Is it Legit? 4/16/24: Detmers, Ronel Blanco, Profar, and Michael Busch

Are Detmers, Blanco, Profar, and Busch for real?

While it’s still early, we can start to gain more confidence in the data. Now is the time to jump on hot starts to gain an edge over your league-mates.  However, if you’re going to jump ship this early on your draft picks, you’ve got to be confident in who you’re picking up. Here are four players off to hot starts. Let’s see if it makes sense to be aggressive in picking them up or trading for them.


Reid Detmers, SP, Los Angeles Angels 

Reid Detmers has been a bit of a tease since he came into the league. In his first (mostly) full season in 2022, he posted a 3.77 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 22.6 K%, and 8.5% BB% in 129 IP. He followed that up with a 4.48 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 26.1% K%, and 9.3% BB% in 148.2 IP. Last year he struggled vs LHB, allowing a .380 wOBA. Versus RHB he had a .306 wOBA.

In 17.1 IP this year he has been great, with a 1.04 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 40.6% K%, and 9.4% BB%. Obviously, this level is not sustainable, but let’s see how real this is.

Detmers’ Pitch Usage

It’s a bit surprising to see Detmers throw fewer sliders. According to Stuff+, it’s his best pitch, averaging about 120. PLV doesn’t like it as much, considering it is about the 30th percentile. Performance-wise, it’s been OK the last 3 years.

Considering he has thrown the four-seamer 50% of the time this year, it deserves the closest examination. Stuff+ has never liked it, grading it between 81 and 89. PLV has graded it about the 50th percentile in the last 3 years. He has greatly improved the Induced Vertical Break on it from 15.2″ last year to 17.7″ this season. That’s the 87th percentile. The vertical location of the pitch has been similar to previous seasons. It has a 63.8% hiLoc%, that’s 86th percentile. He is also throwing it a lot more on the outside part of the plate. Last year it had an oLoc% of 30.5% and this year it’s 45.4%. I’m unsure if this horizontal location change has anything to do with it, but throughout his career, the Swinging Strike% on it has been around 11%. In 2024, it’s up to 18.4%, that’s the 96th percentile. The Ideal Contact Rate on his four-seamer is 44.4%. That’s slightly better than previous seasons, but still about league average.

Verdict: Mixed. Detmers has really leaned into his four-seamer thus far. He has certainly improved the iVB on it, but I’m not seeing enough to think it’s suddenly a great fastball. He also has an HR/FB ratio of zero. I do think he is better and the better fastball will lead to a higher K%, but I don’t think this is the beginning of a breakout season for Detmers.


Ronel Blanco, SP, Houston Astros

Ronel Blanco made big news when he threw the first no-hitter of 2024 on April 1. A 30-year-old career minor leaguer who came out of nowhere, many baseball fans had never heard of him. He followed up the no-hitter with a 6.0 IP one-hitter and another decent start most recently on April 13. He has given up 6 H in 21.0 IP. What’s going on here?

In his first real season in MLB last year, he posted a 4.50 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 23.0% K%, and 12.4% BB% in 52.0 IP. Throughout the minors, he generally posted K% closer to 30%, but the BB% is consistent. So far this year in 21.0 IP he has posted a 0.86 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 21.1% K%, and 11.8% BB%.

He’s a fastball-changeup-slider guy, with an occasional curveball. He’s thrown the changeup 30% of the time, that’s the 91st percentile. It has just a 7.7% Ideal Contact Rate (99th percentile). The four-seamer has a 17.6% ICR (97th percentile), and the slider has a 30% ICR (73rd percentile). PLV grades the fastball and slider as more or less average and has the changeup as 71st percentile. Stuff+ hates the fastball and loves the changeup, but I believe Stuff+ struggles grading changeups.

Of course, his BABIP is unsustainably low at .118, but his xwOBA and Pitcher List’s xBABAIP say that he’s not getting extremely lucky. According to Pitcher List’s Hit Luck stat, he should have given up a total of 14 hits. That’s still darn good in 21 IP.

Verdict: Legit. As long as your expectations aren’t too high Blanco has a good chance of meeting them. He is an old-school pitcher who doesn’t have great stuff. He is aware of that so he knows he has to be fine, hence the high BB%. He knows how to use what he has to limit hard contact and damage. He won’t strike out a ton of guys and will have a high WHIP, but he will have an acceptable ERA and will be an innings eater on a team where he can earn a lot of wins.


Jurickson Profar, OF, San Diego Padres

It’s hard to believe that Jurickson Profar is 31 and in his 11th MLB season. He came up as a 19-year-old highly-touted prospect. He was good in 2018, 2020, and 2022, posting wRC+s around 110, but he also felt like a bit of a disappointment overall. You’d like your highly-ranked prospects to become more than utility players. Since 2022 he primarily has been an OF. He flashed some power in 2018 and 2019 when he hit 20 HRs in each season and had ISOs of .204 and .192, respectively. Since then he has been a guy who walks a decent amount, doesn’t strike out a lot, but offers little speed or power, and posts batting averages around .240.

As of April 15, he has 7 Runs, 13 RBI, 2 HR, O SB, a .321 AVG, and .423 wOBA. Is he doing anything different to drive this fast start? No. He has always been a guy with above-average plate discipline and contact skills but below-average contact quality. His career Barrel% is 4.2% and this year it is 4.5%. The MLB average is 6.9%. His Average Exit Velocity is currently a career-best at 91.3 mph (80th percentile), but most analysts don’t put much stock in Average Exit Velocities, and certainly not this early in the season. His Pull%, Center%, Oppo%, GB%, LD%, and FB% remain largely consistent with the rest of his career.

Verdict: Not Legit. The best you can hope for from Profar this year is a slightly better version of what he’s been for the last 5 years. His 2022 numbers are realistic expectations. That year he hit .243 with 15 HR, 82 R, 58 RBI, and 5 SB in 658 PAs. If he was eligible at multiple positions he would have some value as a backup, but since he is just an OF now he’s only useful in deeper leagues.


Michael Busch, 1B/3B, Chicago Cubs

This January Michael Busch was traded from the Dodgers to the Cubs. He was a 1st round pick in 2019 and is 26 years old. In 81 PAs last year he struggled, posting a .167 BA, .241 wOBA, 33.3% K%, and 9.9% BB%.

So far this year he has a .327 BA, .457 wOBA, 25.0% K%, and 10.7% BB%. Everything about this breakout seems real.

He was beginning to lower his GB% and increase his FB% last year and that has continued this year.


This is the most telling graph to me. When he started to pull the ball a lot more his Hard Hit% jumped up. This coincides with his spike in wOBA.

He has also steadily improved his plate discipline and contact rates, despite becoming more pull-heavy.

Verdict: Legit. The graphs speak for themselves. His Barrel% is also a fantastic 19.4% (96th percentile) and his ICR has jumped to 52.8% (93rd percentile). I’m sure there will still be growing pains, but all signs point to Busch becoming the professional hitter he was expected to be.


Featured image by Doug Carlin (@bdougals on Twitter)

Andrew Krutz

Andrew writes for Pitcher List and is a lifelong New York Yankees fan. During the warmer months he can be found playing vintage baseball in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York.

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