STARTERS: Command sub-indicator surgers, 2017

Starting pitchers with improving command sub-indicators can make for excellent stretch-run targets, especially when they are posting mediocre surface stats or skills.

For reference, you can review our research of each command sub-indicator here:

Let's take a closer look at SP whose command sub-indicators have surged from 2016 to 2017 and within 2017.

These SP have posted a wide change in their swinging strike rate from 2016 to 2017:

  • Swinging Strike Rate (SwK%) - 2017 YTD vs. 2016*
    
    Name                 League  SwK% '16  SwK% '17  Diff
    ===================  ======  ========  ========  ====
    Salazar, Danny           AL     11%       16%     +5%
    Severino, Luis           AL      8%       12%     +4%
    Nelson, Jimmy            NL      7%       12%     +4%
    Sale, Chris              AL     11%       15%     +4%
    Gray, Sonny              AL      8%       12%     +4%
    Kluber, Corey            AL     13%       17%     +4%
    Tanaka, Masahiro         AL     11%       15%     +4%
    deGrom, Jacob            NL     11%       14%     +3%
    Godley, Zack             NL     11%       14%     +3%
    Clevinger, Mike          AL     10%       13%     +3%
    Wood, Alex               NL     10%       13%     +3%
    Greinke, Zack            NL     10%       13%     +3%
    Karns, Nate              AL     10%       13%     +3%
    *min 40 IP each season

These SP have experienced the biggest increase in their SwK% from the 1H to 2H:

  • Swinging Strike Rate (SwK%) - 2017 2H vs. 1H*
    
    Name                 League  SwK% 1H  SwK% 2H  Diff
    ===================  ======  =======  =======  ====
    Darvish, Yu              AL    11%      17%     +6%
    Gausman, Kevin           AL    10%      14%     +4%
    Santana, Ervin           AL     9%      13%     +4%
    Roark, Tanner            NL     9%      13%     +4%
    Boyd, Matt               AL     8%      12%     +4%
    Nova, Ivan               NL     8%      11%     +4%
    Hamels, Cole             AL     7%      11%     +4%
    Marquez, German          NL     8%      12%     +4%
    Kluber, Corey            AL    16%      19%     +3%
    Miranda, Ariel           AL    10%      13%     +3%
    Hernandez, Felix         AL     9%      12%     +3%
    Corbin, Patrick          NL    11%      14%     +3%
    Verlander, Justin        AL     9%      12%     +3%
    Richard, Clayton         NL     8%      11%     +3%
    Dickey, R.A.             NL     8%      11%     +3%
    Mejia, Adalberto         AL     9%      12%     +3%
    Snell, Blake             AL     9%      11%     +3%
    Foltynewicz, Mike        NL     8%      11%     +3%
    *min 20 IP each half

The following SP are putting up a first-pitch strike rate (FpK%) that is significantly higher than what they showed in 2016:

  • First Pitch Strike Rate (FpK%) - 2017 YTD vs. 2016*
    
    Name                 League  FpK% '16  FpK% '17  Diff
    ===================  ======  ========  ========  ====
    Godley, Zack             NL     52%       63%    +12%
    Corbin, Patrick          NL     56%       64%     +9%
    Peralta, Wily            NL     56%       64%     +8%
    Griffin, A.J.            AL     57%       65%     +8%
    Ross, Joe                NL     56%       64%     +7%
    Gonzalez, Miguel         AL     61%       67%     +6%
    Salazar, Danny           AL     54%       60%     +6%
    Santana, Ervin           AL     59%       65%     +6%
    Gallardo, Yovani         AL     54%       59%     +5%
    Nelson, Jimmy            NL     58%       63%     +5%
    Wacha, Michael           NL     59%       64%     +5%
    Berrios, Jose            AL     55%       60%     +5%
    Clevinger, Mike          AL     56%       61%     +5%
    *min 40 IP each season

These guys have increased their FpK% the most from the 1H to 2H:

  • First Pitch Strike Rate (FpK%) - 2017 2H vs. 1H*
    
    Name                 League  FpK% 1H  FpK% 2H  Diff
    ===================  ======  =======  =======  ====
    Darvish, Yu              NL    58%       73%   +15%
    Zimmermann, Jordan       AL    64%       78%   +14%
    Castillo, Luis           NL    47%       58%   +11%
    Cashner, Andrew          NL    57%       68%   +11%
    Paxton, James            NL    63%       73%   +10%
    Santana, Ervin           AL    63%       72%   +10%
    Morton, Charlie          AL    59%       68%    +9%
    Salazar, Danny           AL    59%       68%    +9%
    Pivetta, Nick            NL    56%       65%    +9%
    Eickhoff, Jerad          NL    56%       63%    +7%
    Nova, Ivan               NL    63%       70%    +7%
    Mejia, Adalberto         AL    56%       62%    +6%
    Wacha, Michael           NL    62%       68%    +6%
    Manaea, Sean             AL    61%       67%    +6%
    Gonzalez, Gio            NL    53%       59%    +6%
    Gonzalez, Miguel         AL    65%       71%    +5%
    Bundy, Dylan             AL    58%       63%    +5%
    Conley, Adam             NL    55%       60%    +5%
    Fiers, Mike              AL    59%       64%    +5%
    Hellickson, Jeremy       AL    59%       63%    +5%
    *min 20 IP each half

