STARTERS: BPV leaders, May 2017

Let's continue our monthly look back at the starting pitchers who posted the best skills during the previous month.

First, here were the aggregate stats and skills posted by starting pitchers in May 2017, segregated by league. It was a good month for hitters:

May 2017 Baselines*

Lg   ERA   WHIP | Ctl  Dom  HR/9  GB% |  H%/S%   hr/f | FAv   SwK%  FpK%  Ball% | BPV
===  ====  ==== | ===  ===  ====  === | =======  ==== | ====  ====  ====  ===== | ===
AL   4.56  1.36 | 3.2  7.8   1.5  43% | 30%/71%   15% | 92.6  9.6%   60%    37% |  77
NL   4.63  1.38 | 3.3  7.7   1.3  46% | 31%/70%   15% | 92.5  9.5%   61%    36% |  75
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
MLB  4.59  1.37 | 3.2  7.8   1.4  45% | 31%/71%   15% | 92.6  9.6%   61%    37% |  76
*starting pitchers only

***

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:

100+ BPV, May 2017*

Name            Lg  Ctl  Dom   HR/9  GB%  H%/S%   hr/f  FAv   SwK%  FpK%  Ball%  BPV
==============  ==  ===  ====  ====  ===  ======  ====  ====  ====  ====  =====  ===
Wood, A         NL  2.2  13.0   0.0  76%  37/86%    0%   n/a  13.4%  71%    33%  228
Samardzija, J   NL  0.2  10.8   0.9  42%  37/72%   11%  93.8  11.3%  69%    31%  209
Karns, N        AL  1.6  12.9   1.2  33%  32/89%   12%  93.2  14.8%  61%    35%  200
Archer, C       AL  2.7  13.1   0.7  51%  35/63%   11%  95.9  14.0%  62%    35%  191
Scherzer, M     NL  1.9  12.4   1.2  37%  25/83%   14%  94.2  16.3%  67%    30%  188
Sale, C         AL  2.2  12.9   1.1  37%  33/62%   13%  95.2  14.8%  61%    34%  187
Greinke, Z      NL  1.5  11.1   1.5  43%  21/67%   17%  90.4  16.0%  66%    32%  180
Keuchel, D      AL  1.8   9.4   0.7  76%  29/74%   33%  87.7  10.4%  64%    37%  174
Estrada, M      AL  1.6  10.5   1.4  33%  31/74%   13%  90.1  12.4%  59%    31%  155
Nelson, J       NL  2.0  10.1   0.7  48%  34/83%   10%  93.7  11.3%  66%    32%  155
Bauer, T        AL  3.2  11.9   1.6  47%  37/62%   21%  93.9   9.0%  55%    38%  154
Anderson, T     NL  2.7  10.6   1.2  56%  37/76%   24%  92.5  13.8%  68%    33%  151
Strasburg, S    NL  3.1  12.0   0.6  40%  33/76%    7%  95.5  12.1%  61%    33%  151
Cueto, J        NL  1.8   9.9   1.1  40%  31/69%   14%  91.8  12.3%  65%    36%  148
Pomeranz, D     AL  3.1  11.4   0.9  44%  38/71%   11%  90.6  11.9%  61%    36%  144
Porcello, R     AL  1.0   8.5   1.0  36%  40/77%    8%  92.3  10.7%  71%    30%  142
McCullers, L    AL  2.5   9.2   0.5  65%  23/93%   13%  94.3  11.9%  55%    37%  141
Tanaka, M       AL  2.0   9.9   3.2  40%  41/59%   29%  91.1  13.9%  58%    34%  141
Kershaw, C      NL  1.6   8.6   1.3  49%  29/87%   18%  93.0  12.5%  67%    33%  141
Arrieta, J      NL  2.4   9.9   1.3  40%  36/71%   13%  92.0  11.2%  65%    35%  131
Manaea, S       AL  2.6  10.1   1.1  37%  21/78%   13%  92.1  14.8%  60%    34%  126
Hendricks, K    NL  1.8   7.9   0.9  54%  30/73%   14%  86.0   9.5%  62%    36%  125
Name            Lg  Ctl  Dom   HR/9  GB%  H%/S%   hr/f  FAv   SwK%  FpK%  Ball%  BPV
