I am going through every starting rotation for 2024 across the off-season as I prepare my Top 300 Starting Pitchers for 2024 article. I normally don’t show these publicly until then, but I wanted to give a thank you to those who support us year-round with PL Pro.
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If Pérez is the same pitcher in 2024, I think we’ll be a bit disappointed. His curveball and slider showcased elite SwStr and ICR rates, but their shape is highly suspect while their low strike rates forced his four-seamer to boast a 70%+ strike rate and allow over 50% ICR to right-handed batters. That is horrendous and awfully surprising given the pitch’s fantastic shape, velocity, and low arm angle. The problem lies in its approach with a 15th percentile hiLoc% of just 41%. Ahhh, so batters are sitting four-seamers and getting them comfortably in the zone? Exactly. Wait, that can be exploited. Now you understand – if Pérez adjusts to go “BSB” and focus on keeping his four-seamer upstairs instead of East-West, he could get a massive upswing in whiffs from his ~10/11% SwStr to 15% and above.
But it’s not that easy. Pérez’s youth is not just in his age (Gasp), but his skill level to locate effectively around the zone. I’m very guilty of expecting that to come easily for Pérez over time, but upon reflection of the year ahead, I reluctantly have been rescinding my love for domination in 2024. I watch some Eury and have concern that his fastball command is far from polished, while the breakers don’t have the same electricity as other secondaries around.
It’s absolutely possible Eury elects the BSB route and develops the command to do so, but will his breaking ball shape improve with it? And are the Marlins an organization that embraces high heaters? I’m not sure, but I sure hope so. He could be SP #1 if he unlocks the command, especially if he figures out how to get on top of his changeup in the process (that slow ball was terribly inconsistent in 2023). There’s more risk than I’d like with this pick, forcing me to sit on my hands in most cases for one more season.
I’m torn on Luzardo. On one hand, his hot stretches are electric as any, with a 2.94 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 30% strikeout rate across a fifteen-game stretch in the heart of 2023. This performance is supported by a 96/97 mph heater that he spots upstairs and gloveside (ideal for a southpaw), as well as by a pair of secondaries in his change and slider that both miss plenty of bats. However, his command can be finicky, without the stuff to demand results when he leaves them over the plate. His four-seamer is a sub-10% SwStr offering even with its above-average locations, while the slider was often hung in the zone and crushed to the tune of a 48% ICR – 6th percentile among all sliders. Sure, its .494 BABIP and .517 BACON will improve next year, but it won’t be a massive pendulum swing to bring his 8.2 H/9 dramatically down to its 6.2 mark in 2022. There’s also Luzardo’s health history that he overcame in 2023 for nearly 180 frames and it’s no given he can go 32 starts for another season. The end result will help managers with his strikeout rate at the very least, though the ratios may take many turns along the way. Maybe feature more changeups, fewer zone sliders, and stop throwing four-seamers away to left-handers?
The 23%+ strikeout rate is unlikely to stick for another season as it was fueled by a ridiculous three-start run of 30 strikeouts in June. At his core, Garrett is a mini version of Cole Ragans, featuring a fastball (sinker) and cutter he uses to jam right-handers, a slider that is used half of the time as a strikeout offering, a curveball exclusive for early called strikes, and a changeup that…isn’t great. Obviously, Ragans’ stuff across the board is better, but his command is as well. Garrett has his moments like any “Toby” where he can get into a rhythm locating sinkers and cutters perfectly on the inside edge to right-handers, landing low sliders, and getting outs away with sinkers and changeups, but to expect him to run through a full season isn’t wise. He’s the perfect streamer or mid-season add when looking for some extra volume.
Y’all. I don’t know what to do. When Cabrera is doing his thing – getting his four-seamer close enough to the zone at 97+ mph and not left over the heart of the plate, his breakers (I think most are sliders, not curveballs, but that’s just me) landing at the bottom of the zone, and 92 mph changeups not wildly missing arm-side – the dude is as filthy as they come. In addition, I don’t think his mechanics are so bad that command can’t come in the future. However, he just hasn’t done it yet. And as of right now, a pick on Cabrera is more likely to be a “HIPSTER” on your team rather than a reliable starter every five days. That said, if he’s able to make that tweak to find reliability in location, his ceiling is MASSIVE. We’ve seen leaps in walk rate in the past and his pitches innately have low ICR rates. It could be as simple as a shorter arm circle, or ensuring he stays true with his shoulder. Or those could be far off and he can’t make the tweak. It’s a gamble and I think with Cabrera particularly, it’s important to watch his spring and first start of the year. Understand whether he’s grown in command across everything and go from there. Does that mean you’re in on Cabrera? I guess I am now. Huh. I should also note, I’m not sure I believe in the Marlins development to get this sorted out – they have been great with changeups, but not with overall command. Keep your ear to the ground about Cabrera’s off-season workouts.
Rogers should not be ignored. He had just four starts in 2023 and then disappeared to injury for the rest of the season. Injury risk Nick! At the price point of drafts (read: FREE) injury risk means nothing. If he’s starting out of spring and inside the Marlin’s rotation, chase the upside. His 93 mph four-seamer could return to its 94/95 velocity from 2021 and I adore that he split his fastballs into high four-seamers and low/LHB-jamming sinkers with elite arm-side movement in the few games we saw. His changeup is still fantastic and his sweeper could be a reliable strike pitch. The tools are there, it’s more about health than anything. Watch for him sitting 94 mph (and hopefully a reliable slider?) in the spring. If it’s there, I’m circling him in drafts.
Hey buddy. I can’t wait to draft you for 2025. There will be a ton of pushback about how his value was in volume and coming off TJS means fewer innings and worse value, while I’ll note that a man throwing with a hurt elbow will have worse command and a healthy one speaks to Sandy being the best version of himself. H*ck, watching him this season made me frustrated at his approach at times, and there was so much more he could be doing. As for 2024, it’s a wasted late pick sadly. He should not pitch a lick next year.
On The Fringe
Max Meyer – When I watched Meyer’s MLB debut in 2022, I wasn’t too impressed. His four-seamer came with cut action (yikes) and his approach of 50% sliders was good but not great. It’s not the kind of pitch that bowls you over, instead being used as a strike pitch, destined to be a decent whiff pitch that is more of a table-setter than a dominator. I am curious whether we see a new version of him now that he’s healthy again, and I have to imagine the Marlins will give him an early shot in the rotation once a spot opens up. Not a terrible spec add when that happens, but not someone I’m jumping over the mountain for when the time arrives, let alone stashing him in my drafts.
Ryan Weathers – You know, there’s some intrigue here. Back on the Padres in the spring, his iVB (induced vertical break) numbers were stellar, before they declined rapidly through April. Coming to the Marlins, he posted a phenomenal final outing of the year against the Pirates where he was able to pound the zone with 94/95 mph heaters (he hit 96.7!), earned plenty of whiffs on a slower breaker, and displayed a solid changeup. We often ask “How do we find the next [2023 stud] in 2024?” and Weathers is a perfect example of needing to grow just a bit here and there to become something legitimate. It’s a huge ask, but it’s possible if he works across the off-season to add a tick of velo with a focus on limiting his arm-side run and more iVB on the heater. His new slider works, while the changeup’s velocity gap in concert with a similar look to the fastball makes it outperform its PLV. Pay attention in the spring to see if Weather’s fastball took a step forward or not.