This group of SP has lowered their ball percentage the most from 2016 to 2017:

  • Ball Percentage (Ball%) - 2017 YTD vs. 2016*
    
    Name                 League  Ball% '16  Ball% '17  Diff
    ===================  ======  =========  =========  ====
    Nelson, Jimmy            NL      37%        32%     -5%
    Berrios, Jose            AL      42%        38%     -4%
    McCarthy, Brandon        NL      38%        34%     -4%
    Corbin, Patrick          NL      39%        36%     -4%
    Richard, Clayton         NL      38%        34%     -4%
    Severino, Luis           AL      37%        34%     -3%
    Anderson, Chase          NL      39%        37%     -2%
    Straily, Dan             NL      36%        34%     -2%
    Estrada, Marco           AL      37%        35%     -2%
    Kluber, Corey            AL      34%        32%     -2%
    Griffin, A.J.            AL      37%        34%     -2%
    Ross, Joe                NL      36%        34%     -2%
    Hernandez, Felix         AL      37%        36%     -2%
    Gallardo, Yovani         AL      41%        39%     -2%
    Sale, Chris              AL      33%        31%     -2%
    Karns, Nate              AL      38%        36%     -2%
    Salazar, Danny           AL      37%        36%     -2%
    Eflin, Zach              NL      36%        34%     -2%
    Wood, Alex               NL      35%        33%     -2%
    Velasquez, Vincent       NL      36%        35%     -2%
    Santana, Ervin           AL      38%        37%     -2%
    *min 40 IP each season

Finally, the following SP have decreased their ball percentage the most from the 1H to 2H:

  • Ball Percentage (Ball%) - 2017 2H vs. 1H*
    
    Name                 League  Ball% 1H  Ball% 2H  Diff
    ===================  ======  ========  ========  ====
    Conley, Adam             NL     40%       32%     -9%
    Darvish, Yu              NL     36%       28%     -8%
    Paxton, James            AL     35%       30%     -6%
    Zimmermann, Jordan       AL     36%       30%     -6%
    Cashner, Andrew          AL     39%       34%     -5%
    Gray, Jon                NL     39%       34%     -5%
    Manaea, Sean             AL     36%       32%     -4%
    Hamels, Cole             AL     40%       35%     -4%
    Snell, Blake             AL     43%       38%     -4%
    Colon, Bartolo           AL     34%       30%     -4%
    Gausman, Kevin           AL     39%       35%     -4%
    Gonzalez, Gio            NL     40%       36%     -4%
    Salazar, Danny           AL     36%       33%     -4%
    Fiers, Mike              AL     37%       34%     -4%
    Perez, Martin            AL     40%       36%     -3%
    Nova, Ivan               NL     34%       31%     -3%
    Hill, Rich               NL     35%       31%     -3%
    deGrom, Jacob            NL     34%       30%     -3%
    Bundy, Dylan             AL     36%       33%     -3%
    Morton, Charlie          AL     38%       35%     -3%
    Hendricks, Kyle          NL     38%       35%     -3%
    Verlander, Justin        AL     36%       33%     -3%
    Pivetta, Nick            NL     38%       35%     -3%
    Walker, Taijuan          NL     37%       34%     -3%
    Mejia, Adalberto         AL     38%       35%     -3%
    Duffy, Danny             AL     35%       32%     -3%
    Bridwell, Parker         AL     37%       35%     -3%
    *min 20 IP each half

Here is a closer look at several SP in each league with the most intriguing command sub-indicator improvements.
 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Matt Boyd (LHP, DET) remains a high-risk target, but if you play in a really deep league, he could be worth a late-season look. He has posted a 12% SwK% over his last five starts, a reminder of the type of skills he flashed in the second half of 2016, as well as the elite command he showed this spring. A 38% H% and 64% S% have kept his ERA above 5.00.

Dylan Bundy (RHP, BAL) still owns a 4+ ERA for the year, but if you want to speculate on a high-upside arm down the stretch, this is a prime place to do so. Bundy's stats in the second half have been excellent (3.42 ERA, 0.95 WHIP). And his skills have been very good in the 2H (108 BPV). His 2H command sub-indicators give him even more skill growth potential: 12% SwK%, 63% FpK%, 33% ball%.

Mike Clevinger (RHP, CLE) hasn't been a valuable pitcher in the second half (4.78 ERA, 1.59 WHIP in 26 IP). Still, check out Clevinger's swinging strike rate by month: 14%, 16%, 11%, 13% SwK%. With a 41% ball%, it's clear why he continues to struggle with walks; he'll need to make big headway there in order to have a sustained impact as a SP. Still, his strikeout potential should keep him on your radar.