==============  ==  ===  ====  ====  ===  ======  ====  ====  ====  ====  =====  ===
Perez, M        AL  1.5   7.6   0.6  49%  36/68%    8%  93.9   7.1%  59%    38%  125
Severino, L     AL  2.9   9.4   0.8  54%  34/81%   12%  97.4  11.4%  63%    35%  124
Ray, R          NL  2.8  10.5   0.7  33%  24/75%    8%  94.1  13.7%  63%    37%  124
Perdomo, L      NL  2.9   8.7   1.1  65%  34/66%   18%  93.9  10.2%  63%    37%  122
Pineda, M       AL  2.3   8.4   1.7  54%  24/77%   23%  93.0  13.8%  62%    34%  120
Carrasco, C     AL  2.7   9.3   0.9  47%  27/66%   11%  94.3  12.2%  51%    37%  120
Biagini, J      AL  2.3   7.7   0.8  63%  30/68%   12%  93.4  11.7%  69%    32%  117
deGrom, J       NL  4.5  11.9   1.5  45%  37/72%   21%  94.9  13.2%  63%    35%  117
Velasquez, V    NL  2.8   9.7   1.9  40%  34/71%   21%  94.2  11.3%  69%    31%  117
Lester, J       NL  3.5  10.3   1.0  47%  31/71%   14%  91.2  13.5%  60%    37%  115
Tomlin, J       AL  0.3   6.1   1.4  35%  27/70%   12%  86.6   9.1%  73%    29%  115
Fulmer, M       AL  1.5   6.8   0.0  53%  33/80%    0%  95.5  10.2%  63%    34%  114
Gray, S         AL  2.6   8.1   1.3  60%  30/66%   22%  93.4  10.3%  65%    36%  114
Berrios, J      AL  2.7   9.1   1.0  43%  18/72%   10%  94.0  10.5%  62%    35%  112
Martinez, C     NL  2.6   8.3   0.8  53%  21/83%   11%  96.4   9.9%  62%    33%  110
Lackey, J       NL  3.3   9.9   2.0  40%  37/73%   19%  91.1  12.7%  70%    34%  107
Godley, Z       NL  2.5   7.2   0.3  65%  27/79%    8%  90.5  13.7%  62%    37%  105
Rodriguez, E    AL  2.0   7.9   0.3  38%  29/72%    3%  93.6   9.8%  65%    33%  105
Quintana, J     AL  2.6   8.7   1.3  37%  33/57%   12%  91.7   7.5%  75%    36%  103
Richard, C      NL  2.2   7.4   0.8  52%  34/69%   14%  90.4   7.7%  63%    33%  103
Andriese, M     AL  3.1   9.0   1.1  46%  30/81%   13%  92.2  10.4%  56%    37%  103
Chacin, J       NL  3.0   8.4   1.5  54%  37/67%   18%  91.4   8.9%  61%    36%  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 may be available in deep leagues.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Trevor Bauer (RHP, CLE) quietly put up some of the best skills in the AL during the month of May. Behind his 5.82 ERA and 1.41 WHIP was this elite skill base: 11.9 Dom, 3.2 Ctl, 47% GB%, 154 BPV. A 37% H%, 62% S%, and 21% hr/f combined to torpedo his surface stats. Just note that Bauer's history of inconsistency is likely to continue, as his command sub-indicators gave little support to his skills: 9.0% SwK%, 55% FpK%, 38% ball%.

Jose Berrios (RHP, MIN) had a big debut month with MIN after being recalled from Triple-A. He had a great 2.70 ERA and 0.79 WHIP over his four starts, and those marks were backed by pretty strong skills: 9.1 Dom, 2.7 Ctl, 43% GB%, 112 BPV. His command sub-indicators were pretty solid too: 10.5% SwK%, 62% FpK%, 35% ball%. There will be ups-and-downs here, and as his 18% H% regresses, his ERA will head north. But there's a lot to like here in keeper leagues.

