Michael Simione | July 15th, 2019
Yonny Chirinos has cemented himself into the Tampa Bay Rays rotation this year. The Rays have been known to bring out the best in the players they have, and I truly think they have done that with Yonny. This year he has a record of 8-4 with a 3.11 ERA (ranked 14th) and a 0.96 WHIP making him as one of the best pitchers so far this year.
How is he doing this?
Yonny kind of came out of nowhere this year. No one really expected him to become a must-own in all fantasy leagues. So how is he doing this? There are two big reasons here, his control and his splitter. Chirinos rarely walks batters, he has a 1.85 BB/9 which is ranked 11th among starters. He works the zone perfectly and is very smart with how he sets up batters causing them to swing out of the zone. As for the second reason, his splitter is currently the best in the league. It has a pVAL is 4.5 which is first in the league (although there are only nine qualifiers). The main force behind its high pitch value is the Whiff% it provides which is a whopping 44.0%. He has thrown his splitter 336 times with it resulting in a .148 batting average (see below). The combination of these two has really vaulted Yonny into one of the better pitchers in the league.
Cause For Concern
While Yonny has great numbers so far there is a slight cause for concern. His 3.11 ERA comes with a 4.19 FIP, 4.01 xFIP, and 4.18 SIERA. This shows some regression should be coming and a 4.00 ERA pitcher is pretty mediocre for fantasy purposes. He also seems to be getting lucky as his LOB% is slightly high (79.0%) and his BABIP is below his norm at .229. Now while most people will see these numbers and think to sell or stay away here is why I am not concerned.
Turn That Frown Upside Down
That 4.19 FIP, 4.01 xFIP, and 4.18 SIERA can be scary, but there are plenty of signs as to why it doesn’t matter. Firstly, he isn’t a wild pitcher, so he isn’t just getting lucky with batters chasing his stuff (as we said earlier). Second, he has a solid K-BB% of 16.2 to go with an above average 31.9 O-Swing% and 10.5 SwStr%. And lastly, we must remember to always look at a smaller scale when analyzing. Yonny since June 1st has had great numbers. He has a 3.33 ERA that is backed up with a 3.91 FIP and 3.55 xFIP. He also shows an increase in K-BB% with 17.2% and an increase in SwStr% with 11.6%. His SwStr% since June 1st is higher than Brandon Woodruff, Trevor Bauer, and Aaron Nola. That is pretty impressive and the main driving force for it is he has upped the usage of his splitter from 19.88% in May to 24.31% in June. Below shows how he loves to go to his splitter when he is ahead in counts and has two strikes on the batter.
Yonny is a pitcher who should easily finish the year under a 4.00 ERA. While others are shying away due to what looks like regression, you should be buying. As long as he keeps that splitter usage up and continues his control fantasy owners will reap the benefits of having a top 30 pitcher.
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