Kevin Gausman (RHP, BAL) has enjoyed a huge surge in the second half of 2017. He has posted a 14% SwK% and 63% FpK%, which have helped drive his very solid surface stats (3.50 ERA, 1.28 WHIP). His ERA would be even better if not for a 25% hr/f during that period. Gausman remains an excellent stretch-run speculation.

Sonny Gray (RHP, NYY) is resembling an ace so far in the second half (1.48 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 131 BPV in 24 IP). With a 14% SwK% so far in the 2H, Gray's 9.6 Dom is legit. And his 56% GB% for the year indicates that he doesn't stand a strong shot of being homer-prone in Yankee Stadium.

Danny Salazar (RHP, CLE) isn't for the risk-averse, as both his health and results historically have been volatile. That said, Salazar has made some huge gains in his command sub-indicators so far in 2017 (16% SwK%, 60% FpK%, 36% ball%). He's another high-upside pitcher who has the potential to provide ace-like results down the stretch.

Ervin Santana (RHP, MIN) seemingly has faded since the All-Star Break (4.35 ERA). But owners looking for a veteran pitcher to speculate on could do much worse than targeting Santana. He has an excellent 13% SwK% and elite 72% FpK% so far in the second half.

Luis Severino (RHP, NYY) is on his way to a full breakout in 2017. It's been no fluke either. He has posted a 154 BPV so far this season, and underneath it have been a 12% SwK%, 64% FpK%, and 34% ball%, all of which are huge gains over what he showed in 2016 (8% SwK%, 60% FpK%, 37% ball%).

Masahiro Tanaka (RHP, NYY) has posted elite skills so far in the second half (173 BPV), and his surface stats finally are following suit (3.13 ERA, 0.98 WHIP). Credit a more normalized 29% H% and 77% S% for that. With a 15% SwK% and 34% ball% over his last handful of starts, Tanaka has the goods to post a 3.00 ERA from here on out.

Jordan Zimmermann (RHP, DET) is another high-risk pitcher who will be avoided in many leagues. Still, there are some tiny signs that Zimmermann finally could provide some positive value in very deep leagues down the stretch. He has tapped back into his strike-throwing ways so far in the second half (78% FpK%, 30% ball%) and has put up a 3.45 ERA and 1.28 WHIP over his last five starts in spite of some shaky overall skills.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Patrick Corbin (LHP, ARI) owns a near-elite 118 BPV in the second half as a result of a 9.9 Dom, 3.0 Ctl, and 42% GB%. Few SP have posted a better swinging strike rate in the 2H than Corbin (14% SwK%). In fact, both his swinging and first-pitch strike rates have surged from 2016 to 2017 and from the 1H to 2H of 2017. He has been victimized by a 37% H% and 18% hr/f so far this season.

Yu Darvish (RHP, LA) has looked like a true ace in the second half, even if his surface stats (5.33 ERA) might not suggest it. Check out his elite 2H skills: 11.7 Dom, 1.8 Ctl, 40% GB%, 181 BPV. And no other SP in MLB owns a better collection of 2H command sub-indicators than Darvish does: 17% SwK%, 73% FpK%, 28% ball%. Darvish has a great shot at having a dominant finish.

Zack Godley (RHP, ARI) has posted a nifty 2.94 ERA and 1.02 WHIP so far this season. Those numbers have been backed by a 123 BPV, which has the support of a 14% SwK% and 63% FpK%. Those marks are huge steps forward from the 11% SwK% and 52% FpK% Godley put up in 2016.

Jon Gray (RHP, COL) owns a 4.94 ERA and 1.49 WHIP so far in the second half. Blame a 37% H% and 62% S% for those bad stats. His skills for the year have been much more good than bad (109 BPV). He has done a good job with attacking hitters in the second half too. He's getting strike one at a good clip (64% FpK%) and pounding the strike zone pretty well (34% ball%).

German Marquez (RHP, COL) has become much more harder to make contact on in the second half. After posting an 8% SwK% in the first half, Marquez owns a good 12% SwK% so far in the second half. If he can attack the strike zone more often, Marquez has the goods to finish the season strong.

Jimmy Nelson (RHP, MIL) is putting up the best stats and skills of his career, as he's throwing more strikes and getting more swings-and-misses, especially against lefties. Credit a refined knuckle-curve for it. Nelson's command sub-indicator gains compared to 2016 are impressive: +4% SwK%, +5% FpK%, -5% ball%.

Ivan Nova (RHP, PIT) quietly has gone on a nice run since the All-Star Break. He has a 126 BPV since then, and that mark has been accompanied by some excellent command sub-indicators: 11% SwK%, 70% FpK%, 31% ball%. A crazy 41% H% and 27% hr/f have inflated his surface stats (6.67 ERA, 1.73 WHIP). There's some significant positive regression coming here.

Michael Wacha (RHP, STL) is another post-hype pitcher who is finishing the season with a flourish. He has posted some excellent skills in the second half: 8.4 Dom, 2.0 Ctl, 47% GB%, 122 BPV. And they haven't been a mirage. Check out two of his top-flight command sub-indicators: 11% SwK%, 68% FpK%.


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