Joe Biagini (RHP, TOR) had a big second half in 2016 out of the TOR bullpen. He transitioned to a starting role in May and didn't skip a beat: 7.7 Dom, 2.3 Ctl, 63% GB%, 117 BPV. He threw strikes early (69% FpK%) and often (32% ball%). He missed bats too (11.7% SwK%). Add a top GB tilt to the mix and you've got a sterling speculation.

Mike Clevinger (RHP, CLE) remains a work-in-progress. He still struggles against lefties (2.0 Cmd) and walks too many batters (4.3 Ctl). But he flashed his upside in May, as he missed bats at a very high rate (12.7% SwK%). Throwing more strikes (39% ball%) would help him consolidate his progress.

Sonny Gray (RHP, OAK) finally started to resemble the budding rotation anchor in May that he used to be. Underneath his near-5 ERA were these skills: 8.1 Dom, 2.6 Ctl, 60% GB%, 114 BPV. He missed bats at a decent clip (10.3% SwK%) and got ahead of hitters (65% FpK%). We need to see more, but if you want to speculate on a former high-upside SP, this is a good place to do so.

Nate Karns (RHP, KC) is on the disabled list due to an extensor strain. Before that, he flashed some electric skills over four starts in May: 12.9 Dom, 1.6 Ctl, 33% GB%, 200 BPV. His top-level command was backed by a 14.8% SwK% and decent 61% FpK% and 35% ball%. He's someone worth speculating on once he gets healthy.

Sean Manaea (LHP, OAK) entered 2017 as one of the best breakout targets in the game. He started to produce at that level in May (2.63 ERA, 0.88 WHIP). And those marks weren't flukes. They were backed by a 126 BPV, which in turn had the support of his 14.8% SwK% and 34% ball%.

Joe Musgrove (RHP, HOU) is a young SP who is on the DL due to a minor shoulder issue. He had a rough May before getting injured (4.91 ERA, 1.52 WHIP), and his aggregate skills that month were far from impactful (78 BPV). That said, tuck away the top 13.1% SwK% he posted that month. There's some nice upside here.

Martin Perez (LHP, TEX) had a mediocre 4.11 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in May. Skill-seekers will note that he posted an upper-tier 125 BPV that month. Problem is, his 7.1% SwK%, 59% FpK%, and 38% ball% gave no support to the elite command he displayed. We need to see more to view him as a speculative target again.

Drew Pomeranz (LHP, BOS) posted a rough 4.30 ERA and 1.40 WHIP during May. Those marks were driven up by a 38% H% more than anything else. His skills featured plenty of strikeouts: 11.4 Dom, 3.1 Ctl, 38% GB%, 144 BPV. They were backed by an 11.9% SwK% too.

Chris Sale (LHP, BOS) seemingly took a step back in May (4.24 ERA), but that mark was due to a 33% H%, 62% S%, and 13% hr/f more than his own doing. His skills remained top-notch: 12.9 Dom, 2.2 Ctl, 37% GB%, 187 BPV. No reason to worry here.

Luis Severino (RHP, NYY) proved in May that his electric April was no fluke. His sub-3 ERA in May was backed by these skills: 9.4 Dom, 2.9 Ctl, 54% GB%, 124 BPV. With an upper-90s fastball and newfound ability to attack the lower part of the strike zone and in turn generate groundballs, Severino has the goods to continue this run.

Masahiro Tanaka (RHP, NYY) had a horrible 8.42 ERA and 1.77 WHIP in May, giving reason for worry that there is something wrong with him. Fortunately his skills that month suggested completely the opposite: 9.9 Dom, 2.0 Ctl, 40% GB%, 141 BPV. His 13.9% SwK% and 34% ball% gave support to his excellent command. His struggles were the product of a 41% H%, 59% S%, and 29% hr/f. Now's a great time to buy low on Tanaka.

