STARTERS: BPV leaders, May 2016

Let's begin our monthly look back at the skills posted by starting pitchers during the previous month.

Here were the aggregate stats and skills posted by starting pitchers in May 2016 (data through May 28), segregated by league:

May 2016 Baselines*

Lg  ERA   WHIP | Ctl  Dom  HR/9  GB% | H%  S%  hr/f | FAv   SwK%  FpK% Ball% | BPV
==  ====  ==== | ===  ===  ====  === | === === ==== | ====  ====  ==== ===== | ===
AL  4.63  1.35 | 3.0  7.5   1.3  45% | 30% 70%  14% | 91.8  8.9%   58%   36% |  78
NL  3.95  1.27 | 2.9  7.8   1.0  46% | 30% 72%  12% | 92.2  9.0%   58%   36% |  87
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
MLB 4.28  1.31 | 2.9  7.6   1.2  46% | 30% 71%  13% | 92.0  8.9%   58%   36% |  82
*starting pitchers only

It was a bad month to roster SP from the AL.

***

Let's dig deeper into these aggregate stats to find the SP who posted the best skills in May.

Here were the most-skilled starting pitchers in May (data through May 28):

100+ BPV, May 2016*

Name            Lg  Ctl  Dom   HR/9  GB%  H%/S%  hr/f  FAv   SwK%  FpK% Ball%  BPV
============    ==  ===  ====  ====  ===  ====== ====  ====  ===== ==== =====  ===
Kershaw, C      NL  0.4  11.8   0.0  58%  24/86%   0%  93.1  17.7%  69%   30%  236
Wood, A         NL  1.5  13.1   1.5  44%  29/76%  24%   n/a  12.6%  67%   34%  217
Fernandez, J    NL  3.1  14.1   0.8  40%  34/91%  14%  95.1  16.6%  56%   37%  188
Syndergaard, N  NL  1.3  10.2   0.8  56%  31/83%  14%  97.9  13.6%  65%   32%  181
Scherzer, M     NL  2.1  12.8   2.1  27%  24/72%  21%  94.3  17.5%  69%   30%  177
Shoemaker, M    AL  1.1  10.6   0.4  38%  36/68%   4%  92.3  16.7%  76%   31%  177
Matz, S         NL  0.6   8.8   0.6  56%  20/87%  10%  89.1  10.4%  69%   30%  175
Strasburg, S    NL  2.8  13.1   1.1  38%  34/75%  14%  95.3  12.1%  64%   34%  174
Nola, A         NL  1.6   9.0   0.6  65%  29/74%  13%  90.5  10.0%  60%   34%  161
Teheran, J      NL  1.6   9.1   0.3  48%  23/92%   3%  90.5  10.3%  60%   36%  147
Salazar, D      AL  3.7  11.8   0.6  53%  32/83%   9%  94.5  13.1%  56%   36%  143
Hamels, C       AL  2.9  10.7   2.0  51%  34/81%  30%  91.5  12.7%  53%   39%  142
Pineda, M       AL  2.8  10.3   1.2  52%  42/61%  16%  93.5  13.5%  65%   35%  140
Greinke, Z      NL  1.7   8.7   1.0  49%  30/74%  17%  91.2   9.9%  68%   34%  138
Samardzija, J   NL  1.4   8.5   0.5  46%  27/88%   6%  94.4  11.6%  67%   32%  138
Shields, J      NL  2.8  10.0   0.9  57%  38/86%  14%  90.0  14.1%  55%   39%  138
Cueto, J        NL  1.6   8.0   0.2  58%  28/77%   5%  92.0  10.7%  65%   33%  135
Sabathia, C     AL  1.8   9.5   0.0  32%  24/93%   0%  88.3  11.8%  58%   35%  131
Sale, C         AL  2.4   9.9   0.8  40%  28/74%   9%   n/a   8.5%  63%   32%  131
Bumgarner, M    NL  2.5   9.6   0.3  46%  27/91%   3%  91.0  10.7%  70%   34%  130
Arrieta, J      NL  3.1   9.8   0.3  57%  28/75%   5%  93.7   9.8%  61%   36%  129
Lackey, J       NL  1.8   8.5   0.8  44%  20/75%   8%  91.6  11.0%  69%   33%  128
Ray, R          NL  3.7  11.1   1.4  49%  41/78%  19%  93.8   9.7%  57%   35%  128
Quintana, J     AL  1.1   7.3   0.3  44%  28/68%   3%  92.6   8.0%  65%   33%  126
McHugh, C       AL  2.3   9.0   1.2  47%  35/74%  13%  89.7  13.3%  67%   34%  125
Fulmer, M       AL  3.1   9.9   1.6  50%  33/76%  19%  94.7  10.9%  59%   38%  123
Price, D        AL  1.9   8.3   0.8  47%  32/57%  11%  92.8  11.4%  65%   34%  122
Gausman, K      AL  1.8   7.9   1.5  46%  31/78%  16%  94.5  12.6%  51%   37%  119
Gray, J         NL  2.9   9.7   0.3  45%  30/56%   5%  95.6  11.7%  62%   35%  118
Lewis, C        AL  0.8   6.8   0.8  38%  25/62%   7%  87.6   8.3%  75%   31%  116
Hellickson, J   NL  2.4   8.5   1.5  48%  32/74%  20%  90.1  13.2%  59%   38%  115
Kennedy, I      AL  3.0   9.9   1.7  38%  29/75%  15%  91.6  10.2%  62%   35%  114
Kluber, C       AL  3.0   8.8   0.6  58%  31/74%   8%  92.3  11.3%  58%   35%  113
Verlander, J    AL  3.1   9.9   0.5  37%  27/74%   5%  92.9  14.1%  65%   34%  111
Nova, I         AL  1.6   6.3   1.6  62%  26/86%  24%  92.8   9.3%  61%   36%  110
Tanaka, M       AL  1.6   6.9   1.1  51%  25/76%  15%  91.3  10.7%  62%   33%  110
Tomlin, J       AL  1.1   6.6   1.9  41%  24/78%  19%  87.6   6.8%  68%   32%  109
Duffey, T       AL  2.1   7.5   0.3  51%  36/63%   4%  90.1   7.3%  63%   37%  109
Foltynewicz, M  NL  2.0   7.9   1.7  40%  33/78%  17%  95.1   8.5%  66%   35%  107
Walker, T       AL  2.2   7.9   2.2  41%  26/78%  20%  94.1  10.1%  62%   35%  103
Gonzalez, G     NL  1.9   7.1   1.6  49%  32/76%  17%  90.1   7.9%  61%   37%  102
Karns, N        AL  2.5   8.5   0.9  39%  31/75%  10%  93.0  10.7%  56%   36%  102
Rodon, C        AL  2.8   8.5   1.8  45%  37/77%  17%  93.1   7.7%  61%   40%  100
*min 20 IP

