
Popup Rate18.1%
HR/9.59
View Profile

Estrada was one of the pitchers highlighted by Keri in his piece, and he is elite in his ability to generate spin and induce popups. As much as he improved his home run rate a year ago, he has cut it nearly in half in 2016. That might seem unsustainable, but Estrada has launched his fastball spin rate from 2378 to 2526 rpm. His popup rate has also jumped from 11.3 to 15.0 to 18.1 percent over the last three seasons. Small sample artifact or the continuing evolution of a flyball pitcher? Given that Estrada has taken more than 25 feet off of last season's average flyball distance, I'm leaning towards the latter.

Danny Salazar
CLE • SP • #31
2016 STATS
ERA2.40
FB Rate37.3%
Popup Rate10.6%
HR/9.30
View Profile

Of the five pitchers featured here, Salazar is the one whose flyball rate is least defrayed by his popup rate. That's not to say he hasn't done a good job of limiting hard contact. Only Cole Hamels and Tanner Roark have higher soft contact rates, and with a 49.3 percent ground ball rate, he isn't really in the same group as the other four starters included here. (He is able to have above-average fly and grounder rates because his line drive rate is only 13.4 percent.) If he can maintain his ground ball rate and his 2526 rpm fastball spin rate -- both of which are departures from the past -- Salazar could leave his former issues with the long ball behind him.

Incidentally, this is not the only change for Salazar this season. Batters aren't swinging at his offerings outside of the zone nearly as often, so his BB/9 ratio has mushroomed from 2.6 to 4.5. Whichever version of Salazar we wind up with in the long run is likely to be a good one, but just be prepared for his .197 BABIP and 0.97 WHIP to rise. Even if Salazar can avoid homers, he's not a bad sell candidate.

Chris Tillman
BAL • SP • #30
2016 STATS
ERA2.81
FB Rate37.0%
Popup Rate13.8%
HR/9.28
View Profile

All of a sudden, Tillman is getting whiffs and Ks, but his 2016 success isn't just built on missing bats. Despite reversing last season's mild gains in ground ball rate, Tillman has allowed only one home run to date. He is enjoying huge spikes in his popup and soft contact rates, as well as a 120 rpm increase in his fastball spin rate, so it's realistic to expect some improvement in his HR/9 ratio. Tillman has also allowed a couple of long flyball outs and a couple of long doubles, so he is probably fortunate to have such a low home run rate. Still, between the bump in strikeouts and the increase in weak contact, it appears that Tillman is on the verge of a legitimate breakout.

Vince Velasquez
PIT • SP • #27
2016 STATS
ERA1.44
FB Rate40.3%
Popup Rate14.5%
HR/9.57
View Profile

Velasquez was one of the majors' more extreme fly-ball pitchers as a rookie, so moving to Citizens Bank Park did not look like a good career move for him. Yet he has not allowed a homer in four of his five starts, even though he has moderated his fly-ball tendencies only slightly. Like the others on this list, Velasquez is showing all the signs of minimizing the impact of flyballs in the early going. He has the fourth-lowest hard contact rate, increased his popup rate by 5.5 percentage points, and none of his in-the-park flies have approached the warning track. Because Velasquez doesn't induce much contact and has shown good control, his flyball tendencies aren't as threatening as, say, Griffin's or Estrada's, but he just may be able to get away with a lower-than-average HR/9 ratio despite his cozy home park surroundings.