Josh Tomlin (RHP, CLE) remains another good buy-low target. He completely turned things around after a horrible April. He had a 3.58 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in May, marks that were supported by a 115 BPV and plenty of strike-throwing (73% FpK%, 29% ball%).
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Tyler Anderson (LHP, COL) remains wildly inconsistent, as his overall 5.85 ERA and 1.48 WHIP would seem to indicate. But his skills in May were some of the best in MLB: 10.6 Dom, 2.7 Ctl, 56% GB%, 151 BPV. And few SP had better command support than Anderson did: 13.8% SwK%, 68% FpK%, 33% ball%. Blame a 37% H% and 24% hr/f for his surface struggles. Buy-low targets don't get much better than Anderson.

Jacob deGrom (RHP, NYM) is another SP who posted some bad surface stats in May (4.95 ERA, 1.54 WHIP). But behind those marks were very good skills: 11.9 Dom, 4.5 Ctl, 45% GB%, 117 BPV. He missed bats at a top clip too (13.2% SwK%). A 37% H% and 21% hr/f combined to erode his surface stats.

Zack Godley (RHP, ARI) put up an elite 2.20 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in May. While his skills weren't good enough to support those numbers (105 BPV), they were very good by themselves. And his 13.7% SwK% suggests that his 7.2 Dom that month has some sneaky upside. Take the advantage to stash him now that he has been demoted to the minors.

Zack Greinke (RHP, ARI) resembled a rotation anchor again in May: 11.1 Dom, 1.5 Ctl, 43% GB%, 180 BPV. His swinging strike rate was one of the best in MLB (16.0% SwK%), and he did a great job with attacking the strike zone (66% FpK%, 32% ball%). Those who bought low on Greinke heading into the season are in a good position to glean significant profit from him.

Kyle Hendricks (RHP, CHC) turned things around in May after a rough April. His skills showed plenty of life in May: 7.9 Dom, 1.8 Ctl, 54% GB%, 125 BPV. Just keep in mind that his command surge did not come with full underlying support. His control sub-indicators were more average than good (62% FpK%, 36% ball%).

John Lackey (RHP, CHC) has been dumped in some shallow leagues after his rough May (5.27 ERA, 1.57 WHIP). Those ugly stats were the results of a 37% H% and 19% hr/f though. His underlying skill foundation was solid (107 BPV). And his command sub-indicators were even better: 12.7% SwK%, 70% FpK%, 34% ball%.

Jon Lester (LHP, CHC) is another upper-tier SP who had a rough May (4.00 ERA). Before you look to sell him, note that his skills were very good: 10.3 Dom, 3.5 Ctl, 47% GB%, 115 BPV. His stuff is still really good (13.5% SwK%). A bout of wildness cost him at times, and it was driven by a high 37% ball%.

Jimmy Nelson (RHP, MIL) found himself among the top-10 most skilled SP during the month of May: 10.1 Dom, 2.0 Ctl, 48% GB%, 155 BPV. Those marks were backed by this trifecta of supporting skills too: 11.3% SwK%, 66% FpK%, 32% ball%. It remains to be seen if Nelson is on the verge of turning a corner, but if May was any indication, he might be.

Luis Perdomo (RHP, SD) had a rough 5+ ERA in May, but beneath those skills were a surprisingly intriguing skill foundation that featured strikeouts and a ton of groundballs: 8.7 Dom, 2.9 Ctl, 65% GB%, 122 BPV. A 18% hr/f was the reason for his inflated ERA. This remains a good time to speculate on Perdomo.

Robbie Ray (LHP, ARI) is another SP who entered the 2017 season as a legit breakout target. He didn't look ready to live up to that billing in April, but he looked like a true ace in May (2.56 ERA, 0.91 WHIP). Those stats were backed by very good skills too: 10.5 Dom, 2.8 Ctl, 33% GB%, 124 BPV. And few arms missed more bats in May than Ray did (13.7% SwK%).

Jeff Samardzija (RHP, SF) posted some of the best skills of any SP in May: 10.8 Dom, 0.2 Ctl, 42% GB%, 209 BPV. And those skills were supported by an 11.3% SwK%, 69% FpK%, and 31% ball%. While Samardzija still struggles to be consistent, these kind of skill flashes remind us that he has rotation-anchor upside.


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