Starting Pitchers Experiencing Success in 2020
Every season, there are a handful of starting pitchers that seemingly fly under-the-radar. While this year might only be 60 games, the same theory applies. Whether it be because a pitcher pitches for a non-contending team or simply gets overlooked, sometimes they never receive enough attention.
Therefore, this article is going to change that notion and give the five pitchers below some much-needed love. Who knows, this might end up giving you an idea of who to pick up for your fantasy team as well!
1. Randy Dobnak (Minnesota Twins)
Randy Dobnak is quietly having a very effective season with the Minnesota Twins. At the conclusion of play Thursday, Dobank currently leads the Twins pitching staff with a 0.90 ERA over four starts or 20 innings. He made his MLB debut last September and is just starting to come into his prime at 25-years of age. While the Twins were likely expecting big contributions from him this season, they likely weren’t expecting this.
One of the biggest reasons why Dobnak has been so successful is due to his pitch mix. He is relying on his four-seamer a lot less and his sinker a lot more. In fact, during the 2019 season, he threw his four-seamer 22.7% and relied on the sinker 36.5% of the time. Fast forward to this year and he is throwing his four-seamer 5.7% of the time. When it comes to the sinker, Dobnak is relying on that pitch 46.4% so far. Quite the stark difference! However, as they say, don’t change what’s working.
2. Dylan Bundy (Los Angeles Angels)
Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Dylan Bundy is off to a hot start. After signing a one-year, $5 million dollar deal with the team this past offseason, the Angels were taking a gamble and hoping for the best. So far through four starts, they have gotten that and more. At the conclusion of play Thursday, Bundy currently leads the Angels staff with a 1.57 ERA over 28 and two-thirds innings. Additionally, he leads the team with 35 strikeouts which averages out to be a K/9 rate of 11.0.
Simply put, it could be the usual change of scenery which is benefitting Bundy so much. After all, he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles during the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft and spent parts of five seasons pitching with the big league club. However, another big difference is that Bundy is relying on his slider more. In 2019, he threw his slider 22.8% of the time and held opposing hitters to a .152 batting average with that pitch. This season, he is utilizing his slider 30.5% overall and opposing hitters are batting .033 against it.
3. Lance Lynn (Texas Rangers)
Lance Lynn is once again pitching very effectively for the Texas Rangers and not receiving much attention at all. After finishing fifth in American League Cy Young Award voting last year alongside teammate Mike Minor, Lynn seems to be very comfortable pitching in Texas even if it’s inside the walls of the Rangers new home, Globe Life Park. To this point, the 33-year old right-hander has a 1.16 ERA through four starts which leads the Rangers pitching staff.
Essentially through those four starts, Lynn has relied heavily on a five-pitch repertoire. His bread and butter pitch is still his four-seamer which averages a velocity of 94 miles per hour (MPH) this year. What’s interesting is that his four-seamer actually features less spin this year compared to last. Last season, Lynn’s four-seamer had a spin rate of 2,482 RPM. To date, Lynn has averaged a spin rate of 2,449 RPM on that pitch. Not a significant difference, but it has contributed to his success nonetheless.
4. German Marquez (Colorado Rockies)
Colorado Rockies starting pitcher German Marquez is starting to come into his own. At 25-years old, Marquez is just starting to reach his prime years and that’s a big reason why the Rockies view him as their ace. Colorado always felt that he had top of the rotation stuff, but it really hasn’t been until this year that everything has come together at once for the right-hander. At the close of play Thursday, Marquez leads the Rockies pitching staff with a 2.08 ERA over 26 innings or four starts. Over those four starts, he has posted a 0.923 WHIP as well.
One of the things that has worked so well for Marquez is his reliance on the sinker pitch. Last year, he relied on that pitch around 17% compared to this year where he has only thrown it 9.9% of the time. Furthermore, opposing hitters posted a .364 batting average and a .545 slugging percentage on Marquez sinker in 2019. This year, opposing hitters are batting .200 and have a .300 slugging percentage against it. Overall, the vertical plane on his sinker is much different this year (-1.7 inches) compared to last (0.2 inches).
5. Alex Cobb (Baltimore Orioles)
Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Alex Cobb is really proving why he is the ace of the staff this season. Although John Means was expected to be that guy for the team, he started the season on the Injured List and has a 7.71 ERA over two starts. As such, Cobb is potentially turning himself into someone that contending teams might heavily look at as the August 31st Trade Deadline nears. Currently, Cobb leads Baltimore’s pitching staff with a 2.75 ERA over 19 and two-thirds innings and in strikeouts with 17.
As a former teammate of the aforementioned Dylan Bundy, Cobb is still relying on a three-pitch mix. He throws a low-90s four-seamer, an upper-80s split-finger changeup, and a curveball that averages a velocity of 81 MPH. Overall, Cobb’s reliance on those three pitches hasn’t changed drastically this year compared to last season. However, he is relying on his split-finger a bit more (37.6% this year vs. 34.9% in 2019). This year, his split-finger has resulted in a cumulative Whiff Percentage of 40.7% and has been his strike out pitch 27.5% of the time.
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