STARTERS: BPV leaders, September 2019

Let's wrap up our monthly look back at the starting pitchers who posted the best skills during the final month of 2019 as we start our prep for 2020.

First, here were the aggregate stats and skills posted by starting pitchers in September 2019, segregated by league:

September 2019 Baselines*

Lg   ERA   WHIP | Ctl  Dom  HR/9  GB% | H%/S%  hr/f | FAv   SwK%  FpK%  Ball% | BPV
===  ====  ==== | ===  ===  ====  === | ======  ===   ====  ====  ====  =====   ===
AL   5.06  1.39 | 3.0  8.7   1.5  41% | 32/68%  15% | 93.1  11.2%  62%    36% |  94
NL   4.16  1.27 | 3.1  9.0   1.4  44% | 30/72%  16% | 93.0  10.9%  61%    36% | 100
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
MLB  4.57  1.32 | 3.1  8.8   1.4  43% | 31/70%  16% | 93.0  11.0%  62%    36% |  97
*starting pitchers only

***

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

The benefit of targeting highly-skilled pitchers is clear. Starters with a 100+ BPV during the month of September posted a 3.63 ERA and 1.14 WHIP on average. The stats posted by sub-100 BPV starting pitchers? A 4.76 ERA and 1.40 WHIP.

Here were the most skilled starting pitchers in September:

100+ BPV, September 2019*

Name            Lg  Ctl  Dom   HR/9  GB%  H%/S%   hr/f  FAv   SwK%  FpK%  Ball%  BPV
==============  ==  ===  ====  ====  ===  ======  ====  ====  ====  ====  =====  ===
Darvish, Y      NL  1.4  15.7   0.7  42%  37/75%   13%  94.6  17.5%  68%    31%  266
Cole, G         AL  1.5  15.9   0.9  42%  26/96%   14%  97.4  20.5%  62%    33%  265
Odorizzi, J     AL  1.6  13.5   0.4  40%  37/67%    6%  93.0  16.7%  58%    34%  217
Verlander, J    AL  1.9  13.2   0.7  45%  27/79%   11%  94.5  16.9%  64%    32%  210
Scherzer, M     NL  1.8  13.0   1.8  35%  34/58%   21%  94.9  14.3%  65%    32%  199
Lamet, D        NL  3.3  14.3   1.6  41%  36/78%   24%  96.3  14.1%  66%    34%  189
deGrom, J       NL  1.3  10.5   0.5  54%  24/87%   10%  97.2  14.8%  62%    34%  187
Flaherty, J     NL  1.6  10.8   0.4  47%  17/91%    6%  95.1  17.0%  64%    32%  176
Greinke, Z      AL  0.3   8.3   0.6  50%  28/71%    9%  90.3  13.4%  64%    35%  170
Rodriguez, E    AL  3.1  12.7   0.5  45%  37/74%    6%  93.4  14.6%  64%    38%  167
Lynn, L         AL  2.6  12.5   1.7  32%  30/82%   16%  95.2  14.6%  65%    33%  166
Syndergaard, N  NL  1.8  10.6   1.6  45%  37/68%   22%  97.5  11.9%  68%    31%  165
Morton, C       AL  3.0  11.8   0.6  52%  30/76%   13%  94.7  14.5%  64%    33%  161
Bieber, S       AL  1.1   9.6   1.4  39%  38/82%   14%  92.8  13.2%  64%    35%  161
Porcello, R     AL  1.1   9.4   1.8  42%  35/56%   19%  91.0   9.2%  71%    31%  159
Ryu, H          NL  1.4   9.2   0.7  52%  28/81%   15%  90.9  11.5%  62%    33%  158
Houser, A       NL  2.6  11.1   0.7  48%  32/60%   12%  94.6   9.0%  60%    37%  156
Gray, S         NL  3.0  11.6   0.8  45%  23/63%   13%  93.3  12.0%  59%    37%  151
Bauer, T        NL  2.1  10.6   2.1  37%  23/68%   20%  93.6  13.2%  61%    36%  150
Paxton, J       AL  2.1  10.5   0.4  37%  24/89%    3%  95.3  11.9%  65%    33%  147
Wheeler, Z      NL  1.3   9.3   0.5  36%  33/86%    5%  96.7  12.2%  66%    32%  145
Tanaka, M       AL  0.8   7.8   1.6  44%  35/72%   17%  91.6  12.9%  69%    29%  140
Heaney, A       AL  2.6  11.0   2.9  31%  40/61%   29%   n/a  13.2%  56%    36%  137
Turnbull, S     AL  3.3  11.1   0.3  48%  44/56%    4%  93.9  12.8%  63%    37%  137
Name            Lg  Ctl  Dom   HR/9  GB%  H%/S%   hr/f  FAv   SwK%  FpK%  Ball%  BPV
==============  ==  ===  ====  ====  ===  ======  ====  ====  ====  ====  =====  ===
Hendricks, K    NL  0.9   7.8   0.0  44%  35/68%    0%  86.7  10.3%  66%    29%  137
Velasquez, V    NL  3.4  11.6   1.7  38%  42/74%   19%  93.8   9.8%  60%    36%  132
Clevinger, M    AL  2.5  10.4   0.9  34%  29/79%    9%  94.5  14.8%  66%    36%  131
Smyly, D        NL  3.3  11.0   1.5  43%  32/78%   15%  92.1  12.8%  66%    38%  129
Manaea, S       AL  2.1   9.1   0.9  41%  20/95%   11%  89.8  11.9%  61%    35%  126
DeSclafani, A   NL  2.0   8.1   1.2  55%  19/67%   14%  94.9   8.3%  66%    35%  125
Strasburg, S    NL  3.9  10.8   1.2  57%  22/85%   27%  94.2  10.2%  61%    36%  125
Young, A        NL  3.2  10.4   2.5  45%  29/88%   29%  89.4  15.1%  57%    35%  123
Buchholz, C     AL  2.0   8.3   2.8  49%  39/56%   24%  90.1  10.9%  60%    33%  123
Kelly, M        NL  3.0   9.6   0.8  53%  26/84%   13%  92.9  10.6%  58%    37%  121
Soroka, M       NL  2.7   9.7   2.0  39%  29/78%   23%  92.5  10.7%  59%    39%  119
Berrios, J      AL  2.6   9.2   1.2  45%  31/68%   14%  93.8  12.6%  63%    34%  118
Foltynewicz, M  NL  1.8   7.8   0.9  47%  17/89%   11%  93.7   9.2%  61%    36%  117
Lopez, R        AL  2.3   9.0   2.3  38%  31/70%   19%  95.5  12.6%  67%    33%  115
Stroman, M      NL  2.9   9.3   0.8  49%  34/81%   13%  92.3  10.8%  50%    38%  115
Corbin, P       NL  5.1  12.2   1.6  55%  33/81%   27%  92.8  16.1%  61%    40%  114
Buehler, W      NL  2.9   9.6   1.3  39%  29/66%   15%  96.6  11.4%  62%    33%  112
Ray, R          NL  5.6  14.5   2.0  26%  36/59%   25%  91.5  15.6%  59%    39%  112
Bailey, H       AL  1.9   8.0   0.4  41%  29/78%    4%  93.2  14.4%  64%    34%  111
Alcantara, S    NL  1.9   7.6   1.1  48%  28/83%   13%  96.3  10.4%  64%    32%  110
Beede, T        NL  2.6   8.8   0.7  42%  28/71%    9%  94.9  10.8%  64%    40%  109
Kershaw, C      NL  3.2   9.3   2.0  47%  29/83%   28%  90.3  13.0%  61%    34%  105
Cease, D        AL  5.1  12.0   0.9  48%  31/81%   15%  96.7  12.6%  60%    41%  103
Zimmermann, J   AL  1.1   6.0   2.3  44%  41/51%   19%  90.6   7.6%  61%    35%  100
*min 20 IP

Let's take a closer look at a bunch of noteworthy skill performances in September.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Homer Bailey (RHP, OAK) ended the 2019 season on a pretty nice roll, making him one of the better speculations for those searching for this year's Lance Lynn (RHP, TEX). After posting a mediocre 70 BPV in the first half of 2019, Bailey put up a strong 115 BPV in the second half, including a 110+ BPV in both August and September. Bailey missed tons of bats in September too (14.4% SwK%) while maintaining solid control of home plate (34% ball%).

Dylan Cease (RHP, CHW) flashed some of his upper-rotation upside in September, both on the surface (3.00 ERA in 21 IP) and beneath it: 12.0 Dom, 5.1 Ctl, 48% GB%, 103 BPV. His command sub-indicators reflect his feast-or-famine approach (12.6% SwK%, 41% ball%). Cease had two legit strikeout pitches in September (four-seam fastball, slider) but still needs a third pitch to avoid the ups-and-downs that have plagued him so far.

Andrew Heaney (LHP, LAA) had an ugly 7.66 ERA and 1.66 WHIP in September. That said, his underlying skills were very strong: 11.0 Dom, 2.6 Ctl, 31% GB%, 137 BPV. A 40% H%, 61% S%, and 29% hr/f were the reasons for his bad stats. Combined with Heaney's elite 200 BPV in August, he'll enter 2020 with some breakout potential if he can finally stay healthy for an entire season.

