Pancakes, Pickles, and Mashes Potatoes
A lot of people are astonished that I don’t like pancakes, pickles, or mashed potatoes. Even worse people are blown away when I tell them that I hate carbonation. While I don’t love those things, I do love me some late pitchers on draft day! Towards the end of a draft, it can pay off to take some late round pitchers who have high upside or have shown signs of improvement. The four names below are pitchers you should be targeting late on draft day.
If you want to skip the details:
Danny Duffy’s increase in his changeup usage leads to a better second half and perhaps a better future.
Drew Smyly increased his velocity and added more movement to his pitches.
Merrill Kelly increased his velocity on his fastball leading to a 2.68 ERA in September.
Trent Thornton used his slider more in Septemeber and is developing new pitches.
Danny Duffy (ADP:407)
Danny Duffy is a really interesting case for 2020. In 2016 and 2017 Duffy was a successful starter putting together and an overall ERA of 3.64 in 326 innings. After faltering in 2018 with a measly 4.88 ERA, he came into 2019 and produced a 4.34 ERA.
In 2018 Duffy’s main issue was his control as his BB% jumped dramatically from 6.7% to 10.1%. Last year he brought it down to 8.3% trending in the right direction. This is easily explained by his Zone% bouncing up from 49.9% in 2018 to 51.6% in 2019. A small amount for sure, but in Duffy’s glory days he was right around 51-52%.
Duffy’s first and second half splits of 2019 look worrisome on the surface. His ERA jumped from 4.28 to 4.42 and his FIP was still 4.52. But his second-half showed some improvement coming. Remember that walk rate? In the second half, it jumped down from 9.0% to 7.3%, while his strikeout rate rose from 18.9% to 23.2%.
All great but now we need to find out why this happened, is it backed by some kind of evidence? If you check out his pitch split it will smack you right in the face. His changeup usage jumped from and 8% usage to 16%. His changeup has a great nine MPH difference from his fastball and in the second half put up a very impressive 19.3 SwStr%. Pair that with his slider and decent four-seam, we could be seeing a much better season from Duffy.
Drew Smyly (ADP:415)
Drew Smyly looks terrible on paper, in fact, he didn’t have a single pitch produce a positive pVAL in 2019. But he is very interesting in this upcoming shortened season. The first thing to note is he moved to San Francisco. One of the best pitcher ballparks in the league. The splits are where you see Smyly making improvements. Everything from his wOBA, K-BB%, and FIP improved dramatically in the second half. The big change comes with his pitch mix and velocity.