Welcome back to the stretch run of 2 to Watch! To read previous editions of 2 to Watch, check out this link. As usual, we'll start by checking in on last week's players to see how they've done in the past week.
Note: all stats from Fangraphs and current up to 9/8
John Lamb: 5.2 innings, 9.53 ERA, 1.94 WHIP, 14.8% K%, 7.4% BB%, 2.79 FIP, 5.11 xFIP, 0.429 BABIP
Lamb went out and put up a terrible start last week against a weak Milwaukee offense. The strikeouts disappeared and he gave up hits left and right. He dominated this same Brewers team in his previous start with eight Ks in six innings and just two earned runs, so I don't know what happened. His BABIP was pretty unlucky, but he just seemed very hittable in this start. I still like his overall skills, but this start makes me nervous about using him as a streamer the rest of this season. He might be a great upside pick in next year's drafts, but he might be too risky to use right now, despite his skills.
Troy Tulowitzki: 1 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI, 0% BB%, 29% K%, .300 BABIP, 0.241/0.258/0.345 (AVG/OBP/SLG)
The homer was nice, but everything else is just bad. What a weird season from Tulo. He has been completely healthy all year and yet he has been pretty mediocre at the plate. This past week continues a concerning trend with a lack of power, plate discipline, and average. Like Lamb, I wasn't worried about Tulo last week, but now I am concerned that he won't have enough time this season to really turn it around. He needs to rediscover his excellent batting eye and that is really hard to do on the fly during the season. Don't expect much of an improvement from him the rest of the year.
As we come down the stretch of the fantasy baseball season and fantasy football dominates the headlines, those of us still in the title hunt are digging for every advantage we can get. In both roto and H2H leagues, pitcher streaming becomes a valuable tool to win the counting stats, like wins, quality starts, and strikeouts. I'm highlighting two potential streamers this week to see if they are worth using in your final weeks.
Carlos Rodon, SP, CHW
This dynamic rookie lefty pitcher has had an up-and-down season so far. The good: a 9.38 K/9, 47% GB%, and 10.5 swinging strike %. The bad: 4.66 BB/9, 3.83 xFIP, and 4.08 SIERA. He's young and getting his first taste of the major leagues, so we expect lots of variability. But, is he improving? Let's look at some graphs and decide if he is getting better over time and peaking at the end of the season.
I put a linear trend line (the black line) on each graph to show you the general trend (up or down) for each stat. His strikeout rate has been almost flat all year, once you account for the ups and downs. His walks are actually getting worse, which is not something I wanted to see. His FIP and xFIP are basically flat despite the increase in walks, which I'm guessing is due to a reduction in BABIP or HR/FB% and not any improvement in skills. This is confirmed by the other graphs.
O-Swing % shows how willing hitters have been to swing at pitches outside the zone. We see a pretty clear decline as the season goes on, meaning hitters are laying off more pitches. That's bad news. The last graph shows that his swinging strike percentage (whiffs) is also going down along with O-Swing%. One little positive sign is that his F-Strike% (% of the time he gets strike one before ball one) is headed up a little bit. However, that hasn't helped his walk rate yet and his other stats point to a decline in skills.
I love the strikeout upside, but I just can't recommend using Rodon. He is just too volatile. In dynasty leagues, I still fully believe in his long term upside, but I would stay away this season unless you need strikeouts at all costs, or if he is facing a team that is bad against lefties. Another issue has been his platoon split (0.278/0.378/0.450 versus righties, 0.165/0.259/0.203 versus lefties), so watch out for teams heavy on righties.
Josh Tomlin, SP, CLE
Tomlin had surgery on his right shoulder and missed three months this year. When he got healthy, there wasn't a spot for him in Cleveland, so off to AAA he went. He had a 4.22 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 17 strikeouts in 21.1 innings at AAA after the surgery. That's nothing too exciting. Injuries to Indians starters opened up an opportunity and he has been doing very well with that opportunity:
Since 8/15: 35.1 innings, 2.55 ERA, 4.16 FIP, 3.41 xFIP, 24.6% K%, 2.3% BB%, 0.170 BABIP, LOB% 98.7%
That shiny ERA and elite K%-BB% are nice to look at. The FIP is hurt by a 15.9% HR/FB%. Other than the homers, he has been EXTREMELY lucky so far. Both his BABIP and strand rate (LOB%) are really far from average. Really. far. I'm not buying this level of performance, even if SIERA gives him a 3.18. He's an extreme fly ball pitcher (36% grounders) with an 89-mph fastball, which is a recipe for disaster. See Estrada, Marco or Kennedy, Ian for a best case scenario for this pitcher type, but that's not really saying much. That combo means lots of homers and when his BABIP and LOB% return closer to league norms (0.300 and 70%), that ERA will rise.
The projections disagree a lot on Tomlin for the rest of the season. ZiPS gives him a 3.84 ERA, while Steamer is at 4.94. I would put it about 4.0 with a 1.24 ERA. Don't be fooled by the recent surge of great performances, he is still a huge risk. If you must use him, avoid homer-prone lineups and parks.
Hopefully this helps you rule out a couple potential streaming pitchers as you push toward the title. See you next week for more championship advice! Tschus!