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  • Michael Simione

ADP Wars: Griffin Canning vs. Mitch Keller



Before diving in I want to state that I love both of these pitchers for 2020. They have incredible value with their ADPs being at 227 (Mitch Keller) and 224 (Griffin Canning). Both of these pitchers are young and had their first real stints in the majors in 2019. A lot of analysts have both pitchers on their sleeper lists and rightfully so. But if you are drafting and your pick is coming up with both of them on the board, how are you going to take? I ran a poll on twitter including Jose Urquidy but he isn’t locked into the rotation so let’s roll with Keller and Canning. Canning won the poll by a decent margin. Let’s see if the 616 voters were right.


Basics



While we go through this article we have to remember both of these pitchers have small sample sizes, so we have to temper our expectations. Keller’s K/9 is an insane number but his 48 innings means that K/9 doesn’t hold much substance. I do still expect it to be high but it should drop a little which will lower his K-BB%. These two are so close in this chart but I have to think Keller’s strikeouts subside a little which gives Canning the edge here. The fact that he makes batters chase out of the zone and swing and miss more has me lean Canning.


Expected Stats



Well, Canning takes this one pretty easily. Both of their numbers are rather close to each other except for the expected batting average. Canning’s xBA is in the 78th percentile while Kellers’ is in the 27th percentile. The good thing here is they both produce an average Barrel%. Keeping the ball inside the park is very important in today’s game. Canning grabs this one as well as he keeps the ball in the park and his expected stats show elite capabilities.


Fastball



Both pitchers throw their fastballs more than any other pitch. Canning has more strikeout potential while Keller keeps his in the ballpark. The average Barrel% for a four-seam fastball is 9.5%. Canning is way above that. Canning’s issue is he would leave the pitch over the plate way too often. Right-handed hitters killed this pitch as they hit it for a 13.5 Barrel%. Keller, on the other hand, produced above-average results thus winning this table.


Slider



What makes both of these pitchers so appealing is that they both have a killer slider. Keller’s numbers are insanely high when it comes to strikeouts and causing swing and misses. But when he leaves it in the zone it gets absolutely crushed. Keller’s slider was all or nothing in 2019. Canning also had a great slider but unlike Keller, he created weak contact while piling up strikeouts. I have to lean Keller here though. If he can control that slider and increase its usage it can become almost as good as Patrick Corbin’s. Pittsburgh won’t let that happen though.


Other Pitches



Keller also has a decent curveball that more so created a lot of weak contact instead of strikeouts. What sets Canning apart from Keller is that he has two more pitches. His curveball is just as good as Keller’s but his changeup sets him apart. Canning’s changeup has an SwStr% of 13.3%, with a K% of 17.0% but and expected K% of 20.2%. Canning has four solid pitches, four pitches he can use at any time when another one in his arsenal isn’t working. Keller only has three pitches and smaller sample size.


Conclusion


This is pretty tough honestly. This was a lot closer than I expected when I decided to write this. It is pretty funny how they flip flop on their fastball and sliders. Keller has the makings of a very good slider with a decent fastball and changeup. While Canning can have a good slider with three other pitches around it. I believe Canning has the higher floor here. My vote goes with Canning as you have to trust the higher floor pitcher with multiple pitches. Plus overall he provided a higher SwStr% overall and produced more weak contact overall. He also had more of a sample size than Keller. Don’t come at me if Keller rocks that slider over 50% of the time and becomes Patrick Corbin though!

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