Reynaldo Lopez (RHP, CHW) watched his rotation mate Lucas Giolito (RHP, CHW) blossom into an impact SP in 2019. Could Lopez be next? On the surface, he didn't finish the season on a high note (5.23 ERA, 1.32 WHIP in September). However, Lopez's skills were much better than those stats: 9.0 Dom, 2.3 Ctl, 38% GB%, 115 BPV. His command sub-indicators were even stronger: 12.6% SwK%, 67% FpK%, 33% ball%. Those indicators grew significantly between the 1H and 2H too, and he added nearly 1.5 mph of velocity in the second half. There will be some nice profit potential here in 2020 drafts.

Sean Manaea (LHP, OAK) got healthy late in 2019 and looked like an SP2 during his strong September: 9.1 Dom, 2.1 Ctl, 41% GB%, 126 BPV. While that finish will give him some legit intrigue heading into 2020, his history of shoulder problems and three-year decline in fastball velocity both suggest that he won't be for the risk-averse.

Spencer Turnbull (RHP, DET) is another SP that looked bad on the surface in September (6.51 ERA, 1.59 WHIP in 27 IP). That damage wasn't the result of a lack of skill though. In fact, he was one of the AL's most skilled pitchers in September: 11.1 Dom, 3.3 Ctl, 48% GB%, 137 BPV. His high rate of strikeouts was backed by a lot of whiffs (12.8% SwK%). That said, September was by far Turnbull's most skilled month in 2019, and with DET's collection of young arms likely to make an impact in 2020, he'll need to solve his inconsistency demons quickly to make a sustained impact next season.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Sandy Alcantara (RHP, MIA) put up the third-most innings in the game during September (41 IP). They were productive innings too. He had a nifty 2.59 ERA and 1.10 WHIP that month. And he paired those marks with really good skills: 7.6 Dom, 1.9 Ctl, 48% GB%, 110 BPV. The key for him was pounding pitches over the plate (32% ball%). With a mid-90s fastball, groundball tilt, and a rate of whiffs that was consistently above-average in 2019, Alcantara carries some sneaky breakout upside heading into 2020.

Tyler Beede (RHP, SF) is another young SP that started to fulfill his prior prospect pedigree during stretches in 2019. Beede had a 3.28 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in September, marks that had decent backing from his underlying skills: 8.8 Dom, 2.6 Ctl, 42% GB%, 109 BPV. In fact, Beede posted a 100+ BPV in July, August, and September. His ability to keep the ball on the ground, get ahead of hitters, and miss bats all give Beede a shot to be one of 2020's biggest surprises.

Yu Darvish (RHP, CHC) was the game's most skilled SP during September: 15.7 Dom, 1.4 Ctl, 42% GB%, 266 BPV. His command sub-indicators were just as pristine: 17.5% SwK%, 68% FpK%, 31% ball%. Darvish was filthy during the entire second half (124/7 K/BB in 88 IP). It's a reminder that he possesses legitimate SP1 upside when he's healthy.

Jack Flaherty (RHP, STL) is another pitcher that looked like a rotation anchor in September (0.82 ERA, 0.57 WHIP in 44 IP). Sure, a 17% H%, 91% S%, and 6% hr/f were the drivers of those elite stats. But his skills were some of the best in the game: 10.8 Dom, 1.6 Ctl, 47% GB%, 176 BPV. And they were backed by a 17.0% SwK%, 64% FpK%, and 32% ball%. There's no reason to expect a significant drop-off from Flaherty in 2020.

Adrian Houser (RHP, MIL) will enter 2020 as one of the better speculative targets in the majors. He displayed an enticing combination of strikeouts and groundballs in September: 11.1 Dom, 2.6 Ctl, 48% GB%, 156 BPV. While those marks weren't supported by his command building blocks (9.0% SwK%, 60% FpK%, 37% ball%), he did miss bats and throw strikes at high rates during flashes in 2019.

Dinelson Lamet (RHP, SD) began to emerge late in 2019. He had a 3.68 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in September. His skills were even better: 14.3 Dom, 3.3 Ctl, 41% GB%, 189 BPV. And his command sub-indicators backed them up: 14.1% SwK%, 66% FpK%, 34% ball%. Finally, check out Lamet's skills by month during the final three months of 2019: 130, 130, 189 BPV. Lamet is another emerging young pitcher that carries some intriguing breakout potential moving into 2020.


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