David Price’s average fastball velocity is down 3.1 miles per hour from last year. His average slider velocity is down 1.8 mph. He’s throwing his fastball and slider less and mixing in his change and curve more frequently than he did in 2012. Joe Madden expressed concern over this, and fantasy owners have reason to be concerned as well. His line drive % and home run per fly ball % are both at career highs. As always, small sample size caveats apply, but it’s pretty intuitive that when you throw with less velocity the hitter has more time to square up the baseball. Expect some regression, but only partial unless some of the zip returns to his four-seamer. To be fair, his strikeout rate and walk rate are down only slightly. His BABIP isn’t going to stay at .353 and his 23.9% HR per fly ball rate has nowhere to go but down, but something is just not right down in Tampa.
Matt Cain has seen a slight dip on his fastball, but only 0.5 mph. His K/9 of 7.94 is right on pace with last year, and his walk rate is down slightly. I might be a little irritated at the box score, but if I own Matt Cain I’m not worried. His HR per fly ball rate (15.6%), BABIP (.299), and Left on Base % (56) will all normalize with enough innings.
Julio Teheran was the best pitcher in spring training, racking up a league leading 35 strikeouts and sporting a 1.04 ERA and a 0.62 WHIP. He went undrafted in January drafts but was a bottle rocket shooting up draft boards in March, often going as high as the 11th or 12th round in the NFBC. The preseason stud turned into a dud as soon as the real games began. Still think spring training stats matter?
I was able to watch only two innings of Tony Cingrani’s season debut. He seems like a heady pitcher, changing the eye level of the hitter and working his fastball inside and out. He has a four-seamer that seems to explode up and out of the zone, though Justin Ruggiano caught up to one and pulled it into the left field bleachers. His velocity appears to be effortless, sitting between 91-94 mph, with an occasional changeup under 80 mph. I’m not sure if his breaking ball was a curve or a slider, but it had minimal movement. We’ll see if that’s enough to get it done against better hitters. Too early for any prognostication, other than he’s still a very young lefty that cost too much Sunday night for my tastes. Jose Fernandez went for over $800 in my NFBC league. Cingrani’s bids were all over the place, but most ranged from $275 to $600. I don’t have any numbers to back it up, but it seems it takes lefties longer to develop than right-handed hurlers. There will be growing pains and I’d rather not blow half of my remaining FAAB budget to experience them.