Let's take a closer look at a bunch of noteworthy skill performances in May, while putting our usual focus on buying opportunities on guys who will be available in deep leagues.

 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Michael Fulmer (RHP, DET) is a promising young SP who made some significant gains in May: 9.9 Dom, 3.1 Ctl, 50% GB%, 123 BPV. His ability to miss bats and induce groundballs is a combination that gives him upper-rotation upside. And his four-seam fastball averaged 94.7 mph in May. He'll need to lower his high 38% ball% to keep the walks at bay, but this is someone worth investing in.

Kevin Gausman (RHP, BAL) had a strong May, both on the surface (3.52 ERA, 1.21 WHIP), and even more so underneath it: 7.9 Dom, 1.8 Ctl, 46% GB%, 119 BPV. His 12.6% SwK% was the seventh highest among all qualified SP in the AL. If he can learn to attack hitters with strike one (51% FpK%), he could cash in on his rotation anchor upside.

Colby Lewis (RHP, TEX) isn't someone who will be rostered in most leagues, since he's a post-peak SP with a proven track record of mediocrity. But he tends to go through stretches during the season where he does become rosterable. This is one of them. He posted excellent command skills in May: 6.8 Dom, 0.8 Ctl, 38% GB%, 116 BPV. While he doesn't miss enough bats to bump up that Dom level any further (8.3% SwK%), he is attacking the strike zone early (75% FpK%) and often (31% ball%).

Ivan Nova (RHP, NYY) is one of several SP in the NYY rotation worth buying low on. He was excellent in May (2.74 ERA, 1.09 WHIP). Those marks were supported by similarly strong skills: 6.3 Dom, 1.6 Ctl, 62% GB%, 110 BPV. His elite groundball tilt will help him sustain those shiny results in HR-happy Yankee Stadium.

