Last season, Anthony DeSclafani started off hot last season. In his first ten games, he posted a 2.93 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 52 strikeouts to 13 walks in first 61.1 innings. In his next ten, his ERA jumped nearly a run, his strikeouts dipped, his walks spiked, and his WHIP rose. This took DeSclafani from waiver wire gold to waiver wire fodder in shallower fantasy baseball leagues. Now that 2017 is upon us, DeSclafani is currently 207th off the board; in the eighteenth round in twelve-team fantasy baseball leagues. He is a great backend starter to have, as his second half collapse was a second half step forward.
When diving deeper into DeSclafani’s splits between his first ten games and his second ten games… not a whole lot changes. He strikes out batters at an identical rate, his wOBA is .013 different. DeSclafani walked more batters, but had a lowered BABIP. This leads to an evening out of WHIP, which maintains steady at 1.2.
DeSclafani’s slash line, however, improved. He dropped his average against, and subsequently his OBP against. Unfortunately, that seems to be BABIP luck, but his increased BB% indicates more “nibbling.” A look at his pitch location charts indicates that DeSclafani went lower in the zone and slightly outside more frequently, as well. This nibbling led to a higher percentage of balls hit against him as grounders, which stole from his fly balls.
The reason for DeSclafani’s higher ERA? Home run rate. DeSclafani allowed fly balls at a lower rate in the second half of last season compared to the first, but his home run rate went up over 4%. Those numbers don’t really flesh when you consider that his hard-hit rate did not appreciably change. In short: DeSclafani allowed fewer fly balls, the balls weren’t hit as hard, more became home runs. That was the main source of his downfall. Nearly all indicators (except the off-setting BABIP/walk rate change) show a player who was unlucky in the second half last year. Even his unlucky first half, however, is worthy of a higher selection than somewhere between the seventeenth and twentieth rounds.
Anthony DeSclafani’s main issue is that he will play in a bandbox next season. This was a big part of his downfall, as his fly balls were 50% more likely to be home runs at home versus the road. Playing in Cincinnati definitely limits his upside, but as a solid fifth-or-sixth starter, you could do a lot worse than Anthony DeSclafani. His lack of sexy upside limits his draft stock, but he is well worth his draft slot.