Second Half Help: Washington Nationals’ Josiah Gray and Reid Detmers
We are back at again taking a look at some players who might be able to help you in your final push for the playoffs! This week we focus on one player from the American League and one from the National League. Ken Balderston is joining me to cover someone from the AL.
Josiah Gray, Starting Pitcher, Washington Nationals
A tornado came through Washington at the trade deadline and damn near cleared out the entire Nationals clubhouse. I was concerned for a second that the Nats wouldn’t have enough players to field a team after everyone they shipped out of town. In their biggest deal of the deadline, they sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Keibert Ruiz, Josiah Gray, and two other fringe prospects. Gray is one of the more intriguing names in the deal. Since coming over to Washington, he has thrown 10 innings while giving up two earned runs, walking four, and striking out 12. He brings an above-average fastball to the table that sits around 92-96 mph. This pitch tends to explode at the plate with some rise to it. During his time at the alternate training site, he sharpened both his slider and curveball and has a 61.5 Whiff% on his curveball this year.
On paper, his stuff has the ability to make him an All-Star type pitcher. He will have to tighten up his secondary pitches if he wants to reach his peak ceiling of a mid-rotation starter. Where he needs improvement is consistently executing his pitches as well as his command and control. His last game was a step in the right direction where he went five innings pitched, gave up four hits, one earned run, and struck out 10. If he keeps making progress in the right direction, he could be extremely helpful for your fantasy team in this final stretch of the season. The Nationals have no reason to hold him back, so expect Gray to make a significant number of starts.
Reid Detmers, Starting Pitcher, Los Angeles Angels
It’s not very often that I’ll recommend someone with a 10.00+ ERA this confidently. Reid Detmers has soared through the minors after being drafted just 14 months ago and already has 2 career starts under his belt. At first, I thought Detmers would get sent back down after his first rough outing, but the Angels seem committed to giving their top young prospects a look late this season. So, on the surface Detmers has not been very good in his first two starts, his K% is only 14.6%, has an xSLG of .588, and xERA of 8.04. Looking a bit deeper, Detmers has thrown a 4-seam fastball (40.6%), a curveball (25.7%), a slider (22.3%), a sinker (6.7%), and a changeup (5%, solely thrown against righties). He’s been fairly successful with both his breaking pitches, with a low SLG and wOBA, and also xSLG and xwOBA. He’s getting in trouble with his fastball big time, and it’s being thrown predominantly in the zone, but even more often right down the middle. It’s a low-spin fastball, and while Reid has increased its velocity since being drafted, it’s still only averaging 93 MPH, which is probably just slightly faster than league average. Detmer’s game has never been about stuff or velocity, he’s all about painting the black with all his pitches and staying ahead of hitters.
Looking at his swing take chart, you can see he’s not fooling anyone in the heart of the plate, which as mentioned has been mostly his low spin fastball. He’s putting the ball in the heart of the zone far more than league average, batters are swinging more than normal as well, and frankly, the pitch is getting hammered. The SLG on the 4-seamer is .875, the average EV is 94.6, and the sinker is right in the same ballpark (bad). Another look at the zone chart, his ‘shadow’ pitches, or pitches on the edges, have been very good. This includes his curve and slider which have been good, but he’s also been far more successful with his fastball there. The simple solution is just to be a bit more careful with the fastball. Detmers is a guy like I mentioned, that built his reputation on getting the ball to the black edges of the strike zone, and the only thing I think would get in the way of that is nervousness. He would not be the first pitcher to struggle his first few starts, before grounding himself and being productive. Fellow AL West rookie Logan Gilbert also got off to a slow start in Seattle, getting hit hard in his first three starts before hitting stride and showing why he’s considered one of the best pitching prospects in the game. I’m expecting the same thing from Detmers, though I worry about his next start against the Astros. I have no worries about him long term though, as he’s not the type to consistently leave his fastball, or many pitches, middle middle. While Reid is definitely rostered in your dynasty leagues, there may be a chance to trade for him, if the other owner is worried about the cold start. Similarly, in redraft leagues, there’s a good chance Detmers is available on your waiver wire. If you have the room, I’d expect much better results soon.