Michael Pineda (RHP, NYY) is being avoided or dumped in many leagues given his maturity issues and horrible surface stats, especially in May (6.35 ERA, 1.59 WHIP). That said, his skills still profile him as a buy-low target: 10.3 Dom, 2.8 Ctl, 52% GB%, 140 BPV. There were only five SP in MLB who paired a 10.0+ Dom and a 50%+ GB% in May; Pineda was one of them. A 42% H%, 61% S%, and 16% hr/f all conspired to torpedo his surface stats.

C.C. Sabathia (LHP, NYY) quietly posted elite stats (0.45 ERA, 0.75 WHIP) and skills (131 BPV) in May. His BPV was driven by top-shelf command: 9.5 Dom, 1.8 Ctl, 32% GB%, 131 BPV. His surge in strikeouts came with the support of an 11.8% SwK% too. We can't expect consistency or durability from Sabathia at this point in his career, but he's a viable mid-rotation option who could be undervalued in many leagues.

Matt Shoemaker (RHP, LAA) quietly posted the best skills of any SP in the AL during May: 10.6 Dom, 1.1 Ctl, 38% GB%, 177 BPV. And he possessed the best command sub-indicators in the game during that month: 16.7% SwK%, 76% FpK%, 31% ball%. With two legit off-speed punchout pitches (20.8% SwK% on changeup, 20.7% SwK% on slider) and a 3.0+ Cmd against both LH and RH bats, Shoemaker is someone worth using in stretches when his off-speed stuff is keeping hitters off balance.

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Mike Foltynewicz (RHP, ATL) is a high-octane post-hype prospect who started to produce roster-worthy surface stats in May (3.95 ERA, 1.35 WHIP). And his skills supported even better marks than those: 7.9 Dom, 2.0 Ctl, 40% GB%, 107 BPV. He did a very good job at getting strike one (66% FpK%). He still needs to find the pitch mix that will help him make the most of his strong raw stuff, since his 8.5% SwK% is more mediocre than impactful. Still, he's someone worth putting on your radar again in deep leagues.

Jonathan Gray (RHP, COL) is a former top prospect who started to fit that billing in May, in spite of a 4+ ERA: 9.7 Dom, 2.9 Ctl, 45% GB%, 118 BPV. His 95.6-mph four-seam fastball was one of the best in the NL, and his 11.7 SwK% confirms that he can generate swings-and-misses. Gray remains a great end-rotation stash, especially in keeper leagues.

Jeremy Hellickson (RHP, PHI) is another SP who posted a 4+ ERA in May due to no fault of his own (115 BPV). A 20% hr/f inflated his ERA. With an elite 13.2% SwK% in May, Hellickson is missing bats again at a level that should help him sustain these kind of flashes.

Steven Matz (LHP, NYM) was one of the most-skilled SP in MLB during May. The key was pinpoint control and an ability to induce groundballs at a high rate: 8.8 Dom, 0.6 Ctl, 56% GB%, 175 BPV. His pinpoint control came with the support of a 69% FpK% and 30% ball%. A 20% H% and 87% S% helped a lot too, but as a young SP who knows how to pitch, a healthy Matz remains an strong hold.

Aaron Nola (RHP, PHI) has emerged as one of the better SP in the NL. Check out both his May stats (2.73 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) and skills: 9.0 Dom, 1.6 Ctl, 65% GB%, 161 BPV. And both his strikeouts and walks came with pretty solid underlying support (10.0% SwK%, 34% ball%). No reason to sell high here.

Robbie Ray (LHP, ARI) has become an intriguing end-rotation target in 5x5 leagues given his strikeout ability (11.1 Dom in May). It was a component of some near-elite skills that he posted that month: 11.1 Dom, 3.7 Ctl, 49% GB%, 128 BPV. One warning sign is his 9.7% SwK%, which doesn't fully support all of those strikeouts. But he remains worth using in deep leagues.

Jeff Samardzija (RHP, SF) was rolling in May, both on the surface (1.41 ERA, 0.89 WHIP) and beneath it: 8.5 Dom, 1.4 Ctl, 46% GB%, 138 BPV. That top-shelf command came with the support of elite command sub-indicators: 11.6% SwK%, 67% FpK%, 32% ball%. He's another excellent hold.

Alex Wood (LHP, LA) quietly posted the best skills in May of any SP not named Kershaw: 13.1 Dom, 1.5 Ctl, 44% GB%, 217 BPV. His second-level peripherals were strong too: 12.6% SwK%, 67% FpK%, 34% ball%. A 24% hr/f was the only reason his ERA stayed above 3.00 in May.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.