KNOWLEDGE DROP 4/17/2018 Lefty Grove Edition*
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*Our leading #10 is Hall-of-Famer Lefty Grove who, in 17 seasons, went 300-141, with a 3.06 ERA. He is 27th all time in WAR with 106.1. He won the ERA title nine times was the MVP in 1931 (31-4, 2.06 ERA, 27 complete games in 30 starts and 288.2 IP). Shoutout to the great Chipper Jones, another all-time #10.
TOP KNOWLEDGE – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW NOW
Pardon me, do you happen to have any Jameson Taillon … We profiled Gerrit Cole’s electric start in our last Knowledge Drop, so we thought it appropriate to not only take a look at the Pirates’ new #1 starter, but someone who has gotten off a similarly great opening to 2018 – Jameson Taillon.
Taillon missed a few weeks battling testicular cancer last year and we remarkable in his return before running out of gas in the second half. Frankly, we won’t even look at 2017 stats for Taillon since it was such a deeply personal season we think the stats mean very little if anything.
But we can look at his Aprils from this year and last to gauge performance, approach, and skills.
Taillon fared well in April last year, but was mostly lucky: 2.08 ERA, (3.98 xFIP), .232 average with 24Ks and 12 walks. He had a high strand rate that kept his ERA in check but his wildness, particularly with his curveball, made April a difficult month despite his results. Here are his curveballs from April 2017.
Now here are his curveball’s from this season:
It’s a tighter grouping this season as Taillon has not been wide of the plate by nearly as much and seems to be hanging fewer breaking balls in the zone. Not pictured is increased horizontal movement of the curveball as well. Better “stuff” that’s better located will make you a winner most often.
He’s whiffing more hitters this April. Taillon will never be confused for Chris Sale, but his 8.0 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 rates are far brighter than the 7.1 and 3.6 marks last April. He’s 2-0 with a 0.89 ERA and on his way to a big season. If he can keep that curveball in the lower 2/3 of the strike zone, and underneath, he’s primed for a big year.
Not a crime boss, but pitching like a boss … Padres rookie Joey Lucchesi sounds more like a New Jersey crime boss than an effective left-handed pitcher, but he’s been whiffing and not whackin’ guys …. uh, let start over. Lucchesi has been great. He’s had four major league starts, so let’s not have a parade for him, but check it out:
2-0, 1.66 ERA, 25 Ks in 22 IP, with just 4 walks. He’s surrendered just 17 hits (good for a WHIP below 1.00). Lucchesi was a fourth round pick in 2016 and wasn’t tabbed to start the season in the bigs. But a combination of an impressive spring and injury on the Padres roster has enabled San Diego to showcase him. He was an about 50 percent ground ball pitcher in the minors and struck out about 10 hitters per nine, both trends we love. Here is what we are worried about:
He’s a fastball-curveball pitcher. And although they appear to be great pitches, Lucchesi needs a third pitch (sinker and two-seams are variations on the same pitch), and he needs it now. Once he’s been through the league a couple of months, hitters will figure him out. So while we’ve developed a crush on Lucchesi’s stuff and his solid start, and we urge you to pick him up, we also know that crushes can become flushes pretty quickly.
We’ll track Lucchesi’s outings and pitch selections moving forward. Stay tuned.
A THOUSAND WORDS
Today, we look at Taillon’s pitch selection and frequency in 2018, to compare it to Lucchesi’s. Not only is he approaching lefties and righties a bit differently, his curveball spin rates jump out at us. Having another fastball and having four different pitches to throw to lefties is a huge asset, and one Lucchesi needs to develop.
RIDDLE ME THIS:
What day comes three days after the day which comes two days after the day which comes immediately after the day which comes to days after Monday?
None of you lolligaggers sent in a correct guess to Sunday’s riddle: Because it is impossible to guess three fruits correctly and there were 10 people left, then 10 of them had to guess the four fruits correctly.
DAD JOKE OF THE DAY:
How did the farmer find his missing wife?
He tractor down.
WHAT WE ARE READING:
We don’t spend quite all of our time working to make your Fantasy sports teams better. We are voracious readers — books, magazines, and we love long-form journalism.
If you follow Keith Hernandez’s newly active Twitter account (@keithhernandez), you’ve been rewarded with Keith’s fashion choices, the arrival of his new Strat-O-Matic card sets and pictures of his cat. (As well as his take on the Mets). This weekend he pointed us to Bill Nack’s profile of him in Sports Illustrated in 1986. Nack died this weekend — but please do enjoy his work.
The Stacks Reader @TheStacksReader
R.I.P. Bill Nack—a lyrical giant of a writer. Check out his terrific 1986 SI profile of @keithhernandez: on.si.com/2H2bnpC
Knowledge Next Drops Thursday, April 19.